The record is found in 2 Samuel, chapter six, and in 1 Chronicles, chapter 13. The plan was to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem from Kirjathjearim, where it had been for some time. The ark was placed upon a new cart and pulled by oxen, driven by Uzzah and Ahio. When they came to Nachon's threshing floor, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark on the cart. He, no doubt, had good intentions. He was only trying to be helpful, for he did not want the ark to fall from the cart. But the Word of God says, "... the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God." (1 Chronicles 13:10).
Why did this happen? Why did God smite Uzzah so that he died on that day? Well, God had given specific instructions concerning the holy things of the Tabernacle, including the ark of the covenant. Only certain ones were to move it, and even they were not to touch it lest they die. (Numbers chapter four, especially verse 15; See also Exodus 25:14). The ark of the covenant was to be fitted with rings at the four corners, and staves were to be passed through these rings so that the Levites could carry it upon their shoulders. This is NOT what happened when the ark was being transported from Kirjathjearim. They placed it upon an oxen drawn cart! Oh, it was indeed "a new cart." Nothing but the best for the ark of God. Right? However, they were in direct contradiction to the law of God, and, when one transgresses the law, he sins no matter how many good intentions he has; no matter how good his motive is! (1 John 3:4). Furthermore, the Word of God strictly forbad anyone from actually touching the ark itself. (Numbers 4:15). Uzzah, even though he was attempting to help, touched the ark. God had warned them that, if anyone did this, he would die.
After the ark remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months, David decided it was time to bring it on to Jerusalem. However, this time he had obviously done some research into the Law of Moses. David called the priests to him and said, "... sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order." (1 Chronicles 15:12-13).
There it is! The reason for the breach brought about as a result of Uzzah's actions at Nachon's threshing floor was simply because they sought God "... not after the due order." God had given them the right way, the pattern. They either forgot it, or simply decided that their way was better than God's Way. Either way they sinned, and God was not pleased. You will note that 1 Chronicles 15:14-15 reads, "So the priest and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring the ark of the Lord God of Israel. And the children of the Levites bare the ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord." They, then, had it right because they submitted their will to the Will of the Lord.
This principle is still as valid today as it was in the days of King David. God has given to us the New Testament, and we must do what we do and say what we say by the authority of Jesus the Christ. Colossians 3:17. In fact, we are not to believe everyone who claims to be a preacher or teacher, but we are to try them, for many are false. (1 John 4:1). The standard for this trial is still the Word of God, and, today, it is the New Testament. (Cf. 2 John 9-11).
Many are religious, and their motive is right ... that is, they want to serve and worship God. Many have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. They are ignorant of God's righteousness (right ways) and go about (like Uzzah of old) to establish their own righteousness. (Cf. Romans 10:1-3). Let us be sure we are seeking Him after the due order! -P.O. Box 285, Crum, West Virginia 25669.
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