authorityAuthority.  Everyone loves authority, until it is exerted upon them.  We truly do love authority though.  Many times I have read in articles and books on handling the trouble child or learning to discipline children, that children, pre-teens, and even teenagers desire authority in their life.  One main reason is because they are still learning to formulate their own “plan-of-action” in even the smallest areas of life.  They want some form of guidance from a source that seems to know more than they do.  The issue comes when they begin looking to the wrong people and placing them in the authoritative roles in their lives.  But may I present the idea that adults too long for authority in their lives.  Why are seminars, webinars, and conferences even around if there is not a sense of desire to be guided by someone who is “greater” (be it knowledge, experience, or even monetary worth) than the learner?  Teenagers struggle with being too flippant on who gets to sit on the authority seat of their lives, having that seat filled by many different parties within a single day.  Adults tend to struggle with being too strict on who sits on that seat, expecting said authority to be nearly perfect in every way.  What usually happens?  We fill the seat ourselves.  We become the ultimate authority in our lives calling for mercy and grace for our own actions but giving little to others.

Today we will finish exploring the story in 1 Chronicles 13 by looking at a character that we often times struggle to relate to.  Obed-edom, the Gittite.

We know little about this man.  He is a Gittite.  This means that he is a Philistine originating from the city of Gath.  A foreigner, an enemy of Israel at the time.  We know that he was an enemy at this time because if you read on in chapter 14 we see what happens while the ark rests at Obed-edom’s home.  The Philistines attack the Israelites twice, both resulting in terrible failures on the Philistine’s part.  Chapter 15 of 1 Chronicles picks the story of the ark back up and the moving of the ark into Jerusalem.  Obed-edom, a foreigner and enemy of David could have refused to take the ark or even summoned his fellow Philistines to take the ark.  Yet, within this moment, he is subject to an authority.

After David becomes angry and fearful of God, he looks to deposit the ark somewhere that will not be harmful to him or his people.  So he finds Obed-edom and his household.  We are not told whether David walked in and asked politely to store the very presence of God, which when touched or handled incorrectly could result in being instantly killed, in Obed-edom’s home.  If I had to guess, David, the newly appointed king of Israel, approached Obed-edom in a more authoritative way enlightening him on what was going to happen.

The response of Obed-edom?  We look at verse 14 within this chapter and it says that “the ark of God remained with the household of Obed-edom in his house three months.”  To our understanding there was no fight, no argument, but rather a submission to one appointed in a place of authority.  It remained there three months.  As we read further, “And the Lord blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that he had.”

The very presence of God dwelt in the house of Obed-edom for three months.  I can foresee that if Obed-edom showed respect to the authority of a man, God was blessing Obed-edom for showing respect to the ultimate authority.

base coachI played sports in my younger days.  Like, a lot.  One of my favorites was baseball.  When I was thinking about authority and submitting to someone else’s order or direction, I thought of a base coach.  In baseball there are coaches stationed at both 1st and 3rd base.  Their job?  To watch the ball as you run as fast as you can, directing you to the next base or telling you to hold up.  One of the hardest parts of baseball is watching the base coach, especially as a kid.  If I finally made contact with the ball, all I wanted to do was see how far it went and if my weak pop-up would somehow be taken by a gust of wind over the fence.  It was hard to simply trust the base coach.  Plus, it wasn’t always fun.  Submitting to that authority on the field meant giving up on my own desire to look at the ball.  Obed-edom, submitting to the authority of King David, meant giving up a portion of his home to the ark.  The result?  As close to an in-the-park home-run as you can get, I think.

When we read on through the 15th chapter we see Obed-edom appear again.  This time he is appointed a Levitical gatekeeper for the ark.  David rewards him with an honorable position.  Will this be true for everyone that shows respect to an authority figure?  No, certainly not.  But there will be a reward, sooner or later.  It is here that we are storing up treasure in heaven.  Though we may seek the immediate gratification or desire to see the fruit of our efforts, that is not what we are promised or called to.  We are simply called to “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Pt. 2:17)

How well are you submitting to authority?  Why is the struggle so difficult?  What makes submitting easier?  Feel free to answer in the comments section below.

In Christ’s Love,
Josh

Men In Black CockroachFear can make us do some pretty interesting things.  I have known people to fear insects, reptiles, people, situations, germs, and clowns.  These types of fears can create a cowardice affect in us.  Instead of being brave and courageous, we shrink to acting like a child.  We shriek and scream and run without knowing where we are going or what we are running to.  Or we may be frozen in fear.  A personal fear that creates a cowardice effect in me is the crunch of a cockroach.  Yeah…I know, it is a very legitimate fear.  The scene at the end of Men in Black is almost unbearable to watch (in case you want to watch it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9puHtVcU5o)!  It just gives me the creeps thinking about it.  As a result of this fear I have purchased an electric bug zapper so that I may electrocute them instead of crunching them.  Fear is everywhere and has affected some great men in the Bible.  Look with me at one today.

Last week we looked at a story that is slightly mind-boggling to be honest (click here it read it).  We touched on one character in the story found in 1 Chronicles 13 where a man dies from trying to save the Ark of the Covenant from hitting the ground.  Today, let’s take a look at what happens after God strikes Uzzah dead on the spot.  We will focus on David, the newly appointed king of Israel.

KingDavidAfter Uzzah dies right on the spot, I can imagine all eyes go directly to David.  David, after all, was a man after God’s own heart.  He was chosen by God to take over as ruler of the people of Israel.  He wrote heartfelt songs that resonated with all people and our relationship with God.  Surely he will know exactly what to do!

1Chronicles 13:11-12 “And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah.  And that place is called Perez-uzza [breaking out against Uzzah] to this day.  And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, ‘How can I bring the ark of God home to me?  So David did not take the ark home into the city of David, but he took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.”

David was in fact a great man.  There have been few, maybe even none besides Jesus, which have been a better king for Israel.  Luckily for David and all of us, God looks not on the outward appearance, but the inward heart.  We see here that David made a cowardice decision based upon anger and fear.

He was angry with God because, in the moment, he could not see that the method in which they were carrying out the mission was wrong.  He believed God to be acting rashly.  But as we know, God had kept his anger and wrath from the group up until this point.  God did not strike down each person within the party for participating in wrongfully and disgracefully transporting the ark back to Jerusalem; although he would have been completely right to do so.

The anger that David felt quickly turned into fear.  Within this story we see David acting out of that fear.  This fear was so aggressive and invasive that it caused him to cease the mission on which they felt not only God’s blessing but the blessing of the people of Israel as well (1 Chronicles 13:1-4).  This was not a fear that caused him to stop doing daily activities around the palace.  This was a fear that over-took the mission on which God had placed him.  That’s huge!  David had faced armies, literal giants, even his own king trying to kill him.  Yet he was in a moment of fear and searched for a quick way out.

Instead of going to God and admitting the wrong which they had done, he sought the quick-fix by dropping it off at Obed-edom’s home.  “Sure, no problem, you can store the Ark of the Covenant that just caused a man to die on the spot for touching it and put a crazy amount of fear into the king of Israel!”  But more about Obed-edom next post.  We come to find out that he actually leaves the ark there for 3 months!

fearHas fear ever had this kind of control over you?  Maybe not in the same way, but I’m sure we have all been affected by fear.  We have at least been convinced to “go no further” in what we are doing or where we are going as a result of fear.  It may have been only for a moment; it may have been for 3 months; it may have been longer.

Have you let fear derail you from the mission that God has called you to?  There is hope.  There is recovery.  The ark does get to Jerusalem.  David worships and God is pleased.  This incident may have caused David to act against God in the moment, but God is love.  His mercy is never-ending.  He gives grace freely to those that associate themselves with him through the blood of Jesus.

Cling to Jesus.  He can sympathize and encourage us in our fears.

Dealing with fear on a regular basis?  Check out Psalm 27.  Study it and put it to memory.

In Christ’s Love,
Josh

group of friendsEach person has a group of people or certain individuals that they can relate to.  In high school maybe you were a part of the athletic crowd and couldn’t really understand the way the artsy group viewed abstract paintings.  Or perhaps you related best to other musicians who could be emotionally moved by an arrangement but had trouble understanding the emotional comradery associated with athletics and pranks.  Whatever your group, current or past, you relate to people you believe have the same experiences or interests as you.

As we look to the Bible, it is full of people (in case you were unaware).  The people in the Bible are real, historical figures and their stories are recorded for multiple reasons.  We have these stories so that we can better understand God and his character, learn truths to apply to our lives, and remind us that there are others that struggled with the same issues that we struggle with today.  Many times, within a single story, we have multiple groups of people involved, giving us the opportunity to see ourselves in different roles and points in our lives.

Let’s look at a story that has 3 main, human, characters.

1 Chronicles 13 tells an interesting story of when David, the newly appointed king of Israel, was transporting the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark had been away from Jerusalem.  The old king, Saul, had not sought to bring the Ark back to its home, God’s Holy City.  David believed this to be a crucial start to his kingship.

We are going to pick up the story when the Ark is in transit to Jerusalem.  It has been placed on a cart that is being driven by Uzzah and his brother, Ahio.  We then get to verses 9 &10:

1 chronicles 13“And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God.”

Wow, crazy.  Uzzah, trying to save the ark, was struck down dead.  Right there.  Is this rash?  Harsh? Unmerciful?  Well, there is something you should know.

The mode of transportation that David had chosen was not the way God told them to move it.  In fact, they were to have Levites carrying the ark with poles.  So where did this start?  Did it start with the ox stumbling or did it start far before that?

Was Uzzah doing what was right?  Yes, and no.  He was protecting God’s honor by not allowing the ark to hit the ground.  But he was also directly disobeying God by touching the ark.  This had been established back in Numbers 4:15 when God gave Israel the original instructions.

Can you relate to Uzzah?  What do you mean you have never been struck down dead on the spot for disobeying God?  Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you can’t relate.  Have you been under the impression that you were doing something good but come to find out, it wasn’t?

chick-n-minisMy wife and I have a one year old son that just started pre-school this past month.  It just so happens that God had placed my wife as the Director of this pre-school program.  The first day of “school” came.  I knew it was a big day for both my wife and son.  So, I decided to do something good.  My wife had gone to the school early to make sure everything was in order and I was left with the responsibility of getting our son to school by 8:45am.  What would be better on a first day of school than a 3-count chick-n-minis and a frosted lemonade from Chick-Fil-A?  Umm, nothing!

So I was a good husband and got that wonderful breakfast for my wife.  There was a small problem though.  We left the house at 8:38am (I remember it vividly) and got to the church right around 9:00am (that would be 15 minutes late…Yeah).  The goodness of the gift was lost in the blatant disregard for the simple task of getting him to school at 8:45am.

Maybe you have a story like this.  If you are a male and are married then I am sure you have one very similar to this.  But how might this relate to us and God in the present day?

How often do we replace God with “good things?”  We make the choice to watch the morning news, but don’t open the Bible in the morning.  We make the choice to binge-watch a show on Netflix, maybe even skipping a meal.  When was the last time you binge-read the Bible, even skipping a meal (that’s called Fasting by the way)?  We decorate our homes with Scripture, but we rarely open our home to be used by God.  We hang crosses from our rear-view mirrors thinking that will suffice as being on mission for us.

Are there good things, actions, and people in your life that are ultimately keeping you from obeying God?  What might be the reason God would strike you down dead in the moment?

Rely on the grace of Jesus, the quickness of the Father to forgive to all who ask, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The cross that Jesus bore made it possible for us to make mistakes and yet still be counted as children of God.  But we must not seek to continue in our failures, for God gives us the ability to pursue purity and perfection.  Let us not settle for good in our lives when we can have the Greatness of God.

In Christ’s Love,
Josh