The oxen stumbled, and Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the Ark. Then the LORD’s anger was aroused against Uzzah, and he struck him dead because he had laid his hand on the Ark. – 1 Chronicles 13:9-10
5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death.
6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.
12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
21 I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
22 I love God’s law with all my heart.
23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Gift of the Magi was written by O. Henry in 1905. It is the story of Jim and Della Young. Each had a prize possession. What mattered most to Jim was his gold watch that had been passed down to him from his grandfather and father. Della on the other hand, had beautiful, lovely, delicate, flowing hair that reached down to her knees.
Christmas time was rapidly approaching, and each wanted to give a gift to the other. But they were poor and lacked the money to purchase what they desired to give to the other. Della wanted to buy a new gold chain for Jim’s watch. Jim wanted to buy an expensive hairbrush for his wife’s luxurious hair.
Jim decided to sell his precious watch and buy the brush. Della decided to sell her hair and buy the chain. The time came when they exchanged gifts. Both were amazed at the generosity of the other and the sacrifice that each made to bring delight to their partner. They cried and wept in each other’s embrace. True love in a family allows one to sacrifice anything for the happiness of the other.
Human relationships often produce unexpected outcomes for ostensibly good deeds. Regrettably, doing good is often fraught with harsh reactions.
Within families, it often gets cranked up a notch or two. Ironically, we tend to get most angry at the people that we are closest to because they are least likely to abandon us. Sometimes, one partner reacts in a very harsh way to what seemed to the other to be a good deed. The doer of the deed is often wounded and responds, “but I did not do anything wrong.” And from there things go downhill.
Christian counselors offer an explanation. Too often when we are young children, we are treated harshly, abused, and deeply wounded. Wounded hearts do not easily heal. Later in life, when someone we know and care about acts in a way that only remotely or obliquely reminds us of our previous harsh treatment, we act out of that deep reservoir of resentment, pain, and anger. There are three typical reactions: fight, flight, or shut down.
There is an invisible, unstated principle working itself out. Until the wounds are truly healed, we act out of our hurt. What we say flows from what is in our heart (Luke 6:45).
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.
Proverbs 20:3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling.
Proverbs 29:22 An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.
James 1:20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
Being angry and lashing out, accomplishes nothing of any value.
We have the choice and ability to diffuse and lessen the anger that lingers within. Over time, the more we choose to do what is right, more our anger will decrease
Recognition of what is really going on is the first step. This should be followed by forgiveness and a determination to soften and moderate our negative reactions and respond in a more positive way.
REFLECT & PRAY
We know that the law is good when used correctly. For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy . . . – 1 Timothy 1:8-9
Father it is so difficult for me to wrap my mind around Your holiness and the sacredness of the things that You have declared holy. It is also hard for me to identify the deep wounds within and allow You to heal and release me from them. That is the desire of my heart.
Why did the Father strike Uzzah dead on the spot simply for touching the Ark? It seems as though he had only good intentions. Why punish someone for doing a good deed?
In this case, there are specific laws that explain what happened. The Father provided rules and regulations in the law of Moses that were intended to govern the nation of Israel and bring them success in life. Many are intended to teach life lessons.
When we are children, our parents warn us not to touch hot objects or play with fire. They do this for our good to protect us.
David and his men had a zeal for the Father, but they failed to respect the sanctity of the Ark. They used the equivalent of a U-Haul truck, and loaded it on ox driven cart. Nothing good could come of this. “Treatment of the ark is tantamount to treatment of God himself” (ESV notes).
The Ark of the Covenant was never to be touched by any member of the nation of Israel (Numbers 4:15). Only one small clan of the Levitical priests, the Kohathites, were allowed to carry the Ark. The Ark was constructed with two rings on each side. Specially designed poles were to be inserted into the rings. The Kohathites would pick up and carry the Ark using the poles. They were to never actually touch the Ark itself (Exodus 25:12-15).
No matter how innocently it was done, or how good the intentions behind it, touching the Ark was a direct violation of Mosaic law. The result was certain death. This is harsh! But how is it different from getting burned by playing with fire? Both the physical realm and the spiritual realm are governed by laws which the Father has set in place.
The Father God is holy, righteous, just, but is also gracious, kind, and compassionate. He longs to show mercy to all who seek it.
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.