Thursday, February 7, 2019

God's Holy War with People

"The LORD’S anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God" (2 Samuel 6:7).

God means business and He meant what he said when He pronounced the death penalty on sin. From time to time God would show the people that they had better take Him seriously. On one such occasion, the ark of the covenant was being transported to Jerusalem by David and the Levites. In disobedience to the clear command of Numbers 4:15 and 7:9, they put the ark on a cart rather than having the priests carry it on their shoulders. When the oxen stumbled and the ark started to fall toward the ground, Uzzah reached out to steady it. Numbers 4:15 stated that anyone who touched the ark would die, and Uzzah died the moment he touched it. You see, had it toppled, the mud would not have defiled the ark; it was the morally corrupt touch of the man that was forbidden.

David was angry at God for spoiling his festive day (2 Samuel 6:8) but soon realized that God was not to be trifled with, and that God meant what He said (v. 9). David is just like us. God is merciful and withholds judgment for a time, but when He draws near and shows us even a little of the judgment that we deserve, we get angry at Him.

People love to pretend to be holier than God. At the Flood, God stated that because of the depth of human wickedness He would destroy the whole human race. People have blamed God for excessive harshness because of this. Then God had the audacity to wipe out the Canaanites, and He gave His own people the privilege of prosecuting His holy war against these degenerate people. Today we hear people criticize God for this, as if these Canaanites did not deserve death.

People often ask, “How can God allow all this suffering in the world?” Jesus was asked that question, referring to the people Pilate killed as they sacrificed to God (Luke 13:1–5). What did Jesus say? He said that those who were killed deserved to die because all men deserve to die. He went on to say, twice, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Ultimately the question should not have been, “Why did they die?” but, “Why am I still alive?”

Are there stories in the Bible that you regard as harsh, savage, or barbaric because they show the reality of judgment? What does today’s lesson teach you about passages like Judges 1:4–7, Judges 5, 1 Samuel 15, and Psalm 58? Read these passages and this time seek God’s perspective rather than rebellious man’s.