"And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to steady the ark of God and took hold of it for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there because he put forth his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God."

II Samuel 6:6-7, RSV 

 

The setting for this event is the moving of the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. All the chosen men of Israel (30,000 of them) had been called out, and they were celebrating the bringing of the ark to the city of David. Uzzah noticed that the oxen pulling the cart on which the ark rested had stumbled and he did what you or I might have done had we been in his place: He put his hand out to keep the holy ark of God from tumbling to the ground.

 

And God put him to death for that act!

 

Why would God do that?

 

This lesson may be one of the most important in all of the Old Testament, so it is beneficial for us to know why God struck Uzzah dead for trying to protect the ark. You see, the ark had the presence of God - a part of God, if you will - contained within it. Therefore the ark was holy. Why is that so important? It's because no one who is unholy can enter the presence of God!

 

It was true in the garden when Adam and Eve first sinned. Since they were no longer holy, they could not remain in God's presence - so God removed them from the garden. When Nadab and Abihu offered "unauthorized fire" in the holy presence of God, they were put to death. And now, when Uzzah comes into the presence of God by merely touching the ark, he is put to death.

 

Why is this so important for us to learn? It's because God is still the same. In the Old Testament and the New Testament, the requirement is that we be holy because God is holy. Fail to learn that lesson, and you will never understand why you need to be baptized. How did baptism get into this conversation, you might be wondering? It's because baptism washes away our sins and makes us holy. It is true that this baptism has to be preceded by faith and repentance of our sins, but it still has to be done or we can never be holy because our sins have not been washed away.

 

Does that holiness seem like a big deal to you? May I say that it didn't to Adam and Eve, until they were cast out of the presence of God. It didn't to Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu, until God consumed them with fire. It did not to Abihu, until the very moment that he was struck dead!

 

The fact is that holiness may not seem to be that important to you now... but it will be at the Judgment! Why not do something about it now?

 

"But as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written: 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'"

I Peter 1:15-16, RSV 

 

Today is the 12th day of the 30 day challenge to read through the books of the champions and the kings, with II Samuel 1-8 being the reading for today. May God richly bless you as you seek to be holy in all your conduct!