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September 8, 2019, 10:22 PM

Jumping Off the Spiritual Roller Coaster


  1. summer my now ten-year-old son, Josiah, and I went to Six Flags for a boy’s day. Early in the day with great excitement he answered my query as to what he wanted to do with a simple statement, “lets ride the roller coasters…ALL OF THEM. So, we set out to do just that. We had chosen a good day so several of the shorter lines allowed us to ride more than once! More than once!

 

Needless to say, by the midpoint of the day the elder of the two of us had quite enough roller coasters. Feeling a little dizzy and worse for the wear I asked for a little break which Josiah thankfully endured. I’m pleased to say we did it. We rode them all! Not a feat I wish to replicate, thank you very much.

 

While I was slightly sick of riding coasters, I am more than a little sick of the spiritual roller coasters we endure. We find ourselves climbing spiritual mountains. Our view of God is clear. Worship is powerful and meaningful whether we worship with our family of believers or in our car. Bible study was not a mere spiritual obligation, it was a powerful conversation with the divine. You were soaring.

 

  1. the valley comes. It always comes. You find yourself empty. God seems distant. The spiritual exercises that filled your heart now try your patience. Your spiritual energy level is so low. You need restoration and renewal.

 

  1. continued experiences around the Ark help us understand how we end up on the bottom of that cycle and gives us a clue how to stop the process.

 

  1. bit of review is in order. The rk of the Covenant was a God ordained part of the worship life of Israel. It was not God, nor was it intended to take His place, but it represented their relationship with God. In many ways the way they treated the rk was a picture of their walk with Him.

 

In the previous blogs we explored the history of the Ark, reliving with them how the Ark fell into Philistine hands and ended up in Kiriath Jearim. Neglected for many years, no one even looked for it during the entire reign of Saul.

 

We shake our heads at them. How could they do it? How could they neglect God’s presence and power for those many years? Lest we get too sure of ourselves and judgmental of them we can ask ourselves the same question. How can the relationship we have with God become so stale? How can we allow God to get so distant and not even pursue Him with a passion?

 

This week’s blog picks up the story years after the ark is ignored. David has ascended the throne and realizes that something is missing. Worship was empty. The tabernacle remained but it was empty. An inquiry revealed that it was located a mere 8 or 9 miles from Jerusalem. He set out to bring the ark home. The passages to follow all come from 1 Samuel chapter 6.

 

David determined to bring the Ark home.

1 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. 2 He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark.

 

  1. no mistake about it, David is seeking more than the Ark. He is after the LORD of the Ark. He calls together 30,000 of the young men of Israel. This number does not include any of the older men or women who accompanied the procession.


Step into the scene and imagine the explosion of worship. The scene is more than a little chaotic as recorded in verse 5

5David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the LORD, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.

 

Pandemonium ensued as they approached the Ark. The most recent image that may capture the scene is that found in Saint Louis as the city, no the entire region, celebrated the Blues winning the Stanley Cup. The chaotic scene surpassed all expectations. You might say in both cases the roller coaster was at its pinnacle.

 

  1. mistakes set the stage for the descent. The first mistake is presumption. David and his men assume that God is not concerned how they get the Ark back if it comes home. Many assume that the ends justify the means, that is if we accomplish what we should we can do it any way we choose.

 

David’s mistake is subtle:

3 They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart
4 with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it.

 

Why? Why did the put the ark on a cart. The prescribed way to carry it was very clear. It was to be carried by poles by the priests. Instead of carrying it God’s way they followed the example of the Philistines.

 

The second mistake made was one of irreverence.

6 When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled.

The action seemed natural enough. The Ark perched on the new cart David made started to tumble. Uzzah reached up to stabilize it. In doing so he broke the command not to touch the ark. The penalty for doing so was death (Numbers 4:15)

 

The consequences for the mistakes David and his men made were immediate.

Consequences

7 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.

 

God’s anger burned against Uzzah and the people of Israel. To treat God’s ark inappropriately is to treat God inappropriately. It was not because of some magic contained in the ark, but because God is a real God who demands to be treated with respect. He is both perfectly loving and perfectly just. He punishes evil and will not be mocked. We disrespect God at great risk.

 

Uzzah dies and the parade stops. Of course, it does!

 

There are three results of this story.

8 Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
9 David was afraid of the LORD that day and said, “How can the ark of the LORD ever come to me?”
10 He was not willing to take the ark of the LORD to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.
11 The ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the LORD blessed him and his entire household.

 

First, notice that David is angry at God. He is hurt by what has happened. Have you been angry at God? Perhaps you are now. May I suggest that you be honest with God. Tell Him. He knows it is there anyway. He saw it before you became angry.

 

Don’t be afraid to be honest. God is big enough to handle the emotion you have. David expressed His anger more than once. And yet God called David a man after His own heart. God is big enough to handle your emotions. Tell Him.

 

Second, David was afraid of God. This is an equally normal reaction isn’t it. We are free to express our anger at God if it is balanced with a healthy respect for the holiness of God. Anger at God separated from respect for Him is dangerous.

 

Third, the ark is left at the home of Obed Edom. The parade is done. The celebration is silent. Imagine the silent shuffles as the people make their way back home. No grand celebration. No homecoming. Only heartache, doubt, and fear. What will happen next.

 

Next week’s blog will conclude the saga of the Ark, including the grand celebration of its homecoming. For now, let’s review four lessons to help us avoid similar rollercoasters.

    • Obedience is the key. The secret to avoiding the decline, for getting off the roller coaster is unquestioned obedience to the will of God expressed in His Word. God’s direction is so much more important than the opinion of friends.
    • The holy must not become humdrum. God is holy. No object is holy by its own nature. God designates certain objects, such as the ark, as representative of his holiness. Today we understand His holiness through worship, Bible study, and fellowship with His people. You cannot afford to take the things of God lightly.
    • Do it God’s way. Whatever He calls you to do must be done with respect for His express commands. Following God’s commands must be a priority over efficiency. God wants us to consult His rules for doing things.
    • If you have found yourself at the bottom of the roller coaster, understand that God wants to restore you to the pinnacle. He wants to bring you back to the place you were. Humble yourself under the hand of God and seek forgiveness. When God is revered and hearts are cleaned by confession cleansing comes. Your spiritual roller coaster ends in restoration. Come back to Him today.

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