"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Raising The Standard: Responsibility Is Completing A Task So That It Will Endure Testing

How Does Scripture Illustrate Responsibility For Lasting Achievement? Thirty thousand valiant men from the royal army marched with their king on this special mission. They marched to the triumphant sound of trumpets, lyres, harps, tambourines and cymbals. Crowds stood along the road and then followed the huge procession. Many details had been carefully worked out in preparation for this day. But in spite of all preparations, one vital precaution had been overlooked.
Finally they reached their destination. It was the home of a religious leader. His home contained the most sacred and valuable treasure of the entire kingdom - the Ark of the Covenant. God Himself dwelled above this treasure, and wherever it went brought blessing to those who revered it, but destruction to those who despised it. Many years earlier this ark had been taken out to battle and it had been captured by the enemy. But wherever it went, a devastating plague had broken out. After seven months of great anguish, the enemy placed this treasure on a cart and watched as two cows carried it back to its own land. Ever since that time it had been entrusted to the care of this leader, and the treasure had remained in his home. The troops stood at attention and all the people eagerly watched as the king and several men went up into that hillside home. The Ark of the Covenant was carefully lifted and placed on a new cart. Two oxen began pulling the cart along the main road amidst joyous cheering and music from the crowd and troops. Two of the leader's sons who had cared for this treasure during the previous years were given the honor of walking next to the cart and in front of the procession along with the king. All was going well when suddenly a tragedy struck. The cart halted abruptly; the music was stilled; those at the head of the procession stopped and kneeled beside the body of one of the sons. The hushed crowd wondered what had happened. The son had been killed by God. The oxen had stumbled and the cart had almost tipped over, he had thoughtlessly reached out to steady it. But no one was to touch the ark or he would suffer the consequence of death.
Why had this happened?
One precaution had been overlooked. When God gave instructions on how to make the sacred ark, He also gave precise direction on how it was to be moved from one place to another. A permanent pole was attached to each side of it. Only these two poles were to be touched by four men who would carry it on their shoulders. They were never to touch the ark. Had instructions been reviewed, their work would have endured testing. Neither the imbalance of the cart nor God's swift punishment would have occurred, and the efforts of the king and the family of Abinadab who had housed the Ark of the Covenant would have been crowned with success. (From 2 Samuel 6:1-19)
Was Abinadab Responsible for Uzzah's Premature Death?
Abinadab failed in his responsibility to teach his sons to preserve the integrity of the Law and so was responsible for the later consequences of his family. Although Kiriath-jearim was not one of the designated cities of the Levites, it is almost certain that Abinadab was a Levite. It would have been very strange for his son Eleazar to be consecrated for the responsibility of caring for the Ark if it were not the case. The primary responsibility of the Levite tribe was to preserve the Law of God in all of its purity by seeing that its requirements were faithfully and precisely upheld. God required the Levites to set the example for the rest of the nation.
What Was The Fallacy Of Uzzah's Reasoning?
When Uzzah noticed the oxen stumble and the cart tip, he had to make a quick decision. He knew that if the sacred Ark were to fall it would dampen the joy of the celebration of King David and the thirty thousand men. Uzzah quickly took matters into his own hands and chose what he considered to be the lesser of two evils. If Uzzah had reasoned correctly, he would have realized that God was in control of the steps of the oxen. For example, when the Philistines sent the Ark back to the nation of Israel, Scripture states that the two cows kept their heads to the ground and turned neither to the right nor the left (1 Samuel 6:12), making their way directly to their destination. When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah should have realized this was God's sign to King David and the people that they were not doing God's work in God's way.
Why Did The Lord Deal So Severely With Uzzah For What Seemed To Be Good Intentions?
When the idolatrous priests of Philistia returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel from their country, they placed it on an unused cart. In Numbers 4:15, the Law clearly stated that any person who touched the pieces of furniture used in the tabernacle would surely die. Two poles were provided for the Levites to carry the Ark without touching it. One very important aspect of God's character is the fact that He cannot break any of his promises - whether the promise is a blessing or a curse. To break just one promise would cause His people to lose confidence in His Word. Uzzah's disregard for God's strict command indicated a laxity within the house of Abinadab in their responsibility for caring for the sacred Ark. In a public disgrace to the family, Uzzah lost his life because the training passed down for generations did not withstand the test. God had no other alternative than to deal severely with him as promised.
How Does The Pied-Billed Grebe Illustrate Responsibility For Lasting Achievement?
Warm winds bent cattails over the nesting grebe and her young. An unnatural darkness covered the southern horizon and rapidly filled the entire sky. Several sand pipers and terns returned to their shore nests in sand and clumps of grass on the island as the rain intensified. In a short time whitecaps formed on the inland lake, and they were pelted with heavy drops of rain. Lightening flashed through the thick clouds and torrents of rain descended. Amid the storm a small bird remained on her nest as it precariously bobbed in the water. The grebe had arrived early that spring and had made a skillful decision in selecting this particular clump of reeds for her nest. Her areas was east of the tributary's entrance in a narrow inlet, away from the open stretches of the lakes expanse. Painstakingly care in the construction was a hidden accomplishment, betrayed by an apparently haphazard appearance. As the grebe nested even closer to her eggs, the sudden spring storm continued to rage. Not since arriving had there been such a torrential downpour. This would certainly put all the grebe had done in building her nest to its most severe test. As the storm continued, streams that fed the lake swelled well beyond their banks. The waters gushed into the lake creating even larger whitecaps. The whitecap crests crashed upon the shore and beat against the nests of the shore birds. Helpless these birds watched as their eggs were washed out of their nests into the turbulent waters. A different drama was taking place at the nest of the grebe. The nest appeared to be in even greater danger than the other shore birds because it was in the water, subject to all the swells and heaving of the waves. However, in selecting her nesting area, the grebe had chosen a part of the lake where the waves were lessened, broken by a strip of land that jutted against the shoreline. The nest bobbed with each swell and was unaffected by the turbulent flooding. The grebe and her eggs rested safely in the carefully built shelter. In making the nest, the grebe had employed an amazing engineering feat which served as a precaution for such a time as this. It had fastened the nest loosely to the reeds, and had designed it to float up and down with the waves. By carefully choosing the location and being deliberate in construction, the nest stood the test of severe weather. Against the danger of sudden spring storms, the grebe and her young escaped destruction. Further measures are taken by the grebe to protect her clutch, the grebe camouflages the eggs. By completely covering them over with vegetation gathered from the surrounding waters each time she leaves the nest she endeavors to protect her eggs from predators. It isn't long before the materials stain the eggs, causing them even less likely to be noticed by any enemy that would prey upon them. The grebe keeps constant vigil against predators. When hearing a suspicious sound or spotting the approach of an enemy she quietly pulls vegetation over the eggs. Then the grebe quickly slips off the nest and swims underwater for a considerable distance... when she finally surfaces, the predator (mink or raccoon) have no idea from which direction she came.

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