This podcast covers Lesson 2 of Reboot Renew Rejoice Bible Study by Melanie Newton.
The Rewards of Approaching Life God’s Way
Better to do it God’s way the first time!
You've likely seen the movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Set during World War II, the Nazi leaders of Germany wanted the Ark of God because they thought it had some magical power. They captured it then found out that God doesn't like His Ark to be touched by anyone except in the manner He has expressly chosen. Well, that happened to David as well.
After King David got settled in Jerusalem, he had what he thought was a great idea. Move the Ark of God from a western farming community to Jerusalem— the new capital of Israel. So, he called his officers and the assembly of Israel together to celebrate the Ark coming to Jerusalem. He thought that God would be pleased. He forgot one thing: God's instructions on how to properly move the Ark. In Exodus chapter 25, God’s instructions said that the Levites were to carry the Ark only by using poles through the rings on the side so that no one would ever touch it. The Ark represented God’s presence and His holiness.
Instead of using the method prescribed in the Law, David copied how the Philistines returned the captured Ark back to Israel. The Philistines had put the Ark in a new cart with newly yoked oxen to return the Ark to an Israelite border town. The method had worked safely. So, David put the Ark in a new cart. The procession included crowds of people praising God with all kinds of worship music. You would think that God would be pleased with their good intentions. Then, the oxen stumbled, Uzzah touched the Ark to steady it which angered God. God ended Uzzah's earthly life.
Now, before anyone gets mad about this, Uzzah knew better. His family had carefully housed the Ark for all those years! Keeping everyone away from it. Can you imagine that responsibility? Had familiarity removed the sense of awe that the Ark deserved? Were they thinking of the Ark as a piece of furniture representing God rather than God's holiness Himself? David got angry and afraid of God, but he had put Uzzah in this dangerous position. God wasn't pleased with that way of approaching Him, and someone got hurt. It certainly captured the people's attention.
David had used the world's method to do something he thought was honorable. He let a seemingly good idea from a surrounding culture influence him to supposedly "please" God by doing the same thing. Uzzah became the bad example of how not to treat God and His holiness. That happens today, doesn't it?
David stewed about this for 3 months. But, he also consulted God's Word about doing it right. In 1 Chronicles chapter 15, David prepared a place for the Ark. Then, he called together the High Priest and the leaders of all the Levites—the ones who were supposed to move the Ark in the first place. First, he had them all renew their relationship to God personally before coming together to move the Ark. This is what David said in 1 Chronicles chapter 15 verse 13,
"It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way." (1 Chronicles 15:13)
He made sure the priests and Levites did everything right "in accordance with the word of the Lord as they successfully moved the Ark to the tent inside Jerusalem. Again, all this was accompanied by rejoicing, worship music and praise before God. Huge celebration! It must have been a fantastic sight and sound.
They approached this task God's way rather than the world's way. They did it right. Rejoicing not lamenting this time.
Praises, Prayers, and Promises
After David moved the Ark to Jerusalem, settling it in its own tent, David appointed a prayer team and orchestra to appear daily before the Lord. I had not seen the prayer team part before reading 1 Chronicles chapter 16.
"[David] appointed some of the Levites to minister before the Ark of the Lord, to make petition, to give thanks, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel." (1 Chronicles 16:4)
My friends, that's a prayer team! Incorporated in that prayer team were also musicians playing stringed instruments, brass instruments, trumpets, and percussion. That's an orchestra. Praying for Israel's needs and praising God was a team effort.
On the day the Ark was settled into its tent, David committed to his worship leader Asaph a psalm of thanks to the Lord. As you read this psalm in 1 Chronicles chapter 16, you see that it is a beautiful combination of praise for how God brought the nation of Israel together to be His very own people plus praise for who He is and thanksgiving for what He has done. If you think back to the purpose for the books of Chronicles, the readers would have read about God’s presence with them in the past and been encouraged to believe their God would continue to be with them.
Then, David expressed his desire to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. God's answer was, "No. I haven't asked for that yet." All along, God moved with His people wherever they went. God said it would be His decision if, when, and where a permanent dwelling place for His earthly presence would be built. Then, He promised to subdue all their enemies so Israel would have peace in her land. And, God would establish David's kingdom (house) forever and have His Temple built by one of David's sons.
David followed this message from God with a beautiful time of humble praise and thanksgiving to God. He wasn't mad at God. He accepted God's sovereign decision as he should. He said this,
"O Lord, you are God! You have promised these good things to your servant." (1 Chronicles 17:26)
That’s a good reminder to all of us. God is God; I am His servant. I must trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do even if what I am asking for seems like such a good and God-honoring thing to do. Thank you, God, for your goodness to me and my house as well. Can you say that? Amen!
David submitted to God’s way. He didn’t force the issue and go ahead and build the Temple just because he could. He approached life God’s way and was rewarded for it with a promise of future heirs. He had not asked for that. God’s grace gave Him that gift and rewarded David for his obedience.
The Rewards of Obedience
The Bible says the Lord gave David victory everywhere he went. 1 Chronicles chapters 18-20 recount Israel's victories under David's leadership over foes to the west, north, and east. Through these victories, it seems like David gained control of nearly all the land that God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. But, not only land. In each victory, David gained treasure and labor—resources that could be used for the future Temple building. Although David was not allowed to build the Temple himself, he intentionally stockpiled the resources Solomon would need to do so. David was still onboard with God's plans because he loved God.
Then, he took the census. That whole incident about the census has always confused me. Why was taking a census so evil? Even Joab, his army commander, was against this idea and tried to talk David out of it. But, David insisted on counting the fighting men. There is some missing information here, no doubt.
The bottomline is that in this incident David did not approach his authority as king according to God’s ways. Many people died because of his prideful decision. When David saw the angel of the Lord with his drawn sword over Jerusalem, David mourned his sin and pleaded with the Lord to spare the "sheep" of Israel and punish him instead.
God sent a prophet to tell David to go to the threshing floor of a man named Araunah and build an altar. This spot just "happened" to be on Mount Moriah where Abraham had taken Isaac to sacrifice to God (Genesis 22:1-2).
David obeyed. Araunah looked up while just threshing his wheat, and he saw not only King David coming to him but also the angel of the Lord with his sword ready to strike. That must have scared that guy and his four sons for sure! David bought the spot from Araunah so he could obey God's Word and build an altar to the Lord right there. Then, everyone present that day experienced the power of God’s presence.
"[David] called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering. Then the Lord spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath (1 Chronicles 21:26-27)."
Fire from heaven to light the altar. I thought that only happened in the time of Elijah on Mt. Carmel. No, it happened here 200 years before Elijah. God uses fire from heaven to make a statement for sure! The power of His presence!
God is the one who chose that site to be the location for His Temple. God worked something good out of something awful. He does that from His grace. God spared Jerusalem, giving David and anyone else watching a sign from heaven that they could not ignore—the angel with drawn sword and fire from heaven lighting up the altar!
What is also important is that Araunah was a Gentile—not a Jew. So, this Gentile and his sons got to see the God of Israel in action and received unexpected payment from a God-honoring King for their land that he could have taken from them for nothing. That's God’s grace, too.
The incidents about the moving of the ark and taking the census show the problems we cause for ourselves and others around us when we reject approaching life God’s way and choose to use the world’s way instead. Or, our own way. When we do that, we reject the power of God’s presence with us.
How often do we take something from our culture that seems to provide a good solution to our challenges in life and think that the logical outcome will be pleasing to God even if the choices we make are not in agreement with what God says in His Word? Think about the areas of parenting, marriage, surviving in a workplace, relationships, and recreational pleasures. God gives clear directions on how to approach life His way rather than the world's way. It's our responsibility to inquire of Him through the written word accessible to everyone. That’s the Bible. What is written in 1 Chronicles is a great reminder to us.
Our God’s powerful presence helps us to reboot our lives, renew our commitment to Him, and live a life of rejoicing as a result. Accessing and submitting to the power of God’s presence in our lives makes a huge difference for us and for those we love.
Let Jesus satisfy your heart with the power of His presence. Then, live in that power!
Until next time, I’m Melanie Newton. And, this is Series 6 of Satisfied.
Joyful Walk Bible Studies by Melanie Newton are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.