Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shall We Be Guided by Feelings? Or by God's Word?

"David built houses for himself in the city of David. And he prepared a place for the ark of God and pitched a tent for it. Then David said that no one but the Levites may carry the ark of God, for the Lord had chosen them to carry the ark of the Lord and to minister to him forever. And David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem to bring up the ark of the Lord to its place, which he had prepared for it. And David gathered together the sons of Aaron and the Levites..., and said to them, 'You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. Because you did not carry it the first time, the Lord our God broke out
against us, because we did not seek Him according to the rule.' So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord."
- I Chronicles 15:1-15

The background of this passage is a prior attempt by David described in chapter 13 (and the parallel in II Samuel 6) to move the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem. In that effort, the procedures of the Law for handling the Ark were ignored in the enthusiasm of king and people. As a consequence (verse 10), "the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and He struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God." This was occasioned by the failure of David to follow the procedures specified by Moses in Exodus 25:12-15 and Numbers 4:15. In a renewed respect for God's holiness, David commands the second effort to proceed "according to the rule."

Paul makes a similar point in II Timothy 2:5: "An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."

How often have you heard a Christian justify his decisions with sentences that begin with "I feel" or "I think"? Or perhaps the more spiritual form, "I feel led." Rarely are choices made with an explanation that begins with "The Scripture says," or "God has said..." It isn't a matter of the lack of sincerity or enthusiasm, but rather an error of authority. As David discovered to his chagrin, God is not compelled to honor our sincerity. Rather, He honors His word, because He is God and we aren't. As He says in Isaiah 48:11, "My glory I will not give to another."

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