Sometimes we think God is very, very interested in what we are doing for Him. It can easily become a subconscious idea that we need to make God happy. We find that idea going on in 1 Chronicles 13. David becomes king, and realizes they need to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to Jerusalem so that they can use it for worship and prayer. The Ark isn’t the one that Noah built, that was a huge boat. This Ark is a box a few feet long that held the tablets the 10 Commandments were written on and the staff that Aaron used in Egypt to perform miracles. It was a sacred box that represented God’s truth, God’s reign, and God’s power to the people. It was very sacred and important. God had told Moses and the people that if anyone touched it with their bare hands, then they would die. They were supposed to carry it on poles, and only the priests could carry it. They whole idea was for the people to understand that it wasn’t an idol, or something to worship. It was a symbol of God’s love and power. Respect God by respecting what He gave them.
So, David decides to bring the Ark to Jerusalem. To use in prayer. It was never used that way. The priests prayed to God directly, not through a box. But David wanted to use it that way. So, they put it on a cart, and began hauling it to Jerusalem. In the story, it talks about how hard David and his crew danced, sang, and celebrated. It says “8 David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, timbrels, cymbals and trumpets.” Why? I’ve heard it was because David loved God so much, that he was captured in worship, taken by his passion for Jehovah.
I don’t think so.
When you read the whole story, the story is about how misguided David is. He does everything wrong. No priests are moving the ark, just people. It’s on a cart, not on poles. It’s being treated like an idol with power, not a symbol of the power of God. So, when one of the ox stumbles, the cart tips, and the Ark begins to fall off (maybe that is part of God’s reason for having the priests carry it?). One of the guys there puts his hand on it to catch it, and he dies. No, God isn’t being petty or mean. The whole crew is being disobedient and trying to manipulate God by what they are doing instead of listening to what He said to do. It cost one guy his life, and David got scared and moved the Ark to someone else’s house.
We do the same thing. We can easily believe that God is someone who we need to impress with how dedicated we are, or how passionate we are, or how smart we are, or how much we serve and give, or with how judgemental we can be, or with how forgiving we can be, or with how nice we can be. If we are simply ______________ enough, then He will be happy with us.
He loves us because of who He is. Our worship services are symbols of Him, not idols to hold to tightly. Our music, art, giving, laughter, love, and kindness all point back to how amazing He is, not how good we are.
When we take anything of God’s, and try to control it our way, it will kill us. Every time.
So, often we do what David did. We get freaked out and run from God. But catch the last part of this story:
“12 David was afraid of God that day and asked, “How can I ever bring the ark of God to me?”13 He did not take the ark to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.14 The ark of God remained with the family of Obed-Edom in his house for three months, and the Lord blessed his household and everything he had.”
David dumped this dangerous thing on Obed-Edom. When David was convinced it was too much for him to handle, he ditched his guilt and responsibility on someone else.
And God blessed them.
The Ark wasn’t the problem. David’s heart was.
Your ministry isn’t the problem.
Your family isn’t the problem.
Your job isn’t the problem.
Your boyfriend / girlfriend / spouse isn’t the problem.
Your church isn’t the problem.
It’s in your, and my, heart.
The rest are just symbols.