Do it right!
I am studying an Old Testament story that has influenced how I think about the presence of God. I have seen how some people seem to just shine with the presence of Jesus. I have long asked for God’s presence and glory to increasingly be made manifest in my life.
God is ever present – omnipresent if you want the big word, and He promises to never leave or forsake us. But it seems His presence rests on some in greater measure than others, and I want to understand why.
In Israel’s early days, the Lord was displeased with the hypocrisy of those who ministered in His house and double minded worship of His people. As a result, the Philistines began to oppress them. As Israel neared defeat, some genius had the idea to bring the Ark of God to the battle front.
But rather than winning them the victory, Israel was decimated and the Ark of God was captured by their enemies. God brought plagues on the Philistines until they sent it back to the border of Israel where it blessed the house where it rested.
Sadly, it was years before the Ark of the Presence was brought back to Jerusalem by David. But the man after God’s own heart learned a powerful lesson about obedience and God’s presence.
Bringing the Ark back on an ox cart, a man touched it when it began to tip, and was instantly killed by the glory of God. David, grieved, went about learning how God said His Presence must be carried. On the shoulders of His priests.
I have often taken the presence of God for granted, and rather than pressing in to find out what God actually wants in my life, I do what I think is “the good Christian thing”.
God doesn’t want sacrifice, He wants obedience from relationship, and it may not look reasonable or makes sense to our human minds, but it creates a place where the presence of God can rest.
You see, the presence and glory of God doesn’t rest on things. Not on programs or church services, or even good works. It rests on us. Jesus re-established us as a Kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:6), a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). We are to carry the presence of God in our lives.
In the wilderness God told Israel:
Now, if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure…And you will be my kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
Unfortunately, Israel didn’t want to know God – they wanted a liaison so they needn’t get close to the awesome glory of God, so God ordained priests as go betweens.
Sometimes I wonder if we miss out on the relationship God longs for, relying on our pastor or our church to be a liaison, rather than intimately knowing and obeying God Himself. The deeper we know him, the more of His presence and glory we carry into the world.
So, NO MORE OX CARTS!