The Sacred and the Common

Soon after being made king over Israel, David decided to move the Ark of the Covenant from the place where it had rested since its return by the Philistines (See I Samuel 4-6).  At a conference of leaders recorded in I Chronicles 13, David outlines his plan to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem.  With great celebration David led a huge parade to retrieve it.  The Ark was loaded onto a cart, the oxen stumbled and one of the drivers of the cart named Uzza, reached out to steady it.  Immediately he was struck dead.  The festivities stopped and the Ark was left at a nearby house.  If the story ended there, it would seem that God was extremely cruel since it appeared Uzza was only trying to preserve the Ark from damage.

Three months later they came back for the Ark.  In I Chronicles 15 we read that a totally different approach was taken.  David and the spiritual leaders of Israel want back to the scriptures and followed the directions.  God was clear about how the Ark was to be handled:  It must be carried on poles by Levites after hey had made preparations of themselves as God had said.  The original error occurred because the priest had filed to perform their sacred duty with regard to the Ark.  It was now moved with no further incident.  When God’s things were handled in God’s way He blessed the results.

One of the great sins of this generation has been the way it has treated the sacred as common.  Never has there been a time that people in the Western world have been more self-absorbed than now. What might be expected among unredeemed humanity we sadly acknowledge has spread among the people of God.  The infection of arrogance has exalted the self.  The result is that God is diminished in the eyes of his people and the world as a whole.

It is seen in the way God’s people treat the Lord’s Day. While we are not meant to be slaves to the Sabbath, neither are we to treat it as any other day.  Why are so many stores and businesses now open on Sunday?”   Because the people who went to church in the morning join others in the aisles of the supermarket and walk through the stores at the mall on Sunday afternoon.  What should be set aside as a day of worship and rest has become another day of frenzied activity.

Scan the shelves of Christian bookstores.  The subject matter is heavily weighed toward how God can serve me, how I should feel better about myself.  Have you noticed how many special edition Bibles there areIn order for it to be marketable, even the Word of God has to be packaged in a way that appeals to the wants of particular groups.  When I went to the Christian bookstore to check this out, I counted 39 different specialty Bibles, not including those for children and youth.  Each offers the entire Word of God but slants it toward a special audience.

Think of Jeremiah walking through the streets of Jerusalem during the Babylonian siege.  Listen to the wails of grief from parents whose children have perished and from children now orphaned, the moans of those dying from starvation and Jeremiah’s pleadings to the people to repent all while the enemy is at the gate.  Imagine him coming for a moment to your corps and asking how many had read the words he wrote, inspired by God in his anguished suffering.  Would he not weep again to realize that we have treated the Word as common?

How many corps or churches long ago abandoned the prayer meeting.  For those who still have the prayer meeting, consider the attendance there and that of the crowds for a covered dish dinner.  We have replaced the fast with the feast, confused feeling good for being good, identified worship as an adjective describing choruses instead of a verb involving our hearts.

But truth remains.  Ours is a holy God who will not be served at the whim of spoiled children.  How dare we ask for God’s blessing if we have not sought God’s way?  How can we look for revival by trying to squeeze God’ spirit into our self-appointed times and conditions?  What arrogance there is to pray for an outpouring if we have treated the sacred as common.

“Holiness unto the Lord” is more than a slogan.  It is meant to be the standard of our lives.