Receiving His Riches
2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19
Reading this week’s text from 2 Samuel I was taken back to the 80’s, to the first of the “Indiana Jones” movies, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” In the climactic scene the bad guys (Nazis) open up the Ark and find a bunch of dust. Indiana warns his companion to keep her eyes shut though, and suddenly a great burst of light and energy emerges from the box, consuming everyone who looks upon it. As the bad guys scream in agony Indiana screams, “Don’t open your eyes! Don’t open your eyes!”
I remembered that scene because I read in the “comma” for this lesson from 2 Samuel. I read the part the liturgists didn’t think we should read. In it, as David brings the Ark to Jerusalem with great celebration, the oxen stumble, and Uzzah puts out his hand to steady it, lest it fall. God’s anger breaks out against Uzzah, and Uzzah is struck dead for this “error.” David is so frightened by this that he won’t bring the Ark any further and stashes it at the home of Obed-edom. Only when he learns that Obed-edom has been greatly blessed by the Ark’s presence does he go up to get it again.
David didn’t understand why God took Uzzah’s life for saving the Ark, and neither do the choosers of our lessons it seems. Neither did I until I heard Larry Randolph preach on this passage. If any of you have ever heard Larry Randolph preach and teach, you know his astounding heart for God. If you haven’t you owe yourself that treat. (http://www.larryrandolph.com) He has been gifted with such an awareness of the heart of the Father for His children that he preaches a love that is irresistable.
Larry wasn’t just preaching this passage when I heard him, but he brought it up as part of an explanation of God’s desire to “break out of the box” we have Him in. This is the gist of what he said: Uzzah’s error was not the “touching” of the Ark, it was the prevention of the falling. The stumbling of the oxen was something that God desired, so that He could be with His people in a new and powerful way. God wanted OUT. Uzzah’s error meant that we had to wait until Pentecost to receive what God wanted to give to His people Israel in that day.
I think that’s why the presence of the Spirit on Pentecost looked like flames of fire. The Holy Spirit, when we receive it fully, looks and feels a bit like that swirling mass of fire and light that consumed the Nazis in “Raiders.” It consumes in you and me everything that is not Holy, everything that is not of God, and it scares the bejeebers out of us! And even though we live in a post-Pentecost age, we still have “God in a box.” What Larry Randolph was trying to tell us in that message was that God wants out of our boxes so that He can bless us.
What box do you have God in? Is it your church building? Is it the Bible? (Yes, even the Bible can be made into a box!) Is it your sense of “justice,” or your sense of “morality?”
What scares us is that God wants out, and on some level, because the Holy Spirit is loose in the church here and there, we know it. We’re afraid that after the Spirit roars through our churches and our families there won’t be anything left but dust, like the bad guys in the movie. But that isn’t so. God sees on the heart, and all He wants to remove from us is that which stands between us and our power in Him, all that stands between us and who we really are.