The New Cart
From worship to discernment of the Word, through and through, the modern American church has taken God’s perfectly designed plan and exchanged it for its own. We have exchanged Abel’s good sacrifice for Cain’s. We are in the process of giving our birthright away for a bowl of stew. Our spirits starve while we feed our bellies and we are dying inside and most of us don’t even know it. God is about to change all of this by shaking us awake. I don’t know how He is going to wake us up, but I know that He is working on us this very hour to get us to open our eyes. Behold, the modern church as portrayed by none other than the man after God’s own heart and the nation which followed him, King David:
“And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: and let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” 1 Chronicles 13:1-4
A leader who follows Jesus Christ will indeed seek guidance and counsel from elders of the church and there is nothing wrong with that. God places us amidst those whom He so chooses and sometimes their purpose is to provide needed course adjustment in our lives. However, God does not want to be left out of the picture. He may choose to use those nearest to us, but He will never place their relationship with us over His own. He wants to be our dearest and closest friend and confidant. He is our Creator God, Who created us to praise Him, to worship Him, to honor Him, and to fellowship with Him.
He is very much so a jealous God, and His greatest desire for each of us, after salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, is that we will speak with Him and listen to His still small Voice. We must, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, come to the Lord with all of our requests even how we do church. (Philippians 4:6-7). Though David acknowledged things should be of God, he did not enquire God directly to ask if whether this endeavor was of Him.
Notice with me in the passage so far two things.
1. King David consulted all of the leaders of Israel, but did not consult the priests and Levites while making this plan. They were sent for afterward.
2. To all those who were consulted, and including David himself, this decision was right in their own eyes.
Spiritually ignorant, they moved forward in what looked right to them. This is exactly what the majority of the American church is doing today. Most people are so Biblically unlearned that they have no idea that they are being misled in just about every aspect of their church experience. This is to include the “ordained of man” masses of leaders, pastors, preachers, and teachers who have learned from others who were misled how to grow their church and have made it a game of numbers and finance without discerning whether God is even in the building with them. They do right in their own eyes, which is to say, the eyes of the world, because they have exchanged the operation and movement of the Holy Spirit for business models and financial planning. The problem should be evident in that these churches actually do grow, and do so exponentially, but if we could see the spiritual side of things, we’d most likely see more tares than we would wheat among the members.
“So David gathered all Israel together, from Shihor of Egypt even unto the entering of Hemath, to bring the ark of God from Kirjath-jearim. And David went up, and all Israel, to Baalah, that is, to Kirjath-jearim, which belonged to Judah, to bring up thence the ark of God the Lord, that dwelleth between the cherubims, whose name is called on it. And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart.” 1 Chronicles 13:5-7
The Levites should have known they were the ones responsible for carrying the ark. It did not belong on a cart, new or otherwise. It especially was not to be moved by mere animals. Man was created by a holy God Whose holiness demands our respect and honor. It is man who is responsible for carrying the ark, and moreso, those men ordained by the holy and righteous God, the Levites. Moses had given them this charge long before King David chose to move the ark, and they should have spoken up because to carry that ark was a reserved honor, just as teaching and preaching the Word is today. Man does not ordain, God does. Yet, we see two men, whom were are not told whether or not they are of the tribe of Levi, driving the cart, completely unaware of the grave seriousness involved, and the Levites remained silent. We know they are there, for the scripture reads, “And David went up and ALL ISRAEL.” So, they either lost the knowledge of who they were and what their responsibility was or they lost the fear of the Lord in taking it seriously.
“And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzza, and He smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God.” 1 Chronicles 13:8-10
King David led this assembly. Look at the entirety of what was going on. They were dancing and singing and playing music to the best of the ability. They gave it everything that was within them to give, playing before the Lord, as they were moving the ark. This is what our modern worship looks like within the church. We bring out everything that we currently know and we mix in the things of this world. It is a very worldly based worship, akin to a concert. In a lot of churches, modern music, the same music that is played over our airwaves, is being brought in. The church leaders claim they are trying to reach the youth by drawing them in with the type of music they are attracted to outside of the church. In reality, there is not much difference at all between the church and the world when it comes to music.
It’s no wonder people have become disenchanted with Christianity. They don’t see a difference, and this truth is displayed in statistics that show the same rate of divorce in the church which is outside of the church. Children are growing up in the church and, as they enter adulthood, abandoning her in droves. The world says to believe its science over God’s Word and those who teach it are very convincing because, though we have brought the kids up in church, we are failing to lead them in how to follow the Spirit. The truth of the matter is that most of us are not following the Spirit ourselves, because we haven’t been taught how to either. And how can we lead if we cannot follow? For that matter, how can we follow without a God ordained leader? (Romans 10:14-16)
When people are not properly led, or when they do not properly follow the Word of God, they die. They die in spirit, because they are not living in spirit nor in Truth. Look at poor Uzza. Uzza can be both the church pastor and the church goer in this scenario. In either case, what did he do wrong that upset God so much? He mishandled the Word of God. He did so out of ignorance of how to handle the Word of God.
Okay, I know you are looking at the scripture again. You are thinking, he placed his hand on the ark, where am I getting that he mishandled the Word? To see this, we must understand what the ark is.
The ark of the covenant is called the ark of the covenant because within the ark is the book of the law which Moses therein placed. There is also the staff of Aaron and manna from their time in the wilderness. Each has its own purpose and meaning, but it’s that book of the law which we must look upon to see the Word of God. The law was given by God to Moses. God spoke to Moses. Those laws were what God said. Secondarily, the Old Testament is also referred to as the Law by Jewish scholars and by Saint Paul in the New Testament. If there is within the ark a book of the law and the Old Testament is called the Law; then, within the ark is the Old Testament, or the Word of God.
The Word of God is so vitally important, so holy and perfect, that God Himself would allow, only once a year, the high priest to come before Him where He would be found between the golden cherubim upon the ark within the holy of holies, His very Presence standing upon His own Word. Only the Word of Almighty God could be the firm foundation upon which everything holy and righteous, namely the only One True God Himself, could stand. Yes, Uzza mishandled the Word of Almighty God, the price for which, apparently, is death.
When the church and the church leaders are going down a good looking wrong road, they will ultimately come to a place where God will have had enough of trying to gently call His children back to the old paths. He will cause heavy trials of faith and tribulations in spirit to get His children to turn away from their wrong choices, and perhaps we will see more of the Body of Christ sick and dying physically. Look around. Don’t we already? How many of us have cancer? How many have addictions? How many struggle every day, without joy and victory in the small things? Where are the gifts of the Spirit in operation?
The leaders who are bringing the church down the wrong path seem oblivious to this truth. Their churches are filled with people who are struggling and starving in spirit but are too afraid to speak up and ask for help because everyone is wearing a mask to fit it. Ladies and gentlemen, the church is not for the perfect. There are none who are perfect anyway. (Rom 3:10 & 23)
The church is not a social club for the who’s who of Christianity. The church is a hospital for the sick. We all need healing. We all need help. We all are imperfect and in need of a righteous, holy Savior in our everyday lives, and though many have accepted Him for their salvation, most walk their own way and try to sanctify themselves apart from what God says and from what He, Jesus Christ, has already done.
Imagine the carnage that would have been left behind him, had David not stopped the parade to Jerusalem that day. When Uzza was struck down, imagine David ignoring it and continuing to dance down the lane, leading all Israel the wrong way. How many more would have touched the ark as the cart crossed the threshingfloor of Chidon and died? God takes very seriously the proper handling of His Word. Praise God that David saw his own error and knew he could no longer bring the ark in such a manner to Jerusalem!
“And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzza: wherefore that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How shall I bring the ark of God home to me? So David brought not the ark home to himself to the city of David, but carried it aside into the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of God remained with the family of Obed-edom in his house three months. And the Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom, and all that he had.” 1 Chronicles 13:11-14
So many leaders are not following David’s example. They are not stopping to consider those whom they are leading, and many of us who are following blindly are falling by the wayside. The new cart upon which we’ve placed our faith to bring forth the Word to the church and the world is not a good cart. The way we’re going about it is all wrong. It’s not about the number of people in the seats every Sunday.
It’s about the number of people who are growing in their walk with God. It’s about their relationships with God and with those around them flourishing. God has a very specific plan. It is a very simple plan for us. Like sheep led to water, we are to go to the Cross for salvation. That same Cross brings us sanctification. It brings us blessing. It brings us victories over the world, the devil, and self. The Cross is the means by which God does everything. It always has been, since before the foundation of this world.
It is by grace we are saved, through faith in Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Only grace can cover our mistakes and guide us to the right way, but we must come back to the Cross to continue to receive His grace. There is more than enough, but we must not forsake grace by the forsaking of the Cross.
We all should take a step back and sit down. We must rest from our own personal efforts and re-evaluate whether or not God is leading us in whatever we are doing or wherever we are going. We must ensure that wherever we walk, we are walking in the Spirit. If we are not, we must repent and turn back to God, to His Cross, and ask for new direction.
King David did this. The Bible says he went back and researched the right way to do things. He discovered that the Levites were the only ones charged with moving the ark. He discovered that even they were not to touch it, instead using staves to carry it upon their shoulders. David corrected the situation, and found favor once more with God. The ark was brought home, but it was handled with reverence in the process. Will we do the same?
May we humble ourselves this day, and truly seek the Lord. His will for us is plainly written in His Word for us to find. This is why He says, if we seek Him, we shall find Him. I pray we listen to Him and stop playing church in our own way, and go back to His Way.
It’s about Jesus Christ crucified and God’s mercy. It’s about our sin and our resulting need of His sacrifice because God is righteous and just, too. It’s about the Blood covering our sins and God’s grace to guide us, to strengthen us, and to move us in the direction He desires. It’s not about money or numbers. Jesus already told us that there would be few of us who would find the true Way. So, I pray, may we look upon our ways and consider whether they are of Him.
Heavenly Father, we thank you today for being righteous and holy, just and perfect, merciful and loving. In all of Who You are, we see Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Only Begotten Son to us to show us Your character displayed in human form that we may know You better and understand just what it means to be children of a living God. Praise be to Jesus for His perfect example and His perfect sacrifice on our behalf! Father God, may we seek Your Face and Your will for us in Your Word. Lord, may we follow in Your footsteps, in Your way, as difficult as it may be, and learn how to be more like You in all that we say and do. May we listen for Your still small Voice guiding us. May we follow the given Counselor’s urging to move toward You this day and each day hereafter. Give us ears to hear Your Spirit and eyes to see the path plainly before us. Wake us up from our deadened slumber and prod us once again to move toward the prize which is You. You Alone causes us to have faith, and You alone increases it within us. Thank You, Lord God, de Your mighty work within us. Thank you for the Cross. All the glory and honor and praise be Yours now and forever. Amen.