devos from the hill

The Deadly Folly of Doing God’s Work Man’s Way

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Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter

The ark of the covenant; a chest of acacia wood, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches deep. It contained the tables of the law, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod (Heb. 9:4). The lid of the ark was the place where God’s presence was manifested. During the days of Samuel, the Israelites took the ark from Shiloh into battle and lost it to the Philistines (1 Sam. 4:3-4; 10-11). In 1 Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6 we read of David’s attempt to bring the ark from the land of the Philistines to Jerusalem.

What begins with seemingly good intentions ends with disaster. One of David’s men is struck dead by God when he tries to keep the ark from falling off a cart, and David becomes so angry about the matter that he just leaves the ark with a nearby family and returns to Jerusalem without it. What went wrong?

Counsel without Wisdom – David’s first step was to consult every leader in Israel regarding the matter. “Then David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds, even with every leader” (1Ch 13:1). But David did not seek God, or search the scriptures concerning the thing he was about to do. Apart from God there is no wisdom, even in a “multitude of counselors” (Proverbs 24:6).

Praise without Power – Then David further masked over his error by staging a huge praise event around the return of the ark. “David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and with trumpets” (1Ch 13:8). According to 2 Sam.6:1, there were over thirty thousand men involved in the event! God is not impressed with pomp and ceremony. God looks at the heart. Quoting from Isaiah 29:13, Jesus said in Matt 15:8, “These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”

Good intentions without Godly direction – There may have been some sincerity in David’s plan to return the ark. But you can be sincere and be sincerely wrong. You cannot do God’s work unless it is done in God’s way. God gave the Israelites very specific instructions for transporting the ark (Ex 25:10-15, Num 1:51, 4:15, 7:9.) Only the Levites were to carry the ark, and no one was to touch the ark. David put the ark on a cart drawn by oxen. When the cart became began to tip, Uzzah reached up to steady it. His reaction may have been sincere, but he was wrong, and God struck him dead. Uzzah was a Levite. He should have known better, but he was (in a sense) set up by David’s misguided leadership.

In conclusion, consider these thoughts from brothers before us . . . “The above incident has been recorded for our learning, especially for those of us who are engaged in the Lord’s service. It points to a solemn warning. It shows the imperative need for zeal to be rightly directed, for there is “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2); this is a zeal to further the cause of God and bring glory unto His name, which is not regulated by that knowledge which His Word supplies. In our fervency to extend the kingdom of Christ, to spread His Gospel, to point souls unto Him, we are apt to forget His precepts, and do His work in our way. The danger is very real, and in this restless age of great activity not a few are being ensnared by this very evil. Many are so eager about the quantity of their service they pay too little attention to the quality of it: they are anxious to be active in the Master’s vineyard, but they do not sufficiently consult His guide-book as to how their activities must be conducted.” – A.W. Pink

“There is no incident from the Old Testament that teaches more clearly the importance of a careful, precise obedience to what the word of God says. I think it also teaches us that God is able to take care of his own cause. There are many today who, like Uzzah, are trying to steady the ark of God. They think it is going to be defeated by some challenge that is issued against it, and they become self-appointed defenders of the faith, little realizing that God is quite able to defend his own cause.” – Ray Stedman

God’s work must be done in God’s way!

Some take-a-ways by the staff:
1) Counsel, praise & sincerity are all good things, but not unless God is in them.
2) In life, business, or ministry, when God gives you a way of doing things, don’t deviate or take short cuts.
3) Doing it right is not about legalism, it is about flourishing in a fallen world.

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