1 Chronicles 13:9-12)
9 And when they came to the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzzah put out his hand to take hold of the ark, for the oxen stumbled. 10 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he put out his hand to the ark, and he died there before God. 11 And David was angry because the Lord had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzza to this day. 12 And David was afraid of God that day, and he said, “How can I bring the ark of God home to me?”
The scene where Uzzah reaches out, touches the holy ark of God, and dies for his transgression is one of those passages that is hard for us to wrap our minds around. The truth is, God’s holiness is deadly. Sadly, we forget that fact. We who live under the New Covenant fail to grasp the danger of a God who is absolutely righteous, pure, and perfect in every way. He is not like us. His standards are not ours. His ways are beyond ours. His justice is beyond ours. And, should we find ourselves opposing his holiness, we are in very deep trouble.
Notice how David reacted when God’s holy justice was displayed. David was angry. He got mad that God did what God did. Why? Because David found his friend in conflict with God’s holiness, and he did not like the results. David thought God ought to rule the world the way that David thought he would rule the world were he in God’s position. And David found himself to be wrong.
What do we do with this passage? I suggest two things that go hand-in-hand. First, I recommend that we learn to grasp the holiness of God. God’s holiness is great and frightening. God’s holiness is deadly to the impure. And, make no mistake, we are all impure. We need protection given to us by God if we are to possibly ever stand in his holy presence. This story reminds us of just how great is our need. This need causes us to again give thanks for the work of Jesus who paid the price for our sins and who makes us able to stand in the presence of the Lord.
Second, I would suggest that we check ourselves whenever our instincts are to think that we would do things in a different way than God. When we do not like the way that God rules the universe, we need to remember that he is the all-knowing, all-wise, all-good One and not us. We are flawed—all of us. We cannot possibly imagine how things should go. We lack the knowledge, goodness, perspective, justice, etc; in a word, we lack the holiness of God. So, when we see that God and we think differently, we should know, by faith, that his ways are better than ours, his thoughts higher than ours, and his perfection well beyond our flaws. It is our need to set our minds on God and his ways and to conform our thinking to his.