Obed-Edom – From a Gittite to a Levite – The God of No Impossibilities! Awamaridi.

 1 Chron 26:15 – to Obed-Edom the South Gate, and to his sons the storehouse.

God specialises in great outcomes! I think I want to say that once again. GOD SPECIALISES IN GREAT OUTCOMES!

Luke 1:37 says with God nothing shall be impossible. Jer 32: 27 – God says’ behold, I am the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah also cried out in Jeremiah 32:17  ‘Ah Lord God, You have created the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.

Who you align with; who you serve; who you worship; who you fear; who you follow and who you submit to, has a great implication of who you end up becoming in this life!

Such is the curious story of Obed-Edom. How can a Philistine, a sworn enemy of God, a pagan, an idolater, under divine judgement, end up among the Israelites and even more profoundly, a Levite? Levites are from the tribe of Levi and they are exclusively separated unto God for the temple worship and caring for the tabernacle. Out of the Levites, you have the priests, and only they can offer the sacrifices in the Old testament. All Priests are Levites, but not all Levites are Priests. Such was the exclusivity of these roles, that only one family were made priests. The family of Aaron. So, how does Obed-Edom and his sons end up in the tabernacle as Levites?

1 Chron 26:1-8 Concerning the divisions of the gatekeepers: of the Korahites, [a]Meshelemiah the son of Kore, of the sons of [b]Asaph. And the sons of Meshelemiah were Zechariah the firstborn, Jediael the second, Zebadiah the third, Jathniel the fourth, Elam the fifth, Jehohanan the sixth, Eliehoenai the seventh.Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men.All these were of the sons of Obed-Edom, they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the work: sixty-two of Obed-Edom.

In the previous blogs, I have explored possible reasons why God blessed Obed-Edom and his household. I have also considered the level of sacrifice Obed-Edom and his family expressed as they took the Ark of God into their house.

It has just also occurred to me that Obed-Edom was not a random choice for David. David knew this man quite well. He must have become one of David’s men, whilst David was a fugitive in the land of the Philistines. He must have shown David unusual loyalty, dedication to service and to God, to warrant David bringing him along into Israel and giving Obed-Edom a place in Jerusalem.

But after the three months of looking after the Ark, and God having blessed him and his entire household, David established an elaborate Levitical system of worship, appointing roles to different Levitical and Priestly families. He then drops inside this exclusive family of Levites, the man Obed-Edom and his sons. A Gittite. A Philistine. They were appointed gate keepers of the of the South Gate to the tabernacle area, and in addition, they were also appointed as the store keepers of the tabernacle! Wow! This is like double promotion.

A non-Jew, non-Israelite, ends up as a Levite! How does that happen? Simple answer, God. Obed-Edom allowed God into his life, altered his setup to accommodate God, like I said, made room for God, and God completely transforms him and his family and grafts them into an exclusive family, with incredible privileges in Israel. This is our God. This is the God we serve.

He took Ruth a Moabites and turned her into the great grand Mother of King David and consequently the Great, great, great, great grand mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ruth today is seen as a matriarch in Israel, not as a foreigner. The day Ruth decided to follow Naomi and align with the God of Naomi, that day her destiny changed and her eternal status changed.

How about Rahab? A prostitute from Jericho, a Canaanite woman, became the mother of Boaz and also ends up in the genealogy of David and Jesus the Christ. The day Rahab chose to show the Israelite spies favour and habour them in her house. The day she aligned herself with Israel and consequently the God if Israel, her destiny changed forever.

Now, let us not be in doubt. God can take anyone from anywhere and make them whoever he wants them to be and use them wherever He so desires to use them. God will render all protocols, discrimination, prejudices, nuances, preferences and preconceptions useless, if he so chooses to use you or make you! No one can stop Him.

We have a saying in Africa, that God can choose to fetch water in a basket, just to disgrace a bucket. He can decide to crack a palm kernel with an egg, just to disgrace a stone.

We call this AWAMARIDI. Unsearchable God. What is the most preposterous thing you can imagine. God can do it!

But this narrative will not be complete, if I fail to let you know, that God specializes in great outcomes and for some of us, He has already performed the impossible.

We were gentiles, pagans, unbelieving, idolaters and sinful people. But we heard the gospel of His Kingdom, we believed in the perfect atoning work of Jesus on Calvary. In that moment, God transferred us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, Jesus Christ. He made us earthlings into citizens of heaven. He grafted us into the commonwealth of Israel. He adopted us as sons and gave us a place next to Him. He made us heirs along with Jesus of His Kingdom. He made us Levites like Obed-Edom,  who can access the temple, but He went further and made us Priests, so we not only can worship before Him, we can handle the holy things of God and not get struck down like Uzzah! But He went even further and made us kings. What can I say? All I can say is THANK YOU LORD!

1 Sam 2:8 – He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them.

1 Peter 2:9-10 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

It seems a ‘no brainer’ to give all our hearts to God. It seems a bit obvious that if we allow God to rule our lives, we will reign in life. So, why don’t we all submit to God without reservation? I am not going to answer this question, because it is rhetoric.

All I would say is be wise! If you are looking for a great outcome! An ‘awamaridi’. Then go with God with all you have. He still specialises in GREAT OUTCOMES!

Let us Pray: Lord today, I just want to thank you for the radical transformation you have already wrought in my life. I am amazed at how You have taken me from being an enemy to being a son of Yours. I want you to do the same for anyone who is reading this and has not yet committed their heart to you by believing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that the will also experience the joys of the new birth in Christ Jesus. I also pray today, that you will make us who You want us to be. You will take us where You want us to go and You will establish us in whatever position or estate in life You so desire for us. I anticipate Your AWAMARIDI in my life. In Jesus mighty name, I pray. Amen

Raising Significant Children Obed-Edom – Part 6

1 Chron 26:6&8 – because they were men of great ability.  

All these were of the sons of Obed-Edom, they and their sons and their brethren, able men with strength for the work: sixty-two of Obed-Edom.

Today, looking at these sons of Obed-Edom and how they turned out, makes me want to reflect on why these sons became so significant. Was it the fact that God blessed Obed-Edom’s household? Was it what Obed Edom did with these sons of his? Was it just a fluke? Really why were all his sons so great, that the bible records it twice?

I have lived over 60 years on this earth. I have seen many people show great promise and end up ship-wrecked and I have seen others born into dire circumstances and without any hope of becoming significant, yet they have transcended their seemingly disadvantaged backgrounds and become great people. Do good homes naturally produce good children and vice versa? This is not a simple conundrum. It baffles the mind.

The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years and not one of his sons was captured by the bible as significant. Samuel was a great prophet, used so mightily by God, yet his sons were not great men. Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, who offered profane fire before the Lord, Eli was the chief priest in Israel and his son (Hophni and Phinehas) were referred to as sons of Belial (sons of the devil, wicked and worthless). David had sons like Absalom, Adonijah and Ammon. He was also father to king Solomon. Yet David was a man after God’s own heart. Jabez was born in pain and misery, yet the bible reflects that Jabez was more honourable than all his brothers and God heeded his cry for transformation. Esau and Jacob were twins. One was loved by God and the other was referred to as a profane man. Cain and Abel were most probably also twins. One was righteous and the other a murderer. Jacob had twelve sons. Ruben the first born defiled his father’s bed by sleeping with his step mother. Simeon and Levi were known for their cruelty and anger. Yet they had a brother, Judah who was full of integrity, Joseph who was full of mercy.  Rachael was beautiful, yet a crook and an idolater (she stole the family idols) and Leah was a woman of delicate eyes and seemed to have become the matriarch of her time.  She was buried in the same burial place, Abraham and Sarah were buried, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah in Hebron. What an incredible testimony. Judah had two sons God killed because they were wicked. The list goes on.

Let me clear. Upbringing, family circumstances, values, discipline and training all have a way of affecting lives and making people turn out right. Also, God’s grace, favour and mercy is probably the most important reason for doing what is right and ending up being upright and righteous. Education, friends, acquaintances and even your spouse can be instrumental in how your life goes. But, none of these is an exact science and cannot be a cast-iron indication that one will end up right.

I have a theory, or maybe it is a hypothesis, that personal choices are the most important determinants in how a life is lived.

You can be born and brought up in the most abysmal situation and end up a resounding success in life. Whilst on the other hand one could be born with all the right genes, right family, right values, discipline, education and training and still end of a disgrace to your family. So, the choice as to what one does with one’s life is most important. Obed-Edom must have given his sons the right teachings etc, but these men must have heeded the instructions and made individual personal decision to follow the way of the Lord. This to me is the defining factor. At some point, parental input will cease and children will have to make their way in life. It is at this stage that the heart of the child is exposed and the Lord is able to transact and deal with that child on their own personal choices and relationship with Him.

Let me quickly bring a character into this narrative today. His name is Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. His uncles, messed up before God and were destroyed. Let’s read the account of what he did in Numbers 25:1-15 – 251 

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them. 4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.” 6 Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. 10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.” 14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Kozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

Phinehas, at this moment showed his heart for God and undertook and action that stopped the plague that had killed 24,000 people. God spoke to Moses and singled Phinehas out as the one who stopped the plague and also blessed him and his descendants with a covenant of shalom and a lasting priesthood.

It seems that parents need to teach their children to fear God more than anything else in this life. It appears that the ability to stand for God is the defining posture that makes people stand out and be ‘successful’ in godly terms.

The sons of Obed-Edom were called ‘men of valour’, men of ability, men with strength to do the work. Perhaps the greatest legacy of Obed-Edom was his ability to transmit to his sons, the singular heart to prioritise God in their lives.

So, it does not matter so much what your past or antecedents have been, it matters most what you do for and on behalf of the Lord. Children from good homes end up bad and those from bad homes end up good. It boils down to the heart of the individual and their decision making before the God who sees and knows all things.

Let us Pray: Father God, today I want to ask you to give me the grace to love what you love and hate what you hate. Grant me the grace to always choose what pleases you even if I am unpopular and people reject me. Lord, help me to stand unshakingly for You in my generation. Let this quality be passed on to my descendants. Let my generations to come have this legacy that they are god fearing and will never compromise on God’s standards, no matter the personal cost. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

This is Love!

Key passage: Song of Songs 8: 6-7 – Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised

Key Text – Song of Songs 8:7 – Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.

If you follow the secular media, especially the tabloids and lifestyle/celebrity magazines, you would clearly get the impression that love is some fleeting, whimsical feeling that wafts into your life and leaves almost as quickly as it came. You get the impression it is an unpredictable phenomenon like the British weather. The ease at which the celebrities fall in and out of love, and the frequency of their love cycles is quite alarming. They give the impression that love is transient. Nothing can be far from the truth. Love never ends.

One is really burdened, because the bible says in Hosea 4:6 “My people perish for lack of knowledge”. People have been fed with junk and lies and as such many people have broken lives and relationships, because they are no longer in ‘love’. The big question is was there love at the foundation of the relationship or infatuation or just plain lust? Love is not what you feel, it is something you do, and you give. It is a deliberate act of your will and once you commit to real love, you never pull out. It is for life. It is cast iron.

One of the reasons for the misconception is the general application of the word love. Love in the Greek  has at least four meanings.

1. Eros – from where you get the word erotic and that has to do with sexual love, which is purely a physical thing and must not be confused with the sexual intercourse shared between two married people, which is a consummation of their love and in a very deep spiritual way the two become one flesh. Eros is another word for lust. Because people feel sexually attracted to each other, does not mean they are committed in love. That warm fuzzy feeling, that weakness you feel around the knees, that light headedness, the sudden palpating wildly heart thing you feel is not love at all. It is simply an attraction. That attraction can often be misinterpreted as love and when it is no longer there, people then say they no longer love. Complete error. That is not love!

2. Phileo – This is the where we get the word filial love which is the love friends have for each other. It is delighting to be in the presence of another, a warm feeling that comes and goes with intensity. This type of love requires some level of commitment, but it is still not the love that should exist between man and woman or more specifically husband and wife.

3. Storge Love – Storge is the natural bond between mother and infant, father, children, and kin. William Barclay states, “We cannot help loving our kith and kin; blood is thicker than water”

4. Agape or Agapa, this is the love of God shed into human hearts. It is the love that is totally unconditional, without prejudice and without expectation from the recipient by the giver of the love. Agape is the highest purest form of love. It is the love that God loves us with, and He expects us in turn to love others with such love. It is this love that makes marriages endure.

There are four aspects to agape love that will help us to discern it.

a. It is voluntary – The giver gives without being compelled or coerced. It is free from the giver’s will.

b. It is sacrificial – Agape is always willing to give everything to the object of love, even if it means you losing something. It is ready and willing to go through inconvenience and pain to express love and keep loving. Just think of Jesus going to the cross!

c. Love anticipates the needs of others and meets it without any request from the one loved. Love is always looking for a way to serve the other. How can I bless her? How can I help him? Love focuses on the one being loved and almost instinctively knows what to do to love the one they love!

d. Love’s reward is in loving. This is perhaps the least understood. The world teaches reciprocal love and I am not against it, but it is diametrically opposed to real biblical agape love. Agape love is not looking to be loved back. Agape love is not looking for the one loved to reward them for loving them. Agape love is fully satisfied by the act of loving. When you love the agape way, the cycle or loop is completed by loving. Nothing else to add.

Our text today shows us that the flames of love are  most vehement flames. They cannot be quenched by a deluge of water, nor can it be drowned in floods. Love has in-built in it the capacity to overcome the worst life can throw at it and still come up looking bright and beautiful. Love is not whimsical, Love is rugged, dogged and can never die. Love is eternal, because it comes from eternity. Love never fails. It never stops and never runs dry.

Jeremiah 31:3 says “The Lord has appeared [a]of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
od’s love for us is not a fleeting love. It is everlasting, that is why God is so committed to us His children.

Romans 8:37-39 shows us “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The bible tells us nothing; absolutely nothing can come and separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 49:15-16 says Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;’ This is one of the most profound illustrations of God’s love to us His people. He asked if a breast-feeding mother could forget her child and not breast feed him? He said even if she can forget, He would never forget. He went on to say He has engraved us on the palms of His hands. WOW!

 I suggest to you that this was a prophetic word about Jesus Christ whose hands were pierced at the cross. The wounds are love marks and every time He reaches out to do anything with His hands, He is reminded of His love for us. If you really want to know how much God loves you, just look at Jesus on the cross. If you want to know how committed God is to you, look again at the cross. This was no whimsical, fleeting act. This was an indelible, deliberate, permanent decision. God loves you and I.

This is LOVE!

This is an updated version of a blog first published 15/02/2014

Let’s pray: Father, give me a fresh understanding of love and help me to receive deep within my heart your love so I can love people with the same love. I ask this in Jesus name. Amen.

Obed Edom Part 5 – The Man Who Made Room For God & Got Stupendously Blessed – 2 Sam 6:1-12

12 Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.”

A proverb says, “Great Doors swing on Little Hinges”! Sometimes a little right but inconspicuous action can lead to a life altering, forever blessing in one’s life. That is why we have to be very careful and intentional in all our actions. Most big opportunities in business and commerce come on the back of doing a small inconsequential work very well. I have two stories to share before we look at Obed-Edom again.

Ramon, yes Ramon. A Moslem man. He has been my electrician for over the last 20 years. Ramon did everything with an unusual excellence. He came to me through my brother who recommended him to do the electrical wiring for our first house. I watched this man work, quietly, unobtrusively and diligently, that he stood out in a context of very poor artisans, who simply were out to rip you off and deliver shoddy work. Ramon was a revelation, and I took note of him. When the opportunity arose for another building project, I did not even have to contemplate. He was hired immediately. Now there is another huge project, and I cannot imagine anyone else doing it. All his work for us has stood the test of time. Whilst we have had problems with water, roofing, plastering and other little niggling matters in the last 12 years, Ramon’s work has remained untainted, and we have no complaints. If you want an excellent electrician, please send me a private message.

Another case is that of Rene ( Pronounced Renae) Coco. Rene was our missions driver in the Republic of Benin. We bought a car and gave it to him to maintain and use to carry me and other leaders around Benin when we were in town. Every time I came to town the car looked newer than when we last saw it. Rene is pathologically neat. He is an excellent man. He was also my translator, because he spoke all the local dialects in Benin, plus those from neighbouring Ghana, Nigeria and Togo!  He was a polyglot and very accurate in his translation. He could easily have been the evangelist in those days. It was a joy to work with Rene. When we were about to wrap up our missions work in Benin, I called Rene and told him the job was coming to an end. I asked what I could do for him. He simply thanked me for the opportunity to serve and said he was fine. I then proceeded to pray for him. I asked that God will remember him and reward him for the excellent way he served us. We left for the UK and Rene stayed in Cotonou. Three months later, Rene got a surprise call from his old boss. An ambassador to Benin, that Rene had worked for. This ambassador had left many years prior, but never forgot Rene, and had now been appointed to represent his country as the ambassador to the USA. He had options of selecting his staff and he immediately remembered Rene. He asked if Rene will come and work with him as his chauffeur in the US. Of course Rene agreed, he was able to take his wife and children with him. Renee and his family were able to complete their education, Rene earned a Master’s degree and only the Lord knows how much his life and lot has been transformed by his seemingly inconsequential diligence and excellence.

Obed-Edom was such a man. Though the bible did not say much about his character or the way he treated the Ark of the Covenant, it is obvious that he must have excelled, because the bible records that God blessed him and all his house hold. This blessing was so visible, that it was reported to king David.

How was he blessed by God?

In three months, it became the talk of town that the house of Obed-Edom is blessed. One can only imagine. Visible, tangible prosperity, unusual favour, protection, incredible joy and celebrations, children doing well, perhaps his family business suddenly broke through. One can only imagine, but it was something people took notice of. But there are three blessings I see here in the scriptures about Obed-Edom, because of the Ark.

  1. God Blessed His Sons – One of the ways God blessed Obed-Edom was in giving him many sons—eight to be exact. 1 Chronicles 26:4–8   Moreover the sons of Obed-Edom were Shemaiah the firstborn, Jehozabad the second, Joah the third, Sacar the fourth, Nethanel the fifth, Ammiel the sixth, Issachar the seventh, Peulthai the eighth; for God blessed him.Also to Shemaiah his son were sons born who governed their fathers’ houses, because they were men of great ability. The sons of Shemaiah were Othni, Rephael, Obed, and Elzabad, whose brothers Elihu and Semachiah were able men. His sons were men of great ability and able men. The bible does not embellish. So, if the bible says some men were men of great ability, then they were exceptional. This word is the word we use when we say a ‘Mighty Man of Valour’. They were mighty men of valour. They were men of חַיִל ḥaiyl; probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valour, strength. They were definitely not insignificant. The bible says they were ‘able’ men. Again it is the same word, Haiyl, strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army strength ability, efficiency, wealth, force, army! Let’s just say these men were men of incredible stature!
  2. God Blessed His Grandsons – Apart from his eight sons, he had a total of 62 men in his family as at the time of recording this scripture. Sons and grandsons. The bible described these 62 men as ‘able men with strength for the work’! These men had another quality, they had KOACH meaning firm; vigor, literally (force, in a good or a bad sense) or figuratively (capacity, means, produce); also (from its hardiness)— ability, able, force, fruits, might, power(-ful), strength, substance, wealth. So, this blessing was not confined to one generation, it became multi-generational. That is just so like God. To bless your descendants for your faithfulness. Remember the Ark was only in Obed-Edom’s house for just three months, but the effect of the Ark lingered for possible eternity.
  3. God Blessed His Lineage Forever – I will not treat this in this post, but will look at it as a post all by itself, because it deserves such major attention. Just a little teaser. How does a Philistine from Gath (Goliath came from Gath), end up in Jerusalem and in the tabernacle as one of the appointed Levitical priests in Israel? This is a most intriguing question and I promise I will do my best to answer it.

To conclude today, I think we can safely say a few things. God’s blessing truly makes one rich and add no sorrows to it. The little inconvenience we sometimes endure to serve God, may be working for us a far weightier glory that we can ever imagine. The blessings of God are generational. What you do for God in one generation can keep yielding fruit of blessings in many generations to come. Like God promised that He would bless up to a thousand generations of those who love and serve Him.

With a logical mind, I want to say Obed-Edom was most likely inconvenienced for just three months and he ended up with a blessing that would last forever.

Contrast that to the house of Abinadab, over 20 years with the ark and no visible impact, or an even more interesting one. The man who refused Jesus’ parents room in his Inn. What a great miss? I like to think. What would have happened to that hotel? Would it probably not be the most sought-after hotel room in the world today. What revenues would have come into this family? Today we don’t even know who the man was or his family?

We really need to pray: Father God, please do not let me miss my day or hour of visitation. Help me to always remember that a little right act can lead to a generational blessing. Help me to be willing to be inconvenienced to serve you, so that I will not forfeit a blessing you had reserved for me. Lord thank you for discernment and discretion in my life. In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen.

Obed-Edom – Part 4 – Why Uzzah? Why?

7 Then the anger of the LORD was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. 2 Samuel 6:7

Reading the comments on ‘poor Uzzah’ and the seeming severity of God’s apparent swift judgement on Uzzah, I decided to spend an extra day on exploring the story of Uzzah and see if we can learn something fresh from this rather tragic story. (This is a long read, so get a cup of tea!)

I want to start with a few statements. God is never unjust. God is never vindictive. God never does evil. God’s actions are always full of integrity. God always does right. Let’s settle this. Having established this, we can move forward without risking irreverence and blaming God.

Who was Uzzah? Uzzah (his name simply means strength). Knowing the Israelites always name their children like most Africans, based on prophetic revelation of something they perceive as a feature of the child, Uzzah must have had some type of strength or was a strong guy), we will leave that for now. He was one of three sons of Abinadab. (Ahio, Uzzah and Eleazer). Who was Abinadab? Abinadab was a Levite who lived in Kirjath-Jearim.

How did the ark end up in the house of Abinadab on top of the hill? Due to the apostasy of Israel, the Philistines captured the Ark for seven months, God plagued the Philistines and they wanted nothing to do with the Ark anymore. They returned the Ark to Israel on a cart driven by oxen. The Ark arrives in a place called Beth-Shemesh (House of the Sun). The oxen of their own accord brought the Ark to Beth Shemesh and the people of Beth Shemesh were so happy to see the Ark. The Levites came and took the Ark down and set it up and sacrificed before the ark. Then, the men of Beth-Shemesh looked into the Ark and God struck them, a total of 50,070 men died as a result of this irreverence. Please take note of that number. They then sent for the men of Kirjath-jearim and they brought it to the house of Abinadab, then they consecrated one of his sons, Eleazar to keep the ark.

Now this is where the story picks up. The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years.

He had a son named Eleazar (God is my helper), who was consecrated and set aside for the care of the ark? Why was he not involved with bringing the ark into Jerusalem? Why was it Ahio and Uzzah his brothers, who now took charge? Did they have a conflict? Did Eleazar warn them not to do it the way they chose to? What happened? We can’t say for sure.

One thing we know for certain is that God judged Uzzah for his error.

Uzzah had the ark in his father’s house for 20 years. Had he been irreverent towards the ark? Remember he was not consecrated to look after the ark. Was he too familiar with the ark that he had lost the awe the ark demands? They say familiarity breeds contempt! Did he muscle his way into this position, pushing his brother aside? Remember this was a very big event. All the important men of Israel were assembled. Did he advice king David to use the methods of the Philistines, cart and oxen to move the ark, because if he had followed the prescribed order, he would definitely not feature in the procession?

One can only wonder and ponder. What really happened is in the realms of mystery until God decides he wants us to know

. I am particularly intrigued by the simple fact that the Ark was in their house for 20 years and nothing was mentioned about the house being blessed. Contrast that to Obed-Edom who only had the ark for 3 months and his house was blessed.

Is this an indication that they were irreverent, though, Eleazar appeared to have done his work well, perhaps the other brothers were definitely not as dedicated and clearly, not consecrated. Why did they choose Eleazar to look after the Ark among the three brothers? These are questions that begin to give us a clue.

I want to make some personal assumptions here.

1. Uzzah must have been a forceful guy, strong man. The Ark was supposed to be carried by 4 priests on their shoulders. Uzzah was going to carry the ark alone. Hmm!  The Ark weighed quite a bit, enough to warrant four men carrying it.

2. He was most likely a man who used the flesh and fleshly means a lot. How did he take the place of his anointed and consecrated brother?

3. He must have been over familiar with the ark. (Like some say, he had began to treat the Almighty God like his buddy). God loving us and condescending to behold us, does not and can never give us the license to dishonour Him. Whatever you do, never dishonour God. It cost Moses the promised land. It caused the death or Aaron’s two sons, Nadab and Abihu. God must always be honoured and hallowed.

4. He touched the ark, which was strictly forbidden. At this stage, it is a culmination of many acts irreverence and willful, fleshly attempts to help God. Before the Ark came to their house, Uzzah must have known that the Philistines were seriously plagued and the over 50,000 men of Beth Shemesh were killed for looking into the Ark. Where did his fear of God go?

5. If God struck him for his error. God saw what we did not see. God sees beyond external actions; he sees the state of the heart. What was in Uzzah’s heart when he touched the ark?

I saw this entry by Pastor Francis Chan and thought I align with his perspective, so I have reproduced it here (I hope he does not mind).

“To us, many situations in Scripture involve a punishment that was too severe for the crime. But why do we feel this way?

We don’t understand what it means for something to be “sacred.” We live in a human-centered world among people who see themselves as the highest authority. We are quick to say things like “That isn’t fair!” because we believe we deserve certain rights as humans. Yet we give little thought to the rights God deserves as God. Even in the Church we can act as though God’s actions should revolve around us. The stories in Scripture are meant to show us that there exists something of greater value than our existence and rights. There are things that belong to God. Sacred things. His ark of the covenant, His command to Moses, His offerings in the temple, His Holy Spirit, His Holy Communion, His sacred Church. In all the above situations, people rushed into something sacred and paid the price. We shouldn’t be surprised; we should be humbled. We have all done things more irreverent than those mentioned above. Let’s thank God for His mercy and tread more carefully into sacred matters.”

Francis Chan, Letters to the Church (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2018).

What can we learn from this tragedy?

1.       We must always do our best to let the Holy Spirit lead and we should depend of God’s Spirit for God’s work. The arm of flesh will fail. It is not by might nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord of Hosts.

2.       Let’s not get too familiar with God that we lose our fear of Him. I mean reverential fear of God. Because God loves us does not mean will not judge us. We have to remember that God has absolute integrity. We must remember the basis on which we stand in His presence. It is the blood of Jesus alone and may we never lose sight of that and begin to think that we have some type of privileges because we did somethings for God.

3.       We live in the dispensation of grace, but it is never a license to sin. Quite the opposite. Grace empowers you to live right and to shun sin. I said this to answer those who say, ‘that was God in the Old Testament’. God has not changed. He remains the same. Let us not abuse His grace. I love the grace of God. It is why I am who I am. I will always depend and draw on His grace, but may I never take the grace for granted.

4.       God striking only Uzzah and not the entire procession is an act of both His mercy and grace. By the mercies of God, we are not consumed. The Hebrew description of how God dealt with Uzzah implied Uzzah basically exploded. So, God restrained himself to one man, perhaps the one man who truly initiated the error. He covered the rest of the 29,999 men and gave them an opportunity to get it right. Thank God for His mercy!!!

5.       Today we can walk in liberty and freedom, because the blood of Jesus has been shed for us. The provision of the blood of Jesus precedes all our predicaments. All our sins. All our errors. This is mercy. But the blood also releases God’s abundant grace, so we are empowered to avoid costly errors. (We shall explore this deeper soon).

Finally, a view of the Cross is important here. Jesus was sinless. He took upon himself the sin of man. God released the full punishment upon Jesus for our sins, in order to fulfil His righteous judgement, yet in the same act, he protected us from His wrath, absorbed our punishment, whilst extending mercy and grace to us. That is why, to ignore the Cross of Jesus, and refuse its provisions, is to tell God he does not know what He is doing. That is why, the bible says in John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Let Us Pray: (Make it personal today) Lord help me to always honour You and revere You! Help me never to become too familiar with You that I lose the sense of Your Awesomeness. Help me to always remember to ask for the help of The Helper, The Holy Spirit, so I am not operating in the flesh. Let me always remember the provision of the cross and appropriate both the mercy and grace it provided for me. Thank You for the continuous speaking of the blood of Jesus for me. Amen

Obed-Edom – Part 3 – God is Holy! Holy! Holy!

2 Samuel 6:3 So they set the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new [c]cart.

Today, we will look at another aspect from the story of Obed-Edom, but not focusing on him as the hero of our story today. But like I said from the previous entries on this man, there is a lot to learn.

Good ideas. How many good ideas have ended up in disaster?

This was one of those moments in history when a good idea was just not good enough. This all started out very well. David had decided the Ark of the Covenant needed to be close to him in Jerusalem. He was convinced it was the best thing for him and the nation. Nothing wrong with desiring deeply the presence of God and wanting closer proximity to God.

So, David assembled 30,000 choice men of Israel, great number of musicians, with a diverse array of instruments of fir wood,  harps, stringed instruments, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals. Knowing David’s love for music and worship, this must have been a great day. They proceeded to bringing the Ark out of the house of Abinadab, with his two sons Ahio and Uzzah in charge. They put the Ark on a new cart and got oxen to pull the cart with the Ark on it.

It all looked very well planned and excellently executed. Then, disaster struck. They came to Nachon’s  threshing floor, the oxen stumbled, it appears the Ark was going to fall off the cart, and Uzzah reached out his hands to steady the ark. Then the bible records that God struck Uzzah for his error and he died there by the Ark of God. Very sad indeed.

I have often read this story and felt this was severe. You feel sorry for Uzzah, because he was only trying to help. His intentions were noble or so it seems, until you read the scriptures carefully again. The bible says Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and God struck him there for his [e]error; and he died there by the ark of God.”

God struck him for his error! Error?  What was the error?

The entire procession was wrong. The error started way before the oxen stumbled and Uzzah took hold of the ark. It started with not consulting the Lord on how the ark should be moved, not following God’s prescribed order and process, not allowing the designated people to carry the ark. God had stated in  many verses of the bible, Exodus 25:14, Numbers 4:15, 7:9, how the Ark must be moved. Not on a cart, not a cart driven by oxen (that came from the Philistines), but on the shoulders of specially dedicated men, Levites, who were to use golden poles to carry the Ark on their shoulders. No one, absolutely no one was allowed to touch the ark. Not even the Levites. This was the error that culminated in the death of Uzzah.

Hear what David said later on, once he realized his error.

1 Chronicles 15:2 –  Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.” 

11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; [b]sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him [c]about the proper order.”

14 So the priests and the Levites [d]sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

What can we learn from this story?

Good intentions may not necessarily be God’s intention. Good ideas may not be God’s ideas. God is Holy. God is Holy! Holy! Holy! He is the Sovereign of the Universe. He is the only Potentate! If earthly kings have protocols, should not the Monarch of the Universe, The Creator of Heaven and Earth have protocols?

Proverbs 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

This leads me to a point of reflection. As a Christian, we are called to follow the Lord and walk by His word. There seems to be a lot of ideas and practices that believers follow and carry out today that are not based on God’s word, but are simply traditions of men or at best good ideas. We need to be very careful; we are not doing what we feel God wants, not what He prescribed. We must do what God wants, not what we think He wants. A good idea may not be a God Idea. Be careful of good ideas that God did not request. – 1 Sam 15:22 – Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Jesus said in John 14:6 – I  am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.

Acts 4:10-12 “…let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

God has His prescription for humanity and all good ideas are dead in the water. Only what He prescribed will adequately deal with the dilemma of humanity. Jesus is not one of the ways, He is the Only way!

Let’s Pray: Father God please forgive us for our assumptions that we know what you want. Forgive us for pushing men’s ideas as Your ideas. Please help us to seek Your counsel and ask for Your pathways. Grant us the grace to retrace our steps where we may have gone wrong. Above all today, help us to recognize afresh, that You are Holy! Holy! Holy! In Jesus name we have prayed. Amen

Obed Edom – The Right Man in the Right Place with the Right Attitude – Part 2

So David would not move the ark of the Lord with him into the City of David; but David took it aside into the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.  2 Sam 6:10

There are moments in God, that He draws you closer and reveals life altering truths to you. These moments need to be treasured and not glossed over. I was listening to my wife speak on a certain day and she mentioned Obed Edom and the Ark in an illustration and right there and then, the Lord arrested my wandering mind and heart. He basically told me the story of Obed Edom is pivotal for these days and I was to study him. So, I am sharing what I have gleaned from the life of this unusual character in the bible.

The Ark of the covenant had been in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years. Nothing was reported about God’s interaction with Abinadab and his family, yet the ark was in Obed Edom’s house for three months and God blessed him and all that was his.

I have a few thoughts to share with us in this second part.

How did the ark coming to Obed Edom disrupt his life? What adjustments would he have made? Did he have time to prepare?

  1. Where did they place the Ark in his house? Was the Ark now in His living Room? Meaning it became the center of all their attention. Or did he give up his bedroom for the Ark to have a resting place.
  2. How did he reorganize his house and family to look after the ark? In what ways was the family life and routines disrupted to host the Ark for the three month? Did they develop a new family rota, involving Obed-Edom and his sons, taking turns to watch over the ark?
  3. How did they deal with the stigma of hosting the Ark? Remember everybody was afraid of the Ark and feared it. So, most of their friends and family would probably have skillfully avoided going to visit the house of Obed-Edom.
  4. Knowing the sanctity of the Ark and the power it carried, how did they deal with holiness issues in the household, knowing God could break out against sin anytime? Did they have to sacrifice animals and apply the blood every day to cover for errors? What did that cost the family?

Just a few questions to ponder. But allow me just a short observation.

God is never a convenient alternative. God is always the only viable option and allowing God into your life will mean radical changes. We are in danger of believing that God must work in our own ways and His dealings will suit our lifestyles. That is an error. God will disrupt your cozy life, albeit for the better. God will take center stage. God is not as interested in your comfort as he is in your character development. God on our own terms is idolatory and not worship. God on His own terms is the foundation of true worship. God is number one and no one or nothing can or should take His place.

Jesus coming to redeem us was not a convenient exercise. The cross was not comfortable. Far from it. His humiliation, condescension, crucifixion were all deeply painful and challenging. But He willingly endured for our sakes. Thank you, Lord!

Obed Edom was willing to alter His life, be inconvenienced and make sacrifices for accepting to host the Ark. Do you now he had no idea how long the ark will be with his family?

So, we also must be clear that when God calls us or we have to host the glory of God, it will never be convenient, comfortable or on our own terms. We must be ready to make room for Him and remain joyful for the opportunity to serve the owner of everything including our own lives.

Any wonder why God blessed him and all that was his.

Tomorrow, we will go a bit deeper and consider this matter from another angle. Have you ever considered the Inn Keeper that refused the parents of Jesus a birth place in his hotel? Was he wise or foolish?

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, help us never to allow the error of convenience rob us of the immense benefits of serving you. Help us to learn from this man Obed Edom and help us to be willing to make any sacrifice to accommodate You. Lord Here Am I. Hineni Adonai. Thank you for grace! Amen.

Obed Edom – The Right Man in the Right Place – Part 1

And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. 2 Sam 6:1-11

The bible says, “I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favour to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

We often hear of a person being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some people are at the right place at the right time. I always pray that God will order my step, so I can be at the right place at the right time. I pray this for you too today.

Such probably is the curious case of this man called Obed Edom. He was among the choice men of Israel. Thirty Thousand of them specially assembled by King David for a very special event! Thirty thousand men to help bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem. All was set and the Ark was moved from the house of Abinadab.

Abinadab had been custodian of this most precious divine piece of furniture for about 20 years. His two sons, Ahio and Uzzah, placed the ark on a cart drawn by oxen. All was going well, until they got to Nachon’s threshing floor. Then drama, tragedy, the unthinkable happened. The oxen stumbled, the ark shook precariously and Uzzah, reached out his hands to steady the ark….then he died right there on the spot, because God struck him for his error. Was this a case of the wrong man in the wrong place?

David was angry and afraid. Disaster on what was supposed to be the most glorious, joyous day! He rejected the ark and asked for it to be taken away. Enter, Obed Edom. Remember there were 30,000 prominent men present. They all refused the ark. They all ran away. They all declined. But, Obed Edom ended up with the dreaded ark.

How did he end up with the ark?

How did he end up with the ark? Did David order him to take the ark into his house? Did he offer to take the ark? Either way, there are lessons to be learnt here. 1. We must obey our leaders, when we are instructed, and we must not refuse orders or make excuses. 2. With God, volunteering is highly priced. My troops shall volunteer freely in the day of my power – Psalm 110 comes to mind. Also, Jesus said, ‘many are called but few are chosen’. The chosen are those that offer to do the master’s bidding.

Obed Edom as his name indicates. Was a willing servant. Obed means servant and Edom, probably meant something about his colour or complexion. Edom means earthy, red. So, Obed Edom may have been a dark-skinned man. He was also referred to as the Gittite. Meaning he came from Gath. Gath was Philistine territory. So, he was also probably a philistine. How did a Philistine end up among the 30,000 choice men of Israel? It could be that when David was running away from Saul as a fugitive, when he took refuge in Philistine territory, he has a mixed bunch of warring men. Obed Edom may have been part of David’s army at that time and followed him all the way to Zion. (David had a special guard of troops called Cherethites (Pelethites). They were Philistines and they were part of David’s inner caucus.

This ‘foreigner’ ended up as the custodian of God’s ark and kept it for three months, and it was reported that God had blessed Obed Edom and all that he had. The right man in the right place, with the right attitude! The ark was in the house of Abinadab for about 20 years, yet there was no report of God blessing his house! Yet, Obed-Edom had the ark for just 3 months and God blessed him and his entire house hold.

In our next part we will explore why Obed Edom was so blessed. We will also draw out some key lessons from this interesting story.

God has a few questions for you today from the life of Obed Edom.

Are you willing to take a risk for me? Are you prepared to open up your life for me? Can I disrupt your personal plans, so I can fulfil my plans through you? Will you obey my call? Will you volunteer for the role? Can I trust you with my Ark?

Let us Pray: Father God, thank you for your word. Thank you for the message about Obed Edom. First Lord, I choose to be your servant. I also volunteer for whatever role you have for me this year. I saw Hineni Adonai. Here I am Lord, send me! Thank you for the grace to be at the right place at the right time with the right attitude. Thank you, Jesus, for being my best example. I submit all my life to you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.