Posts tagged compromise
Have you ever set a course, known exactly where you were going and the right way to get there, only to be tripped up along the way when you tried to take a shortcut? It happens to me all the time and it happened to David (and more directly to Uzzah) when the Israelites were returning the ark of the covenant back to its rightful home.
You see, there was nothing wrong with taking the ark back from Kiriath Jearim. That was a great idea! I even think that an accidental touching of the ark might have been forgiven if circumstances had been different. But here’s the thing: God had laid out very specific instructions for the transportation of the ark. The whole time that Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness, setting up and tearing down the tabernacle, the ark was carried in the specified way.
But when David and his men went to recapture the ark and bring it back to Israel, somebody had a bright idea. Work smarter, not harder, right? Instead of carrying the ark all that way on poles, why not just throw it on a cart and roll that bad boy on home? Who could argue that the cart wasn’t a more efficient mode of transportation for the gold-laden ark?
But God had a larger point to make. You see, throughout history, from the very dawn of time, a pattern had emerged among God’s people. Time and time again, things had gone from really good to really bad – from honoring God to defying him – and the common thread that ran through each episode was a singular idea: compromise.
God laid out specific plans for his people, but somewhere along the way, someone said, “Well, surely he won’t mind if we just…” From the serpent telling Eve “you’ll surely not die” to the Israelites in the wilderness who insisted on trying to store up extra manna, to those who decided to adopt some of the worship practices of the nations they conquered, it was the people’s appetite for compromising God’s instructions which eventually led to the downfall of entire civilizations.
This time, God wanted to put an end to the compromise before it started. David’s reign had the potential to change everything for God’s people, but they needed to know that he would not stand for compromise. And so, when they threw that ark up onto a cart and hauled it away, God had to do something. And when one of the oxen stumbled and the cart became unstable, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark – something he wouldn’t have had to do if they had simply followed God’s instructions for transporting the ark.
God made it very clear to the Israelites that he wouldn’t accept compromise. I think he still makes it clear to us today. As much as we love and embrace the idea of grace, we should equally embrace God’s instructions for our lives. He may not strike us dead for compromising (though he reserves that right), but it is my firm belief that God gives unfathomable blessings to those who follow him closely – those who manage to love and embrace others (as we are commanded to do) while refusing to compromise their faith.
When the Israelites took the ark back home, they were literally taking God’s dwelling place – and his presence – with them. What would happen if you and I purposefully set out to restore God’s dwelling place in our own hearts and minds? And what if we were unwilling to compromise – unwilling to take shortcuts – in preparing that place for him? Perhaps, like Obed-Edom, the Lord will bless our household and everything that we have.