Last week, we celebrated with the Israelites as the LORD “convinced” the Philistines to sent the Ark of the Covenant, which they had captured, back to Israel. The cattle pulled a cart with the Ark on it, taking it back to the Israelite town of Beth Shemesh. Everyone praised and worshipped God!
But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them. And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, "Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?" (1 Samuel 6:19-20 NIV)
This seems like such a harsh response from the LORD, especially when God did all the work necessary to return the Ark to Israel. Had they read, listened, and followed the LORD’s instructions in their Scriptures, though, they would have known better than to look inside the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16, 24, etc.). The Ark was to be handled and respected much more than this. The Israelites at Beth Shemesh recognized that they were doing something wrong, so they sent for help from another Israelite town.
Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, "The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to your town." So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They brought it to Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time--twenty years in all. Then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD. (1 Samuel 6:21-7:2 NIV)
So, how about you? Do you take the time to learn the LORD’s instructions through our Scriptures? Would you “know better” if you were presented with a challenge that God, through Scripture, already shows us how to respond? Would you follow Our King?