But God is Holy- Lent 12, 2021

God will be patient with us…to a point.  That limit involves His holiness.  God is set apart, that’s what holiness is.  During this Lent 2021 devotional series, But God…, let’s remember when we take it upon ourselves to encroach into places where we have no business, no right, no authority, no purity to enter, the hammer falls…it’s punishment.  Or worse, like in the case of today’s passage, God strikes them dead.

The Philistines had captured the ark of the Lord and decided to try to manipulate it to their benefit.  They found out that, unlike their fake gods, our God can’t be manipulated by man.  The result? Plagues upon them so long as God’s ark remained in their custody.  So, they voluntarily decided to get rid of the thing.

1 Samuel 6:1 When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.” 3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.” 4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.”

It didn’t matter how wealthy or powerful one was…whether it was the rulers or the subjects, the same plagues descended because there was guilt aplenty.  The rulers represented their subjects (stop and note how an entire culture can reap the consequences of leadership decisions).  The whole story is bizarre.  Read 1 Samuel 6:5-12.  They sent the ark on its way on a cart, unattended, with the guilt offering in a chest beside it.  Kind of like putting it on the Israelites’ doorstep, ringing the doorbell and running.  But they kept watch.

The Israelites at Beth Shemesh (vs. 13-18) were thrilled at its return and the Philistines one can only imagine were glad to get rid of that cursed thing.  The Israelites chopped the cart’s wood, killed the cows, and offered a burnt offering to God … exactly what they should do to respect the holiness of God when it comes to the ark.  Until (Uh oh!!!) 70 of them decided to go where they were not allowed, and they peeked inside.  Boom, the hammer falls.  Just like in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“19 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. 20 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 6:1-20)

Instead of regarding God’s holiness as sacred, their irreverent curiosity surpassed their respect for God, and now they view the ark as a curse upon them too.  But you see, God didn’t curse them, He only punished the insolence of those who disrespected His holiness.  We would be wise to respect God with holy fear.  “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9)

Father God, we praise You and thank You that You are a holy God. We ask, Lord, that through the power of Your Holy Spirit, You would convict each of us for the ways in which we disrespect Your holiness (whether subtle or blatant) … ways in which we treat You as common … ways in which we elevate man above You … ways in which we disregard the sacrifices that You have made so that we could have eternal life with You.  We ask, Lord Jesus, that You would forgive us and that the blessing that You promise to those who love You would be our focus.  May the holiness that You display guide and guard our actions. May we never take matters of faith or purity lightly for we know through Your Word what a terrible sacrifice You have made.  Lord Jesus, please don’t ever let us take for granted what You have done.  We are eternally grateful for who You are and for the sacrifices made.  In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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If you’re already signed up on my Home Page sidebar to receive posts, you’ll get the 2021 Lent Devotionals automatically. Or you can “Like” Seminary Gal on Facebook and they’ll be delivered to your Facebook news feed. If you haven’t signed up, today is a great day to do so. Advent and Lenten devotionals remain among my most popular offerings. You don’t want to miss this encounter with God to prepare your heart for Easter! Understanding that prior years’ devotionals continue to minister, you may want to have access to a full series ahead of time:

  • Lent 2013 looked at The Letter to the Romans: Paul’s Masterpiece to reclaim foundations of our Christian heritage and began February 13, 2013.
  •  A very special and ever popular offering was Lent 2014’s Be Still and Know that I AM God  which can be obtained through the archives beginning in March 2014. 
  • Lent 2015 began on February 18, 2015 with a series entitled With Christ in the Upper Room: Final Preparations.  We explored what is often called “The Upper Room Discourse” found in John chapters 13-17
  • ReKindle, the Lent 2016 series, began on February 10, 2016 and encouraged us to rekindle our spiritual lives.
  • Light: There’s Nothing Like It was the 2017 Lent series and explored this metaphor often used to portray Christ.  It is archived beginning March 1, 2017.
  • Lent 2018, we explored the questions of Pi and Chi (the Greek letter beginning the word Christos, which means Christ, Messiah, the Anointed One). We asked and answered the questions “Why?” from the movie Life of Pi as we discovered the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a world of many faiths.
  • Lent 2019 gave us a deeper window into Easter “More to the Easter Story” since we miss so much when we rely only on a superficial understanding of the work of Christ. These devotionals are archived beginning March 6, 2019.
  • Our Lent 2020 devotional series offered prayer points surrounding “Be Thou My Vision” and were aimed at helping us to see God for who He is. The full set of devotionals are archived beginning February 26, 2020.

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on March 2, 2021

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