19 April 2013 |



10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the
cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the Lord on
the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the
models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth
Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn
to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed
them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the
valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the
sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and
there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood
of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.
15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest
containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On
that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made
sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all
this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering
to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18
And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of
Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns
with their country villages. The large rock, on which they set the ark
of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth

19 But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting
seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the
Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt
them, 20 and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the
presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from

21 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 place.”


This is the kind of passage we cannot possibly read without attempting
to put ourselves right in the middle of all that was going. Imagine
going on with your day, harvesting wheat in the valley when suddenly
your hear a commotion, and realize that the ark of the covenant is
back, being pulled into the very place where you are working.

A beautiful, even chaotic, moment ensues as gifts are offered,
sacrifices made. The presence of God has returned. It is time for
celebration. Then, cue a change in the soundtrack. Suddenly, seventy
of your friends and family are struck dead. They dared look into the
ark of the covenant – the most holy item on the planet. They dared
attempt to look directly at the glory of God. In a moment, what was a
holy celebration has become a time of mourning.

The great question is then asked: “Who can stand in the presence of
the Lord, this holy God?”


It is incredible that God has chosen us to worship Him. It blows my
mind time and time again that we get to enter into the presence of the
most holy God because of His sacrifice on the cross. But has the
privilege of free worship, created a culture that walks into God’s
presence flippantly? Would you and I be part of the 70 that died that
day because in the holy celebration, we forgot the sacredness of
God’s presence?

Today, worship God as you do every day. Pray. Sing. Love. Give. Laugh.
Tithe. But change your hearts focus to the sacred. Martyn Layzell, if
I’m not mistaken, penned these words: “This is a holy moment now,
something of heaven touches earth”. That is what the presence of God
is – a holy moment. A Sacred moment. Not to be taken lightly.


God, you are all mighty, all holy, sovereign God. Today I worship You
because you are the Great I Am – Jehovah, my God and my King. Help me
today to not lose the wonder of your presence, but to be so powerfully
confronted by your sacred presence, so that I may see every moment of
worship as a holy moment, for your glory, amen.

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