by Dennis Michelson
I Chronicles 13
We learn from this text how easy it is for God's people to adopt the methodology of the Philistines without even knowing it. When sincerity lacks verity (truth) then the result becomes profanity. Alan Bloom wrote that "American education has declined to the point that students pay thousands of dollars to learn the truth that there is no truth."
I used to begin my music history classes at Tennessee Temple University by saying "that a major lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn from history." Our culture has experienced a huge paradigm shift in the last generation.
We have moved from the Church having influence over the culture to a point where the culture now has a dominant influence on the Church. The text before us (I Chronicles 13) outlines how this was done in ancient times.
The same holds true for today. The message will conclude with some ideas on how we as the people of God can protect ourselves against cultural corruption and post-modern principles.
1. The Sincerity of David (13:1-8)
A. David desired to do a right thing (13:1-6) The King wanted to bring the Ark of God back into the center of worship for his people. That is what many sincerely want to do today with an increased interest in worship and various styles of worship.
Note in verse 2 "If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the Lord our God." Basically he says we will take a vote and if God does not veto it then we will pray "God bless this mess."
There was no need for public opinion polls when it came to what should be done about the ark of God. When all else fails - read the instructions. As with many churches the result was "for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people" (v.4)
B. David sought to do a right thing in the wrong way (13:7-8). Now we see how the philosophy of the Philistines had crept into the thinking of Israel. They carry the ark on a cart (heathen concept) and accompany it with enthusiasm, loud music, a fine praise band and that makes everything much more palatable.
Do you see the principle - forget about what God has said and simply give the people what they want.
2. The Sin of Sincerity (13:9)
Uzza touched the ark! There was a time in Israel when no man would ever think of doing such a thing but when the things of God become commonplace then we feel like we need to help Him. When we quit serving and start steering then tragic results follow.
3. The Stopping of David (13:10-14).
Now we have a corpse and a question "How shall I bring the ark of God home to me?" The "how" had already been answered in the Word of God. David now questions God rather than letting the current adversity direct him back to the Truth. The root of the term "adversity" has the sense of pointing us (ad) back to the truth (veritas).
One hopeful observation from the end of the chapter is the blessing on the house of Obededom. God blessed him and his family because they treated the ark exactly as God had mandated in the law of Moses.
4. The Service of God (15:1-5).
David seems to have learned something from the corpse. He says "None ought to bear the ark of God but the Levites." What a novel idea.
A. Chosen ministers (15:1-3)
B. Chosen method (15:11-13)
(1) Prepared men (15:11)
(2) Prepared place (15:12)
(3) Prepared principles (15:13)
C. Chosen message (15:14-15)
(1) Clean messengers (15:14)
(2) Clear message (15:15)
The genuine blessing of God comes when we following theology and not corrupt it with Philistine methodolgy. God's people tend to move toward the Philistines or the Pharisees when they become desperate for "results" and not fruit.
TIPS FOR PASTORS AND LEADERS:
To avoid being assimilated into the culture keep these three things in mind:
1. Biblical Principles
A. Consider the "law" of first mention. What is God's original statement about an issue. The simple will generally precede the complex.
B. Consider the analogy of faith. Compare Scripture with Scripture not Scripture with culture. The obscure will tend to be explained by the clear.
C. Do not discount the sensus plenior principle. Sometimes a text does have a deeper meaning but it will not contradict the grammatical-historical-literal sense. You can go deeper but you cannot go contrary. When Moses struck the rock it had a deeper meaning but it did not contradict any other meaning.
D. The lesson of the corpse. Why is this body here? God is not capricious and indiscriminate.
E. Be as concerned about being righteous as being right. This is one area I would like to go back and do over in my 12 years in Chattanooga. I was more concerned with being right than righteous. This leads toward the Pharisees. When many graduate from such a system they swing like a pendulum away from the legalism of the Pharisee to the licentiousness of the Philistine. Our problem is that we are unbalanced people who need to be balanced and following the cultural norm is not the answer (I John 2:15-17)
2. Cultural Pressures. We have a tendency to conform to the culture and not to Christ. This is done among God's professing people by -
A. Making Revelation relative by confusing translation and dishonest interpretation.
B. Looking for exceptions so we can make them the rule.
C. Joining together what God has put asunder. (gender issues)
D. Putting asunder waht God has joined together. (marriage issues)
3. Eventual Problems - there will be no clear distinction between the Church and the culture. The result will be -
A. Loss of testimony - issue of purity.
B. Loss of witness - issue of clarity
C. Loss of focus - issue of priority
When the Church becomes more excited about saving the Earth than saving the World then we have ceased to be the Church.