Who Can Stand

1 Samuel 6:13-21

13Now 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. 14The 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. 15The 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. 16The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18And 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 the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19But 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. 20And 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?” 21Then 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.”

Kneeling

How do you personally show respect of God? Some denominations would require members to kneel before the cross as gesture of respect. Bowing their head down is enough for many individuals while standing at the reading of the word of God is also encouraged as expression of respect.

Whatever gesture we may act upon to publicly express our respect to God, only the Lord knows our sincerity and bless us if we respect Him.

Disrespect of God proves that they have not yet personally sensed the love of the Lord for them. Daring and fearless resistance to the existence of God hints their potentiality to believe, why? If they think God does not exist, why would they resist a non-existent being? They resist because they just don’t want to submit to authorities. No respect of authority, that’s all!

They may not want to admit that it’s foolish to say that God does not exist.

Psalm 53:1 says, 1The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.

Truly, wise and eloquent argument that God exist cannot convince the fool. Fools cannot grasp. Their intelligence is not enough to understand any wise and eloquent explanation of the reality of God. Moreover, it’s not by argument or logic that we come to believe God. It’s by faith, we believe God. They need faith!

One can easily surf online and find debates between atheist and Christian. Consider this! The Scripture says that fools say in their hearts, “There’s no God!” So, how can one convince or has a fair share of argument with a foolish person?

Proverbs 26:4 says, 4Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. And in Proverbs 26:5, 5Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

To argue with atheists about God is foolishness. Yet, we are pressured to witness and make disciples. We desire to save some, even if it’s foolish sacrifice. Sacrifice for God’s glory!? Hmn! What does the Lord requires for sacrifice?

The Israelites sacrificed the cows that brought the Ark of God to Israel.

1. Sacrifice

13Now 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. 14The 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. 15The 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. 

When the cows stopped beside a large rock in Beth Shemesh, did it prove that God guided the cows? The large rock served as altar when Levite placed on it the Ark of God and chest containing gold objects. Interestingly, the cart that carried the Ark of God, the Israelites used it to burn their offering. They did not have interest in the cart for personal use. The cart was new, and it could have been useful for the Israelites to transport their wheat harvest.

And, there was rejoicing at the sight of the Ark. They may have sensed the presence of God in their midst again. When we sense the presence of God, we sense peace and joy. You may have experienced it sometimes. You may even sing or hum a tune, and you just don’t know why you’re heart is so glad.

It’s similar to what the Israelites experienced when they saw the Ark of God came to the place where they were harvesting. And, they stopped what they were doing. There’s no urgency of finishing the harvest first. Rejoicing in the Lord was very compelling so that they came together and sacrificed to the Lord.

16The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron. 17These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18And 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 the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

The Philistine rulers observed closely, and the Ark of God returned to the Israelite territory. They proved that the Lord had caused the deadly outbreak of tumor and rats in their midst. They saw rejoicing among the Israelites.

When believers experience joy in the Lord, there’s not much explanation to convince them. They freely express gratitude to the Lord. What is it that the Lord accepts as sacrifice as expression of our gratitude to Him?

It says Romans 12:1-8, 1In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Our motivation of serving the Lord is not to impress Him or anybody else but because we just cannot contain the joy we sense of His presence in our life. His Spirit inspires us to express gratitude by serving in His ministry, our sacrifice.

The Israelites did what they thought best to express their joy in the Lord. But, some of them weren’t very aware that they have also disrespected the Lord. The Lord struck some people of Beth Shemesh when their curiosity prevailed.

2. Strike

19But 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. 20And 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?”

Someone said, “Curiosity kills the cat.” Some Israelites died because of curiosity. Does looking into the Ark of God an act of disrespect to the Lord? Such tragedy should explain why the Philistines had agreed to return the Ark of God. The Philistines may have been curious also and looked what was inside of the Ark of God. The Lord didn’t exempt the Israelites when they looked at it either.

21Then 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.”

Like the Philistines, the Israelites thought that the presence of the Ark of God caused death among them but actually their curiosity caused their tragedy.

They concluded that nobody can stand blameless in the presence of the Lord.

God is Holy! No human is strong enough to stand before God. But, God sent His Son Jesus Christ so that anyone who believes in Him will be counted flawless in His sight. And on the Judgment Day, those who refuse to believe will find out their greatest mistake of not accepting Christ as the Lord and Savior.

It says in Romans 14:11-12, 11“As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.” 12So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Will you have the courage to stand before God on the Judgment Day?

It says, “every knee will bow!” We bow down before God not because we are so scared of punishment but because we just want to express our gratitude that we are included in God’s family. On that day the Lord would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

That would be a moment that we are to cherish for all eternity.

Are you looking forward on that day when we finally meet our eternal God, the source of eternal rejoicing?

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