BEARING THE MASTER’S PRESENCE – HIS WAY! - 1 Chronicles 13

Shabbat Shalom all,

Tonight marks the beginning of the 26th of the 1st month and also day 7 of the commanded count from the waving of the sheaf of the first-fruits unto day 50, which will bring us to the Feast of Shaḇu’ot. Having just celebrated the Feast of Matzot/Unleavened Bread, we are reminded of the urgency for us all to walk in complete set-apartness – a set-apartness without compromise! It is during this count to 50 that we are able to learn a great deal of how the reign of the heavens is worked in us and able to make us a ready Bride that can be presented as being completely set-apart and acceptable before our Master and King! As we meditate day and night on the Torah of Elohim, we are able to learn a great deal of how we, as a royal priesthood, ought to be carrying the presence of our Master, and shining the pure Light of His Truth in every way – and doing so without hindrance and with exceeding joy!

In a message tonight called, “BEARING THE MASTER’S PRESENCE – HIS WAY!”, I want us to be reminded how we need to continually aware of how we are to be set-apart and walk in complete set-apartness without compromise! Part of this week’s Torah portion, that we will be looking at in the morning, highlights for us the devastating consequences of bearing, or bringing, strange fire before יהוה. Part of the readings for this week also takes us to Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 6-7 where we read of the events that took place when Dawiḏ sought to bring back the Ark of the Covenant back to Yerushalayim. It is this event that I would like us to look at a little more closely tonight, but from the account as recorded in Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 13. While we all may know and have heard this story many times, it always remains a pure lesson on the dangers of compromise, which we need to continually be made aware of, so that we are never found to be compromising our duty of bearing the presence of our Master, in any way.

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 10:8 “At that time יהוה separated the tribe of Lĕwi to bear the ark of the covenant of יהוה, to stand before יהוה, to serve Him, and to bless in His Name, to this day.

יהוה separated the tribe of Lĕwi to bear the ark of יהוה; and from this we are able to learn much from the pattern of the Lĕwitical priesthood in regards to how we, as a set-apart, chosen and royal priesthood in Messiah, are to bear His presence.

Strict instructions were given to the Lěwites on how they were to carry the Ark of the Covenant of יהוה, and any deviation from the clear instructions would result in death. With that in mind let us turn to Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 13 (Read)

Before we get into the details of this passage, let me just run through the background leading up to these events that we have just read. Many years before while Yisra’ĕl was camped at Eḇen Ha‘ĕzer in battle against the Philistines and had just lost 4000 men in battle. The elders cried out and sent for the Ark of the Covenant of יהוה to be brought up from Shiloh so that יהוה would be in their midst and save them from the Philistines. The Ark of יהוה was brought up and the Yisra’ĕlites began to celebrate and raised a shout to יהוה that sent fear into the Philistine camp, yet they encouraged themselves to stand up and fight against the Yisra’ĕlites; and that day 30,000 foot soldiers of Yisra’ĕl fell on the battlefield. The Ark of יהוה was captured, and that day Ḥophni and Pineḥas, the sons of Ĕli died. When news of the Ark being captured got back to Ĕli, he, an old man, fell off his chair and broke his neck and died. When his daughter in law had heard all of what had gone on – the Ark being captured, Ĕli dead and her husband dead, she went into labour and gave birth, calling her child Iḵaḇod saying that Elohim had departed from Yisra’ĕl and she died. אִי־כָבוֹד  Iḵaḇoḏ– Strong’s H350 which means, no esteemas the esteem of יהוה had departed from Yisra’ĕl!!!

Quite tragic events!!!!

The Philistines took the Ark of יהוה to Ashdoḏ and set it next to the statue of Dagon in their temple for Dagon, their ‘mighty one’ that they worshipped and who was depicted as half man and half fish. When they came the next day they saw that Dagon had fallen over, and so they put him back up, and the following day he had fallen over again, but this time both his head and hands were cut off. אַשְׁדּוֹד Ashdoḏ – Strong’s H795 means, powerful, and the Philistines were in fear as they saw that this place where they worshipped their false mighty one named דָּגוֹן Dagon – Strong’s H1715, which means, fish, saw that this assumed place of powerful worship was being destroyed by יהוה.

יהוה also began to strike the Philistine camp with tumours and they decided to get the Ark of יהוה away from Ashdoḏ and they sent it to another Philistine camp called Gath and the same thing happened – an outbreak of tumours etc., so they sent the Ark of יהוה to Eqron another Philistine city and again יהוה sent destruction wherever they had taken the Ark of יהוה which had been in the Philistine field for 7 months, after which they decided to send it back to the Yisra’ĕlites.

These three cities of the Philistines that were being plagued with tumors is a shadow picture of the future destruction of the cities of the Philistines that would be destroyed, as described in the prophets (Tsephanyah/Zephaniah 2).

The Philistines were gripped with fear and decided to send the Ark of יהוה away.

They put the Ark of יהוה on a newly built ox cart and took two mother cows that had never been yoked and who had just given birth to calves – took their calves away from them, hitched them up to the cart and sent them on their way.

If the cows would go in the direction of Bĕyth Shemesh then they would be doing the right thing, and the cows did exactly that – they went straight to Bĕyth Shemesh.

When the Yisra’ĕlites saw the Ark of יהוה coming to them they rejoiced, and in the field of Yehoshua they celebrated with offerings unto יהוה, using the cart as wood and sacrificed the two cows as a sacrificial offering to יהוה. Bĕyth Shemesh - בֵּית שֶׁמֶשׁ  - Strong’s H1053 means, house of the sun, sun-temple, and this is very interesting to take note of, as we consider what happened here. At this point some were foolish and looked into the Ark and died, in fact 70 died that day. This is a picture of how we cannot worship יהוה the way the world’s system of ‘sun-worship’ dictates, as they presume to be able to ‘look upon the presence of יהוה’, yet do so at their own peril, as they do so in a manner that is outside of the clear instruction of the Torah of Elohim. With 70 being killed that day, we are again able to see the representation of how the world’s system of sun-worship practices will be destroyed, because of ignorant practices of falsehood and inherited lies and corrupted traditions of man.

They then sent for the people of Qiryath Yeʽarim to take the Ark and put it in the house of Aḇinaḏab which was a few kilometres from Yerushalayim. The Ark of יהוה remained there for around 60 years for king Sha’ul was not interested in checking in on the Ark or bringing it back to Yerushalayim at all.

Years later is where we come to our story today, where Dawiḏ, the new king, decided to bring the Ark of יהוה back to Yerushalayim.

As great as his intentions were, the results were disastrous. Having neglected much of יהוה’s instructions regarding the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant of יהוה, the Lěwites failed to follow the strict commands of יהוה and suffered the anger of יהוה as a result.

There are some today who feel that Uzzah was treated harshly and it was unfair for יהוה to kill him, but this is not the case. יהוה did not give us this passage so that we can begin to question His justice, but rather this passage is given to us to remind us of the reverence we must have for His Set-Apartness and that we are to obey His Word without compromising His ways in the least.

Everything about the Ark of יהוה was ultimately meant to communicate something about the character of יהוה. From the precision in the way it was built, to what it contained and how it was to be transported or carried; and so יהוה was using His Ark as an illustration of His absolute Set-Apartness. If He had allowed the Yisra’ĕlites to compromise His character in any way, by failing to carry out His instructions regarding the Ark of יהוה, then they would have foolishly began to treat Him as something common and deny Him His rightful esteem and honour! יהוה demanded that they obey Him completely in every way, even in the seemingly ‘little things’.

Today is no different, יהוה has not changed, He calls for total obedience regarding the carrying of His presence, and we are His Dwelling Place and we are to carry or bear His commands that have been written on our hearts, and we therefore must take heed not to compromise in any way.

The Hebrew word for ‘bear’ in terms of us as a priesthood that must ‘bear the Ark’ is נָשָׂא nasa – Strong’s H5375 which means ‘lift up, carry, take up, exalt, and accept’. This term is also used in describing a groom coming to ‘take up’ His Bride and is also used as a term that describes acceptance by a king of his wife, and his attentive listening to her voice! What we also see here is that this term symbolises for us a Bride who fervently responds to the call of Our Master and Husband, and takes up the joyfully responsibility of giving Her all! Giving our all, as we lift up, exalt and carry His presence is to be done without compromise.

Learning from this passage, let us look at 3 effects of compromise, that endangers our walk of Set-Apartness:

1 – COMPROMISE DISPRESPECTS THE WORD OF יהוה (13:7-9)

Firstly what is compromise? One dictionary definition says that it is “a settlement of differences by mutual concession”.

Now as nice as this sounds; this is something that יהוה never wants us to do when it comes to His Word, His will and His ways! His Word is the final Authority on all matters. He is not there to come to a mutual concession with us on differences we may have in regard to understanding His Word – He demands total obedience. His commands and instructions are clear for us and we cannot, by some differences, think that we can compromise His standards in any way. Now we know from history that the Yisra’ĕlites made many compromises and paid dearly for that, and I am sure many of us can relate in our own lives how compromising any standards always has negative effects and outcomes.

Here in this account the Yisra’ĕlites made at least 2 compromises in regards to the handling of the Ark of יהוה, that at first glance seems pretty harmless:

A – Failure to transport it correctly – it was clear that according to the Word the sons of Qehath, the sons of Lĕwi were to carry it:

Bemiḏbar/Numbers 4:15 “And when Aharon and his sons have finished covering the set-apart objects and all the furnishings of the Set-apart Place at the breaking of camp, then the sons of Qehath shall come to lift them, but let them not touch that which is set-apart, lest they die. These matters are the burden of the sons of Qehath in the Tent of Meeting.

B – Failure to heed the no touch clause – Clear instructions are given here in the Torah, as to how they were to carry the Ark of יהוה, using poles that looped through rings that were attached to the Ark of יהוה; and that no Set-Apart or set apart thing was to be touched. The Lěwites here followed the example of the Philistines and placed it on a new cart. They went and built a brand new cart, after the cart that the Philistines had sent it on had been used for fire wood. You got to ask yourself why would they do that – but the same is true today – many believers are following the practices of pagan religions in their attempt in ‘carrying’ the presence of the Almighty, according to false traditions and works of man!!

Just look at how multitudes are following pagan feasts and holidays as opposed to keeping the feasts of יהוה! And we all have done this, and it is time to realise how compromising in any way shows total disrespect for the Word of יהוה.

Why is it that יהוה showed anger toward Uzzah for touching the Ark, and yet did nothing to the others who were transporting it wrongly, as that was also a compromise of His instructions? Well, it seems clear that יהוה never said He would put to death those who failed in their duty to transport the Ark in the proper way – in fact the reason they were to carry it in the prescribed manner was to prevent anyone from touching it, but as we read from Bemiḏbar/Numbers – touching it would result in death! We serve a Set-Apart El and He demands our complete reverence.

What is important to note is that the first compromise had led to the second! In Shemuʼěl bet/2 Samuel 6:7, we are told that Elohim smote Uzzah because of the ‘fault’, which is the Hebrew word שַׁל shal – Strong’s H7944 which means, error, fault, irreverence and comes from the root word שָׁלָה shalah – Strong’s H7952 which can mean, to be negligent, deceive, mislead. Deception leads to negligence and this we are to be on guard against, as we learn to be a set-apart people that are able to distinguish between the set-apart and profane, through our continual guarding of the commands of Elohim, and the meditation of His Torah being ever present in our lives, day and night!

Because they disobeyed the clear instructions in carrying the Ark of יהוה, the Ark of יהוה began to move when the cows stumbled; and Uzzah reached out his hand to prevent it from falling, and as a result he failed to show proper reverence and respect for יהוה and His clear instructions. Even though it was done with good intentions, it was done in disobedience to the Set-Apart standards of יהוה and he was punished accordingly! Let me remind you that ‘small’ compromises lead to bigger ones! Here Uzzah thought he was doing the right thing, yet they had all started out wrong! They should never have built a new wagon in the first place, and besides do you not think that יהוה can take care of His own Ark – it didn’t fall off the cart when it came from the Philistines!!!

Small compromises lead to bigger ones! Look at Dawiḏ in Shemuʼěl Bět/2 Samuel 11 for example: When the kings all went off to war, Dawiḏ stayed in Yerushalayim – this was COMPROMISE NO. 1. Then one night while walking on his palace roof he spots a woman bathing down below and instead of ‘bouncing his eyes away’, he set his desire on Bathsheba – this was COMPROMISE NO. 2 as he neglected the clear command given in Shemoth/Exodus 20:17 … do not covet your neighbour’s wife.... Later he orchestrated a sexual relationship with her while knowing she was married – this was COMPROMISE NO. 3 as he neglected the clear command given in Shemoth/Exodus 20:14 You do not commit adultery.  

She then got pregnant and Dawiḏ had Uriah, her husband, killed – this was COMPROMISE NO.4 as he again neglected the clear command in Shemoth/Exodus 20:13 “You do not murder

From neglect to lust to adultery to murder, a clear picture of how Dawiḏ drifted from יהוה in to moral chaos. If it could happen to a man after יהוה s heart, then it can happen to anyone who gives in to compromising the Word in any way. Compromise disrespects His Word and will lead only to destruction!

2 – COMPROMISE DEVASTATES THE PEOPLE OF יהוה (13:10-11)

It may seem a little harsh as we have said when we consider how Uzzah’s actions cost him his life, but it is important to consider his background that will certainly shed some light on understanding the outcome of his actions:

A – Firstly, Uzzah was the son of Aḇinaḏaḇ who lived in Qiryath Yeʽarim.

B – The Ark was kept at his home for around 60 years before Dawiḏ attempted to move it to Yerushalayim; and it is safe to say that Uzzah knew it was there.

C – Uzzah would have listened over the years to his father talking about the Ark of יהוה, Yisra’ĕl’s most Set-Apart object that represented the presence of יהוה.

D – As we read in Bemiḏbar/Number 4:15, there were clear instructions as to how the Ark of יהוה was to be carried and that it was only to be carried by the sons of Qehath, and if touched would result in death. But what happens – Uzzah and Aḥyo, his brother, get the responsibility for the big move – maybe because the Ark had been in their home? Uzzah should have known better as he would have been clearly taught all about the Ark. In what is seemingly an apparent disregard for the Set-Apartness of יהוה and His instructions, he felt obliged to perform the task and with his brother in front and him at the back, he took it upon himself to reach out and touch the Ark as opposed to trusting יהוה to care for it. This caused great distress for Dawiḏ, who quickly moved from being filled with joy to being angry and then filled with great fear as he too realised his contribution in Uzzah’s death through poor leadership.

How many times have your compromises with the Truth, compromises in carrying His presence correctly, led to some serious circumstances and devastating results, not only for yourselves but also for others? Compromise with the Word devastates your life as well as others around you!

3 – COMPROMISE DEFLECTS THE BLESSING OF יהוה (13:12-14)

Dawiḏ at this point refused to press on in fear of further effects of compromised actions, and having witnessed the very anger of יהוה, he decided to take the Ark of יהוה into the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom, where it stayed for 3 months. He was one of the Lěwites who were appointed to care for the Ark of יהוה and later became a doorkeeper in the house of יהוה, forsaking all to be in the presence of יהוה. The result of the Ark of יהוה being in the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom was an overflow of blessings. יהוה blessed his home, his crops, and his family – all he had was blessed. A bump in the road beside the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom led to great blessings that after 3 months Dawiḏ went back to fetch the Ark of יהוה and bring it back to Yerushalayim in the right way.

Doing things the right way, in complete obedience to יהוה resulted in יהוה pouring out His blessing on His servants.

We all desire the blessings of יהוה, don’t we? Then it is very clear that we are to live according to His Word, being careful how we live, not allowing any form of compromise to creep “harmlessly” in at any point, but rather keeping our lives in line with His Word.

Diḇre haYamim/1 Chronicles 15:11-15 “And Dawiḏ called for Tsaḏoq and Eḇyathar the priests, and for the Lěwites, for Uri’ěl, Asayah, and Yo’ĕl, Shemayah, and Eli’ĕl, and Amminadaḇ, 12 and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Lěwites. Set yourselves apart, you and your brothers, then you shall bring up the ark of יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl to the place I have prepared for it. 13 “Because you did not do it the first time, יהוה our Elohim broke out against us, because we did not ask Him about the right-ruling.” 14 So the priests and the Lěwites set themselves apart, to bring up the ark of יהוה Elohim of Yisra’ĕl. 15 And the children of the Lěwites bore the ark of Elohim on their shoulders, by its poles, as Mosheh had commanded according to the word of יהוה.

Dawiḏ was not going to make the same mistake a second time, and here we see how he clearly commanded the Lěwites to do as they were commanded in the Torah!

To obey is better than sacrifice and the account of Uzzah is a warning to us against what we could term ‘familiarity’ with יהוה. He is the Almighty, and not as some would say down under, the all-matey! יהוה is not our buddy, He is our Elohim and we must learn to show continual reverence to Him by walking in Set-Apartness, as we carry His presence correctly, and not by some makeshift lazy approach to worshipping Him, compromising His standards to suit our preferences. Uzzah took יהוה and His Set-Apartness for granted and paid the price – familiarity breeds contempt.

We are called to be Set-Apart, we are chosen and we are His treasured possession, His royal priesthood who must lead the way for others to follow, as we follow Him.

We can learn from Dawiḏ’s wrong approach to worship in this event:

1 – (13:1,4) – Dawiḏ consulted the people, the leaders and the whole assembly, yet never consulted יהוה on bringing back the Ark of יהוה – we must always consult יהוה - all too often people will listen to others over the Word! We are to pray always and seek יהוה on all matters. There is nothing wrong with consulting others and getting great advice and insight but it must never be that we neglect to seek יהוה!

2 – (13:2,4) – Dawiḏ did what was right in the eyes of the people. We must be careful that we are not trying to please people over יהוה. Doing what is right in others eyes may not be right in יהוה’s eyes.

3 – (13:7) – Dawiḏ copied the way of the Philistines by making a new cart for the Ark of יהוה – we must not copy the pagan practices of worship in any way.

4 – (13:7) – Dawiḏ allowed Uzzah and Aḥyo to ‘drive’ the presence of יהוה – we must be led by the Set-Apart Spirit of יהוה, and not the other way round – by trying to direct the Spirit our way. We cannot orchestrate and manipulate the Spirit of Elohim to fit into our planned schedules and events; we are to be led by the Spirit and walk in Truth!

5 – (13:8) – Dawiḏ failed to keep יהוה’s standards – It was the Lěwites who were supposed to be the musicians and here all the assembly were playing instruments etc. It sounds harsh but this was the standard – today we are a kingdom of priests so we can all play instruments and make music to יהוה – but there is still His order that must be adhered to and followed. We must not do as everyone sees fit in their own eyes, we must follow and worship according to how יהוה has told us in His Word, and He is an El of order, therefore let us be careful not to be out of order in our attempt at worship!

6 – (13:9) – Dawiḏ allowed flesh to touch the presence of יהוה. We are to worship in Spirit and in Truth, not in the flesh. We cannot manufacture a worship that suits our flesh, we worship His way and His way is in Spirit and in Truth. In the flesh will only lead to a show that attracts the shallow!

We see how Dawiḏ was angry and then he feared יהוה. If only he had feared יהוה from the beginning he would have got it right the first time. The Fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom!

Now we can learn from this – Dawiḏ certainly learned many lessons in his life and his life reveals a great picture of יהוה’s favour – Dawiḏ was a man after the heart of יהוה – he messed up and learned the hard way. The real value of life is truly having the fullness of the presence of יהוה in every way, not just a form but the fullness of His presence that He fills us with as we walk a life of no compromise. There are many who have the form of reverence, but we want His fullness, amen!

Timotiyos Bet/2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days hard times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, thankless, wrong-doers, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, haters of good, 4 betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Elohim, 5 having a form of reverence but denying its power. And turn away from these!

We don’t just want a form of reverence with no power we want the fullness of His presence and this is the call to live in Set-Apartness without compromise.

The context of this passage today is reverence for יהוה and His Torah, and how we carry His Presence. When you carry the presence of the Almighty correctly you will be blessed, when you compromise – then danger is lurking at the door!

 

Tehillim/Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man who shall not walk in the counsel of the wrong, and shall not stand in the path of sinners, and shall not sit in the seat of scoffers, 2 But his delight is in the Torah of יהוה, and he meditates in His Torah day and night. 3 For he shall be as a tree planted by the rivers of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does prospers.

 

Let us be an uncompromised people, walking wholeheartedly in joyful obedience to the Word of יהוה our Elohim.

Perhaps you have found yourself lost from the presence of יהוה – and you are trying to bring His presence, His right rulings, and His pure standards back in completeness in your life – do not compromise in the least. May we learn to distinguish between the Set-Apart and the profane, between the clean and the unclean, and come out of all that is unclean and be separate! As we consider this season that we are in, and how we have just celebrated Pěsaḥ and Matzot, and are counting to 50, may we do our utmost in ensuring that our lives are rid of all forms of compromise and take up the required responsibility of a set-apart and royal priesthood!

The Greek word used in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of the Tanak – O.T.) in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 10:8 for ‘bear’ as the equivalent to the Hebrew word נָשָׂא nasa, is αἴρω airō – Strong’s G142 which means, to raise, lift up, take, bear, carry and is used in:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 16:24 “Then יהושע said to His taught ones, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake, and follow Me.

In order to bear the Master’s presence, His way, we must deny ourselves and take up our stake and follow Him wholeheartedly. What Messiah was clearly teaching here, was the urgency of our need to ‘bear’ His presence – His way!

 

Let this passage in Diḇre haYamim Aleph/1 Chronicles 13 remind us that we are to always walk in reverence of our Awesome and Mighty Maker, and that we have been impaled with Messiah, and we no longer live, but Messiah lives in us. And that which we now live in the flesh we live by belief in the Son of Elohim, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatiyim/Galatians 2:20), equipping us to carry His very Spirit, His presence in the prescribed obedient manner.

I thank יהוה that he has not struck any of us down like Uzzah when we have not carried Him appropriately in our lives and  have acted in the flesh. We must therefore not take His mercy and favour lightly, nor take it as a license to do as we please, but rather let us truly walk in the blessing of an obedient walk, rejoicing in Him. Compromise only disrespects, devastates and deflects all that יהוה has freely given us.

“BEARING THE MASTER’S PRESENCE – HIS WAY!

Let us never stray from bearing His presence the way we should!

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!