What happens when our GOOD MOTIVES count as DISOBEDIENCE/UNFAITHFULNESS to God? In 2 Sam 6 we have two good men with good motives but unfortunately, they both carried out their good motives in a wrong way. And both suffered. One (Uzzah) suffered immediate judgment that took his life; the other (David) suffered confusion and the pain of responsibility that remained the duration of his life. There's no right way of doing the wrong thing.
When our motive is remaining FAITHFUL to God, we cannot be casual over what we need to be careful about. This is an issue that cost MOSES the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it as the Lord had commanded. The interesting part of this story is that God still went ahead to provide water for the people as He had promised. Moot point: Results are not always an indication that we are in the will of God. We could delude ourselves by saying we have “evidence and proofs". But then the question we must constantly ask ourselves is: Are we doing it God’s way or are we pushing our agenda? in Exodus 17, Moses obeyed God by striking the rock, but in Numbers 20 he disobeyed God by striking the rock instead of speaking to it. His mistake was not misinterpretation but misrepresentation.
God means it when He tells us to do something in a particular way. It also means you have the capacity to be successful at that task. Please do not be tempted to second-guess God. If your own motives lead you innovative or cause you to modify God's instructions, you might still succeed, but God equates it to being both unfaithful and faithless. When God gave specific instructions as to how priests were to offer incense, Nadab and Abihu used profane fire instead of the fire from the altar, kindled by God. As a result they were consumed by fire from the Lord. When God told Saul to totally destroy the Amalekites, including all their animals, Saul killed everything except for King Agag and the best of the animals. The animals he intended to offer as sacrifices later. As a result Saul is rejected by God as king over Israel. May the Lord help me that I should not have any other motive or intent than to faithfully obey Him.
In the New Testament, Jesus and the Apostles give us clear and. unambiguous instructions for victorious Christian living. I will just highlight one that appears to be a raw nerve whenever I raise it with most people: Jesus said, "Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you fast, don’t make it obvious... don't show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt 6:1-18 (NLT;HCSB). The motivation here is very clear - God's reward. When God tells us to do something in a way that does not sound reasonable to us, we do not have the luxury of deciding "no, that'll never work" and doing something that we think would work better.
Is modernity and social media age numbing our spiritual sensitivities? Are we letting our guard down? Consider this: a longstanding familiarity with something that is dangerous doesn’t remove the hazard, does it? Haven’t you heard about men who work high voltage wires getting electrocuted by doing something they knew better than to do? Happens all the time. It is not uncommon to hear of a wild animal trainer who has taken an infant ferocious animal and reared it, only to later be mauled and killed by that animal they loved.
It is my humble submission that good intentions cannot make up for disobedience or unfaithfulness to God. And it’s not like David and his men could plead ignorance. After Uzzah died, they moved the Ark as the Lord prescribed. They knew the correct way all along but just didn’t seem to want to go through the trouble. As loving as He is, I see no where in the Bible where God says "Thank you" to anyone. Instead, He says, “Well done, thou GOOD and FAITHFUL servant.” May God help me to always test my motives in line with His Word which "...interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts." (Heb 4:12b TPT version). Shalom!
The Bible begins and ends with the presence of God. In Genesis Eden is presented as Man’s home, but more importantly as God’s sanctuary, i.e. a dwelling place for His presence. In Revelation, We see Eden returning and being expanded into a New Heaven and a New Earth where God’s people enjoy God’s presence continually. (Rev 21:14). The presence of God is not simply just an aura or atmosphere, but an aspect of the nature of God. The bible teaches that there this a big difference between the omnipresence of God and his MANIFEST Presence.
In the account of Samson, the last judge of Israel before introduction of monarchies (Judges 13 to 16), we see his destiny explicitly being laid out by God even before he was born. Samson was given immense strength to aid him against his enemies and allow him to perform glorious exploits, such as killing a lion, slaying an entire army of one thousand Philistines with only the jawbone of a donkey, gathering three hundred foxes, and using them to torch the grain fields and olive groves of the Philistines, and destroying a temple of the Philistines with his bare hands and many other exploits. God supplied Samson's power because of his consecration to Him as a Nazirite, symbolized by the fact that a razor had never touched his head. In spite of his continued directive from God to fight the Philistines, Samson pursued a much more personal connection with them. He fell in love with a Philistine woman, Delilah, who was tasked by her people to find the secret of Samson’s strength. Three times she begged to know the secret of his strength, and three times he lied to her. Finally, after Delilah nagged persistently, he confessed: “A razor has never come to my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, then my strength would leave me” (Judges 16:17). Sure enough, Delilah took advantage of this new information, lulling Samson to sleep and shaving off his hair. He immediately became weak and God’s power left him. "Samson woke up and thought, 'I will do as I did before and shake myself free.' but he did not realise that the Lord had left him." (Judges 16:20). What a horrible tragedy not to KNOW that God is not with you. His long hair had been cut off, the vow to the Lord was broken, and the Lord had left him. He was now as weak as other men, and helpless in the hands of his enemies. Delilah handed Samson over to the Philistines, who gouged out his eyes, and forced him work grinding grain by turning a large millstone in prison.
Remember King Saul? When he was anointed as king, the Bible records that the Spirit of God rushed to him (1 Sam 10:10). However, when he messed with the anointing, the Spirit of God departed from him (1 Sam 16:14). The tragedy was; he continued reigning as king for 15 more years after God withdrew His spirit.
We can no longer afford to take God's grace for granted. We cannot keep on abusing the mercies of God and keep on doing what we want and expect that God will still have our back. It is a sad thing for anyone or for a nation to end up in a place where God's hand is no longer on them. But it is more tragic to think that His hand is still on them when in actual fact it is not. Do not deceive yourself that God is still with you either, because you are not reaping immediate consequences of your reprobation, or you appear to be walking from blessing to blessing. The biggest forms of deception we are facing today are: the lies we tell ourselves, the facts we have chosen to ignore, the truth we have closed our ears to and the realities we have shut our eyes to... Lord have mercy on us! "Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me." (Ps 51:11).
The presence of God dwells in a Sanctuary. God instructed the children of Israel to make a dwelling place for His habitation. “Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8. We also see in the Sinai Covenant, that at the heart of it was the promise that God’s presence would dwell with His People. “Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.” (Exodus 29: 45 – 46). Sanctuary comes from the combination of the Latin word Sanctus and the suffix –ary. Sanctus refers to something that has been set apart from all other things; something that has been set apart for the express use or service to Jehovah God. The suffix –ary denotes something connected intimately to the word it modifies, and it especially refers to a place. A sanctu-ary is a place where you will find holiness, or a place that has been set apart as holy.
Where has God chosen to dwell in the New Testament? “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man” (Acts 17:24). This is the mistake that is made about “sanctuaries” under the New Testament. God specifically chose the tabernacle and, later, the temple in Jerusalem in which to dwell. It was God’s presence that made those places holy. God has not chosen any building to dwell in after the temple in Jerusalem. Where does God dwell? “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:1). We are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22). We are God’s temple. We are god’s dwelling place. We are the “sanctuary” in the New Testament.
I wish to conclude with the some words from a wonderful song written by John Thompson and Randy Scruggs (1982)
"Lord prepare me to be sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You"
I have been re-reading the Bible all over again (I have a “though-the-bible-in-a-month” plan) and right on day 1, the Holy Spirit revealed something I had hitherto not seen in the life of Cain. Why did things go so wrong in Cain's life? Well, primarily because man sinned and fell short of the glory of God. But from the account recorded in Genesis 4, Cain's tragedy started with his attitude: HE TOOK GOD’S GRACE FOR GRANTED!
Cain's attitude towards God appears good to begin with. He was the first to make an offering before Abel followed suit. Although we are not told what requirements there were for any type of offerings, God did not accept his offering (theologians are split on this with some arguing about God delighting in the Christological aspect in Abel’s killing of a firstborn lamb – But today I do not want us to be theologically technical). The rejection of his sacrifice then made him have a jealous attitude towards his brother Abel. Cain was a man in turmoil, on the knife-edge of sin, God comes asking questions with surgical precision. “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7).
Grace is the generous character of God in the face of human rebellion. The God of grace is vividly portrayed in every angle of this account. In fact, throughout the whole Bible, God does not punish sin without giving people the chance to repent. Grace always warns the tempted. We receive this grace not because of who we are or what we do but because of who God is. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45). “The LORD is good to everyone and his mercies extend to everything he does.” (Psalm 145:9). God’s saving grace is a freely available to those who choose to trust and believe in Christ Jesus. "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of his grace that he richly poured out on us (lavished) with all wisdom and understanding." (Ephesians 1: 7-8). It is undeserved and unmerited. "We are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from ourselves; it is God’s gift not from works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What then should be our response to this? DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting people’s sins against them [but canceling them].” (2 Corinthians 5: 18). [God's grace started right at the garden of Eden when God clothed naked Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The two had sinned but God came looking for them and didn't treat them as they deserved (Job 42:8 NLT). But the word "Grace" per se (Hebrew: Khane), is introduced in Genesis 6:8 in relation to Noah. Grace (and truth) were revealed through Jesus (John 1:17), but we also see them 'foreshadowed' in the OT, just as we have Christophanies of the pre-incarnate Christ. As we always say, "the NT is concealed in the OT and the OT is revealed in the NT."]“Don’t take the grace of God in vain – don’t let it be wasted. Hear what God says: ‘When the time came for me to show you favour, I heard you; when the day arrived for me to save you, I helped you.’ Listen! This is the hour to receive God's favour; today is the day to be saved!” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Coming back to Cain, he had Grace extended to him – he despised it. God did extend His grace to him and tried to prompt him into righteousness, but Cain was too indignant to hearken. Grace probes, Cain was probed with a view to having him recognise what is going on – and to repent. When such a turn looked unlikely, grace warned him thus: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7). The warning is clear: death will be the result of your sin. (Genesis 4:7). Unfortunately, sin mastered him.
Grace empowers us to repent. Not just a once-and-for-all decision to follow Christ, but the continuing power to say no to sin. “The grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13). “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace”. (Romans 6:14).
I know EVERYONE reading this is at a point where grace is calling us to throw ourselves on the character of God. Grace is probing; grace is sounding a warning. Many of us are facing the just rebuke of God for our sin(s). Whatever the case, DO NOT TAKE THE GRACE OF GOD FOR GRANTED. Shalom!