On one occasion in 2 Samuel 6 the story is told of the attempt to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. They brought a new cart, set the Ark of the Covenant on the ark and began the trip to Jerusalem. One man was walking in front of the Ark while another, Uzzah, was walking behind. And when the oxen stumbled Uzzah reached out his hand to stabilize the Ark. The Bible says "The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act." (2 Samuel 6:7, NIV), The New King James version reads, "and God struck him there for his error."
What was his irreverent act? Or what was his error?
Whatever it was, the Ark was not brought to Jerusalem at this time. Years later when the time came and preparations had been made to bring the ark finally to Jerusalem David commented on the first attempt saying in 1 Chronicles 15:13, "It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of Him about how to do it in the prescribed way."
Since it seems, that God has a "prescribed way" to transport the Ark of the Covenant, is it just possible that God has a "prescribed way" for us to live and worship and that He expects us to walk in it. Surely He does! God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33) and God being a fair and just God would not have punished Uzzah for a failure to follow the "prescribed way" if there was no "prescribed way" nor would He have a "prescribed way" for Uzzah and not for us today.
Perhaps another illustration would help to make sure that we are drawing the proper lessons from the Scripture.
In the early part of Genesis we find the story
of Cain and Abel. Both worshipped God. Both brought sacrifices to
God. One was accepted and the other was not. What made the
difference? Why would God accept the worship of one person and
not the worship of another? We are told that "Cain brought some of the
fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. But Abel brought
fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock."
(Genesis 4:3,4 NIV). In reporting
on this event in Hebrews 11
the writer tells us
faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain
did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke
well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though
he is dead." (Heb.11:4, NIV).
We also know "faith
comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." (Romans
Now what may we learn from all of this?
That Abel obeyed the Word of God in offering his sacrifice. Cain did not.
We can also learn that God expects us to follow His word. Since faith comes by hearing the Word and Abel offered by faith it is clear that God had specified a definite manner in which He desired to be worshipped. That is strongly implied with the above statements. Obedience is demanded of all who attempt to follow God. We must follow the "prescribed way". Does God accept all worship today? Can our worship be simply that which seems appropriate to us? Can God accept one worship today that does not follow the "prescribed way"? Absolutely not! Or else Cain could accuse God of having respect of persons. But "God shows no partiality." What He expected of Cain, He expects of us; obedience to the "prescribed way". But how can we know what God expects of us in worship? How can we be sure that we are following the "prescribed way"? Only by carefully following the Scripture. We should "study to show ourselves approved of God." (2 Tim. 2:15). We are to "prove all things and hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Be sure you are walking and worshipping in the "prescribed way".