Indiana Jones Got It Right
Today’s Bible Reading: 1 Chronicles 13:1–14
Remember the climactic scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark? After searching for the ark of the covenant and finding it, a group of evil men open the ark’s lid, thinking they’ll receive supernatural power and fortune from it. Instead, the power they unleash utterly destroys them. Remember the fire drilling into the soldier’s chests and the melting faces of their leaders? But “Indy” and his heroine know better—they refuse to look on this act of desecration, and death passes over them.
While you can argue about flaws in the movie’s theology, this climactic scene powerfully communicates the truth that you shouldn’t mess with holy things.
The men moving the ark in David’s day met a similar fate. God had given explicit directions about how to transport the ark. These rules existed to demonstrate God’s transcendent nature—he was not to be handled the same as false gods. The ark was to be carried by poles (see Exodus 25:12–15). God also warned that anyone touching the holy things would die (see Numbers 4:15). Although God’s act of striking down Uzzah may seem capricious or unjust to us as modern individuals, it was a defense of his holiness. David certainly knew better than to treat God’s divine presence in such a casual manner.
If we respond to Uzzah’s death with outrage, as David did, it only shows the extent to which we misunderstand God’s holiness. True, God acted in dramatic ways in the time of David, ways that we can’t comprehend. Such accounts in the Old Testament sometimes shock us, because we can’t imagine that proverbial “bolt of lightning” coming down from heaven to punish us. But this story does illustrate that, especially in our modern day, we too often approach God without the reverence and respect his moral perfection demands. As God said through the prophet Isaiah: “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
God won’t allow us to treat him casually. Although he desires a relationship with us, we can’t reduce God to our level.
To Take Away
- Do you respect or resent God’s intense purity? Why?
- In what ways is your worship of God marked by reverence and awe?
- How did Jesus’ death satisfy God’s holy wrath?