sermon preached on erev Shabbat 13 August 2010
Shabbat Shalom to you all as we come together to fellowship in the presence of YHWH our Elohim.
Illustration: On October 31, 1983, Korean Airlines Flight 007 departed from Anchorage, Alaska, for a direct flight to Seoul, Korea. Unknown to the crew, however, the computer engaging the flight navigation system contained a 1 ½ degree routing error. At the point of departure, the mistake was unnoticeable. One hundred miles out, the deviation was still so small as to be undetectable, but as the giant 747 continued across the Aleutian Islands and out over the Pacific, the plane increasingly strayed from its proper course. Eventually it was flying over Soviet air space. Russian radar picked up the error, and fighter jets scrambled to intercept Flight 007. A short time later the jet was shot out of the sky over mainland Russia and the lives of everyone onboard was lost, all because of a 1 ½ degree routing error!
How many people today in their worship unto YHWH may be on a walk that is only 1 ½ degrees out? Perhaps this is the picture that many may find themselves on. In our walk with YHWH there is only one way and that is laid out for us clearly in His Word. How many have departed from an intimate relationship with YHWH and are heading straight for a destination that is offensive and far removed from Him? Perhaps you have been there or know of someone who is on a destructive path that in a sense started out with such a tiny compromise yet has or is leading them far from the reality of living a holy life. Many start out with great passion and zeal and end up in what could be called a moral chaos, and why is that? The Scriptures are clear, we are called to be holy or set apart, and Deḇarim tells us that we are to be perfect, and yet very often many find themselves sort of ease into disobedience in such subtle ways, that at first barely seem to affect them at all. Yet over a long period of time when no attempt has been made to repent or seek YHWH anew, they only discover that they are sinning in ways that they never thought possible only a short time before. Tonight I want us to talk a little about compromise and the effect it has in our called walk of holiness. In fact true holiness has no room for compromise. My message tonight is called ‘Holiness without compromise.’
Please turn with me to 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 YHWH to be brought up from Shiloh so that YHWH would be in their midst and save them from the Philistines. The Ark of YHWH was brought up and the Israelites began to celebrate and raised a shout to YHWH that sent fear into the Philistine camp, yet they encouraged themselves to stand up and fight against the Israelites and that day 30,000 foot soldiers of Yisra’ĕl fell on the battlefield. The Ark of YHWH was captured and that day Ḥophni and Pineḥas, the sons of Eli died. When news of the Ark being captured got back to Eli, he, an old man fell of his chair and broke his neck and died. When his daughter in law had heard all of what had gone on – the Ark captured, Eli 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. Quite tragic events! The Philistines took the Ark of YHWH to Ashdod and set it next to the statue of Dagon in their temple for Dagon their ‘god’ who was half man, half fish. When they came the next day they saw that Dagon had fallen over and so they put him back up and the next day he had fallen over and both his head and hands were cut off. YHWH also began to strike the Philistine camp with tumours and they decided to get the Ark away from Ashdod and sent it to another Philistine camp called Gath and the same thing happened – an outbreak of tumours etc, so they sent the Ark of YHWH to Eqron another Philistine city and again YHWH sent destruction wherever they had taken the Ark of YHWH which had been in the Philistine field for 7 months, after which they decided to send it back to the Israelites. They put the Ark 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 Israelites saw the Ark of YHWH coming to them they rejoiced and in the field of Yehoshua they celebrated with offerings unto YHWH, using the cart as wood and sacrificed the two cows as a sacrificial offering to YHWH. At that point some were foolish and looked into the Ark and died, in fact 70 died that day. 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 Jerusalem. The Ark of YHWH remained there for around 60 years for Saul was not interested in checking in on the Ark or bringing it back to Jerusalem at all.
Years later is where we come to our story today, where David the new king decided to bring the Ark back to Jerusalem.
As great as his intentions were, the results were disastrous. Having neglected much of YHWH’s instructions regarding the transportation of the Ark of the Covenant, the Levites failed to follow the strict commands of YHWH and suffered the anger of YHWH as a result.
There are some today who feel that Uzzah was treated harshly and it was unfair for YHWH to kill him, but this is not the case. YHWH 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 Holiness and that we are to obey His Word without compromising His ways in the least.
This weeks Torah portion is called ‘Shoftim’ and means judges or right rulings. We are to submit under the right rulings and ordinances of YHWH as given to us through His Torah and not compromise His standards for holiness in any way, and that is what we are looking at tonight – the effects of compromise.
Everything about the Ark of YHWH was ultimately meant to communicate something about the character of YHWH. From the precision in the way it was built, to what it contained and how it was to be transported or carried; and so YHWH was using His Ark as an illustration of His absolute Holiness. If He had allowed the Israelites to compromise his character in any way, by failing to carry out His instructions regarding the Ark of YHWH, then they would have foolishly began to treat Him as something common and deny Him His rightful glory and honour! YHWH demanded that they obey Him completely in every way, even in the seemingly ‘little things’.
It is the same today, YHWH has not changed, He calls for total obedience regarding the carrying of His presence and we are His Temple and carry His commands written on our hearts, and we therefore must take heed not to compromise in any way.
Learning from this passage let us look at 3 effects of compromising our walk of holiness:
1 – COMPROMISE DISPRESPECTS THE WORD OF YHWH (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 YHWH 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 we can compromise His standards in any way. Now we know from history that the Israelites 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 Israelites made at least 2 compromises in regards to the handling of the Ark of YHWH, that at first glance seems pretty harmless:
A – Failure to transport it – it was clear that according to the Word the sons of Kohath, the sons of Levi was to carry it;
Bemidbar / 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.”
Clear instructions here in the Torah were given as to how the were to carry it using poles that looped through rings that were attached to the Ark and that no holy or set apart thing was to be touched. The Levites here followed the example of the Philistines and placed it on a new cart. 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!!
Just look at how multitudes are following pagan feasts and holidays as opposed to keeping the feasts of YHWH! And we all have done this, and it is time to realise how compromising in any way shows total disrespect for the Word of YHWH.
Why is it that YHWH 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 YHWH 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 Numbers – touching it would result in death! We serve a Holy El and He demands our reverence.
What is important to note is that the first compromise had led to the second, which is referred to in 1 Samuel 6:7 as the ‘fault’, which the Hebrew word ‘shal’, which is an act in transgression of the will of Elohim, or better termed as an irreverent act – showing no reverence toward YHWH.
Because they disobeyed the instructions in carrying the Ark, the Ark began to move when the cows stumbled and Uzzah reached out his hand to prevent it from falling and as a result failed to show proper reverence and respect for YHWH. Even though it was done with good intentions, it was done in disobedience to the Holy standards of YHWH and 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 started all wrong, and besides do you not think that YHWH 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 David in 2 Samuel 11for example: When the kings all went off to war, David stayed in Jerusalem – 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 he set his desire on Bathsheba – COMPROMISE NO. 2 (Exodus 20:17 – do not covet your neighbour’s wife...) – Later he orchestrated a sexual relationship with her while knowing she was married – COMPROMISE NO. 3 (Exodus 20:14 – do not commit adultery…) – She then got pregnant and David had Uriah, her husband, killed – COMPROMISE NO.4 (Exodus 20:13 – do not commit murder…).
From neglect to lust to adultery to murder, a clear picture of how David drifted from YHWH in to moral chaos. If it could happen to a man after YHWH’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 YHWH (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 Aḇinaḏab who lived in Qiryath Yeʽarim.
B – The Ark was kept at his home for around 60 years before David attempted to move it to Jerusalem 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 YHWH, Israel’s most holy object of worship.
D – As we read in Number 4:15 there were clear instructions how the Ark 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 Ahio 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 holiness of YHWH 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 YHWH to care for it. This caused great distress for David, who quickly moved from being filled with joy to being angry and then 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 ourselves but also for others? Compromise with the Word devastates your life as well as others around you!
3 – COMPROMISE DEFLECTS THE BLESSING OF YHWH (13:12-14)
David at this point refused to press on in fear of further effects of compromised actions and having witnessed the very anger of YHWH decided to take the Ark into the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom, where it stayed for 3 months. He was one of the Levites who were appointed to care for the Ark and later became a doorkeeper in the house of YHWH, forsaking all to be in the presence of YHWH. The result of the Ark being in the house of Oḇĕḏ-Eḏom was a overflow of blessings. YHWH blessed his home, his crops, 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 David went back to fetch the Ark and bring it back to Jerusalem in the right way.
Doing things the right way, in complete obedience to YHWH resulted in YHWH pouring out His blessing on His servants.
We all desire the blessings of YHWH, 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:
To obey is better than sacrifice and the account if Uzzah is a warning to us against what we could term ‘familiarity’ with YHWH. He is the Almighty, and not as some would say down under, the all-matey! YHWH is not our buddy, He is our Elohim and we must learn to reverence Him walking in holiness 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 YHWH and His holiness for granted and paid the price – familiarity breeds contempt.
We are called to be holy, 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 David’s wrong approach to worship in this event:
1 – (13:1,4) – David consulted the people, the leaders and the whole assembly, yet never consulted YHWH on bringing back the Ark – we must always consult YHWH - all too often people will listen to others over the Word! We are to pray always and seek YHWH 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 YHWH!
2 – (13:2,4) – David did what was right in the eyes of the people. We must be careful that we are not trying to please people over YHWH. Doing what is right in others eyes may not be right in YHWH’s eyes.
3 – (13:7) – David copied the way of the Philistines by making a new cart for the Ark – we must not copy the pagan practices of worship in any way.
4 – (13:7) – David allowed Uzzah and Ahio to ‘drive’ the presence of YHWH – we must be led by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) not the other way round – us 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 Truth!
5 – (13:8) – David failed to keep YHWH’ standards – It was the Levites 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 YHWH – 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 YHWH 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) – David allowed flesh to touch the presence of YHWH. 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 David was angry and then he feared YHWH. If only he had feared YHWH from the beginning he would have got it right the first time. The Fear of YHWH is the beginning of wisdom!
Now we can learn from this – David certainly learned many lessons in his life and his life reveals a great picture of YHWH’s grace – David was a man after the heart of YHWH – he messed up and learned the hard way. The real value of life is truly having the fullness of the presence of YHWH in every way, not just a form but the fullness of His presence that He fills as we walk a life of no compromise. There are many who have the form of godliness, but we want His fullness, amen!
2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this, that in the last days hard times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, thankless, wrong-doers, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, haters of good, betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of Elohim, 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 holiness without compromise.
The context of this passage today is reverence for YHWH 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!
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, But his delight is in the Torah of יהוה, and he meditates in His Torah day and night. 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 YHWH our Elohim.
Perhaps you have found yourself lost from the presence of YHWH – and you are trying to bring His presence, His right rulings, His standards back – do not compromise in the least. May we learn to distinguish between the holy and the common, the clean and the unclean and come out of all that is unclean! I believe that for many of us who have come from a form of worship that had the appearance of power yet was compromised in disobedience, have now by His grace received the freedom to carry His glorious presence and we must take heed not to treat any of His instructions in a compromised manner that we may truly shine His presence and live His Truth for others to follow.
Let this passage in 1 Chronicles remind us that we are to always walk in reverence of our Awesome and Mighty Maker, that it is not who live for we have died to the flesh and things of the world but that it is Messiah who lives in us as we carry His very Spirit in the prescribed obedient manner.
I thank YHWH that he has not struck me down like Uzzah when I have not carried Him appropriately in my life and acted in the flesh, let us not take his grace lightly or as a license to do as we please but let us truly walk in the blessing of an obedient walk rejoicing in Him. Compromise only disrespects, devastates and deflects all YHWH has freely given us; let us not be out by 1 ½ degree routing error but let us live in Holiness without compromise.