Day 20

Following the Recipe

'...to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.' I Samuel 15:22

The Ark of the Covenant, which belonged in the Holy of Holies, was housed with Abinadab when David became king. When moving the Ark, they placed it upon a cart rather than carry it, according to God's instruction in the Law.[1] When the cart tipped, Uzzah grabbed the Ark to steady it and God struck him dead.[2] God allowed for no deviation in keeping His com-mandments.

The Old Testament Law is filled with great detail on how things were to be done. The greater the detail, however, the greater the temptation to modify the instructions. 'God doesn't really care about the details; it is the spirit that counts,' is how you can so easily rationalize. Like Uzzah, such people frequently get into trouble with God.

In the New Testament, by and large, God does not give a great deal of detail. In rites such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, and congregating in His name, no specifics are given. Thus we are free to improvise as we please. But instead of enjoying our freedom in Christ, we fragment over the details. Denominations come into existence over mode of baptism, the exact meaning of the bread and wine, and what we do when we congregate in His name. Unity is lost in violation of His wish that we be one.

It seems that no matter what God asks, we want to argue with Him. When He tells us that details are important, we want the freedom to improvise. When He allows improvisation, we argue over the details. If Uzzah teaches anything, it is that handling the instructions of God with frivolity is dangerous. The wise servant of God calls essential what God deems essential, and nonessential all else.

[1] cf. Numbers 4:1-15
[2] cf. II Samuel 6:1-11

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