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MESSAGE FOR THE FORTNIGHT
 









Hey!!! A moralistic mission can misfire!!!


Heard of anecdotes when something done with an apparently good intention but in a wrong way went haywire? Here’s one for starters...

Who can forget a school time story told often to emphasize the importance of proper usage of punctuation marks? It is said that on account of a last-minute Presidential pardon, a convict’s death sentence by hanging was slashed. But unfortunately due to improper usage of a comma, the wired message to the Prison (sent in a hurry) where this convict was to be executed read “Hang him, not release him”. instead of the supposed “Hang him not, release him”.

Coming to the spiritual realm...St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, studied Hebrew so he could translate the Old Testament into Latin from the original, instead of from the third century Greek version that everyone else had used. The resulting Latin version known as The Vulgate, which became the basis for hundreds of subsequent translations, contained a famous mistake. When Moses comes down from Mount Sinai his head has "radiance" or, in Hebrew, "karan." But Hebrew is written without the vowels, and St. Jerome had read "karan" as "keren" or "horned." From this error came centuries of paintings and sculptures of Moses with horns (even the great renaissance artist Michael Angelo sculpted Moses with a horn) and the odd offensive stereotype of the “horned Jew”.

While at best (or worst...Sic) the resultant damage may have been limited to some Jewish sentiments getting rubbed the wrong way courtesy this semantic error of that great Saint, there was nothing catastrophic such as loss of life nor was any incumbent King left with an egg on his face, so to say. Now welcome to the Biblical story which resulted in just that!!! Consider David’s gaffe over transporting the Ark of the Covenant (1 Chro 13:1-14) from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem in an ox- cart instead of on the shoulders of Priestly Kohathites!!! (Numbers 4:15/ Numbers 7:19)!!! It is an altogether different story as to why the Ark which symbolized both God’s presence and His Covenantal relationship with Israel landed in Kiriath-Jearim in the first place when it ought to have been in the “The Most Holy Place” (a separate Chamber) of the Tabernacle which was at Gibeon. Incidentally the story of Tabernacle itself moving to Gibeon from its original place of erection in Shiloh (Joshua 18:1) is a gargantuan subject in itself. Amongst others’, the subject would lead us to a topic culminating in a fascinating time in Israel’s history, when they had two High Priests’ simultaneously for the first and final time (one in Gibeon and the other at Jerusalem- 1 Kings 4:4). Yours truly would endeavour to throw light on both the subjects’ some other time but in this message, he aims to glean some lessons only from a moralistic mission of David gone awry using some alliteration (sub-headings beginning with “M”... what else?) in order we of this generation are better served in paying proper attention to our Lord’s instructions (1 Cor 10:11)...

Miss-out...




Till this goof-up, one of the outstanding characteristics of the man of God’s own heart (Read David- 1 Sam 13:14/ Acts 13:22) had been to “enquire of the Lord”, often. A careful study of the Scriptures would reveal that till this “spiritual blunder”, David had enquired of the Lord (when faced with different challenges) not less than 6 times (1 Sam 23:2,4/ 1 Sam 30:8/ 2 Sam 2:1/ 2 Sam 5:19,23). But sadly, before embarking on this “noble” mission of bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the permanent “home of God” (read Jerusalem where Temple would soon be constructed- Psalm 132:13-14) instead of Gibeon (only a temporary place for the Lord’s presence in dispensation of Law) there is no mention of this great King “enquiring of the Lord”, though the Scripture says that he “consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader” (1 Chro 13:1). If seeking the Lord’s opinion seemed too much of an ask for David, then ideally instead of military leaders, it would have served him well, to consult the Levitical leaders in what was predominantly a spiritual matter before taking the “final call” on the subject, so to speak. Talk of consulting a Nephrologist to discuss your kidney problem rather than a Cardiologist...

Sadly, David it would seem missed out on the obvious obvious of seeking the right answer from the right source!!! While the saying the work well begun is half-done is true, the converse of it is also equally true...work not well begun, is half-done for!!! Say Servant of God, are you prayerfully enquiring of the Lord before launching out on any noble mission purportedly carried out for His Glory?

Miscalculation...


Numbers 4:15/ Numbers 7:19           1 Chronicles 13:8


The obvious offshoot of neither prayerfully looking unto the Lord before embarking on a major spiritual mission nor seeking the Levitical guidance resulted in a gross miscalculation on David’s part of going by recent history (the Philistines had transported the Ark in a Cow-driven cart- 1 Sam 6:1-14) instead of Scriptures. Yes, the Philistines who were ignorant of the Biblical precepts on Ark transportation (Numbers 4:15/ Numbers 7:19) were divinely excused but how could the Covenantal people to whom the Law was given plead innocence or ignorance in this vital issue (Luke 12:48)? No way!!! Divine anger was only waiting to spill over and it did when...

Mishap...


1 Chronicles 13:9-10


As per the Divine scheme of things in order Lord’s response to a reprehensible mishandling of a vital subject is publicly manifested, the oxen stumbled and what followed is too well-known to be documented again.

Now for a subject within a subject! The ark had stayed for a period of time at Abinadab’s house (2 Samuel 6:3), where his sons, Uzzah and Ahio, may well have become accustomed to its presence. There’s an old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” that could apply in this case. Uzzah, having been around the ark in his own home, could very likely forget the holiness that it represented. There are times when we, too, fail to recognize the holiness of God, becoming too familiar with Him with an irreverent attitude. No way!!!

Miserable...


1 Chronicles 13:11


While King David’s friend may have lost his life, it was the King who felt most miserable (1 Chro 13:11-12) at the sorry turn of events for which he himself was solely responsible. Be it as it may, let’s capture what David himself has to say on the reasons behind the Lord’s act of inflicting painful chastisement albeit in a different situation... “The punishment you gave me was the best thing that could have happened to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your laws. They are more valuable to me than millions in silver and gold! (Psa 119:71-72 TLB)”

Modify...




Misery led to the temporary modification in David’s plan of taking the Ark to Jerusalem. He would now take it to the home of a Levite Obededom (1 Chro 15:24) the Gittite, so called as he was the resident of Gath-Rimmon one of the Levitical Cities (Joshua 21:24-25).

Manifold...


1 Chronicles 13:14


Put yourself in Obededom’s shoes, as the Ark of the Covenant came home!!! Considering the circumstances, one can well imagine with what reverential fear, he and his family members would have gone about their lives. No wonder, the Scripture says obviously out of joy in seeing Obededom conduct affairs of his home with deep reverential fear for three months, the Lord blessed him with manifold blessings (1 Chro 13:14).

Mend...




Trust godly David to repent whenever confronted with his faults and fallacies (Psalm 51/ 2 Sam 24) and this incident which is the first of the other two grave mistakes of his, kind of establishes a pattern in David’s life. Stand...fall...rise!!! Deep remorse of this contrite King over a moralistic mission gone awry due to Scriptural negligence can well be gauged by these sombre words even as he mends fences with His Creator. Let the Scripture take over at this stage...

“Then David called for Zadok and Abiathar, the High Priests, and for the Levite leaders: Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab.

“You are the leaders of the clans of the Levites,” he told them. “Now sanctify yourselves with all your brothers so that you may bring the Ark of Jehovah, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. The Lord destroyed us before because we handled the matter improperly—you were not carrying it.” (1 Chro 15:11-13).

About a Christian’s life also ...the wise Rick Warren observed “Christian begins with repentance and is sustained by repentance”.

Mission 2...




If seeds for failure of “Mission 1” were laid by way of an improper spiritual preparation, by the same token seeds for success of Mission 2 were planted this time out by proper, reverential, meticulous preparation. No wonder when the curtains come down on this particular account of finally bringing the Ark to Jerusalem the Scripture makes mention of peaceful and joyous settings at the end of it all... “And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts and distributed among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins to each one. Then all the people departed, each to his house” (2 Sam 6:18-19).

May we too at all times undertake tasks for God’s Glory in the way He desires, so that we can too experience this truth of which that great Missionary Hudson Taylor speaks of thus: God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply. Oh of all the finest things, He supplies let’s crave for His APPROVAL first and foremost in everything we undertake in His Name!!!


Yours in His service,

Suresh Manoharan
An Unworthy Servant



Ps… All those whose heart the Lord is touching say this Prayer right where you are…”Father, I confess I am a Sinner. Cloth me with Your Priceless Robes of Righteousness which Your Son Jesus Christ has purchased for me in the Cross. Fill my heart with the joy of Your Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.