We all have a path we are walking. Some take an easy path and some take David’s path, the one filled with tough decisions, radical faith, and a lot of suffering. David had been king for just a little while; remember he waited nearly 40 years as King Saul had finished his opportunity to rule God’s people. He was spiritual in his leadership but he was very religious and superstitious. David on the other hand was incredibly spiritual and creative. David knew deep down that the God who had defeated the giant through him was still with him in his new assignment. His challenge however was that God’s people were split into two kingdoms.
His assignment as he saw it was to bring unity to all God’s people.
The best way he could figure out how to do that was to place in the center of this new city, we now know as Jerusalem, the most holy object in all of Israeli history. The ARK of God. So, he sets out to make that happen with 30,000 troops (See 2 Samuel 6 for the whole story) but his renewal effort hits a snag the first thing. Someone is struck dead by God because he touches the ARK and doesn’t follow the pre-scribed rules in doing so. Sounds harsh doesn’t it? David thought so because they were all so sincere and David got angry with the Lord for killing this guy named Uzzah.
That event appears to completely stop David’s attempt at unity and renewal for his people.
He takes 90 days and researches, contemplates and prays and goes back to get the ARK (the container of the presence of God) and bring it to the center of Jerusalem. He decides however that to do so, the ARK must be treated with great respect and placed on the shoulders of clergy and surrounded by the worship leaders and singers.
He is also so concerned according to 2 Samuel 6 he decides to take 6 steps and then sacrifice two animals. There is some debate as to whether or not he actually did that (I don’t intend to get into a scholarly debate in this short writing), however; let’s say he did that. If you do the math that meant that he sacrificed two animals every 6 steps and worshipped God on the 7th. That calculates out to 704 animals every mile. Here’s the kicker. The ARK was at Obed Edoms house, which was approximately 10 miles from Jerusalem. That’s over 7000 animals that would have created such a pathway of blood and sacrifice both financially it boggles the mind.
The part of the story that shaped my thinking is that we are all on a journey of sacrifice 6 days a week. During those days we sacrifice for our families, companies, and communities, but on the 7thwe should be offering a sacrifice of worship. In some ways our lives are just the opposite. We work 6 days for ourselves, our creditors and give God an hour on Sundays. But for most of the pastors and ministers I know there is no real celebration taking place on Sundays. Why not join with one another 6 days a week as one’s time allows and then celebrate all that’s happened for God on our journeys those 6 days by focusing solely upon God on the 7th. Every believer should be engaged in sacrifice and ministry 24six and then give God thanks for His provision on day 7.
David’s story teaches us several important truths:
- We cannot carry the very presence of God on man-made programs, ideas or ministries.
- God’s presence lives inside each believer and should be treated with great respect.
- There may be a few casualties on the way toward a reintegration of God’s presence in the center of the faith community.
- We will make mistakes on this journey of re-orienting how we do church. Remember, David was embarrassed in front of the whole nation when his plan didn’t work, but he didn’t give up but sought the Lord.
- Ministry, real and good ministry is possible coming out of brokenness and disappointment. The ARK was stopped at the threshing floor a place where separation occurs. David went and re-examined his motives and the way he was ushering in the presence of God.
- Divine delays are often God ordained. David learned that God often delays His activity to produce a better outcome.
- God generally calls His people to trust Him for the impossible. The place of suffering can become the place of blessing. In America the threshing floor is the budget. We haven’t needed God that much lately because the strength of our army was the budget. If the numbers worked we would say let’s do the will of God. But look at all the times when the numbers didn’t work:
- Abraham – the numbers didn’t work he and Sarah were nearly 100
- Gideon the numbers didn’t work and he had to trim down to 300
- Joshua and Caleb realized that the numbers didn’t work when 10 out voted their 2
- Children of Israel – the numbers didn’t work at the red sea there was no way out of their situation
- Moses – the numbers didn’t work he was only a man
- Jacob – the numbers didn’t work he was #2
8. The Road to Renewal is a path of sacrifice.
Is it hard to take the path of David?
Yes. It’s hard when the odds are against you. It’s hard when you and those around you struggle believing in the promises of God. In those times, remember David’s path, the one that took decades before God’s promises came to fruition and the one that was stuffed full of sacrifice. Choose to take David’s path.