I SAMUEL 6:19-21: “God struck down some of the people from Beth Shemesh because they looked inside the ark of the LORD. He struck down 70 people. The people mourned because the LORD struck them with such a great blow. The people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to which people will he go when he leaves us?” They sent messengers to the people living at Kiriath Jearim to say, “The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD. Come and take it back with you.” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Do I really want to know everything? In life we all struggle with the question – “WHY”?. This hunger to know what is not known is nothing new. In fact, it is the very thing that set the stage for the entrance of sin into the world. The serpent taunted Eve with the unknown. If only she ate from the forbidden tree – then she would know everything!
- “Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:4-7 NKJV
Adam and Eve, along with the people of Beth Shemesh, learned the lesson that we all need to learn. It is not always in our best interest to know everything!
The people of Beth Shemesh were excited to see the Ark of the Lord coming toward their town in a cart led by two milk cows. It had been captured by the Philistines, and had been gone for 7 months. When it arrived, they rejoiced, offering burnt sacrifices to the Lord, and then went one step too far. They wanted to know what was not theirs to know. They wanted to know what was inside the Ark. To handle the Ark was forbidden to anyone who was not a Levite, and to look inside was forbidden to all. Their disobedience resulted in the death of 70 people. Although this seems quite harsh to us, it reminds us that we cannot presume upon the holiness and wisdom of God. There are things for us to know, and things that we must leave in the hands of Almighty God!
- “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 NKJV
The secret things belong to the Lord! God will reveal to us the things that are needful, and also beneficial to our life of faith and growth in Christ. However, there are things that are to be left on the altar. There are things in this life that we will not know or have an answer for. These are the secret things. And why does the Lord withhold these from us? He does this, because He loves us! What seemed like a harsh punishment upon the 70 from Beth Shemesh, who treated the Ark as a common thing, was really the grace and mercy of God keeping back the entire nation of Israel from a pathway of destruction that would result from a lack of reverence for the holiness of God.
It is really not that hard to understand this as an expression of love from the Father. All we have to do is think about the times we protected our children from the things we knew would not be beneficial for them to know. There are things in life that are too difficult for a young child to understand. To reveal them to a child would not help them, but place them in a state of confusion, insecurity, and fear. So, like our Heavenly Father, we reveal the things that we know will be beneficial, and conceal the things we know that will be detrimental. This comes from the Father’s heart of love for His children.
So what do we do with the “Whys” of life? We place them on the altar of God. This means, we let go of our insistence and pursuit of trying to find out “Why”, and focus on the question of “What”. Our prayer should not be “Why Lord?” Our prayer should become – “Lord, what do you want me to do?” This is what the Apostle Paul prayed when he met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus. And it is the most important prayer that any of us can pray!
- “As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:3-6 NKJV
Focusing on the “What”, and leaving the “Why” in the hands of the Lord, will lead us to His all sufficient grace! As we follow the Lord in faith, we know that He will lead us and guide us, even when we do not fully understand everything. In fact, that is what faith is all about! And as we walk in faith, we can rest assured that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and that He will continue to reveal to us – ALL that will be beneficial to our growth in the life and character of Christ Jesus!
Lord, forgive me for the times I have been tempted to peek into the Ark. Forgive me for the times when I have doubted your faithfulness in my life, and have forgotten that You alone are God. The secret things belong alone to You! Help me to daily walk in faith, seeking “What” You want me to do. And as I walk in obedience by Your grace, reveal those things to me that will lead me into the fullness of Christ in my life.
In Jesus Name!