Do Not Touch

By A. A. Meeks, Sr.

After being freed from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites, under the leadership of Moses, crossed the Red Sea, and entered the “Wilderness of Shur” (Ex. 15:22). Three months later they came to Mount Sinai, where they camped (Ex. 19:1-2). At Sinai, God gave them a law to direct them throughout their generations.

Among the things God commanded Israel at this time was the construction of a beautiful tent. This tent (called a tabernacle) was the place where the High Priest could commune with God, the other priests could offer sacrifices, and the people could meet to worship.

Inside the Tabernacle were some pieces of furniture necessary for conducting their service to God. Among these furnishings was a box made of acacia wood and covered inside and outside with gold. This box was called “The Ark of the Covenant.” The Ark had four rings made of gold (one at each corner) through which two poles could be put, and the Ark was to be carried by priests (Num. 4:5-15). NO ONE WAS TO TOUCH THE ARK (Num. 4:15).

After David became king of Israel, he wanted to move the Ark from the house of Abinadab to the city of Jerusalem. They loaded the Ark on a new cart with two men, Uzzah and Ahio, driving the oxen. We are told in 2 Sam. 6:6-7, “And when they came to Nachon’s threshing floor, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against Uzzah, and the Lord struck him there for his error; and he died there by the Ark of God.”

Two errors were made on the occasion of Uzzah’s death: 1) They tried to move the Ark in a way God had not commanded. 2) Uzzah disobeyed God when he touched the Ark.

Since God had described the way He wanted the Ark moved, it was wrong for them to try to move it in some other way. Today, when God tells us in the New Testament how He wants something done, it is wrong to try to do it some other way. For example: the New Testament tells us how to finance the work of the church. The Apostle Paul told the people in Corinth, “ I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1-2). It is clear from these verses that the work of the church is to be supported by freewill contributions from the members (see 2 Cor. 9:7). That means if a church supports its work by selling groceries, or by showing movies, or by sponsoring bingo games, it is not acting according to God’s word.

Uzzah did something that God did not allow when he touched the Ark. He, no doubt, intended to keep the Ark from falling, and maybe being broken. His intentions were good, but disobeying God is a serious matter, regardless of our intentions. In the end, we will pay for our disobedience. The New Testament says, “Do not lie to one another...” (Col. 3:9). What happens if we lie? “...and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

What happens when we commit adultery, fornication, idolatry, envy, or jealousy? The word of God says, “...those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

But remember: regardless of what our sins are, they can be forgiven by our obedience to the gospel of Christ. He died that our sins might be forgiven if we are willing to obey Him.