Vol. 5, No. 8
~ Page 8 ~
(World Evangelist, Vol. 29, No. 11, June, 2001, pp. 15-16.)
Man is a bio-psychosocial being with biological, psychological and social characteristics. This tripartite nature of man elevates him far above other creatures of God. Man is also a Homo sapien -- a free thinker, with the freedom and ability to reason. Man in his ingenuity often craves for absolute freedom -- from direction, control and reproach. Often he does not stop to consider the fact that though created to be superior to all animals, he is far inferior to God in thought, wisdom and intellect. David asked God, "What is man, that thou are mindful of him, and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalm 8:4).
Whether man recognizes and accepts this fact or not does not alter it. For the prophet Isaiah wrote, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). Therefore, in things divine, man must seek and accept God's guidance and direction. Many years ago, Jeremiah recognized this need and wrote, "O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment" (Jeremiah 10:23-24). Also, there is some warning in the wise man's statement. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).
There are many Bible examples of man's most sincere thoughts and judgments that are far below divine judgments, and God regards such as deviations or disobedience. In First Samuel chapter sixteen, the prophet Samuel was instructed by God to anoint one of Jesse's sons to succeed the disobedient Saul. Samuel, though a prophet and seer was human, and therefore thought and reasoned as a man. For as soon as he saw Eliab, Jesse's first son, probably lanky and handsome, he voiced his thought and judgment by saying, "Surely the Lord's anointed is before him" (1 Samuel 16:6). But hear the Lord's judgment. "I have refused him for the Lord seeth not as man seeth" (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesse then made all other sons of his (save David) pass before Samuel. Obviously even Jesse himself must have thought David insignificant, for not until Samuel asked him, "Are here all thy children?" did he remember him (David) tending the flock. And contrary to their thoughts and judgments he was the Lord's anointed.
The two sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, cared little about what God thought in the discharge of their priestly duties. For they offered strange (unholy, unauthorized) fire on God's alter (Leviticus 10:1-3). They must have reasoned after all "fire is fire" in that they presumed to know better than God and maybe to "think" faster too. Awful? Yes! And so it is today. Many people "think" that "church is church," not minding foundation, creed or name. Others say, "baptism is baptism," whether sprinkling, pouring or immersion. They do not care what the Scripture means when baptism is described as "a burial" (Romans 6:3-4), and "a going into and coming up out of the water" (Acts 8:38-39). Let us be warned, for we read "...And Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord when they offered strange fire before the Lord."
It is sad that man never stops thinking and acting presumptuously. We read in 1 Chronicles 13:1-14 how Uzzah met his untimely death while trying to restore the balance of the ark. Maybe he thought, "the oxen stumble, the ark loses balance. At least I would be doing service to God and man restoring it's balance. No harm is it?" Man says "yes." And God says "no." But why no, God? Here again, man thinks that God is too hard to please. But is that right? Man's thinking and judgments are lopsided, seeking to please God but forgetting that God is better pleased by obedience than by service (1 Samuel 15:22). "And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah and he smote him." Why? Because he put his hand to the ark. Uzzah being a Jew knew that it was a sacrilege for a non-Levite to touch the ark of God. He was killed not because of his service, but because of his deviation and disobedience. It has always been interesting to me, that following the Lord's judgment on Uzzah that the Bible says, "And David was displeased because the Lord has made a breach upon Uzzah" (2 Samuel 6:8). Again, in the following verse we read, "And David was afraid of the Lord that day." We must take a cue and be warned therefore that there will be disappointment at the judgment. Jesus has given us a foreknowledge of it, that many will perform religious services which they think are right and yet be rejected (Matthew 7:21-22). Disobedience to God's laws and disregards to his commands have always produced fear (Matthew 25:25).
What is obtained in religious scenes today is closely akin to the unwholesome and unsolicited service Uzzah rendered to God for which he died. For example, God commands and accepts singing for worship in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), but some religious people seem to be wiser and think that instrumental music would be more melodious and pleasing to God and man. Also, they reason that instruments would serve to attract more members into the church. In this, their reasoning is not different from that of Nadab and Abihu. Let us be warned, because some supposed services to God are abominable sacrilege (Proverbs 14:12).