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 Vol. 4, No. 11 

November, 2002

Associate Editorial

~ Page 3 ~

Fatal Error

By Steven P. Smithbauer

Image One of the worst experiences one can have with a computer is a Fatal Error message. It is often called "the blue screen of death" by many in the computer science field, because it means whatever you are doing has just come to a halt and the best you can hope for is to reset the machine, and maybe it will reboot the way it was before the error occurred. Sometimes, the error is so severe it requires new hardware or software to fix the problem.

We are reminded of some "Fatal Errors" that are recorded in the Bible. These are sins that people committed and resulted in their deaths because of their disobedience. Yet, there is no new software to install or hardware to replace that could restore life to them. Unlike computers that can be turned off and on, human beings only have one life, and when it is gone, physical existence is over for that person! Hebrews 9:27 states, " is appointed unto a man once to die, and after this the judgment..." (Emphasis mine, SPS.)

Consider Nadab and Abihu, the first priests to serve in the tabernacle in the wilderness. One can read the full account in Leviticus 10. God had commanded the priests to use coals from the brazen altar of sacrifice to start burning incense, but actually, the sins of Nadab and Abihu were many. Coffman writes:

All that they did here was SINFUL. Their taking of censers, unbidden, their putting incense upon censers carried by themselves, instead of sprinkling it upon the proper altar, their intrusion into the sanctuary in the circumstances and at the time of these events, their taking coals of fire from some place other than from the brazen altar where God had commanded the coals to be taken -- all of these things were exceedingly sinful. Why? God had not authorized or commanded a single one of the things that they did.

Many today believe that it does not matter how one worships -- that we may worship God in any way we choose, and "attend the church of our choice." However, such is not taught in the Holy Scriptures. These two priests died a fiery death when they presumed to worship God differently than he had prescribed. "And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD" (Leviticus 10:2). As Robert Johnson stated in the October 2002 issue of Life Resources, "They thought creative substitution was just as acceptable to God as submissive obedience to God's Word; they were wrong."

Does this seem harsh? How about the man in the Bible with which practically everyone can sympathize, though most do not know how to pronounce his name? In 2 Samuel 6, we read of David bringing the Ark of the Covenant back among the Israelites where it belonged. It had been captured by the Philistines, ancient enemies of the Israelites, but they had wisely decided to return it. God had long before prescribed the manner in which the Ark was to be moved. "And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them" (Exodus 25:13-14). Moreover it was to be carried only by the priests. "And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 31:9). However, David thought that on this joyous occasion it would be all right to substitute a new oxcart instead. It was David's presumptuous sin that led to Uzzah's (probably pronounced, oo -- zaw') fatal error. Let us read the account.

"And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God" (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

Our reaction to this is not surprising. Even King David was upset with God for the seemingly harsh punishment that was meted out (See verse 8). Poor old, noble, sincere Uzzah! What was so terrible about his reaching out to save the Ark from an unceremonious fall? Good intentions aside, Uzzah had made a fatal error in touching what God had commanded was unlawful to touch. There was to be a separation of the common from sacred -- a "difference between holy and unholy" (Leviticus 10:10). Many believe today that as long as one is sincere, his worship is acceptable to God, but like Uzzah of old, they may be deceiving themselves and committing a fatal error.

There are many other examples we could site, but the point is this. We may NOT worship God in any manner we choose, no matter how sincere we are. If we desire to please the God of heaven, and save our souls, we will have to find out what his will for us is. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is in your soul's best interest to delve into the Scriptures for all you practice in worship and life. Find God's pattern and do not "offer strange fire before the Lord." Such has the potential of becoming a fatal error for your soul.Image

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