When Devils Carry the Ark (The Sons of Eli)

When Devils Carry the Ark
Robert Wurtz II

“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12 KJV)

Regardless of the fact that God had placed strict regulations on whom priests could marry, “bad seeds” still found their way into the priesthood. Long before John the Baptist denounced the notion of heriditary righteousness, we face this sobering verse, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12 KJV) Here were young men, born of Eli’s seed, raised to know the Lord, and yet they were devils. Making matters worse, Eli, who was supposed to stand before the Lord, was not doing his job. In fact, while Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were killed for offering strange fire, and Aaron was forbidden from mourning their death; here is Eli and his wicked sons making a mockery of the priesthood as if it were business as usual. 


The old timers used to say that “God’s presence withdrawn means judgment has been delayed.” Actually, God’s presence withdrawn is judgment in itself. Eli was more concerned about keeping his sons happy than obeying God. He was completely ignorant of the danger he, and his family were in. Even though God had specifically warned him, he kept honoring his sons above God. In fact, his sons became his gods. He served them instead of God. He falsely accused a woman of drunkenness while refusing to deal with his perverse — adulterous sons. He is the type of man who would cast out a prophet and allow a fornicator to go on ministering. Sound like modern times? The Eli’s of today have tolerated sin to the point that entire generations need to be re-taught the concept of holiness.


High Handedness 

The Ark of God was lost to the Philistines through the gross negligence and presumption of Eli’s wicked sons Hophni and Phinehas. Eli, who honored his sons more than he honored the LORD, refused to put an end to their high-handed gluttony and adultery. In time, their evil reached its apex as these sons of Belial shouldered the ark of God and ran presumptively into battle with no word from the LORD. Imagine that! Devils running down the hill with the ark over their shoulder. These were supposed to be ministers before the Lord; instead they carried the presence of God out of His own camp. As a consequence, they were killed and the ark was seized by the enemies of God. When Eli heard the news, his concern for the things of God finally surpassed his love for his sons, and in a moment of terror fell backwards and broke his neck. His daughter in law, struck by the horrific ramifications of her wicked husbands’ reckless evil, fell into labor and died; not before delivering their son and naming him Ichabod; a name that captured the reality of that day, “for the glory of Jehovah is departed.” 



In the midst of the rebellion and compromise, God raised up Samuel, who was after God’s own heart, to get the nation back on track. “After God’s own heart” is a way of saying that a person agrees with God and seeks to honor His will. After God judged the Philistines with rats and hemorrhoids, they decided it was best to give the ark back to Israel. They sent it on an ox-drawn cart with some golden hemorrhoid shaped offerings hoping their plan would put an end to their plagues. 

When it arrived at Beth-Shemesh, the children of Israel sat it on a flat stone, broke up the cart, started a fire, and cooked the oxen. They were happy and celebrating the ark’s return; for it symbolized the very Throne of God and His unique presence. Nevertheless, their party got out of hand. This is what happens when holiness is not taught and modeled. People do things they ought to know better than to do. Soon some decided to look inside the ark — while others stared at it; both of which were capital offenses (Numbers 4:20). It is important to note, that God did not spend the entire Old Covenant teaching us about His holiness just to void it all with grace. God is still as holy as He was when He struck down no less than 70 people for staring at and looking into the ark — rather than covering it up (Numbers 4:5).

Such recklessness and irreverence for the things of God are a direct consequence of not giving heed to what God has said about holy things. Moreover, evil associations corrupt good manners. When one person is reckless and irreverent, others are emboldened to behave likewise– especially if the ringleader is of reputation or position. Pretty soon the few who are left who are behaving reverently are shunned as old fashioned or some other cynical adjective. What happens? The voices that speak out against ungodly behavior are ridiculed until the masses are embolden in their evil. In fact, though God had successfully judged the Philistines so that Israel could recover the ark, it would take Samuel some twenty years, going around from town to town preaching repentance and correcting the people’s errors, to get the people right with God so the LORD could return in His unique presence. This is an important lesson for all times.

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 God struck him there for his error; and he died there by the ark of God. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

During this twenty years the ark of God stayed with a Levite and his family. Incredibly, though they had known the ark of God for twenty years, they had no concept of how it was supposed to be handled. In fact, when David got ready to bring the ark up they put it on a cart just like the Philistines did. Their close proximity to the things of God, while refusing to educate themselves as to how they are to be handled, proved to be Uzzah, the son of the Levite’s, cause of death. Ignorance proved to be no excuse when he reached out and touched the ark. He may have had the impression that he was an expert on the ark, simply because he grew up around it. History has proven time and time again, that the opposite is often true. 


A Story for all Times

The entire story of the loss and recovery of the ark of the covenant is filled with examples of the consequences of disregarding God’s standards of holiness and righteousness. We have in our text in 2 Samuel 6:6-7 a demonstration of God’s estimate of presumption in the things of God. If He never smote another person down again, the example of Eli, his sons, the people who “gazed” into the ark, and finally Uzzah gives God’s perspective on the behavior. What is presumption? It is the blatant disregard of God’s clearly defined protocol or rules. It is to act independent of God’s counsel in innovating measures in the kingdom of God. This behavior could range anywhere from willful ignorance to highhanded rebellion. 


In the Kingdom of God, as the name suggests, God is the King. This seems simple enough, but we must understand that the word kingdom implies strict subservience. We are told in scripture that we are servants to whatever we yield our members to. This tells us what kingdom we are in. What king are we obeying? That’s the kingdom we have chosen to be subservient to. 

The House of Eli (When God Departed)

The House of Eli
When God Departed
Robert Wurtz II

And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. (1 Samuel 4:3)

Since God began dwelling among men, He has warned His people about dangerous characters who would come along and put His presence at risk. Satan seems to have an endless army of agents at his disposal who infiltrate God’s ”  house ” for the purpose of    running Him off. Satan knows that bad behavior and God do not mix. These phenomena play out countless times in the Old Testament and into the New Covenant. In fact, a cursory read of Revelation chapter 2, and 3 revealed how serious the Lord Jesus is about protecting the churches of God from bad people. These people came in to cause God’s unique presence to cease dwelling among the people; in the language of Revelation, to get their lamp stand removed. 

In Chapter 2 the Lord praises Ephesus for not bearing with those who were evil and for rejecting false apostles as liars. Pergamos tolerated Baalam like people in the church who stumbled the saints with fornication. He warned them sharply to repent. Thyatira allowed a ” Jezebel ” to stumble the people with fornication and idolatry. He gave her a chance to repent, but she did not; tribulation was now at the door for them. These are just some examples of how the enemy is relentless to corrupt the churches so that God’s presence will withdraw from them. 

An Old Testament Lesson

It is hard to read our passage without bringing to mind the complete lack of discernment that Eli showed when Samuel’s mother wept before the Lord. Here was a man ready to accuse a woman for being drunk, while his two sons were living like devils in the ministry. All the while, she wept because she had no son. Now Eli’s sons are about to manifest the full recklessness of their own father’s inaction. In modern times, he would be tried for criminal negligence. In Israel, God will now demonstrate His estimate of bad behavior within the ministry. 


It is folly to pretend to have faculties of discernment when one is devoid of basic common sense. (compare 1 Cor. 11:14a “does not even nature teach you?”) Any person who had even the faintest understanding of the God of the Jews would have known how evil these boys were. If a man fornicates with women of the church, he is capable of anything. Moreover, they would take the largest portions of the offering for themselves causing the offering of the Lord to be despised. A sinner could have been called in to bring correction to such high-handed disregard for the things of God. Why did Eli allow this to happen? God said it was because he honored his sons more than he honored YHWH (God). You see, what was designed to be God’s House, had year-by-year slowly turned into Eli’s house. 


A House For God


Shiloh was the temporary capitol of Israel before the first temple was built in Jerusalem. For over 300 years, this place served as a center of religious worship. In fact, the Wilderness Tabernacle was erected here semi-permanently, with the Ark of the Covenant and the other related furniture. This means that things had gone relatively well for some 260 years. Then came that dreaded 40 year stretch where Eli, the high Priest, judged Israel. There are over 100 references, directly or indirectly to the number 40 in scripture. Typically the number symbolizes testing, trial, or probation. During these last 40 years at Shiloh, the nation was spiraling into a backslidden condition with Eli’s “priestly” son’s Hophni and Phinehas leading the charge. 


Either one or both of the sons of Eli was an accomplished fornicator; and either one or both of the sons was a gluttonous man. Between these two sons sins, and their father’s dereliction, the entire house of Eli was judged forever ending their priestly ministry with Abiathar


Only God understands the secrets of men; so we cannot say with any certainty why Eli honored his sons more than God. Whether he was proud of them or afraid of them, we cannot tell. We only know that he would rather disobey God in the face of certain judgment than deal with them. In fact, so serious was the situation that God raised up the young boy Samuel to replace Eli as the spiritual leader in Israel. In the very spot where God was to be reverenced and obeyed (as He is reverenced and obeyed in Heaven), Eli’s sons were behaving in unconscionable ways. We have this simple description of these men, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.” (1 Samuel 2:12) 


The sons were evil and the father was complacent. Loyalty is when you will stand by a person even when they are in the wrong; faithfulness is when we will stand for truth no matter who it effects. Eli’s loyalty to his sons trumped his faithfulness to God. Absolutely nothing moved Eli to correct His sons. He was receiving undeniable and direct threats from God (not that God makes any idle threat). God spoke to him in the strongest of ways warning him of what would happen if he did not stop them. Nevertheless, he carried on into the 40th year as if God was not talking. 


Sometimes it seems as though God is never going to judge sin. Can you imagine how vexed the Saints were who witnessed these things? Year after year the house of Eli acted out. People probably wondered, ” when is it going to stop? ” they have made a mockery of the ministry. It’s a wonder there was any faith left by the time it was all over. Some would have liked to have done something perhaps, but they could not bring themselves to do it. Indeed, things were completely out-of-hand. Eli didn’t correct them, and neither did anyone else. Somewhere between charm and intimidation, the house of Eli behaved however they wished. God had to do something. 


He describes His plan to Eli saying, “I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.” (1 Samuel 2:35) God wants leaders that are after His own heart–not their own lusts. This account of the leaders in Israel’s history are recorded for us, the churches of God, as examples of what not to do in the Kingdom of God. 


Moving in a Superstitious Reverence


It came to pass that God spelled out his judgment upon Eli and his house because of the way they had treated Him before the eyes of all of Israel. We have said this before, but the primary role of any leader in the Kingdom of God is to sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the people. Leaders must never give the impression that God is like a common man who can be obeyed and disobeyed at will; but they must exalt Him and sanctify Him before the people — through their conduct — in absolute reverence. 


Eli and his sons didn’t live by every word that was proceeding from the mouth of God; in fact, they treated God as one who can be trifled with. Isaiah 66:1-3 tells us what is required for a place of “God’s rest.” They are a broken and contrite heart (humility) and one who trembles at God’s word (obedience). The house of Eli failed on all counts and it would signal the beginning of God’s departure in Israel.




Blasphemed Among the Gentiles


People may have thought YHWH to be a dumb idol of wood or stone based upon how they behaved toward Him. In fact, the sons and elders of the people were so rebellious and misguided, that they viewed the Ark of God, i.e., the Ark of the Covenant- the very throne of His divine presence, as a superstitious relic that could be used almost as an amulet. They didn’t look to God, but to the Ark itself to secure victory in their battle with the Philistines! 



They didn’t obey and regard God, but they tried to go a running into battle with the ‘symbol’ of the authority of God to overthrow the Philistines. There is an important truth here. What sense does it make to try to exercise authority over demons if we are not willing to obey God ourselves? This is a sobering point. Why would men who flagrantly disobeyed the authority of God call upon His authority in their time of need? They wanted saved out of their situation, but had no intention of submitting to God’s authority. Notice they did not call upon Him, but they used the symbol of His authority superstitiously. This is what things came  to. When men seek to utilize the authority of God for their needs, but will not submit to Him in their everyday lives, it is time for serious change. 

The Ark Lost

The power was never in the Ark itself; it was what it represented in the Earth. The only power was in the peoples’ submission to God and their standing under His authority. The Ark had been sanctified to the Lord and was not to be used for man’s whims. It should have been the farthest thing from these elders’ minds. At least Eli had the good sense to tremble for the Ark of God as his sons took it out presumptively into battle. 


When a messenger returned he gave this report, And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. (1 Samuel 4:17) When Eli heard this he literally fell over dead. 


The story continues,  And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (1 Samuel 4:19-21) The glory departed  from Israel. The saddest thing of all is that God offered many chances for Eli and his sons to repent; they would not. 


A Big Shout


This story would not be complete if we did not go back and make an important point. When the battle began, 4000 of Israel’s men were killed. This is 100 times the number of years Eli ruled (judged) Israel. Upon hearing this news the elders asked, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines? How could they ask such a question? Was it ignorance? Were they blinded and hardened in sin? The elders should have known better than to suggest something so insane. Clearly neither the sons of Eli nor the elders had any clue about how Israel won the victory in the former days. 


Did they inquire of the Lord for an answer? No. Why? The Word of the Lord was precious in those days and there was no open vision. People apparently were not in the habit of seeking the Lord’s direction. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Rather than waiting on God to see why things had gone so badly, they presumptively rallied around man’s idea. That idea was that the Ark could save them! In other words, the method could save them, or the thing God had done in the past will save them. They were banking on yester-years victories, while living in flagrant rebellion. They refused to understand that when God moved in the days of old, it was because the people had sanctified themselves unto Him. They determined to obey God and His word at any cost, and as a result they saw mighty victories. What about these rebels? Did they think that God was going to be with them as He was in years past simply because they went through the same religious exercise of their forefathers? No way. Rather, God sought to slay the devilish leaders from Eli’s house. 

So the people sent to Shiloh, and they brought from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which sitteth upon the cherubim: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. (1 Samuel 4:4-5)


Notice how the people were excited about what they believed God (the Ark) was going to do. These people shouted so loud that some translations say that the ground shook. Now contrast this with David, who in the decades to follow, when the Ark is finally brought back into the city, danced before the Lord with all of his might. He was overwhelmed with excitement that God was returning to the tabernacle in and rule Israel. Yet, in the years prior the people of Israel made a loud ruckus and wist not that God was actually departing as they shouted! They made a big noise, looked up and God was gone. 

For a brief moment it almost fooled the enemy, but then they strengthened themselves. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. (1 Samuel 4:7) Even the Philistines believed God was moving, but the people were operating in the emotional excitement of bygone years. Nobody can prevail on the stories of past victories. We have to establish our own testimony of a life of faith. The trouble is that they wanted victory without holiness.  They wanted to fornicate and covet and then go out and do exploits. It can never happen: at least, not by the Holy Spirit of God. 


Israel had not taken the time to sanctify themselves before the Lord as did Joshua and those who took the land. The consequence? What they thought was going to be a great victory ended up being their greatest defeat. Why? Because they mistakenly trusted in the objects and the memories and had not submitted themselves under the authority of God. They wanted the devil to obey God, but they had no intention of setting a course for personal obedience to Him. 


Personal Application


When God stirs men in repentance, He is seeking to turn them back to Himself in personal obedience. God does not want His people living according to the counsel of their own will. He does not want us quenching and grieving the Holy Spirit when He deals with us. Human beings are creatures of habit, and sadly, quenching the Spirit can become almost a habit. This ought not so to be. God wants us in the habit of seeking His counsel and obeying His voice. That is to say, His gentle checks and rebukes along life’s way. Elijah is the example of a man that learned this very thing. Here we read,  


 And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13) 


Sometimes people think God is speaking in ways that rend mountains. They are looking for an earth-shaking fiery ‘Word’, but God moves His people most often with a still small voice. We don’t need God to speak to us in a way that will shake the earth or move a mountain — we only need to give heed to God speaking to us in the subtlety of His dealings. When we spend time in prayer, or in the word of God, He will speak to our hearts in a way we can know His will with certainty. He will nudge us to do well, and we need to be responsive. It is of no consequence to give up a big shout if we refuse to obey the still small voice. This is why so many people never know the voice of God- they simply refuse to respond rightly to Him when they know He is dealing with them. Nevertheless, the house of Eli soon discovered that God will abandon a people who will not obey his will. His house is liable to become our house. 


See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ (Luke 13:35 NKJV)


  
   

  

The Throne in the Midst


The Throne in the Midst
Robert Wurtz II

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (Hebrews 10:5-9)

The first covenant was an agreement between Jehovah God (YHWH) and Israel. If they abided by the terms of the agreement, YHWH would be their God, and they would be His special possession. Covenants are agreements that establish terms of a relationship. God gave them rules, and they were to abide by them absolutely. God always kept His side of the agreement; however, the people often broke their side. We call it sin. To keep the covenant agreement in play, God established a means of servicing it when it was broken. Otherwise, God would either have to leave or bring remedial judgment. A price would have to be paid for every transgression and disobedience. That price was the blood of a sacrificial animal. This sacrificial system also had a system of rules. 

Over time, the people lost touch with God’s purpose for establishing the relationship. He wanted a “special people” that agreed with Him and His word. He wanted a unique people that would obey His voice. As the Creator, He expects His creation to be completely obedient. However, the masses both refuse to obey God and agree with Him. Moreover, God did not want people that did as they pleased and then brought a sacrifice to make it right later on. The principal of scripture is that “to obey is better than to sacrifice.” Hebrews tells us that God had no pleasure in these type of offerings. Why? One reason is that He wanted the covenant agreement obeyed — not highhandedly ignored and then a sacrifice brought. 

God wanted a special people who would love Him and love one another. This means that God was to be number one, and the people were to treat each other the way they wanted to be treated. These two commands were the basic thrust of the agreement. The sacrificial system was never intended to be a slick way of sinning and getting by with it; it was an emergency measure. Just as spare tires are for emergencies and not daily driving, sacrifices for sin were to be used only as needed. Israel was abusing a system meant to keep God in relationship with the people if they sinned, not whenever they wanted to sin.   

A Cycle of Sin

Christianity is often thought of in Old Testament terms; the only difference is that the sacrifice is Jesus Christ rather than bulls and goats. This is sad and vexing. It proves that the New Covenant is not understood by the hast majority of professing Christians. Keep in mind that under the Old Covenant, the people used to sin and then come to the Tabernacle or Temple and make an offering for atonement. As we have already stated, God had no pleasure in this process. He wanted obedience to the covenant precepts.The tragedy is that many Christians under the New Covenant do a similar thing as did the Israelites: they sin as if sinning is no “big deal”, but instead of bringing a spotless lamb or some other offering, they ask Jesus Christ (our great High Priest) to apply His own blood that He shed at Calvary. They want a Savior, who will save them from the penalty of sin; but seem to have little desire for a Savior who saved from sin.

What God “had no pleasure in” was the people’s ongoing sin. Even today, He wants sin to stop. Again, God’s perpetual attitude is that obedience is better than to sacrifice. God is not interested in a “sin and then sacrifice” pattern of living. In other words, He doesn’t want us breaking the great commands to love our neighbor and to love God and then just ask Jesus to forgive it. He is interested in people doing His will, and that will is to love one another. We have to keep that clear. Again, to obey is better than to sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).

To Do Thy will

In two places, our passage states that Christ came, “To do Thy will, oh God.” This is the attitude and nature of the Son. This is the language of priesthood. Under the Levitical system the High Priest was commanded to follow God’s instructions in the absolute sense. The reason for this is that they were moving in and around the manifest presence of God within the Tabernacle and Temple. God wanted His will to be carried out on earth, as it is in heaven, and it began within the four walls of the Tabernacle and subsequently the Temple. Every single detail had significance. 



The center piece was the Ark of the Covenant. It symbolized the presence of God; but more pointedly it represented the very throne from which God was to rule and reign over Israel. It contained within it the tablets of the covenant agreement that God had made with the children of Israel. Remember, Israel was intended to be a theocracy. When the priests carried the Ark on their shoulders it was a common ancient practice; other kingdoms shouldered their king as well. When the nations saw Israel carrying the Ark, they saw them carrying their ruling King (the invisible God); just as the Israelites saw Pharaoh being carried in processions as Egypt’s ruling king. He rule was regarded as absolute. No one trifled with Pharaoh. In fact, when Joseph passed through crowds, the people bowed the knee; and he was only second in command. How much more Pharaoh? And if Pharaoh was treated with such reverence, how much more the I AM(YHWH) as He broke through into this sinful world? Unlike Pharaoh the Tyrant, YHWH desired to deliver the people from bondage to Sin. This is the meaning of the name Jesus (Joshua): YHWH Saves. 

  

The Presence and Authority of God

God’s presence and God’s authority are a package deal. That sentence is worth reading again and even meditating upon. If God is going to manifest His presence He is going to be in authority. This is key to understanding the presence of God. In Isaiah 66:1f we are told that God looks for one of a meek and contrite spirit and that trembles at His word. That is to say, He looks for a person to dwell in who viewed His word as absolute. It was to be carried out no matter what. 

Flippant obedience is an invitation to false spirits that imitate God. Paul warned the Corinthians when he said, “For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:4 ESV). The Pharisees accused Jesus of casting out devils by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. He told them that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. In other words, He was living in absolute obedience to the Father and the Father’s will was that He destroy the works of the Devil. Satan would never destroy himself in this way. He was building his kingdom, not destroying it (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, etc.). Jesus Christ was in total submission to the Father; and in being under that authority, He had authority over whatever the Father told Him to take authority over. To want God’s power without submitting to His authority is a contradiction, and an invitation for what the sons of Sceva received in Acts 19. 

The Throne in the Temple


The dwelling place of God was at first the Wilderness Tabernacle and then the Temple of Solomon. When it was destroyed by the Babylonians the second temple was built known as Zerubabel’s Temple. By this time the ark was not part of the furniture. Herod would eventually expand this Temple greatly. We have an interesting passage related to Jesus, Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:33, 34 NKJV) Our Lord’s comments are instructive. While the disciples were concerned about where their next meal was coming from and whether or not Jesus was going to eat, He was concerned about doing the will of God. It was a perfect teaching moment for Jesus. They knew He had to be hungry so they urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (NKJV) The disciples at this stage in their experience could not relate to what Jesus was saying, but the day came at Pentecost where they could relate. In the mean time they were left with the impression that the desire of Christ and subsequently those that will be baptized into Him will find pleasure in doing God’s will in the same measure that the natural man finds pleasure in eating when he/she is hungry.


The Food of Sons


The natural man desires natural food, but Jesus walks out the desire of the spiritual man in flesh and blood. Satan in the wilderness attempted to appeal to the natural man in getting Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Yet, He was so utterly bent on doing God’s will that He utterly refused to please Himself unless He knew it was part of God’s plan. He is our example. What did He tell Satan? It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4) This is one of our very first lessons predating the Sermon on the Mount. This one reality is what distinguishes Christ and they that are in Him from the rest of the world. It is the disposition of the Son and the many sons God is bringing unto glory. They live by every word that is proceeding (verb is present middle) from the mouth of God. It is their food. Satan tried to get Jesus to turn from this rule on more than one occasion.


Pity Thyself


When Jesus spoke of going to the cross Peter stepped in under the influence of Satan. He spoke words to Jesus that were designed to snare Him and keep Him from doing God’s will. We read in Young’s Literal Translation, “And having taken him aside, Peter began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Be kind to thyself, sir; this shall not be to thee’” (Matthew 16:22 YLT). Literally, he told Jesus to, “Pity Himself.” Jesus reacted in the strongest of terms calling out the influence that was behind the words. He added this comment, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. The KJV translators have opted to translate phoneo as savourest or “to savour”, but the word literally means to be mindful. In other words, Peter you are not being mindful of the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. Why? You are still being influenced by Satan and the carnal man. But the day will come when Peter will receive the word with pleasure and he will obey it.


True in Him and True in You


At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. (1 John 2:8-10 ESV)


Notice John says that there is a commandment that is true in Christ and in the children of God. He then gives that truth. Paul makes a similar comment in Ephesians, “… assuming that you have heard Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21). There are things that Christ teaches those that are truly in Him. Those things are consistent with His personality and character. To be like Christ we have to be in Him and be taught by Him. When believers cease to be taught by Christ they lean to their own self-will. Paul told those that had hardened themselves in sin, “But ye have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20). This is carnality. Christ lives in absolute obedience to the will of the Father. It was the Truth that is in Jesus. That Truth must also be the Truth that is in us. The Holy Spirit that speaks on Christ’s behalf will lead us into all truth. 

I’ve Been to the Mountain

I Have Been to the Mountain
Robert Wurtz II


And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God (2 Samuel 6:7-8 ESV). 

You will remember that the Ark of the Covenant was effectively the throne of Jehoveh (YHWH) that rested in the Holiest of Holies in God’s mobile palace, the wilderness Tabernacle. In time the Ark was taken by the Philistines because of the recklessness and sin of Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas. God sent judgment to the Philistines until they willingly gave the Ark back to Israel. To move it they employed a ‘new cart’ and thus the Ark had rest until the time of David.

   
God on the Move

Man cannot initiate Spiritual things, God must do it. All that man can do is respond rightly to Him. God was reviving His people Israel after decades of backsliding. the first step in this process was to bring the Ark back among the people. Keep in mind that this effectively means that God’s authority would be among the people once again. As we discussed in the previous entry, the Ark started rolling on the cart and then it began rocking. If I might so say, the cart was a faster and more convenient way to move things along, but it was not what God prescribed. God commanded that the throne of His presence (Ark) be carried on the shoulders of four priests. This is one man on each corner. It required total unity of actions to move safely. If any one of the priests were out of step, the whole Ark could be dumped on the ground. Keep this in mind. When God starts moving among a people they have to get into total unity of direction and destination. One false step and the whole thing breaks down.


Rocking and Rolling


If you have ever served as a pal bearer at a funeral you will know basically how moving the Ark would be. The Funeral Director will usually stand at the head of the casket and give instructions. This keeps everyone on the same page. The people employed in the work may have never worked together before, but when the director takes the lead the process plays out very effectively. It is not a rushed job, but a careful and slow process. 


When the Ark is moved in this way it creates a problem for people that like to “get things rolling.” They get frustrated and anxious. As an example of this the children of Israel did what the Philistines did. They traded the careful and deliberate walking process for a new ox cart.  If they had lived in our times they may have loaded it up on a trailer, backed their Dodge, Chevy or Ford Pickup up to the hitch and took off down the road. All the while things are really rolling; rocking and rolling. We must admit, it would be a quick way to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, but it totally misses God’s will.


Destination: God’s Will


 If I might use a phrase, “God was going somewhere” when He initiated revival in Israel. Many things would need to be done to get the people back into a right order. They had to get on the same-page with God. It would need to take place one step at a time. When the people were traveling into the Promised Land over a million people followed behind the Ark; but when they put the Ark on the cart, they were leading God. This is almost unconscionable; but it was where they were at that time. In other words, they had the horse before the cart. This may work well for moving farm supplies, but it can never be in the Kingdom of God. God is to take the lead with nothing before Him but His perfect will. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. This is our picture. God has to accomplish His will and to do that will require ears to hear what the Spirit is saying unto the people.


Revving the engine


Have you ever been in a fast-food drive through where a person was revving their engine because the person at the window was not moving fast enough to suit them? How about a checkout line at the grocery store when a large cart is in front of the line and people start sighing, rolling their eyes and making intimidating noises and gestures? The reason this happens is that people are now accustomed to a “drive through” society that gets everything they want, snap! And the faster things get the more impatient each generation becomes. But you can only cook a burger so fast. You can only ring-up items at Walmart or the grocery store so fast without making a mistake. This is common sense, but impatience breeds irrationality. What happens? The person is liable to just pull out of the drive through or switch lines to find a faster one. 


This is a great problem in our times; even in many of the churches of God. Folks refuse to wait through a process that will take a “step by step” to get some place. They want a shot-in-the-arm move of God and are willing to load er up and take off to get there. But what does the scripture say? “Roll in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh?” No! “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” No Christian comes equipped with a set of wheels. If they are to get where God wants them to be it will be a step by step process. Meetings are no different. They cannot be rolled out, they have to be walked out.


The lost art of walking


I learned to walk at a young age, as did most people. It still works the same way as it did back then; one step at a time. I don’t take two steps at once now that I have over 40 years of practice. It is simply a method that cannot be improved upon. This is how the priests were to carry the Ark of God. In the Western world most people drive almost everywhere they go. Some may ride bicycles or public transportation; but few people actually walk everywhere they go. Why? It takes too much effort and it is too slow of a process. “We need to get on with it!”the people may say. And when this mentality is employed in the churches of God then machinery will be used to “get-er rolling” rather than the people hearing from God in a “step by step by step” kind of way. This is an important point. Anything we hitch to the Ark to get it moving is in front of God. 


Excitement and the presence of God


There is a fine line between having a Godly excitement up to and including praising God with a shout or dancing before Him with all of your might, and trying to manufacture a move of God. If we miss this point we may as well pack our bags and go home. I once read a story of a “sound man” that used to employ the slide on the mixer to raise and lower the volume in order to manipulate a meeting. He learned that if he raised the volume at certain times the people would animate and if he pulled it back down they would calm down. Sadly, this reality nearly destroyed the man’s faith. He started to believe that there was nothing to it. If the power went off in the sound booth the people would say, “Wow, the presence of God sure left this place fast!” Song leaders have spoken of knowing how to whip-up the crowd by singing their favorite rah-rah type songs until they left their ministry. Some have to greater or lesser degrees lost their faith. Why? They learned how to manipulate peoples emotions. Sadly, someone neglected to tell these dear people that what they were doing was ‘manufacturing’ or ‘simulating’ a move of God. It is a hard saying, but one that we do well to allow to sink down into our ears; this strategy is no different than the machinery of the Cart and Oxen. 


Down shifting


I want to say this lovingly, that God’s presence is not subject to man’s equipment. He does not suddenly show up in a meeting when we turn the keyboard to “strings” or some other mystical sound. I love the sound of “strings” and simlar effects. I grew up in the 1980’s with a bent to loud music; but God’s presence is not made stronger and stronger as the sound guy cranks up the volume. This is a fabrication. Let me say as a musician, that if the meeting loses speed we cannot progressively raise the keys of our songs, for example, from C to Dm to Em to F to G to Am, etc. to get some momentum going. The whole event can become a bizarre distraction. I used to try to sing songs that were out of my voice range because I thought they sounded “powerful”. It always ended up in a disaster. It never “lifted the meeting” it merely made the people cringe.  


I have traveled through the Rocky Mountains and watched as my engine downshifted until I thought we would blow the engine, trying to pull some of the long stretches. If the meeting is not moving fast enough and we need to “down shift” to pull the hill we are using man’s machinery. We don’t need speed, we need to walk step by step. God comes when a people are prepared to walk step by step behind His leading; and not take a single step unless He says step. No pushing in line. We have to follow the Ark. 


You cannot lead where you have not been


We can’t drive our vehicle on a sidewalk. God has said to walk and we must walk. This is one step at a time and one event at a time. This is not to say that God has to do things one at a time and nothing else, but there has to be an order to what is going on. Men often try to “lead” a meeting, but truly the only people that can lead a meeting are those that are hearkening to the voice of the Spirit when He says “step” or “stop.” God gives instructions and we need to slow down and listen. God has to teach us. This takes time in His presence waiting upon Him. What does a waiter do? They watch carefully to see when the patrons need help. If they move too soon they may come off as an impediment; if they are too slow they will be charged with poor service. We have to move in step with God. Each person has to learn this in their own lives. Not just leaders, everyone. It took at least 4 men to shoulder the Ark. Any number of people could do it by substitution; but there is a minimum number of Levites hearing direction and moving in total unity.       


Carrying the Ark in a meeting


I have been in many meetings (typically prayer meetings) where the Spirit of prayer had come and we were moving in the Spirit as we prayed. As we gathered together, God was taking us somewhere. There were things that He wanted to accomplish for the edifying of the Saints and the work of the ministry during that meeting. We would begin just praying and then God would give some direction to one of us to do something (pray for someone, share a scripture, share a song, etc.). This would serve as a first step. We were gathered together in the name of the Lord and He was leading us in unity to accomplish His purposes in that meeting. Then another person may feel moved to do something else; once that was done, it constituted step two. Then another person may have felt moved to do something and it would be step three. This would go on until God was through doing what He wanted done in the meeting. They were very powerful. Often they took place in small rooms with no music or instruments. This may seem strange because several of us were musicians. We allowed the Lord to carry us along in His will step by step and all in total unity. Amazing things happened when we simply determined to meet with God in this way. I have a hunch that this is how the early churches must have functioned. 


Rolling the Ark in a Meeting


To “roll” the Ark on a cart is to seek to get things moving real fast in the hope that at some point something will manifest. The meeting is wound up into an excitement and there are few steps that can be taken. Imagine four men being strapped to a trailer on each of four corners. The Dodge truck takes off and the men try to walk, but all they can do is drag their feet and shred their shoes. Soon the Ark is off to the races and it is a million miles from the “carrying the Ark” method employed in scripture. The priests risk being dragged to death. Someone may say, “Well, it works and you have to reckon with that.” God often moves in imperfect situations because He is a going-forth kind of God. He would meet with a person in a pub or gambling hall if they would surrender to Him in that moment. God is a good God and He loves us. But how much more could be accomplished for God if we would allow Him to teach us His ways? The world wants to honk the horn in the drive-through or act out in the checkout lane because things were moving to slow. This makes for a sobering question. 


Would they come? 


 Could God get us to slow down long enough to really listen? This is not to say that God plays games with people. He wants us to know His will. He is not hiding it or encrypting it. It usually doesn’t take hours to get some direction from God; if it does it would be the exception to the rule. God will move when the people get themselves ready. The ball is usually in our court. 


If we woke up tomorrow and God had instituted a New Testament type meeting, would the people come? Church meetings today are “spectator based” most of the time. It is little different than a ball-game with the crowd cheering, etc. as they look on. that is not a criticism, it is just where we are. God is wanting to teach us to seek His face and earnestly carry the Ark in a meeting. He wants us to carry it in our lives. 


Some of us have had the privilege to go to the Mountain. As one preacher asked the question, based on an old WWI tune, “How are we going to get them back on the farm, after they have been to Paris.” The men and boys of WWI had worked the farm all their lives until they saw the lights of Paris. Many Christians have endured many of meeting with the machinery of “new carts” and oxen. But once you have been to “Paris”, that is to say, “the mountain of Paradise” you are never the same. Who will ascend into the Hill of the Lord? God is calling us- and it is one step at a time.   

 



  


I AM COME TO SEND FIRE

I AM COME TO SEND FIRE
Robert Wurtz II

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11)


In our previous study entitled, THE THRONE IN THE MIDST we discussed the symbolism of the Ark of the Covenant. We stated that the Ark was a symbol of the presence of God; but more pointedly it represented the very throne of God. When the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies they were figuratively walking into the throne room of God. The Jews will sometimes say that the High Priest had a sense that he was ascending up to God as he walked forward. In other words, He was ascending up to God’s throne room where his will is carried out in an absolute sense. The Tabernacle was like a ladder reaching up into Heaven. 

Israel was a theocracy wherein the priests were to communicate God’s will to the people. They were called to be a kingdom under God’s authority. YHWH (Jehovah) was the King and He ruled from the Mercy Seat in the Holiest of All. It was not until Israel had backslidden far from God that He would accept their request for a “king”, so they could live like the rest of the nations. The sobering response of God is recorded in 1 Samuel 8:7f; And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” They wanted a king that would fight their battles and in whom they could place their trust. This is why God wanted a king after His own heart. He still wanted to rule the people, but He would have to do this through a man. You will note that from this point forward Israel will have her ups and downs; but the trajectory of the nation was downward until finally they were led into captivity. Some kings hearkened to God and others did not. The king over the people was “the Lord’s anointed”. The people were warned not to “touch this king”. Today the Lord’s Anointed is Jesus Christ. He is the King over His people the Church. Man may call themselves, “the Lord’s anointed” and expect to speak for Him and be protected as Him, but there is only one king among God’s people; that king is Christ.

Why the Fire went out

Eli’s sons made the cardinal error of thinking that the Ark of God could be used in some superstitious way to scare the enemy or bring good luck in the battle. Imagine a group of infidels trying to carry the Ark into battle. The Ark of God represents God’s authority. When that authority is being abused and the people are living in rife disobedience, God had already said that He will not drive their enemies out (Judges 2:2-3). They should have known this. They were living in compromise and sin and trying to operate in the supernatural. Keep this fact in mind. Priests are called to be wholly sanctified unto the Lord. To whom much is given, much is required. Otherwise, the enemy will have a platform to use a compromiser to influence His people. They may not even know it is happening. Eli’s sons should have recused themselves knowing they were living in sin. They did not. How could they have not viewed everything they thought they heard from God with suspicion, knowing they were living in disobedience? But, they kept on ministering in this pivotal role. This is a very dangerous situation.   

Eli’s sons were trusted with being obedient to God’s precepts and order while doing service inside the Tabernacle, where none of the people could come and see. If they decided not to keep the charge, that is to say, to carry out their responsibility to change out the shewbread daily or if they only lit one instead of all seven of the lamps on the lamp stand, the only ones that would know would be them and God. These things were all symbolic of true realities that would one day exist in the churches of God. The bread was “The bread of the presence” (לחם הפנים lechem haPānīm). It symbolized the fact that priests are to labor together with God daily, to set before the Lord and the people the fresh bread of God’s word. Man cannot live by bread alone, but by every word that is proceeding from the mouth of God. It is the job of the priests to be the living link between God and man. They were to receive from the Lord directives that He had for the people. This is how He ruled. But Eli’s sons did whatever they wanted to. The people were trusting them to be obeying God in the secret place, but they refused to keep the charge. The results? The Fire of God went out, the Ark was lost and Eli and his sons were dead.



Regaining the Fire    

Nothing can be done in the service of God without the Fire of God. You can’t just strike a match, that would be strange fire (common fire). The only way the Fire of God could return was for the AUTHORITY of God to return. The people, beginning with the High Priest and the Levites, had to get their houses in order. They had to repent and determine to come under God’s authority in an absolute sense) and keep His charge. To initiate this process David sent for the Ark to be brought up to the city. They brought it in on a new cart (the machinery of man’s devices). The Philistines had the Ark sent back on a new cart and the people continued with it. The Ark was as an empty throne. It belonged to God, but He had departed from it because of Israel’s sin. As the throne was returning back in Israel, God was drawing near to it again and preparing to exercise His authority. Uzzah was killed as a first sign that God was coming back to rule and things would not be as they were before. 

The lesson here is that God’s presence, authority, glory and Fire cannot be mechanized by men. In Africa witch doctors use drum beats to drum up spirits. God cannot be ushered in this way. It has to come about as the result of the priests carrying the burden of God’s directive leading. When the Egyptians carried Pharaoh on their shoulders, Pharaoh was giving the commands that set the direction for the processions. Likewise, the priests (the sons of God) are to hearken to the voice of God as He leads them (and subsequently this present evil world) in the direction He wants them to go. The churches of God should be filled with a Royal Priesthood that follows God in such a way that the world can have a sense of God’s direction. Man cannot manufacture this with his equipment. 

When Uzzah reached up to steady the Ark He was touching God’s throne. Think about the awesomeness of that. He put His hand to God’s prerogative. They were manufacturing the process of moving God around as if He could be drug around on a trailer any ole’ way by man’s whims. “We’ll just drag God along with us where ever we want Him to go.” God forbid! He became an accessory to what the people wanted to do. They wanted a song, dance and a shout, but were not willing to do things God’s way. This whole story is exemplary and we do well to give heed. David got very angry because Uzzah was killed (2 Samuel 6:8). In the next verse he feared the Lord. It was a serious attitude adjustment. Likewise, people today get very angry when they are told that God cannot be ushered in with man’s machinery; the same machinery used by the world to drum up demon spirits or work up a crowd in a concert. It is a new cart. God simply cannot be trailered around like that. People try it, but it always ends up in something false; sooner or later. 

If you think about it, what David had done was little different than what Eli’s sons had done, though it was well intended. They were dragging God around where they wanted Him to be, not bothering to inquire as to the right way. A whole generation was in place that had no idea the way it was supposed to be done. So, they get angry when they are challenged. They believed they were right and had God not slew a man they probably would have never put the Ark back on the shoulders of the priests. They would have always transported the Ark on the new cart. Someone may have jumped in front of the procession and said, “Stop! this is all wrong! This is not the way it is supposed to be done!” And rather than listen, they would have viewed the man as an obstructionist and a bad spirit. Some may have went as far as to discern he had a demon spirit. So God had to kill a man. As sad as it is that is probably the greatest lesson of all in the story. The people were so hard headed in thinking they were right that God had to strike a man dead to sober their minds. David got hostile at first, but then he feared the Lord. Maybe it will have to happen in our times?

The Danger of the New (novel)

The Philistines provided Israel with a ‘new’ (novel) way of handling the Ark. But decades of passing time did not change God’s instructions as to how things are to be done. In modern times the ‘Philistines’ do the same thing and few people even notice it. The world offers the churches of God a means of carrying God’s authority with a worldly means. I say authority because God’s Shekinah presence and His Fire would not be manifest until the Temple was completed and Solomon had dedicated it. Keep this clear. We are talking about God’s Throne and how it is being carried. When man reaches up and touches God’s authority in a person’s life, as they wrongly attempt to lead them along with the machinery of this world, they are committing a sin that is worthy of death (please read that sentence a second time). This is God’s prerogative authority in a person’s life and people are not to be manipulated on that deep level. This is God’s domain, not man’s. The danger we have in this evil generation is that men would manufacture a sense of God’s presence and then start touching the Ark in peoples lives by purporting to be speaking to them prophetically to direct their decisions. God never works this way. He always deals with the person Himself; any other word they may be given of Him by other individuals will simply be to confirm what God has already said to them. Keep that clear. 

Forcing God’s hand

A lot of messages have been preached over the years on “touching the Ark.” They are a dime a dozen. The problem is that the messages are obscure and in the abstract and have no real meaning. They never really touch upon the real issues. For example; people are told that God is calling them to the Mission field and God has not really spoken. A story is commonly told of a man that was called to one country and his wife to another country by the same prophet! It is madness. God does not call people this way. He speaks to them in the secret place of the sanctuary of their own heart where only He is in authority. To intrude into this place is to touch the throne in their life. To do so could destroy the person and bring upon the offender a remedial judgment of God like unto what Uzzah received. Over the last 20 years I have known on more than one occasion for a person to be given a so-called “word from the Lord” in an attempt to steer them out of an intimate relationship. It usually goes something like this, “thus says the Lord, that person you are dating is not for you.” Putting words in God’s mouth, for any reason, is a serious offense. Some people think they know God’s will for other peoples lives and it is the epitome of pride and arrogance. They are so sure that they will do a “thus saith the Lord…” when God is not saying anything. I have seen this type thing destroy people. God’s hand cannot be forced in this way. They who practice such things are in desperate need of repentance. 

Long term consequences 

About 20 years ago I had a front row seat to a terrible situation where the Ark was touched” in a man and woman’s life. Early one year there was a move of God and a great excitement. This sometimes gives rise to a host of people wanting to “prophesy” and “give folks a word” (as if prophesying were a normal thing to do). A family had been struggling, so an individual gave the wife a word that she needed to pray for her husband. Upon hearing this the wife became distraught. It happens that she had been praying and interceding for her husband on a daily basis for some time. After the meeting the family went to the man and asked what was meant. He simply replied to the effect, “I’m sorry. I’m new at this.” It was evidence of the error of giving people directive instructions as if it is God speaking. Later in the year a popular TV evangelist came to town that this family attended. During the offering he gave a general word to the effect that God will multiply your offering if you will be obedient. This family gave a certain amount and waited. They were struggling financially and rested hope on the evangelists words. When they returned home from the meeting their car had been broken into and thieves stole several hundred dollars in merchandise. The “multiplied blessing” word never came to pass either. Not surprisingly, every person in this story suffered long term. The family viewed the evangelist as a false prophet from then on. The evangelist some years later was caught in scandal. The other person left the ministry. Solution? Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:3) Our Hebrew word for “foolish” here is nabal that means “to wilt”. It’s the sons of Sceva all over again with a different twist. They had the bizarre notion that they could move in the power of God, speaking for God, not realizing that what they were doing was a solemn business. They follow their own spirit and not the Holy Spirit. That is, they rely on their own reasoning to speak for God. They have knowledge of a situation and pretty soon a concoction of words comes into their mind and they speak it with a “thus saith the Lord” in front. it is a prophet with a recklessness of the sons of Eli; they went running into battle with God’s authority. God’s authority and glory departed.

The Ark in Place      

When God is ruling within man as He desires to, it is akin to the Ark being moved into the Holy of Holies. The High Priest alone was allowed in this place (Hebrews 9:7). Our Great High Priest is Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14). It is up to the individual to have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to them. Once the temple (person) is cleansed by the Blood of Christ and God’s authority is established (the Great High Priest is living within); then the person is a candidate for the Fire and Glory of God. Solomon dedicated the Temple by bringing a tremendous sacrifice. The people sang and the glory filled the house; having totally filled the altar he prayed and the Fire fell. It was this very Fire that the priests were to use, under the guidance of the High Priest to do the service of God. So far we have learned two great things: 1. We must have the Fire of God to do His service 2. God alone has the prerogative to lead a person in His perfect will. Disobedience in either area has shown to result inn God’s remedial judgment, both with Nadab and Abihu and later Uzzah. 

Replacing the Fire

We cannot with our machinery drum something up; God has to send something down. This is utterly important. We cannot manufacture a move of God; He has to come in His very presence. Not in a feeling, but in a life altering presence that transports a person from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of His dear Son. When we fill the altar God will send the Fire. This is what Romans 12:1ff is about. 

Losing the Ark


Obviously by the time of Jesus this Fire had gone out and the Ark was gone again. The priests must have tossed the blood on the floor behind the veil in Herod’s Temple and performed the services with common fire. What a reckless mess. God was not there. God was in Christ. For He said, destroy this Temple (speaking of His own body) and I will raise it again in 3 days. He called the place the Father’s house and His house (Matthew 21:13John 2:16), but at last He revealed to them that it was ‘their house’ that had been left unto them desolate. (Luke 13:35) Why? No Fire. No Ark. God’s authority was gone. No way to do the service of God and no desire to have it. When the Fire came in Christ; they didn’t want it or Him. They and no desire to burn for God or to be temples of the Living God. (See Isaiah 66:1ff) They wanted to keep God under control in the temples made with hands. They wanted to lead Him around on a cart and dictate in peoples lives. Today the Rabbi’s usurp God’s authority in the lives of the people. They reserve the right to give the people direction in the place of God. For almost 2000 years they have had their hands on the Ark. 

Keeping the charge   

And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also [set they in order] upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. (2 Chronicles 13:11)

It is unfortunate that many today in the churches of God believe that we can lower the standard and get by on some lesser thing than the authority and Fire of God. How can priests unto God do the service of God unless they are under His authority. When a priest got under the stave to lift the ark they were coming under God’s authority. How could they see clearly with no Fire? Yet substitutes are put in place that spread death and wreak of unconsumed flesh. Jesus said, I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49We are responsible to keep the Fire stoked in our lives as surely as were the Levites. We are to keep presenting ourselves to God holy and acceptable. What is acceptable? Simply put- And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. (Acts 5:32) Do you have a desire to obey God? Do you want God to rule and reign in you? Have you filled the altar? Those that have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and Fire- is the Fire still burning? Are you keeping the charge as did Abijah and his priests? This was the basis on which Abijah knew he would win the battle. “If you keep the charge of God you will be the devil’s master.” (GWN) 


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