Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 30, 1960

On The March With New Ox-Carts

Harold F. Savely, Valley Station, Ky.

The threefold law had been given. (1) The ark of the covenant in the camp of Israel would be moved by staves through rings. Exo. 25:13-15. (2) The staves would rest upon the shoulders of the priests and Levites. Deut. 10:8; 1 Chron. 15:5-15. (3) No human would touch the ark lest he die. Num.4:15-20.

It was a joyous occasion for Israel. The ark was placed upon a new ox-cart, Uzzah and Ahio drove, and David with all Israel played "before the Lord" with all their might in all manners of music and dancing, as they returned the ark from the house of Abinidab. As the oxen shook the cart at Nachon's threshing floor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark and was smitten of God unto death beside the cart. 2 Sam. 6:3-7. The thing displeased David and caused him to fear. 2 Sam. 6:8-11.

Zeal was abundant. Consciences were unaware. Pleasure to the people — there was no lack. A good work to move the ark — none could argue to the contrary. A king went before to sanction the deal, and to praise the Lord. Music and dancing going before the procession announced a great glory to the Lord in Israel was proceeding. Yet, all the movement was to face the stern judgment of God.

Lest we overlook other valuable lessons than the usual condemnation of Uzzah, let us consider three violations Israel made. The sins were not limited to him who touched the ark. The whole of Israel was to blame, with David a party to the cause.

(1) There was the sin of profaning God's organization in substituting oxen for priests and Levites in God's service.

(2) There was the sin of substituting rings and staves, according to pattern, for a new ox-cart. This had to do with the sin of "how", manner. An ox-cart, ever so new, and with ever so elaborate decoration and a seeming beautiful aid, became a foolish and unlawful expedient in God's sight.

(3) There was the sin of profaning the ark, a sanctified vessel of worship. Uzzah, by way of example, paid his penalty for touching the ark. All the sins were not exclusively his. They were shared by all Israel, and David, in profaning God's organization, work, and vessel of worship.

How blundering brethren may be. Zealous to serve and further the work of the kingdom, even with singing, rejoicing, and fanfare, but they lumber along with their own "new ox-carts" and seek to accomplish the master's cause by use of them. They shift the "burden of the Lord" from their own shoulders to the much finer looking decorative schemes of earthly wisdom. They seem dull of hearing that progress for Jesus Christ cannot be driven in a mechanical and material sort of fashion. Too much presumptuous familiarity with holy things lead to defeat of purpose. Many, like Uzzah, put forth the hand without fully discerning with the heart. The popularity of their movements cannot dispel failure any more than David's presence failed to save Israel's folly.

In the like avenues of presumption are new ox-carts being employed. God's organizational set-up, local congregations under God given overseers (1 Pet. 5:1-4), are being exchanged for every conceivable manner of politics. Human boards, humanly schemed institutional camps, and sponsoring church systems have no improvements over the dumb oxen which pulled Israel's cart in the long ago.

The business of "how" to move our King's mission has been turned into countless strange new ox-cart approaches. Employed in "the march" are youth movements, recreational crazes (down to greased pig chases), hobby shops, fairs, fellowship halls, ball clubs, dinings, and a thousand like such new carts.

God's laws of holiness are profaned by "no pattern" pleas, "total parts" situations, "we be brethren" approaches, "principle eternal" techniques, and "legal substitute" maneuvers for God's natural order.

To go before the whole enchanting procession if they can boast of an editor of some paper, the president of some college some busy evangelist, the head of some board, the leader of some plan some highly successful business Partner, a national entertainer, or some financial wizard to lead off with the dancing, singing and propaganda fanfare, they assume that all is "before the Lord" to his glory.

But, ah, when they shall finally arrive at Nachon's threshing floor!