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Great Expectations

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                         Great Expectations
Eric Schall
April 15, 2007
2 Samuel 6

Thanks for opportunity

Susi and I feel such deep roots in this church and community:

Graduated BGSU, met my wife here, got married on this platform with Pastor Allen and Pastor Everett, pastoral intern here, Luke the narrator for a few years (once with chicken pox!).  We have treasured the time we spent here, and know that we are carrying all of you in our hearts before God during this time of transition.  God is a God of wonderful surprises and we know that the best is still ahead!

Intro

I know that there is a lot of focus on strategies and philosophies…stuff that I love!  And a lot of what you hear from the pulpit during this time is focused on the overall church, but today I wanted to shift the focus.  I want to concentrate on our relationship with Jesus in hopefully what is a very relevant way.

Well I want to begin by drawing your attention to something:

Today is actually a significant day in our history.  It is a day marked by tragedy 95 years ago.  It was on this day that after all the accolades for being a great feat in engineering such that even “God could not sink this ship,” the titanic sank at 2:20 am.  It was regarded as the finest ship ever built not only for its regal interior, but also for its so-called water-proof compartments.  The Titanic received 5 iceberg warnings that night.  The sixth warning came in the wee hours of the morning read:  “Look out for icebergs.”  The operator wired back,  “Even God couldn’t sink this ship”  On this date early in the morning hours the R.M.S. Titanic sped into a massive iceburg that ripped long gashes in its unsinkable frame.  Within 2 hours the ship sank drowning 1595.  Only 745 survived most of those being women and children.  It sent the world reeling…this wasn’t supposed to happen.  This was the finest safest ship ever built.  The affluent were partying long into the night hours completely caught up in the excitement of this maiden voyage that they were a part of.  They were going to be part of history…they didn’t know how right they were.  Their lives were suddenly interrupted by tragedy.

What happens when our lives are suddenly interrupted?  What happens when the unexpected happens, and everything changes?  You know we all have little scripts that we expect our lives to continue along.  We will graduate High school, go to college, get a good job with benefits, find a great person to marry, have healthy children, see them grow up and be healthy well adjusted Christian people who will marry healthy well adjusted Christian people, etc.  We have these expectations and we connect them to God in our hearts

But what happens when life deviates from our scripts?  What happens when the plans and expectations we have of God concerning our life are suddenly radically different? 

It is a horrible thing to have faith and trust in the Lord for something and then it doesn’t come to pass…it can be devastating

Have you ever placed your faith in the Lord, prayed and quoted all the right Scriptures, Done all the things you considered right and it still didn’t happen anyway?

“Why didn’t God come through like I thought He should?”

“Why does God seem silent and so distant when I need Him now the most?”

“Why didn’t God heal Grandma of that cancer when I prayed so hard?”

Why didn’t your child get that healing that you desperately prayed and believed for?

What happens when our reality is not changed by prayer?

The problem lies in the fact that we know God can trump our reality, but He sometimes doesn’t.  We know that God is good, we know that He loves us and out of that flows the logic of thinking that only good things will happen to us.

God is a God of mystery.  I say this with all affection but if you think you have figured Him out, you’re wrong.  He never moves like we think He should.  He is God and we are not.

PRAY!!!

I.  Great Plans

You ever throw a party or plan something special for someone and have it go horribly wrong?  Something like you throw a surprise congratulations party for a friend because of their promotion at work, and then you find out not only did they not get the promotion but they have been laid off…

Like I said, today is the day the Titanic went down.  Before that people were partying and having a good time.  But what happens when things go horribly wrong during a celebration. 

In 2 Samuel 6 we see an instance of God ruining a party.  David had a great plan to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and create a grand center of worship for the Lord.  It was going to be great!  He invited everyone, hired a band and it was going to be a great celebration.  His expectations: gratitude, blessings.  Instead, because of his actions the Lord’s anger was aroused and He struck down a man named Uzza as he touched the ark. 

David became disillusioned and angry about Uzza’s death. 

David’s experience:

2 Samuel 6:2-12 (NIV) He and all his men set out from Baalah (or Kiriath Jearim) of Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.

II.  Great Motives

This was the beginning of David’s desire to want to do something great for the Lord.  Anyone who has been truly touched by the Lord finds themselves motivated by a sense of gratitude.  David wants to create not only a political capital for Israel but also a religious one.  As he was finally coming into the fulfillment of his kingship over all of Israel, he wanted to make sure that God was acknowledged and honored as the source of all blessing.  Great plan, Great motivation…with Great Expectations.

So David goes to bring the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. 

There is great rejoicing (v5 “all their might”) 

In verse 6 they come to Nacon’s threshing floor.  A Threshing floor was always on the side of a hill so that the wind can separate the wheat from the chaff.  As they were going down the hill an ox stumbled and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark.

Now initially we look at this verse and think “That’s not fair, that’s not just.  Uzzah was just trying to help!”  In order to understand this passage better, we need to understand the background of the Ark of the Covenant.

About the Ark: 

The ark of God was essentially a wooden box made from the Acacia tree that was overlaid with pure gold.  On the top on the lid were two Cherubim and between their outstretched wings was the mercy seat.  It was constructed during the time of Moses, and within it were three things:  the 10 Commandments, Aaron’s priestly staff that had budded and produced almonds, and a jar containing the manna that God had provided for the His people in the wilderness.

If ever moved it is only to be upon the shoulders of the Levites.  The Ark was built with holes on bottom to slide poles through so that it could be carried this way.  Symbolic foreshadowing of the fact that God’s presence is to be carried upon his people which are the priesthood of the believers.  On his people, not on the things that His people build.  Not on buildings, not on carpets and pews, not on organizations, not on traditions…on His people.

About Uzzah:

Grew up around the ark

Knew the ordinances and guidelines concerning the ark. 

Just the fact that he was near it at all was cause for death.

In the tabernacle of Moses the priest could only go into the Most Holy Place once a year for the atonement of the people. 

There was to be great reverence for the Ark of the Covenant because it was where God’s Holy Presence was found. 

So here all these people are milling about the ark.  They slapped the Ark of the Covenant on a donkey cart like a sack of potatoes. 

The people were so excited about their agenda to bring God into their city.  “We are going to go get God and bring Him here, and He will bless us!”  Have you ever been so excited about something you felt that God was in?  You are doing something good, something worthy, something noble and you are sure that God will bless it.  But as you look around there is no sign of the blessing?

Just because something is good does not mean it’s God’s will or that He has to bless it.  Just because something seems to line up with the principles of God, does not mean that it is His WILL or TIMING or even the WAY He wants it done. 

David knew the history of the Ark of the Covenant, every Jew did including Uzza.  If David would have stopped and thought or asked “what is the right way to do this?”  instead of getting caught up in his own excitement about his plans and agenda, this all could have been avoided.  Perhaps he was afraid of being told ‘no’?

III. God’s Plans

You ever avoid asking because you are afraid of being told no, and just proceed anyway?  I have been notorious for that.  I have been a “make it happen” kind of guy many times in the past.  God is working on me in allowing God to change me into more of a “let it happen” kind of guy.  Making room for the Sovereignty of God in my life.  God is not some ambiguous Person a million miles away.  He is not some amorphous blob of force in the universe.  He calls us into relationship, and that relationship fundamentally is Creator to creation.  Master to Slave.  And yet, the Bible is one long story of God breaking into our realities.  God is the initiator.  Following Him does not mean asking Him to bless what we have set ourselves to do, but laying prostrate before the Lord and seeking His will. 

There is a bridge that we must cross to doing the will and work of God.  It is a narrow bridge, and on one side is human works and the other the sovereign will of God.  We must navigate the path between those two sides on the bridge, or we fall off. 

Certainly there are times where we lack specific direction in life, and in those cases we make the best and wisest choices we can according to the principles found in His word.  But we can get used to that and comfortable and stop seeking His specific will for us, and as a result we stop listening.  We stop following and start leading.  In effect we tell God to follow our actions and pour out His blessings upon them.  This is what David did.  He didn’t stop to listen, but instead led the way and expected God to follow along.

IV. David’s response

So David has messed up, and as a result Uzzah is dead, and the party is ruined.  How did he respond?  Thankfully he responded in a very human way.  David is great to study as an example of a man after God’s own heart, but at the same time very human and weak like the rest of us.  Sometimes I look at Paul for example and think, this guy is just way beyond me.  But with David we see in the Psalms and other books, his struggles of doubt and fear, and we also see his triumphs and faith in God whom he loves.  In this case God has not met David’s expectations of how things should have gone.  In fact God has completely done the opposite of what David was hoping to experience. 

In verses 8-12 we see David’s emotional progression…

v. 8 Angry2 Samuel 6:8 (NIV) Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

Have you ever had this type of experience in life?  The kind of life-changing event that causes you to question everything?   In this verse the Hebrew word for angry is charah /khaw·raw/ to be hot, furious, burn, become angry.  David wasn’t just a little miffed, his anger was white hot!  He was furious over this. 

I don’t know if you remember this news story from a while ago, but it was a story of an accident that happened with a crash of a plane in KY.  It was a stupid, senseless mistake.  The kind of thing that seems to have no greater purpose to it whatsoever.  We can usually handle tragedy better when we can perceive some sort of purpose to it, but in this there was just nothing.  The wrong runway, not enough speed, and it crashed.  Killing all but one.  I heard some of the stories of those who had perished like:

One man had taken this earlier flight to get home to his family sooner. 

Another was just leaving for a honeymoon.

Another was a man returning from volunteering with Habitat for Humanity which he had worked with for years. 

How do we deal with these kinds of things?  How are we supposed to react to seemingly senseless suffering that is suddenly upon us? 

We are confronted with a choice…  David chose to get angry. “I was trying to do something good for the Lord, and this is how I am treated?” 

I think each of us has known some situation when where we presented something to God asking for blessing and protection and then something went horribly wrong.  I remember a somewhat humorous story (now!) at my first ministry position we were getting ready for a big outreach to the community where there would be outdoor games and activities and as part of that we wanted a dunk tank.  There was a church that agreed to let us borrow theirs.  It was a huge double tank made out of steel and was actually a trailer that you could tow.  I took the van over to get it and hooked it up.  I didn’t have any chains but it was the right size ball on the hitch so I didn’t worry about it…it was only a few blocks away. 

Bridge a few hundred feet away from church, kinda rough road. 

“Jesus please don’t let that trailer pop off.”

Not only did it pop off, but it banked off the guard rail and smashed into the side of an oncoming car.  The guy had bought it and had just driven the car off the lot…

While that turned out mildly ok and not to be too devastating, I was still a little miffed at God.  “God I had just asked you to prevent the very thing that happened!”  “I am doing this for you!”

When God disciplines we tend to feel humiliated when God’s real goal is humility.  There is a huge difference. 

Humiliate - to reduce to a lower position in one’s own eyes or others’ eyes. 

One of the definitions of Humbled – to destroy the independence of

The anger can come from how we look in other’s eyes when we are more concerned about our appearance rather than what’s on the inside.  In 1 Samuel where God was choosing his new king for Israel he stated that he doesn’t look at the outward appearance, but what was in the heart.  This was a good thing for David at that time.  But God continues to not care about outward appearance even when we consider it a bad thing, such as exposing our deeds or bringing discipline. 

v.9 Afraid2 Samuel 6:9 (NIV) David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?”

“I guess I can’t understand God.”    When we get disillusioned it takes away our confidence.  Where we were once able to step out in faith, we now find ourselves timid.  How is this a good thing? 

The Lord will often test us and will “drive us” into the wilderness where we will be broken down.  Why?  Some of it is wrapped up in the mystery of God, but if you look at the heroes of faith in the Bible each of them had some sort of wilderness or tearing down period before they came into the time of their ministry. 

(2nd service)

Moses – in a similar situation, Moses being moved with compassion for his people struck an Egyptian overseer and killed him.  He then had to flee from Pharaoh in FEAR and spent 40 years in the desert.  He went from living the life of a prince to being a shepherd.  Shepherds were the some of the most looked down upon classes of people in ancient times, yet he was learning exactly what he needed as he was to be the shepherd of millions of people.  It was there that he met God in a new and radical way.  You must be broken in order to be used by the Lord.  God WILL shatter your expectations.  You WILL be tested and broken.  Too much of you gets in the way otherwise.

v. 10-11 Separation– There is such a temptation to run away from the Lord when we are hurt.  David did,

(2nd Service)

 but it is my belief that when someone who has truly experienced Jesus in a life-changing way chooses to walk away for some reason, they will find that nothing else satisfies.  Only God satisfies.  Only the Lord fills our empty souls.  Only in His Presence are we complete, even though there are times where we might find ourselves disillusioned and left guessing as to what is going on.

John Ortberg in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted takes a chapter and deals with the unexpected suffering in this life that we all come up against.  He tells this story: 

          “A couple come in for counseling.  They desperately want to have a baby.  They have waited and prayed for twelve anxious, doubting years.  They see other people with baby carriages and bassinets and they wonder why they are denied.  They trudge on year after year.

          Then one day, after they have given up on technology, it happens:  the liquid in the test tube changes color, and their prayers are answered, and then they have a perfect, healthy baby boy.  And they believe. 

          When he is three years old, this answered prayer is playing with an orange ball outside.  It lands on a crack in the sidewalk and bounces crazily to the left.  It didn’t have to happen that way—a little more breeze, a little nudge from God, and the ball would miss the crack.  It could have bounced to the right, but it doesn’t.  God doesn’t nudge it, and it goes to the left.  And that means into the street, and the boy goes in after it, and never sees the car.

          And now they are alone again, his mother and father.  Their world has landed on a crack and has bounced away with an orange ball.  And now their answered prayer hurts more than their unanswered one.  The laughter has died.”

When you have your faith and hope attached to things, and they don’t work out it can be devastating.  David wanted to honor the Lord, but it all went terribly wrong. 

Have you ever prayed for someone you care about to be healed, but then they got worse and died?  Have you ever stepped out in faith with your finances in giving only to find not financial reward, but instead have more bills or even perhaps lose your job?  What do you do?  Stop believing?  Stop praying for healing?  Break your commitments?  Do you turn away from the Lord and separate yourself from His presence?

Perhaps it was the wrong TIME.  90% of the will of God is timing.  You can do the right thing at the wrong time and have it explode in your face and become an Ishmael in your life.

Perhaps it was the right way AND the right time, but you just can’t see where you are being led and will have just have to trust God without Him sharing His plans and timetable with you. (Job)

v. 10 it says “David was not willing…”  when you have something happen in your life and you just can’t process it, you tend to put some distance between you and it. 

This life is full of suffering.  We experience it all the time, and when tragedy strikes we find ourselves looking upward and asking “why?”  If we are going to live out a relevant faith to this world and even to ourselves, we must be willing to dig deeper than trite little answers that hold no comfort. 

I have seen many people through the years including myself, when they slam head on into a wall that shakes them to the core of their being, they fall into the practice of trying to divide up their lives into sections and stuff God into one of those sections.  Why? We put up walls when we get hurt.  Safety barriers, fire walls.

Perhaps you have had to watch a loved one deal with sickness and slowly waste away.

Maybe you got bad news from the doctor, “I’m sorry, but you won’t be able to have children.”

Perhaps you discovered a trusted friend, business partner has been embezzling from you and stabbing you in the back.

Perhaps you felt a call to ministry and you responded in faith and things haven’t worked out like you thought, and the pain and disappointment is such that you withdraw like David…

“I will just go about my day, do my job, go to church, but when it comes to actively engaging God and seeking Him I can no longer do it…If God wants to talk to me, He knows where to find me.”

They become grapefruit Christians.  Each area of their life becomes neatly divided into separate little sections, and God is kindly asked to stay in his area. 

When it comes to my finances God you can have your 10%, but the rest is mine to do with as I wish.  No sacrificial giving.  Get all the best toys and tools for our houses.  Get the best options package for our car.

Succumb to the mentality of: “My Home is my kingdom.  God you can have my time at church, but when it comes to my home that is mine.  I will act however I want, watch whatever I want, say whatever I want.  It is MY house.” 

*Wind up segregating our lives*

Of course God’s desire and calling on our lives is much messier than that.  It’s not neatly divided into sections.  The Lord wants to have preeminence in EVERY part of our lives.  It’s not grapefruit, it’s more like chocolate milk; you just stir it all around until there is no longer any distinction between the two. 

v. 12- Coming Back

2 Samuel 6:11-12 (NIV) The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing.

There’s a happy ending to this story and I know that if you continue to offer yourself to the Lord even when you don’t understand you will have yours too.  David heard that the house that he had put the ark in was being blessed. 

David had a choice in how he responded to what happened to Uzzah, and here he again had a choice.  Someone else was experiencing what he had thought to experience.  He could choose to rise up in jealousy like his predecessor King Saul and strike Obed-Edom, or he could go to where God was and join in on what He was doing. 

David could have chosen to sit and nurse his wounds a little longer.  But remember, this was a man committed to chasing God’s heart.  His deepest desire was to be near the Lord.  The same man who wrote such words as:  Psalm 18:1-3 (NIV) “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved…”

We must learn to embrace God even when He says no, even when our expectations are crushed.  He is the Lord!  If we want to grow up and not just grow as a Christian we must learn to follow HIS lead.

You can get to the point where your dreams, your plans, your expectations can come eclipse God in your life.  Especially when those expectations are not met.   We must approach Him with empty hands, and open hearts in worship.

When God rejects your expectations, your plans, your agenda…know that He is not rejecting you.  David’s plan to bring the ark to Jerusalem was not a bad one, it was just the WAY that he went about it. 

So how do we come back to the Lord if we’ve allowed “stuff” to come between us and Him?!  The same way that we first came…empty hands and an open heart.

(??)If God says no when you pray…look for the greater yes within the no.

Summary

With all affection…God’s not impressed by your works, He just cares about you.  He is more interested in the way you respond to the journey than whether or not you reach your point of destination.  He is more interested in forming Christ within you, than in your works for Christ.  In Ephesians 2: 10  God tells us that “we are His handiwork created in Christ Jesus for good works,” but we must let God be God and stop trying to get Him to follow us and dictate to Him how He should do something and what His will should look like. 

Remember that God is always engaging us, always reaching into our lives with His loving-kindness.  Don’t let your hurt, your disappointment come between you.  The King is inviting you to His table into His Presence.  Stop wrestling with Him over your agenda and come in and enjoy Him.  Isn’t that what you always wanted anyway?  Isn’t that what your heart is urging you to do?

Altar

*Salvation

*Those who have been living disillusioned with God because of something that happened in your life. 

*Specifically want to pray for the area of expectations in marriage.  God and your expectations of your marriage have not lined up in some way and you are wrestling with that.

*Ministers, ministry expectations, dreamers that haven’t seen them realized.

                         Great Expectations
 Pastor Eric Schall
April 15, 2007
2 Samuel 6:2-12

I.  Great Plans

II.  Great Motives

        A.  About the Ark

          B.  About Uzzah

III. God’s Plans

 

IV. David’s Response

          v. 8                         

          v.9                          

          v. 10-11                                  

V.  Coming back (v.12)

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