Monday, October 15, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative in 1 Chronicles, pt. 1

1 and 2 Kings reminded or explained to captive Israelites how they got into their trouble.  1 and 2 Chronicles gave their post-exilic brethren hope for their future, wrapped around the Davidic covenant.  So the first 9 chapters establish David's credentials.  Chapter 10 erases the reign of Saul, man's choice.  In chapter 11, enter David himself, passing through the intermediate reign in Hebron, moving to the throne in Jerusalem.  How God accomplishes His choice?  Mighty men --- chapter 12.  We get David on the throne and what's the first thing God wants freed captives to think about?  Worship.

Worship is central in God's plan for Israel and what made David a man after God's own heart.  David immediately wanted to move the ark to Jerusalem.  This section between chapters 13 and 16 is the ark narrative.  It speaks of the presence and proximity of God to His people.  The ark represented---was---God's presence.  Nothing excited David more.  God's Scriptural prescriptions for worship surrounded the ark.

David had what most evangelicals and even fundamentalists think is most necessary for a successful worship experience:   good intentions.  He was sincere.  He choreographed a tremendous event with the right stage lighting.  He even built special transport.  A new oxcart was practical.  Sturdy.  Fast.  Nothing in Scripture said it was wrong to use an oxcart.  That would make it a liberty, right?  If it's not wrong, then it's right, right? And all the business about how to carry the ark in other passages had to be non-essential.  It didn't relate to soteriology per se, so God could just agree to disagree, or at least we should, even if God is angry about it, right?  The passage about essentials and non-essentials is in the same book as the one that talks about the use of oxcarts.

Most today don't get a speedy, plain western union about worship like David did.  They just have to accept what they read in the Bible and then find out at the end whether any of what they did counted for anything.  David's oxcart wasn't just neutral.  It was wrong, and Uzzah died because of the novelty.  Autopsy said learning the hard way.  

So David parked the ark right where it was, and went back to square one.  That was good.  Most evangelicals and fundamentalists just attack the critics.  They attempt to belittle them, marginalize and castigate them, like Cain when his offering was disrespected.  They turn the criticism into the fleshly deed and justify their variations from Scripture as helpful innovations.

For the released captives, this first chapter of the ark narrative did remind them about how they got in their mess in the first place, so as not to repeat the mistakes of history.  As they read on, they would see further and more egregious aberrations that left a scorched earth.

David was afraid that day.  Now evangelicals and fundamentalists will share the powerpoint with you.

1 comment:

Jon Gleason said...

Hi, Kent. Excellent post, you got me thinking further. Good intentions DO matter, but don't exonerate wrong. Some supplementary thoughts here: