After suffering the plagues of tumour wherever the ark went in Philistine, the people could not take it any more. Finally they decided to send it back to the Israelites at Geth Shemesh.
You would think that this would be a joyful thing … and it was… for a moment…
“But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them, and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, ‘Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here.’” (1 Samuel 6:19-20)
Why did this happen?
In those days, the Israelites worshiped God in a tabernacle. The tabernacle was where God’s presence was and it had 3 sections – the innermost being the Holy of Holies. This was hidden from view by a curtain so heavy that four men are needed to move it. And only once a year, the High Priest was allowed to enter. If anyone else tried, they would be struck dead. And inside this Holy of Holies was the ark of covenant.
Why was God’s presence in the tabernacle hidden from view? This is because God is so holy that no one can look at His glory directly and live.
God’s attribute of Holiness is often ignore or neglected in favour of love and other more “palatable” attributes like mercy, compassion, caring etc. This is because our our sin and pride. And we do not want to acknowledge God’s holiness because we are not holy.
Isaiah, when he came into close contact with God said,
“Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Isaiah 6:5).
If you were to read the verse in its context, you would have realized that before saying this, Isaiah was telling the people of their sin and their need to repent. But now in the presence of the Holy God, he became very aware of his own sin and need for his own repentance.
Where are you today?
Are you aware of your own sin, or do you only look at the sins of others and do things without realizing that you have actually sinned against God?
Take some time reflecting on God’s holiness, and confess anything in your life that is not holy.
God judges not only the Gentiles but also His people. For He is holy and those who worship Him must also do so in holiness.