Don’t Know Jack

jack

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. (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

First of all, I want to go on record to say that Uzzah got a bad rap. All the guy was trying to do was keep the God box from falling in the dirt, which would have been a major embarrassment for any deity. You’d think Mr. Ancient of Days might have shown Uzzah a little latitude instead of turning the poor sucker into a charcoal briquette. So much for divine gratitude.

Having said that, I’m still amazed that Uzzah could be such an idiot. Everybody knows you don’t mess with the Box. Even Indiana Jones knew that, and he wasn’t Jewish by a long shot. The Box was freaking dangerous—even when God was in a good mood. There were rules for handling the Box, and folks who ignored the rules (whether they knew them or not) found themselves ash at the bottom of the cosmic Weber grill.

The ark of the covenant was a big deal to God. He micro-managed its construction from the get-go, providing a meticulous blueprint and ominously commanding Moses to make it “exactly like the pattern I will show you.” And when God says exactly, he means exactly exactly. There is zero margin for error. When the fancy box was finished God had them throw in Moses’ stone tablets and a stick (hence the saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones”) and then he had them slam on a gold cover with angels glued on top. It was a pretty cool box as far as boxes go, but that wasn’t the thing that made it a lethal container. What made the thing hazardous was that above the cover between the two cherubim was where God made his house calls. To mess with the ark was like stepping on somebody’s cell phone. If God isn’t calling, you definitely do not want to pick up the receiver.

Uzzah violated one of the most important rules in the entire universe: TOUCH NOT THE LORD YOUR GOD INAPPROPRIATELY. No matter what, Uzzah should have let the dang thing crash and taken his chances. There were no rules on record for banged up boxes and so it’s possible that he could have gotten off with a small fine or a time out. Then again, God was extremely touchy and could be unpredictable when his image was smudged. There’s no telling what he might have done had the ark ended up on the ground like cubist roadkill. A God who would demand circumcision from people he liked is capable of anything.

The best way to negotiate the God thing is always to assume that you’re on the verge of being killed for doing something totally stupid. A healthy terror of imminent retribution may not keep you from actually doing something totally stupid, but you’ll at least be prepared when the shiitake hits the fan. Just remember poor Uzzah and this cardinal rule:

uzzah2

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