1 Samuel 6
The Philistines sent the ark back to the Israelites, testing God through an elaborate plan to see whether God had brought the plague on them or it was merely coincidental. Their plan proved to them that God’s hand was heavy on them because they had taken the ark.
When the ark returned, the Israelites sacrificed the cows and worshipped God – but seventy of them were killed instantly when they opened the ark and looked inside in a scene the reminds me of the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Why such harsh judgment for their curiosity?
In our desire to draw near to God, to learn about God, to understand God’s plans, we often neglect reverence for God. Our motivation in our pursuit of God is of primary importance – and is known only to God. What motivated the priests of Beth Shemesh to pry open the holy ark and peer inside? Maybe curiosity. Perhaps concern over whether the holy relics of the stone tablets, the jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded were still intact. They may have considered this their perfect opportunity to see these relics before the ark was returned to the tabernacle, to be ensconced in the Holy of Holies where only one priest per year might approach it on the Day of Atonement. Whatever their rationale, God knew their hearts and they were struck down.
What is our motivation when we attend church services? When we give to the poor? When we spend time reading God’s Word or in prayer?
Are we seeking God because He is worthy of devoting our entire lives, of even giving our lives to and for? Or are we looking for some personal gain? Does our worship focus on our needs and what we will get out of it or on the majesty and worthiness of our God?