GOD, IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! REALLY?

We all have a tendency to blame other people when things go wrong or when bad things happen. To be sure, there are indeed times when other people are to blame. People make mistakes. And when they do they need to assume responsibility for their decisions and actions, accept the blame, and work to clean up the mess they’ve made. Not everything, I repeat, not everything is our fault!

But when we’re the leading characters in a tragedy, when we’re at the helm of a sinking ship; then passing the buck just isn’t cool. It doesn’t make us look good. We can find creative ways to look at an error or a disaster and make a scapegoat of others. But people aren’t dumb. They can smell a skunk when they see one. And they don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know who shot who when they catch us with a smoking gun in our hand.

In the anger and panic of the moment we seldom take the time to look at ourself and see if we bear any blame for the nightmare that we’re faced with. We’re so busy blaming others because it makes us look good. It makes us look innocent. But are we?

In these series of posts I’d like to step into the sandals of several Biblical characters. They were human like you and me. You can be dead sure they passed the buck, or were tempted to do so, when they found themselves in hot water.

By looking at these familiar Biblical figures I’m hoping we’ll learn from the mistakes and examples of our forebears. I hope we’ll learn not to pass the buck, but accept the guilt and blame that are rightfully ours. 

Why is that so important? Because assuming responsibility for our actions is the necessary first step towards fixing the mess we’ve made. We can’t fix something that we’re not willing to fess and face up to. It begins with summoning the courage to be honest with ourselves, with others, and with God. With the help of the Biblical characters, I believe we can be honest and say, God, it’s not your fault! It’s mine. And I’m sorry I fingered you for the bed that I made and slept in.

KILLED BY A GOOD DEED & INTENTION

Hello. My name is David, King of Israel. I’d like to tell you about a time in my life when I was really ticked off at God. Through an unfortunate series of events, our enemies, the Philistines, captured the sacred Ark of the Covenant in battle (1 Samuel 4).

Well, it turned out, after seven months of nothing but misfortunes, the Philistines put two and two together and decided that the Ark was bad luck for them. So they put the Ark on an ox cart and sent it back to Israel (1 Samuel 5 and 6).

The Ark stayed in an Israelite village called Bethshemesh. But, there again, bad luck fell upon the townsfolk after some of them decided to take a peek into the Ark. This was something that you just couldn’t do. The Lord ended up killing over 50,000 men in that town because of this unfortunate peekaboo (1 Samuel 6). 50,000!

As you would expect, the Bethshemeshites got the holy fear of God. They didn’t want the Ark in their midst. They couldn’t afford to have any more of their menfolk dying because of the Ark. So they sent a message to their neighbors and the men of Kirjathjearim came and got the Ark. They put it in Abinadab’s house and there it remained for twenty years (1 Samuel 7).

Well, it didn’t seem right to me that a national treasure should be tucked away in someone’s house. It needed to be brought to Jerusalem, our capital city. So preparations were made for the move and on the appointed day, the Ark was brought forth out of Abinadab’s house, placed on an ox cart, and away we went. There was a huge procession of Israelites as we celebrated this momentous event. There was a band and music and dancing. We were in a really celebratory mood that day. You can read all about it in 2 Samuel 6.

Unfortunately, the merriment was cut short soon enough. As the ox cart was moving along, one of the wheels went over a huge rock. One of the drivers, a man by the name of Uzzah, saw the Ark starting to slide off the cart. So he stretched forth his hand to keep the Ark in place and that’s when the Ark’s infamous bad luck struck again. The Lord struck Uzzah dead right there on the spot!

In an instant, from the mirth and merriment of the moment, I was ticked! I was incensed! Uzzah had done a good thing. He was trying to keep the Ark from falling off the cart. He was doing his part to preserve a national treasure. He acted nobly with the best of intentions. I couldn’t understand why God would kill Uzzah for doing such a good deed.

For days after that, I was really riled up at God. It looked as if everywhere the Ark went nothing but bad luck happened to people around it. God, this is all your fault! You had no right killing Uzzah for doing a good deed!

It seemed to me that no one was safe around the Ark. Not even God’s chosen people! God was gonna kill everyone who dared to tamper with the Ark. So I left the Ark right then and there in the house of a fellow by the name of Obededom. I went back to Jerusalem, along with all the celebrants, downcast and afraid to have anything more to do with the Ark.

I was still fuming with God for some time after that until the priests and the Lord started talking to me. Come to find out, it wasn’t God’s fault that Uzzah got killed. Yeah, he was acting with the best of intentions. But THE BEST OF INTENTIONS DON’T AMOUNT TO MUCH WHEN YOU BREAK THE RULES. The rule was, no one was allowed to touch the Ark, plain and simple.

The Ark wasn’t supposed to be transported on a cart. It was carried about on the shoulders of the Kohathites. They were descendants of one of Levi’s sons named Kohath. Anyway, God chose the Kohathites to be the only ones authorized to pack, unpack, and transport the contents of the Holy Place, which is our Tabernacle. But even the Kohathites themselves couldn’t touch the Ark! There were rings in the Ark through which long wooden poles would be inserted. The Kohathites would grab each end of the poles and lift them up on their shoulders. That’s how the Lord ordained the Ark to be transported—on the shoulders of the Kohathites and not on an ox cart (see Numbers 4:1-15).

The Lord’s instructions for the transporting of the Ark were contained in the Book of the Law and they hit me like a ton of bricks. Here all along I was blaming God for killing kind-hearted Uzzah. But it wasn’t God’s fault that Uzzah was killed. It was mine! I was to blame because I was the one who ordered the Ark to be put on an ox cart. I had unknowingly violated God’s Law and Uzzah paid for it with his life. So when the dust of my anger settled and reason returned to my mind, I had to admit that Uzzah’s death wasn’t God’s fault. It was mine…because I didn’t do things God’s way.

So take it from me, dear friends, and don’t make the mistake I made. DO THINGS GOD’S WAY. DO IT THE WAY HE WANTS IT DONE. You might think you know a better way; you have a better idea of how things ought to be done. They may sound good and right to you (Proverbs 14:12, 21:2). But if your ideas don’t line up with God’s ideas, then, believe me, you’re all wet and wrong. God’s way is the only way to do things! So don’t listen to Frankie boy, the ole crooner with baby blues. And don’t let the burger joint fool you into thinking it’s alright for you to have it your way. It’s not. Uzzah’s death stands as an eternal, painful reminder to me that THERE’S A PRICE TO BE PAID FOR DOING THINGS YOUR WAY INSTEAD OF GOD’S WAY. I hope there won’t be an Uzzah in your life to remind you of the same.

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