Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Is it ever okay to be angry with God?
Whether it is or not, many of us have found ourselves angry with the way He runs His affairs. The race of life is tough, but when we are angry with God, it is even tougher. Today, the story of David and his anger with God.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, will God forgive us when we get angry with Him? Well Dave, not only that, but I am reminded of a young woman who said to me, I'm very angry with God, but I'd never tell Him. Well, of course, I pointed out to her that if you're angry with God, God already knows it.
You might as well tell Him. As a matter of fact, there's healing in telling Him that you are angry with Him. When you read the Psalms, you discover that David often poured out his heart to God, where are you when I need you?
Are you always going to be turning your back on me? On and on he goes, but at the end of the Psalm, God poured grace into David's heart. I've often thought that there are Christians who have to forgive God, not because God actually needs our forgiveness, I understand that, but we have to lay down any bitterness and anger and resentment that we have toward Him, because if not, we won't pray, we won't trust, we will just be angry. Blessed are those who can accept whatever God gives them without anger.
Well, today I want to emphasize that the ministry of Running to Win exists because of people just like you. We're so thankful for our partners all throughout the country who are committed to this ministry, who pray for us, and many are what we call endurance partners. These are people who give regularly, and of course they pray for us. Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Here's what you do to find out more information.
You go to RTWOffer.com, and when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, that's RTWOffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Of course, I'll be giving you this contact info at the end of this message once again, but for now let us listen and hear David's heart, his predicament, and God's grace. Well, my friends, I think it is true that there are times when we become angry with God. I remember a man whose wife died in childbirth. He said, God isn't worth a plugged nickel to me. Where was he when I needed him? A woman who was abused by her parents said, God wasn't there when I needed him.
Why should I think that he would be here now for me at this point in my life? And someone else said it very accurately, and perhaps with a great deal of bitterness, if God exists, he must be the devil. You see, friends, when we are angry at circumstances, we are usually angry at God because we know that behind those circumstances, there is God. God, you know, he's got the whole world in his hands, as we sometimes say. And even decisions that we make, that we're responsible for, we can become angry and say, well, why did he let me make those decisions? He could have stopped me. And of course, he could have.
He's got lots of means at his disposal. David the king also became angry with God. Now, you know, this is a series of messages on the life of David, and I feel so badly that we are skipping so much material in his life. Actually, 20 messages would be about right.
We're doing it in 10. This is message number 6. But I do invite you to take your Bibles and turn to 2 Samuel, chapter 6, where David becomes angry with God.
And in order to understand why, I need to paint the picture and the background. David, of course, was reigning in Hebron for seven and a half years. This is now long after his battle with Saul, who died on Mount Gilboa. David is ruling in Hebron, and he decides to capture the city of Jerusalem, which was a Jebusite stronghold. But David knew that Jerusalem is the place that God had chosen where he would put his name.
It was there that the tabernacle was to be, and later the temple would be built there. And so what David wants to do is to conquer the city from the Jebusites, and the story is actually in 2 Samuel, chapter 5. It says in verse 6, now the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, and they said to David, you shall not come here, but the blind and the lame shall turn you away, thinking, David cannot enter here. The Jebusites were so confident that they ridiculed David and his men, and the reason is because their city was well fortified, it was on a hill, and they had a water system that enabled them to bring water into the city without going outside the city walls. And so David said to one of his men, whoever it is that can capture the Jebusites, he will be my main military man.
He will be first in the military. The Bible tells us that Job was the one who conquered the Jebusites, apparently going up through the water shaft, possibly with a whole host of soldiers behind him, overcoming all of the resistance that the Jebusites might have had, and capturing the city and taking it, and it says in verse 7, nevertheless, David captured the stronghold of Zion, which is the city of David. That word Zion is a poetic word or name for the city of Jerusalem. So David makes Jerusalem his capital, but it is time now to bring the ark to Jerusalem. The ark, you remember, was a box, perhaps four feet long and about two and a half feet high and two and a half feet wide, and it was brought into the land under the time of Joshua, and it was there in Shiloh. The problem was that the Israelites sinned against God 30 years earlier before this event, and they decided to take the ark into battle. That was contrary to what God wanted, because that ark and its furniture and all the furnishings of the tabernacle should have always stayed together, but they were going to use it as a good luck charm. And so they took it into battle, and it was captured by the Philistines, and the Philistines had it, and the Philistine gods did not like the ark.
The story is actually in 1 Samuel chapters 3 and 4, and perhaps you've read it, we won't take time to do that, but whenever they took the ark of God and they set it beside one of the Philistine gods, he would go kerplunk, and in the morning he'd be on his face. So the Philistines said, we have to get the ark back to Israel, they put it on a cart, and they sent it back to the Israelites. And now it wandered around in various homes for a while, and finally David decided to bring it to Jerusalem, and that now introduces chapter 6 verse 1. Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, 30,000, we're talking about him going about nine miles north of the city of Jerusalem, and David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baal Judah, that's another way to say Kirjath-jearim, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name, the very name of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned above the cherubim. And they placed the ark of God on a new cart, that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab, which was on a hill, and Uzzah and Aol, the son of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill, and Aol was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile David and all of the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and lyres, and harps, and tambourines, and cassanets, and cymbals.
Do you see the parade? 30,000 people, and David believed that this was the will of God. Number one, God had said, I have chosen the city of Jerusalem as the place where I will put my name. So the ark was to be in Jerusalem. Secondly, he believed it was God's will because this was a worship experience. They were honoring God.
The intention was to bring honor to his name. So they put it on a cart. Some oxen were pulling it. Everybody was rejoicing and dancing along as they were moving the ark of God to Jerusalem. But we come to that little word, but, in verse six, and how that changes the nature of the parade. But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and laid hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence, and he died beside the ark of God. Wow.
End of parade. And David says, if that's the way God's going to act, I can get angry too. Verse eight, and David became angry because of the Lord's outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez Uzzah.
The word Perez means an outbreak, the outbreak of Uzzah to this day. So David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, how can the ark of the Lord come to me? And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him. But David took it aside to the host of Obed Edom, the Gidite, and David said, it can stay there. If that's the way God is, I'm not going to touch it. Well, it was a good idea if he said, I'm not going to touch it. That's exactly what Uzzah did.
But David said, I'm not going to bring it to the city. Wow. What an experience that was. And so the celebration ends and the 30,000 people, along with David, go back to Jerusalem. No doubt they walk back in silence and in anger because of what happened, and so much for the ark of God. Have you ever been angry with God? Have you ever said, as one woman did, because God wasn't doing what she thought he should be doing, God, I'll see you around town.
If this is the way you run your universe, if that's the way you are, that you allow that child to die and you allow this to happen, you're such a meanie, I don't want to have anything to do with you. Well, in the midst of this experience, David had to learn two truths that will help us when we're tempted to be angry with God. First of all, David had to learn who God is, who God is. God is holy, and because God is holy, he expects that people will obey him.
Let me ask you a question. Was God just overreacting? Was God just having a bad day and it caught him at a bad time and he just had an outburst as the text seems to imply and he should keep his anger under control? Little girl in Sunday school heard about this and said, you know, God is very mean.
When my mother's china was falling onto the floor and I caught it, she doubled my salary. Uzzah is trying to catch God's china, as it were, and God strikes him and he is dead. Boom, it's gone. No, God was not overreacting. You know what God said back in the book of Numbers? He says in Numbers chapter 4 verse 5, when the camp sets out, Aaron and his sons shall go in and they shall take down the veil of the screen and cover the ark of the testimony with it. He goes on to say in verse 15, and Aaron and his sons, when they have finished covering all the holy objects and all the furnishings of the sanctuary, when the camp is to set out, after the sons of Korah shall come to carry them so that they may not touch the holy objects and die. And Uzzah was a coethite, one of the sons of Aaron. He knew how this ark should be carried.
They all did. God says two things. Number one, you should not look at the ark. Once it has been built, it would always be covered by the veil. And they were able to set up the tabernacle in such a way that they would not really have to look at the ark. And when they were taking the tabernacle down, that veil always covered the ark.
And in this way, strictly speaking, if done carefully, no human eye had to see it. But God also said that when you carry it, you don't touch it directly. You have poles and you have rings and then priests are to carry it. What in the world are the Israelites doing putting it on an ox cart? Where did they get that idea? From the Philistines. That's the way in which they carry the ark.
And so they took the latest technology and the latest idea of the Philistines and they said, well, you know, me too, we can do it the same way. And then Uzzah puts out his hand to steady the ark and God smites him dead. Well, now let me ask you a very modern question, a contemporary question. Didn't he mean well? I mean, he had good intentions, didn't he? I want you to know today that whenever we consciously disobey God, we can never do that with good intentions, can never have wrapped inside of it a good intention. Uzzah should have known, the priests knew, and they violated the word of God because they thought it was a technicality. God says it's a big technicality.
You say, well, what's going on here in the text? Actually, it was not an act of heroism. It was an act of arrogance. Uzzah thought that his hand was less polluted than the earth. It would have been better for the ark of God to fall onto the rock smashed than for a human hand to touch it because a human hand is sinful. It is polluted. And God said, don't touch it lest you die.
And he touched it and he died. You know, we can struggle with the text. We can say, well, wow, what kind of a God is this? That's one approach. But I don't have a great problem with the text in terms of Uzzah being struck down.
I have a bigger problem than that with the text. The question is, why am I still living? And the question is, how come you're still living?
That's the question. You know that God is sovereign. God said to Job one time, he said, or rather, he said to Satan, let's try Job. And Job was tried.
And there are 10 fresh graves along the side of a hill because Job's 10 children are smitten down in a windstorm brought by the devil under God's strict supervision and guidance. And Job's wife comes and says, shall we not curse God and die? And Job said, shall we not receive good at the hand of the Lord and shall we not also receive adversity? If God is God, can't he make up the rules and can't he expect us to obey those rules? And cannot God do in our lives that which he wills with those who are his own? Can't God do that? David had to relearn who God is. He really did.
He really did. Now let me ask you a personal question. You know, sometimes when we're talking, we say to one another, no, I want to ask you a question, but don't take this personally. Well, I'm going to ask you a question that I want you to take personally today.
Take it personally. Have you touched the ark of God recently? We can certainly do that when communion is observed here at the Moody Church and there may be those who frivolously participate as if to say, well, you know, it's actually just the elements are not sanctified. They are not divine.
They are not transformed into anything else. Well, you'd better watch it because the Bible says that you'd better do it in a worthy manner. But you know, I think we can also touch the ark of God in other ways. We can touch the ark of God when we trivialize sin, when we think to ourselves, well, you know, that's not too big an infraction. And in our day, when the grace of God eclipses the judgment and the righteousness of God, it is very easy for us to take God for granted and to take forgiveness for granted and to use forgiveness as a rubber band that encompasses all that we want to do because actually God is so merciful and so kind and he is, but he's also just and he's also holy. I think we can touch the ark of God when we trivialize sin, yes.
We can also do it when we, catch this, when we accept credit for something that God does through us and where our sense of self-worth is so closely wrapped to our achievements and we think it is the strength of our own right hand that has begotten us our success. I think God agreed with that statement. Maybe there ought to be a sign in church that says beware of God, beware of God. And I want to warn all of us and I warn myself because we're living in a day of the trivialization of God. We are living in a dangerous illusion with a manageable deity, a very manageable deity and as a result of that we want to take charge of God. We want to say that God fits what I think God really is. I have frequently contemplated the verse of scripture, our God is a consuming fire. Oftentimes we think too lightly of God and we don't realize that there is a part of him we do not fully understand.
We see through a glass darkly but we do see but how important it is for us to never trivialize the Almighty. Let me ask you this question, are you blessed as a result of the ministry of running to win? If you are, it's because other people just like you have invested in this ministry. Running to win exists to help you all the way to the finish line, giving glory to Jesus, leading people to Christ, building people up in the faith.
I have in my hands a letter from someone who says I've lived with anxiety for many years. When I started to listen to running to win a few years ago, I found it really helped me. And then the letter goes on from there about staying close to Christ, throwing anxieties upon his shoulders, taking them from your shoulders, and giving them to Christ. I want to thank the many of you who support this ministry. Would you like to do so consistently? Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? Someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts.
Of course, the amount that you give is entirely your decision. Here's what you do to get more info. You go to RTWOffer.com. As you already guess, RTWOffer is all one word. RTWOffer.com, when you're there, click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. What excites me is this, radio goes where we can't go. It goes into homes and offices and businesses and countries around the world. And only eternity is going to reveal all of the benefits that come from investment in Christian ministries.
Consider becoming an endurance partner today. It's time now for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Understanding a single Bible verse can be difficult if you don't factor in the context in which it occurs. This may be the case for Stephen, who asks, I read in Micah 4-5, For all the people will walk, each in the name of his God, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever. Pastor Lutzer, if anything, the Old Testament is more adamant than the New about how God will not tolerate any idols or false gods, and how he will not share his glory with another. How should this passage be interpreted?
Well, I simply want to say that it is not that difficult to interpret if you look at that little word, but. For all people will walk, each in the name of his God, but we will walk in the name of the Lord. So what the prophet is really saying is this, no matter what gods the Babylonians may walk with, no matter what gods the Assyrians may walk with, we will walk with the Lord our God. So if you look at it from that standpoint, God is certainly not approving these other gods. The prophet is simply saying, no matter what others do, this is what we are going to do.
So looked at in that context, I think the universe makes perfect sense. Thank you, Stephen, and thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Erwin Lutzer with Part 1 of Conflict with God, the sixth message in a series on growing through conflict, a study in the life of King David. Next time, more about dealing with anger we have toward God. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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