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Still Small

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
November 4, 2022 9:00 am

Still Small

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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November 4, 2022 9:00 am

It’s popular to say that “all roads lead to God.” But while that philosophy may sound nice, it just isn’t true. We can only approach God on his own terms.


Today on Summit Life, Pastor JD talks about being angry with God. I had somebody recently who was struggling with their faith say to me, they're like, you know, it's not that I don't believe in God, it's just that I don't like him. I don't like how he set up the universe. I don't like the fact that he doesn't stop injustice. I don't like the whole judgment thing.

I don't like how he rules the world. David gets that. You're not the first one to be offended at God. The Bible's been defending all people in all places at all times.

It's an equal opportunity offender. Welcome to Summit Life featuring pastor, author, and theologian JD Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. Let me ask you a question. How often have you heard the phrase, all roads lead to God? That different religions are all really teaching the same thing, and as long as you're sincere, you're good with God.

That philosophy may sound nice and inclusive, but it just isn't true. Today, Pastor JD explains that we don't get to choose how we worship. We can only approach God on the terms he gave us. Now to get better acquainted with Pastor JD, and to see the wide variety of resources available to you, stop by

But right now, let's get started with today's message called Still Small. I have a Bible. I would love for you to take it out and open it to 2 Samuel chapter 6. It will tell you that this has always been one of my favorite Bible passages. When I was a teenager, the title of this section of my Bible was simply David Dances Naked Before the Lord. What is not intriguing about that, have you noticed that whoever wrote first in 2 Samuel had a flair for the bizarre or the risque stories about people getting hacked to pieces before the Lord. David getting caught with Saul in an awkward moment in a cave. Saul pops a squat, ghosts appearing and talking about terrible things that are going to happen. Here in 2 Samuel, you're going to hear stories of peeping toms and adultery and incest and Absalom getting trapped by his hair in a tree and being treated like a pinata. It's like these books are written for a middle school audience.

And this story does not disappoint all kinds of drama in this story. In this bizarre story, David is going to teach you some things about gospel-centered worship. Now let me just acknowledge something here as we get into this. I realize that we got a lot of people in here who come from some pretty different backgrounds as it relates to worship. For some of you that grew up in church, worship was very subdued.

It was reflective. For others of you, worship was more of the Pentecostal variety. If the service was any good, somebody passed out, right? And those of you who are more subdued, look at those who are yelling and got their hands in the air and you feel like they're loud and irreverent. They're doing all this stuff for show. And those of you who are more on the energetic side, look around and you're like, what's wrong with you people, right? I mean, you yell your heads off at a basketball game, but every week you come in here and act like you're at a funeral. Others of you who are new to Christianity, you just wonder what the big deal is anyway. You're like, what's with you people?

You're singing so much and I just don't get that. You know, raising your hands, it's like you got a question in the middle of worship. What's going on with that? I had a guy who was coming to our church. He was a graduate student at Duke. We had lunch together. He said, your church, first church I ever been to. He's like, I come every single week to your church. He said, but I'm always 25 minutes late on purpose. He said, because I just want to skip the music part because it just makes me feel weird.

Everybody in there singing and I just don't sing with large groups of people. And so you may wonder, what is the big deal with worship? Well, I think that today there's something in here for all of you. Some of you are legitimately going to change an attitude that you have toward worship. I'm going to show you that the subdued people are partly right and partly wrong.

I'm going to show you that the energetic people are partly right and partly wrong. And some of you who aren't Christians are going to learn what's going on with this craziness that we call worship. Now, I'll also tell you, there are some things that are very difficult to hear in this passage. Some things that are difficult for me to say, but not to try to be overly dramatic.

I've told you this before. I feel like the Holy Spirit has made very clear to me that it is not my responsibility to edit God's word in any form or fashion whatsoever, and to try to make it politically correct or more pleasing for you to hear, or more according to my own preferences even. I try to give it to you unfiltered. And so if you got a problem with some of the things I'm going to say today, I would encourage you not to take it up with me because I didn't write it.

Take it up with the author who wrote these things. I'm just going to try to give it to you the way that it's written and all of its glorious offensiveness. All right, so you just need to be ready. You need to be ready. So second Samuel chapter six, we're going to begin reading in verse two.

We're going to do that thing where I read a little bit, talk a little bit, read, talk, read, talk. All right, second Samuel six, verse two. And David arose and went to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the Lord of hosts, who sits enthroned on the cherubim.

Stop. First, got to get a little background here. What is the ark? When Israel left Egypt, God told them to construct a big wooden box and overlay it with gold and put a couple of statues of some angels called the cherubim on top. And in between it was a little place, a little platform called the mercy seat. And once a year, one priest, the high priest would go into the place where they kept the ark of the covenant, a place called the holy of holies, which was in the tabernacle. It was a room where there's nothing in the room except for this ark of the covenant.

The only piece of furniture in there. And one priest would go in one time a year with the blood of a sacrifice. And he would sprinkle blood on the mercy seat, signifying that God would one day send the sacrifice to pay for the sins of the people of Israel inside of the ark of the covenant. Inside of that box, there were three things. There was a jar of manna, which is what God had provided for the people in the wilderness that symbolized God's provision for them. There was the two tables of the 10 commandments, which symbolized God's law that he had given to them. And then thirdly, there was Aaron's rod that budded, which means it's like his walking stick that sprouted pears and apples and that kind of stuff. And that symbolizes God's miraculous power, his provision, his laws and his power. That's what they kept inside of that. It was the presence of God to these people.

All right. So David is getting the art back, which brings up the second kind of background question. That is, where has the ark been? You know, has it been on vacation or what's been going on? Well, in order to answer that, you got to go all the way back to first Samuel five.

Don't turn there. I'll just kind of walk you through this chapter to find out what happened to the art. First time with chapter five, the Israelites are going to battle against the Felistines. But because the Israelites have greatly sinned against God and have been living with all kinds of idolatry and rebellion, they lose the battle against the Felistines.

All right. Well, rather than repenting of their sin, they thought, I know let's take the ark of the covenant into the battle with us. Because if we have the ark of the covenant with us, there's no way we can lose. You know, it was their, it was their rabbit's foot. It was their four leaf clover. It was their grilled cheese with the Virgin Mary's face that appeared in it, grilled cheeses. That was what it was for them. They thought this is our good luck charm.

There's no way we can lose. But anyways, you probably understand God is not into being manipulated and good luck charms don't make any difference to him, whether they're of crosses or whether they're four leaf clovers. And so the people not only lose the battle, they lose the ark itself. The Felistines capture the ark of the covenant in battle and they take it like a trophy back to a city, one of their cities called Ashdod and put it in the temple of their god of war named Dagon, right? And they put it right beside of the statue of Dagon to try to show, you know, ha ha ha, our God beat up your God in battle. All right, so the next morning they come into the temple of Dagon and they find as they walk in that the statue of Dagon is now lying face down in front of the ark of the covenant, which you gotta admit is kind of funny. It's like God pulled a fraternity prank on them. You know, it took their statue made it live prostrate in front of the ark of the covenant. So they're like, well, that's really weird. And so the, the, the priest, their priest get their statue of Dagon and stand the thing back up, which ought to tell you something. When you have to stand your God of war back up, might not be the right guy.

All right. But, but they don't get that. They stand it back up. Well, they come in the next morning. Again, Dagon is face down in front of the ark of the covenant, except this time his head and hands have disappeared. And they're like, wow, that is just so weird. Where did his head and his hands go?

All right. Well, that afternoon it says a disease swept through the city of Ashdod and everybody developed tumors and then mice overran the city. And then somebody was like, you know, call me superstitious, but I think this might have something to do with that arc. So they wrapped up the arc and sent it to another Philistine city called Gaff. That's right. They re-gifted the ark of the covenant and the people of Gaff are like, what is, what, why do we get this?

Look at that. And the people of Ashdod are like, enjoy. And so the people of Gaff get it. Same thing happens to them.

The tumors break out and everybody mice overrun the city and a bunch of people die. And they're like, well, we don't want this thing. So they send it to a third city, Philistine city, called Ekron.

Same thing happens in Ekron. And so finally the Philistine rulers are like, look, we got to get rid of this thing. We're just feeling like the ark is not the best fit for us. It doesn't really go with our other furniture. We should probably return this to Israel right away.

All right. So they get their priests together and they're like, what do we do with this thing? You know, and the priests say in a truly fascinating conversation, the priests say, well, you give it back to Israel, but you can't just give it back. You got to include like an, I'm sorry, gift with it. And they're like, I'm sorry, like flowers or something.

And then you're like, yeah, but not flowers. You need to make images, golden images of the tumors and golden images of the mice. I get the mice part, but how do you make a golden image of a tumor? So they make these images of tumors and they make these images of mice and they put them beside the ark of the covenant. They put the ark of the covenant on a cart and put a couple cows in front of the cart. And then they get an argument about who's going to drive the cart back to Israel.

Cause who wants to drive this thing, you know, back to Israel where their enemies live? Well, while they're in the middle of this argument, all of a sudden the cows just turn themselves around and face toward Israel and walk back all the way to Israel. They cross the border and they go right to the house of a guy named Shemesh, right?

Shemesh recognizes what this thing is. So he takes the cows and he kills them. And then he takes the wood and he tears up, or excuse me, takes the wood of the cart and uses that to build a fire and then offer the cows as a sacrifice on the fire to God. And then he takes the ark of the covenant and puts it in his house.

All right. Well, some of the people in his house get curious and look inside of the ark and they die. You've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, right?

You know what that happens when you do that. So they look inside of the ark, they all die and Shemesh is like, I don't really want this thing. So he calls up a buddy of his, a guy named Abenadab and says, Hey man, I got something for you.

I want you to have the ark of the covenant. Abenadab comes and gets it, puts it in his house and his tent that he lives in, he's got like a guest room that nobody ever goes in and he puts it there. Then anytime a guest comes to his house, like, you know, what's in that room? He's like, I wouldn't go in there if I were you.

And it stays there for 20 years. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. We'll return for the conclusion of today's teaching in just a moment, but I wanted to quickly introduce you to our new resource just released this week. Anticipating the Christmas holiday season, we have a 25 day Advent devotional called He Is Here. While this resource is written for adults, it's great for the whole family or the whole church really to work through the story of scripture together throughout the month of December.

It's kid friendly enough and quick enough to be used around the dinner table for all ages, especially teenagers and older. I believe it will give you some new language for how to communicate these old stories to yourself and to others and to see how every story points to the coming of Jesus. We'd like to encourage you to reserve your copy of He Is Here right now by calling 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220 or visit us online at Thanks for being with us today. Now let's finish up our teaching for the week. Once again, here's Pastor JB. That brings us up to 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, chapter 6. Verse 3, they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of a benedab. And Uzzah, who was the son of a benedab, was driving the new cart. Verse 5, and David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord with songs and liars and harps and a Hammond B3 organ and an electric guitar. They are having a worship service.

I mean, they're doing what you think they ought to be doing. Verse 6, and when they came to the threshing floor of Nakan, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God to steady it. So in other words, what's happening is these cows, these oxen are walking along and one of them trips over something and he starts to stumble and that cart starts to teeter back and forth and then that ark of the covenant starts to sway back and forth and Uzzah jumps off that cart and he runs around and he reaches up and he grabs a hold of the ark to keep it from falling down on the ground. Verse 7, and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah and God struck him down there because of his error. And literally in Hebrew what it says, there is his irreverence and he died there beside the ark of God. Look at this next verse. Verse 8, and David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah.

How many of you understand that reaction? One of the things that I love about the Bible is how honest it is. David looks at God and is like, God, come on. He's trying to help you out.

He's trying to do you a favor. The reason I point that out is because sometimes people encounter truths about God in the Bible today and they feel offended and then they arrogantly assume that we are the first generation in history to be enlightened enough to be offended by the Bible. The Bible has been offending people for ages, including its writers. I had somebody recently who was struggling with their faith say to me, they're like, you know, it's not that I don't believe in God. I actually believe that he's here. I don't know how everything else would be here if he weren't there. It's just that I don't like him. I don't like how he set up the universe. I don't like the fact that he doesn't stop injustice. I don't like the whole judgment thing.

I don't like how he rules the world. David gets that. David was angry at God because of what he perceived as unusually harsh judgment. You're not the first one to be offended at God. The Bible's been offending all people in all places at all times.

It's an equal opportunity offender, right? The point I'm trying to make is don't be an ignorant and arrogant American who assumes you're the first people in history to be offended just because you graduated with a UNC Chapel Hill education, all right? You're not. People have always been offended. You're like, well, why are you pointing this out? This is not helping me because they found reasons to believe anyway. I'm just trying to say, if this is the God of the universe, you can expect to be offended.

And there's a lot of stuff in here that you are going to be offended by. And you got to make a decision whether you're going to edit the Bible to fit your preferences or whether you're going to stand on the word of God and let it change you, okay? Verse 9. David was afraid of the Lord that day and he said, well, how could the ark of the Lord come to me? Verse 10. So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David, but David took it aside to the house of Obed Edom the Gittite.

You get that? David walked away from God. He put it in the house of somebody who's not even a Jew. David and God broke up temporarily is how you read that. David walks away from God.

Write this down. Number one, the problem of God's presence. The problem of God's presence. You see, the ark represents God's presence. It brings his blessing. It is David's source of strength and security and identity, right? David wants God to be in his life.

David craves the presence of God, just like many of you do. God really needs to be a part of my life. God needs to be a part of my family.

God needs to be a part of my life before I die. A lot of us want the security that the presence of God brings, but there's a problem with the ark. There's a problem with God's presence and that is, it's dangerous. It can also cause great destruction, not just for the Philistines.

It also killed a bunch of Israelites too. Like I told you, we got a problem with this because we're like, you know, Uzzah here looks like he's doing God a favor, doesn't he? You know, when he thinks, we think that Uzzah probably should have heard God shouting down from heaven like, hey, Uzzah, appreciate that. Thanks a lot.

Thanks for helping me out. And we look at this and we're like, you know, he dies. God, what's the problem with this? I mean, maybe he touched the ark, maybe that was forbidden, but his heart was good. He was sincere.

I mean, he's trying to do you a favor. You should have rewarded this guy, not struck him dead. Bottom line is we think the punishment is more severe than the crime, don't we? You see, and when the punishment is more severe than the crime, a little tuning fork goes off inside of us that says injustice. And here we think that God is being unjust and our hearts accuse God of injustice and that angers us, just like it did David. Here's the Bible's premise and I give it to you straight up with no apology. The punishment is not more severe than the crime.

Punishment is not more severe than the crime. A couple of things going on here. First, God had given specific instructions on how that ark was to be carried to avoid situations like this one. God had told them in the book of Numbers that there were to make holes in it, which they did, that you put poles through and you would carry it. The certain group of priests would carry it on their shoulders and they would cover it so that nobody could ever have a reason that they had to touch the ark. But how are the Israelites carrying it? They had it on a cart pulled by a couple oxen. Where did they learn that? They learned that from the Philistines. That's right. You know, this one passage ought to settle for all time the question of whether or not you can come to God any way you want to come, of whether or not you can just worship Him any way you want as long as your heart is sincere.

This is how I prefer to do it. I think this passage is pretty clear that God decides how He is to be worshipped. God decides the way that you are supposed to get to Him. God is the one who defines His own worship.

That's the first problem. The second problem is a much even more serious problem than that one, bigger issue, and that is Uzzah is unaware of his own sinfulness. Uzzah is unaware of his own sinfulness. Uzzah sees the ark about to touch the ground and He wants to protect the ark from the earth. He thinks I should keep the ark from touching the ground because the ground is dirty.

Uzzah assumes that his hand is less dirty than the ground is. But the earth has never committed the blasphemy of rejecting God's authority. The earth had always obeyed the commands of God. It wasn't the ground or the dirt that would pollute the ark. It was the touch of man that would pollute the ark. Uzzah doesn't understand that, so he touches the ark. David doesn't understand that either, so he's mad at God for striking Uzzah dead.

Write this down. The reason we do not understand the judgment of God is we don't understand the wickedness of our sinfulness. The reason we do not understand the judgment of God is we don't understand the wickedness of our sinfulness. Let me try to bring this down to us, okay, because most of us have never seen somebody struck dead for touching the ark. Most of us have never seen the ark of the covenant. Nobody's seen the ark of the covenant for 2,500 years except for Harrison Ford, okay.

Most of us haven't seen this, so let me try to bring this down to us. Many of us are angry at God because of the whole hell thing. We think that hell is too severe a punishment for sin, don't we? We're like, God, I mean, come on, one small sin, one small sin and an eternity of being apart from God, how is it that sin we commit in a 70-year span? How is that it is punished by hell for eternity? That is too severe.

It's an overreaction. Or you just think about the cross. What had we done that was so bad that required the Son of God to come down and to be beaten so that his flesh was flayed open? What was so severe that he went through the cross? What was it about what we had done that that's what it required to pay for our sin? They say the cross was unspeakably brutal.

You can see it in the scriptures. They beat him with a cat of nine tails before they got him to the cross. Historian Cicero tells us that many men never made it to the cross. They were just beaten and they would die on the whipping block because they would take that cat of nine tails which had pieces of bone and metal and glass that would, as it would wrap around the body of the person they were beating, it would dig into the skin and the muscle. They would hit him 39 times and after they would wrap it around, they would jerk it and it would pull off the skin and eventually it would start to open up the abdominal cavity. They say that it is very likely that when Jesus was done with this beating that his intestines would have been hanging down to his knees. Nails putting his hands on his feet, his beard pulled out, his face beaten so that Isaiah says he didn't even look like a man anymore.

You could not only not recognize him, you could even recognize that he was a human. What had we done that was so bad? You see the cross had, it ought to tell you something about the severity of our sin. See some of you hear that and you're like well that's gross, that's the point. Cross grosses you out, your sin grosses God out. The cross was the just penalty for our sin. The sin. Hell is what hell is because our sin is what our sin is. The cross is what the cross was because our sin is what it was. The fact that we don't see it as wicked is part of the problem. Adam and Eve made a choice, a choice of cosmic treason.

They put their fists in God's face and said no, you will not be in charge, we will be in charge. You're like well I'm not Adam and Eve. I wasn't there, I didn't eat the apple. I don't even like apples. Why am I being punished for their sin?

You ever thought that? You ratify their decision. Every one of us, every one of us ratified their decision.

God named Saint Augustine had a great way of talking about this. He said I remember, he says I remember the day that I ratified that decision. He said I was walking down a road and I looked in a guy's yard, crossed a fence and I saw that he had a pear tree and I wanted some of those pears. But I knew it was stealing. He said so I crawled across that fence and I got those pears.

The reason I went and got those pears is not just because I was hungry, I also was excited about it because it was wrong. He said not only did I steal because of my hunger, I also enjoyed the wrongness of what I was doing. And he said accurately every single person comes to a place in their life where they delight in the wrong more than they delight in the right and that is counted as hatred of God. Because when you love the wrong and you love injustice more than you love the right, that is a way of saying God I hate you, I hate goodness, I hate truth and I delight more in the wrong than I do in the right.

Thankfully our sin isn't the end of the story. In Jesus, God's given us a way to become right with him and we simply believe him and receive his gift. A challenging message from Pastor JD Greer here on Summit Life. So JD we're really excited about this new resource we're offering to our listeners as we head into the Christmas season.

What can we expect to find when we hold it in our hands? It's a 25-day devotional guide specifically for the Advent season that's coming up. It's called He Is Here.

Right. Each day you can expect three elements. There's a short reading from scripture and then there's going to be an accompanying devotion that'll show you how this story is pointing to Jesus and then there's an application of prayer or reflection or meditation that'll help you connect it to your practical day-to-day life. We're praying that this guy would help you anticipate the true King this Christmas so that you would not only understand who he is and how the Old Testament points to him but you would you would feel the thrill of hope that accompanies the name Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, God with us. You can get that today. I think it will bless you this Christmas at Ask for the book titled He Is Here when you donate to Summit Life today. You can give over the phone by calling 866-335-5220 or give online at

I'm Molly Vitovich. Be sure to tune in again next time when we look a little deeper at whether or not there's a right way to worship God. We'll see you here Monday on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 17:06:49 / 2022-11-09 17:13:33 / 7

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