In 1950, when the Associated Press asked sports writers to choose the greatest athlete of the first half-century, Jim Thorpe won by a landslide. He received 1 1/2 times as many votes as Babe Ruth, 3 times as many as Jack Dempsey; 6 times more than Ty Cobb, and 10 times more than Bobby Jones.
The great grandson of Chief Black Wave, Jim Thorpe was one of the most gifted athletes the world has ever known. He excelled in boxing, swimming, shooting, golfed in the 70's, and bowled above 200. In college he wrestled, played basketball, lacrosse, football and track.
Dwight D Eisenhower, who played against him while at Army, said, "He was the greatest football man I've ever seen!" As one man wrote, "The shock of combat filled him with joy. When the play was rough and the opposition strong, he was in his element." He was the theoretical super player in the flesh.
In the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, he won the two most grueling events in track and field --- the decathlon (10 events) and the pentathlon (5 events). King Gustov V of Sweden told him, "You are the greatest athlete in the world."
The next year it was discovered that he had played semi-pro baseball for $15 a week, thus making him a "professional" and ineligible for the Olympics. He had to return his medals and his records were erased. He went on to play professional baseball and professional football and was at one time the president of what would become the NFL.
While playing for the New York Giants baseball team, Thorpe came to bat with men in scoring position. Glancing down to his third base coach, he was given the sign to bunt. As the ball came across the plate, Jim swung freely and watched the ball sail over the outfield fence for a home run. As he returned to the dugout, he was greeted warmly by his teammates, but the manager lit into him for not following the coach's sign and slapped him with a substantial fine!
Have you ever had an experience like this? An experience when you thought you were being helpful, when you were doing a favor, to be met only with resentment and anger? It's a shock! It causes you to: withdraw, become embittered, question the reason behind the response and become apprehensive in future dealings. This is exactly what happened in 1 Chron. 13:2-12 when Uzza was killed on the spot for reaching out to keep the ark from falling of the cart. What does that mean to us tonight?
I. The Return of the Ark
A. The significance of the Ark.
· First mentioned in Ex 25:10-14
1. It was the symbol of the divine presence of God in the midst of his people.
2. It was the place from which He communed with Israel's leaders (at the mercy seat)
3. It lead the people in the wilderness, led the people across the Jordan river, and preceded them in many of their battles.
B. The capture of the Ark.
1. 1Sam 4:1 - Israel goes to war with the Philistines, they are losing and bring out the ark, they end up being defeated
2. 1 Sam. 4&5 - In the time of Eli, the high priest, Israel is defeated by the Philistines.
“And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.” (1 Sam 4:11)
3. The Philistines take the ark to Ashdon - to the temple of Dagon. cf 1 Sam 5:1-4
a. Twice they come and find their idol bowing to the ark and twice they set him back up
b. Rather than being a blessing to the Philistines, the ark becomes a curse.
4. The Lord's hand waxes heavy against the Philistines. cf 1 Sam 5:6-7:1
a. The Philistines determined to get rid of the ark.
b. Everywhere they took it they suffered the wrath of God.
c. The ark was in the land of the Philistines 7 months
5. Finally the ark is brought to the house of Abinadab. cf 1 Sam 7:1
a. The ark remained there for over 50 years all during Saul's reign (1 Chr 13:3)
b. Until they decided to reclaim it.
C. The plan for the return of the Ark (1 Chron. 13:1-5)
1. David, the newly appointed king, wanted to start off on the right foot and determined to bring the ark to Jerusalem.
2. Davids "motives" are right.
3. He wanted it to have a place of prominence (Jerusalem was the capital), and it would be used to inquire of the Lord.
4. David gathered the Levites together.
a. They made a new ox-cart to carry the ark and they rejoiced in the hope of certain blessing.
b. There was great celebration with the impending return of the ark. v6-8
II. The Rejoicing Turned to Sorrow
A. The unexpected happened v9
1. As Uzza and Ahid drove the cart through Chidon, the ark was jarred by the rough terrain.
2. Uzza, seeing the ark about to fall, steadied it with his hand.
3. The Lord's wrath was kindled and Uzza was struck dead. v10
B. The unanswered question. v11-14
1. David was shocked at the catastrophe. He thought the Lord was unjust in what He did.
2. It caused him to question the Lord
3. It caused him to leave the ark in the house of Obededom
III. The Reason for the Tragedy.
A. A casual reading would render no explanation
1. Their motives appeared noble - bringing the ark to Jerusalem
2. Uzza seemed right in trying to protect the ark from certain damage.
3. Why the tragic outcome?
B. The answer lies in Num. 7:1-9
1. The ark was never made to ride on an ox-cart.
2. It was to be borne upon the shoulders.
3. Recall also our first mention of the ark in Exodus 25:14.
C. This may seem like a minute detail, but to God it was of supreme importance.
D. It seems that today in Christianity, we have built many "ox carts" to support God's work.
1. Shortcuts that do not bear fruit.
2. Where did they get the idea for an ox cart? From the Philistines.
3. Instead of following the Scriptural pattern, David did what he thought was right and imitated the way the world deals with God.
4. This is precisely how many often try to build their ministries
a. They build ox carts to make it easier
b. They imitate what they see others do rather than finding out what God wants them to do.
c. They look for programs that will produce results (numbers rather than a commission become the goal)
d. They with administrators - rather than pastors and teachers
e. They substitute Biblical principles with that which sounds spiritual and religious.
f. They have reduced prayer to a necessary habit and faith often extends only as far as the paycheck.
g. They substitute outward conformity for inward maturity.
h. They sacrifice the spirit-controlled Christian life for the barrenness of a busy life.
E. What am I saying?
1. Right motives do not always produce right actions.
a. David got caught up in the emotion of bringing the ark back
b. He did what he thought was right
c. He failed to follow Biblical principles
d. We must be careful or we may find ourselves: doing a work for God rather than doing the work of God
e. (Laying our efforts before the Lord like Cain did and saying Okay, Lord, now bless them)
f. And the motivation for the ministry becomes self-serving rather than God-honoring
2. David learned that rejoicing in that which is not Biblical leads to disappointment and frustration --- he was angry with God.
IV. The Response to the Tragedy. 1Ch. 15:12-15
A. Look at what David did when he realized he was wrong.
1. He called on the priests to sanctify themselves and to call upon the Lord.
2. He acknowledged that they had done wrong before and didn't want to make the same mistake again.
3. "for that we sought him not after the due order."
B. There are no short-cuts in ministry
C. God only blesses that which is done Biblically
1. God tells us to evangelize, baptize and disciple.
2. Without obedience in these areas, our church will not be what it needs to be and we, like David will be frustrated.
3. We need to be committed in word and deed to Biblical principles in our ministry.
4. There needs to be a personal commitment to the Word of God in our lives.
D. God's work must be done God's way --- there are to be no ox carts.
E. What are we doing?