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Monday, May 12, 2014

Revival and Reformation Pt 6: 1 Chronicles 13 - A Reformation Misfires


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( Here is the audio file)
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Revival and Reformation Pt 6
A Reformation and Revival Misfires

Given the distasteful flavor an episode like this can leave in our mouths, we pray, O Lord God, that you would help us to stomach what is here, and to find that what was at first bitter to the taste will be sweet to our souls. For Christ’s sake we ask this. Amen.

Many folks say they want to see revival and reformation in the church. That’s good. The church needs to be resuscitated in many places, especially in the Western hemisphere. So the question is, “will any old revival or reformation do?” And the answer from 1 Chronicles is ‘NO!’

A1Preparation to Move the Ark: 13:1-4. Notice: {1} Good Sentiment. [Contrast with Saul in v. 3 (10:13-14)]; {2} The Irony of David’s intent and David’s action v. 3 and 4 (Judges 21.25 “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” – “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12 and "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,…12:15): Good Sentiment + Majority Agreement = Success, Right? Let’s look further:

B1The Move with Joy - 13:5-8. Things begin to move along smoothly – yet something seems to be missing. What? They still haven’t asked God’s opinion of the whole affair. They’re tooling along enjoying their worship and their religion, but they seem to have forgotten someone!

C – Out Break! 13:9-11. {God’s lethal holiness}.  {1} The play on Peratz.  {2} Numbers 4:4-6, 15, 17-20 and 7:9 – no wagons for Kohath; the Tabernacle furnishing must be covered and carried! 1 Chronicles 15.13! {3} God brings a surprising response to bear on their “sincerity” – which shows that he’s not keen for just any old “revival” or “Reformation”’ that happens along! He has standards! He takes being God serious – deadly serious!!!! Yet, lest you take this as only some Old Testament aberration, I want you to drink in a New Testament reference - Acts 5.1-14.

B2The Move w/ Fear - 13:12-13. David finally asks the right question in v. 12 – he should have asked it earlier!  “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed” (#460 v.2). “Therefore,…, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence (eulabeia – fear of God and awe)  and awe (deos – awe and fear), for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).

A2Ark remains outside Jerusalem – Reformation Misfires - 13:14. But hope lingers on the horizon (v. 14b).

In Chapter 13, we are left to tremble with David before Yahweh’s holiness. The message is loud and clear – for those returning from Exile; and for us now – You and I dare not trifle with a God who is both real and holy. Almighty God is not our little neat, warm, fuzzy and tame buddy in the sky. He takes being God serious. As Mr. Beaver had to tell Lucy and Susan when they asked if Aslan was safe; “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” That’s really the point of the whole episode. As David rides the swelling crest of success, popularity, triumph, and high approval ratings, he (and we) are abruptly reminded that God’s lethal holiness shows he is not safe, but his plentiful blessing of Obed-Edom reveals that he is good! God cannot be co-opted to support any old revival or reformation; he cannot be drafted into anyone’s agenda – even the Kingdom-strengthening programme of his own hand-picked King.

Therefore, if there is going to be any reforming of the Church of Jesus Christ – or our denomination – or congregation – or families – or personal lives, if there is going to be any revival among the people of God, we will need to take God seriously as well. And approach him on his terms, or as David finally recognized in 15.13, “seek him according to the rule.” A when you think of that word “rule” don’t imagine it means rigid precisionism – that comes too close to magic. Think of it in regard to relationship rule….

This principle flows into many areas of our lives as Christians:
Worship
Church life
Marriage
Singleness
Personal walk with God

Good sentiment + Majority Agreement does not equal success. Having either of those or both can be a help….or they can be down-right harmful.

Here, then is the first step, the primary way to approach God – in spite of the presence or absence of good feelings; and in spite of the presence or absence of majority opinion: Christ! Christ is the way, the only way, you draw near to God. With or without good sentiment and majority agreement…we approach God on God’s terms. I declare to you that the way is wide open – and the Way is Christ.  Col. 1.19-22!

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