1 Samuel 6:18-7:2 – Actions Should Have Consequences

Posted: December 8, 2017 in 09-1 Samuel

1 Samuel 6:18-7:2
The Ark Moved to Kiriath-Jearim

“You are on restrictions for the rest of your life!”, my ex-wife would scream at her boys in a fit of anger over bad behavior of her kids. I would tell her not to say things like that because you really need to be prepared for the kid to be on restrictions “for the rest of your life” when you make a statement like that. The discipline of my stepsons in my second marriage was a bone of contention that would be one of the wedges that split our marriage in two.

In that marriage, I inherited her sons when they were ages 3, 6, and 9. Don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that you can change children’s behavior patterns (even the 3 year old) when real discipline was not a part of the plan before you got them. The boys had already learned the way to deal with their mom about bad behavior. First, you survive her initial anger at the behavior and maybe even a small whipping if the behavior was bad enough. Second, you listen and then whine about your justifications for your bad behavior. Third, you accept the direction to go to your room and the punishment of a certain number of days or weeks on restrictions. Fourth, you wait an hour or so and then come back to mom all sweet and apparently remorseful and pour on the “Puss-N-Boots” eyes. Fifth, with the effective sweet child act, the would break down the defenses of their mom and she would relent a day or two on the restrictions and sometimes to the point that they had effectively negotiated away their punishment. Even if she stuck to her guns and a day or two or a week remained after the “puss-n-boots” negotiation period, she would give up on the restrictions after they proved to be inconvenient to her.

Further, when I would try to take a hard line with the boys about their being real and lasting consequences for their bad behavior. They would go behind my back to their mom and the above-noted cycle would be in play and thus forever undermined my authority with the boys. They knew that there would be times she would back me up if they had done something egregious enough, maybe, but the majority of time, they could effectively negotiate away my punishments through their mom. The result was that I had little power over the boys. And the result of my ex-wife’s inability to enforce discipline that she meted out was that the boys were brats, plain and simple. They were destructive. They were unruly. They had their good moments don’t get me wrong but geez they cared about nothing. Their rooms had holes in the walls from fits of anger, rambunctious play, with no consequences. They never had a toy they did not destroy. They never had a car they didn’t tear up. They grew up with no consequences. They did not have discipline at school as a result and they did not do well with the requirements and consequences of school. Trey, the oldest, began to see things clearly by the time he was a junior in high school but his untimely death in a car accident prevented me from seeing what he could have become. Josh didn’t really get what I was trying to do until he had a son of his own. And Dillon, well, I am not sure he’s got it yet to this day.

Raising kids is a tough ball game. Some parents want to be their kids’ best friend and let them get away with any behavior and it never works. The mushy, blurred lines of discipline always leads to bad behavior unrestrained and ultimately to a child that has difficulty dealing with the world when they are adults. It is the same way with God, there are consequences to violating God’s commands. Sin always has its consequences that are detrimental to us. God cannot let sin exist in His presence. There must be consequences or the commands of God are meaningless blurred, mushy lines just like with parents who won’t carry out discipline with their kids.

That idea of firm and defined lines in the sand where consequences are known and carried out is what came to mind when I read this passage, 1 Samuel 6:19-7:2, this morning. Sin is sin is sin and it has established consequences. It is a universal truth. With that in mind, let’s read the passage now:

19 But the Lord killed seventy men[a] from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Lord. And the people mourned greatly because of what the Lord had done. 20 “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” they cried out. “Where can we send the Ark from here?”

21 So they sent messengers to the people at Kiriath-jearim and told them, “The Philistines have returned the Ark of the Lord. Come here and get it!”

7 So the men of Kiriath-jearim came to get the Ark of the Lord. They took it to the hillside home of Abinadab and ordained Eleazar, his son, to be in charge of it. 2 The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.

In this passage, the first thing that you wonder about is why were people killed for looking into the Ark? The Israelites had made an idol of the Ark. They had tried to harness God’s power for their own purposes, a victory in battle. However, the Lord of the universe cannot be controlled by humans. To protect the Israelites from His power, he had warned them not to even look at the sacred sanctuary objects in the Most Holy Place or they would die (see Numbers 4:20). Only Levites were allowed to move the Ark. Because of their disobedience, the previously stated judgment was executed. It’s similar to the fact that an exposed electrical wire is dangerous all the time but it won’t hurt you til you are foolish enough to touch it. God could not allow the people to think that they could violate his universal and eternally true commands and use His power for their own ends. He could not permit them to disregard His warnings and come into His presence lightly.

He did not want a cycle of disrespect, disobedience, and defeat to start. God did not kill the men of Beth-shemesh to be cruel. They suffered the consequences of violating a universal and eternally true command made by God. God does not let sin slide or give disobedience a pass. It is like a parent who has firm consequences for the misbehavior of their children. Consequences have to be consequences no matter which child violates family rules. Otherwise the rules become meaningless as boundaries of behavior become mushy and not firm. The rules become meaningless when there are no consequences.

In God’s economy, sin disqualifies us from being in and enjoying the presence of God. We know the consequences for sin. It is imprinted in our souls (to know the difference between right and wrong) by God whether we believe He exists or not. He placed that in us. But we also have His Word that tells us what God expects of us. We are without excuse. But we sin and sometimes with impunity. We thumb our nose at God and His Word. We call it old fashioned and we ignore it. We want what we want and we want it now like children. God has firm lines in the sand that disqualify us from being in heaven when we die. He has firm lines in the sand that cast us into hell based on our sinful nature. Our first sin casts us into hell. We are doomed after that first sin not to mention the lifetime of sins we commit.

It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that we can be saved from our fate. In the absence of Jesus, we are condemned. He is the one that sets us free from our consequences. We are sinners on our own. We deserve God’s justice. It is only through Jesus that we can avoid our deserved fate in hell. Think about it. Our sin calls for punishment. God allows the known consequences to play out in our lives. It is only through Jesus that we are set free from the justice for our sins.

Amen and Amen.

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