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  • Writer's pictureVicar Matt Doebler

Matins Devotion: August 16, 2023

God’s judgement upon Uzzah the priest strikes our modern sensibilities as arbitrary and severe. Perhaps it even seems a bit unjust. After all, it appears that the man was just trying to help. The oxen had stumbled. Presumably Uzzah was concerned that the ark might be in danger. Presumably he grabbed hold of the ark to keep it from falling. Presumably Uzzah was simply acting as God’s protector.

But, you see, that was precisely Uzzah’s error. God did not need or want Uzzah’s protection. Uzzah had forgotten what the ark was. It was the throne of God. The place where heaven met earth. The sacred place called by God’s own holy name. The sacred vessel that, on the inside, contained the righteous demands of God’s law and, on the outside, bore the drops of blood that had been shed and offered as a covering for the people’s failure to keep it.

While Uzzah the priest may have thought that he was doing God a great service by taking hold of the ark to protect it, he was wrong. His action, however well intentioned, was blasphemous. And yet, isn’t this precisely how all heresies and many false teachings have begun? When well-intentioned individuals have taken it upon themselves to be God’s protectors—where they exalted their zeal over God’s commands and trusted in their own reasoning more than in God’s word. Arius wanted to protect the dignity of God the Father, so he begins teaching that Jesus is not fully divine. Nestorius want to protect Christ’s divinity so much that he ends up denying Christ’s true humanity.

The list goes on and on…At the end of every path where man thinks he can help God out—where man thinks he can be God’s protector—he finds destruction. In heeding the voice of his own reason above the revelation of the Word of God, he plunges headlong into darkness. In appointing himself to be God’s guardian angel, man loses the true gospel.

God doesn’t need our help. He doesn’t need us to go out there and make him look good. He doesn’t need us to raise up an army in order to advance his kingdom. He doesn’t need us to prove he exists or to convince the world that the Bible is true. God doesn’t need us at all. And yet, he loves us. He comes to us in our wretched state. In the incarnation, Christ takes on our human flesh. In his baptism, he washes himself in the filth of our sins. On his cross, he pours out his blood for our forgiveness. In his resurrection, he removes the sting of death. At his ascension, he leaves us with his peace. And on the day of his return, he will raise us up and usher us into the eternal joys of his kingdom. In Christ, God shows us the blessed truth that he doesn’t need us. That’s the good news. God loves us. God came to us. God has done everything for us.

And now, in Christ, God does invite us to reach out and lay hold of him. Not to be his protector, but to receive his protection. To grasp in our hands his body that was broken for our transgressions. To receive on our tongue his blood that was shed for our forgiveness. In the Lord’s Supper, we are commanded to lay hold of Christ and believe that nothing remains for us to accomplish. Everything is done. Everything is finished.

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