David’s disastrous attempt to transport the ark to Jerusalem on an oxcart sends a sobering warning to the contemporary church. The ark represented the dwelling seat of God’s presence and David wanted it in Jerusalem so he concocted a plan to use a new oxcart to carry it. David’s ambitious plan represented a progressive step forward in moving the presence of God which he had borrowed from the idolatrous Philistines.
Even though the Philistines had moved the ark back to Israel on an oxcart after experiencing a series of devastating punishments, David felt that the Philistines had actually come up with a pretty novel idea and no doubt felt that he could use the same innovative method to move the ark because he would be doing it in the name of God. Transporting the ark by oxcart seemed far more efficient and “user-friendly” than the old biblical way which instructed the priests to bear the weight of the ark upon their shoulders. The problem was that David’s innovative idea had nothing to do with God and ended with tragic results. Despite all of the emotional hype and rousing worship accompanying the event David’s innovative plan was a product of his own understanding rather than the clear teachings of God’s word.
On the bottom line, David thought that he had a better way of doing the work of God. Instead of simply following the word of God he leaned upon his own creativity and understanding. Not only did the entire episode reek of “David”, but one of the ark’s escorts was struck dead when he presumptuously put his hand on the ark to steady it. His actions also showed a flagrant disregard for God’s previous instructions. In effect, God’s punishment was a message to us all that He doesn’t need our helping hand or us tampering with His presence or His word to make things run more smoothly. Nor does He need the church borrowing from the wisdom and values of this world for the Spirit of God to move forward. He doesn’t need all of our great ideas, innovative oxcarts, presumptuous “know how”, church growth strategies, motivational hype, sensational movements self-appointed ark drivers or self-sufficiency.
This story serves as a timeless warning to the church of every age – especially the Laodicean church of today when so many innovative arks are being constructed in the name of God. It speaks to those who insist upon leaning to their own creativity and understanding rather than simply following God’s Word. It warns of God's displeasure with those who are driving the ark on their dynamic, self-made church carts, with their cutting-edge ideas, innovative strategies and ambitious “know how”. It speaks to those who have sought to improve upon the gospel to make it more appealing, tolerant and seeker sensitive.
When Jesus rebuked the last day church of Laodicea or claiming they were “rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing.” Nothing so characterizes the church of today as this: “they were full of themselves”. This is especially true of the NARites, Bethelites and self-appointed apostles and prophets who claim to have found a better way of doing Christianity and being on the cutting edge what God is doing in the earth today.
Jesus rebuked them by with the blunt assertion they were actually “wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.” He flat out told them to repent but repent of what? Was He demanding a kind of sweeping, all-inclusive repentance or was He talking about a huge list of sins and self-will which included self-sufficiency, pride, arrogance, smug superiority, self-rightness, self-serving ambitions, super-spirituality and the gross presumption that they had all the answers? I believe He was referring to the later.