How vital it is to do things, spiritual things especially, “according to the word of the LORD”.

Until Solomon built the magnificent Temple, the centre of worship had been the Tabernacle. This contained the ark concealed in the Most Holy Place; the ark was God’s dwelling place on earth. The Tabernacle and its furniture had been built to God’s specific instructions, which included directions for the priests responsible for carrying the Ark from place to place (Numbers 4:15).

When King David captured Jerusalem, he built a special tent to house the Ark. We read yesterday (1 Chronicles 13) how the Priests failed to follow God’s instructions when bringing the ark into Jerusalem. The ark had been designed with slots for poles by which the Priests could carry it. Maybe these Priests thought they knew better because they loaded it on a cart instead. The oxen stumbled and a Priest had to grab the ark to prevent it falling. The result was that the priest, Uzzah, died. It was a heart searching lesson from God.

In today’s reading (chapter 15) everyone is now very careful to follow God’s rules for bringing the Ark to the place David had prepared (verse 1). And we read “the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD” (verse 15). The ark was brought into Jerusalem and there was much rejoicing, music, singing and dancing. When we obey God there is great joy. On this most special occasion, Jerusalem was starting to become ‘The Holy City’.

We are told there is joy in heaven (Luke 15:7) when a sinner repents which happens when one is baptized – that is, being immersed by going under the water as Jesus was (Mark 1:9,10). There must be sadness when this is not done in the way commanded, when people think that sprinkling is sufficient. To baptise means immersion, it is the plain meaning of the Greek word baptizo.

Let us serve God properly, following His instructions, learning from what happened with the Ark. Then, if we continue faithful to His word, appreciating His grace, we will have true joy and rejoicing when we come into God’s Holy City when Jesus returns.