Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Of Burdens and Blessings

2 Chronicles 35:3 Then he (King Josiah) said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the Lord: "Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and His people Israel."

In the 18th year of his reign, King Josiah celebrated the most impressive passover feast Israel had ever seen. He instructed the Levites to place the Ark of the Covenant in the temple built by Solomon which was to be its permanent home.

In their wilderness wanderings, the Levites carried the Ark on two poles whenever the people moved their camp. Later after the Israelites occupied the promised land, the ark remained in the Tabernacle at Shiloh (with the exception of the time it was captured by the Philistines - and later brought back to Israel.)

Solomon built the first permanent Temple in Jerusalem to house the Ark, but during the ensuing years, Israel strayed from God and Judah had an on-again-off-again relationship with God. The temple was pillaged and lay in ill repair during the reign of the evil kings and was repaired again during the reign of the good ones.

Josiah was instrumental in calling the people back to God once more, repairing the temple and placing the Ark back in its place so it would no longer be a burden on the shoulders of the Levites.

That phrase struck me because the Israelites were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 additional years because of disbelief. Then during the reign of the evil kings the Levites were once again forced to bear the burden of the Ark to keep it safe. As long as God's people were serving Him, His presence with them was not a burden! It was only when they were disobedient and willful, that His presence became a burden to them.

How many times do we become lax in our Christian lives and begin to feel pressured by the should's and ought-to's of our faith. The rules become burdensome and we chafe under the everyday mundaneness of our lives.

But when we come into His presence and begin to know Him in intimate relationship, our faith is no longer a "burden" to us, but rather a wonderful blessing.

Lord, help me dwell in your presence always and to have a deep and abiding RELATIONSHIP with You!

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