There is a scene [SPOILERS] at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the lost Ark of the Covenant is opened. Everyone who looks into it dies in – if I remember correctly – a fairly grotesque manner. Only Indiana Jones has the sense to warn his companion to close their eyes, they both look away and are saved.
A fictional story based on history. As I’ve been reading the first book of Samuel recently, I came across this passage again:
“But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord.” from 1 Samuel 6 NIV
I can imagine many people today reading this for the first time and questioning how a loving God could slaughter seventy “innocent” people, just for looking in a box…
Well, what if the box contained plutonium? What if every person who even touched that radioactive substance contracted cancer and died? Whose fault would it be that those people died? The people who disobeyed a simple command to keep clear of the box, or the God who lovingly warned them to stay away?
Every person in Israel knew what the Ark was – the very throne of God on Earth. They knew they were to stay away, that the punishment for touching the Ark was death, that only the priests had permission to approach the Ark and even they were to be very careful when they did so. There’s a useful summary of the laws surrounding the Ark on Rational Christianity
It seems clear to me that God has given us certain commands for our own protection, but hasn’t always given us reasons why those commands exist. The God who created the universe and designed every living creature on our planet has to be more intelligent and have far more knowledge than we are yet able to comprehend. Quite often, even the most intelligent among us are nothing more than simple infants who have been told: don’t play with fire. We can either choose to be obedient to this command, or we can face the consequences of disobedience.
Yet I don’t think simple obedience is enough when dealing with God. Our curiosity, our doubts, our questions may get the better of us if all we rely on is obedience. I also think we need to develop reverence. The root of reverence appears to be “stand in awe of”
You were created by God. Every cell in your body was designed by him. You are a miracle of creation. One day you will stand before God and will be judged for your actions on this Earth. If you have followed his commands, if you have shown love to the poor and helpless, if you are sealed with God’s Holy Spirit, you will be welcomed into a second life on a renewed Earth where “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain”. Or you will be cast outside into darkness…
Your creator has the power to offer you life or death. I think he deserves our respect, our obedience, our reverence.