For years I was troubled by God’s harsh judgment on a man who made a seemingly honest mistake. Uzzah had simply grabbed the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling off a cart (2 Sam. 6:6-7). For that, the Lord struck him dead.

But God had given explicit instructions about the sacred ark. Only the priests were to touch it (Num. 1:51,53; 4:15). Ignoring His commandments was not a minor matter.

Sobering scenes like this provide evidence of God’s holiness. They vividly show the aspect of His character that makes Him angry when He sees disobedience and sin.

Uzzah’s death was a dramatic reminder that those who transported the ark were guilty of flagrant irreverence. King David got the message. He made sure that God’s instructions were carefully followed when he moved the ark to Jerusalem.

Most of us today show little awareness of God’s majesty. We enter His presence in worship and prayer with far less reverence than we would if we were meeting the President.

True, our God of purity and holiness is gracious and merciful. But we must never forget that He is also “a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29). The more we fear His awesome power, the more we’ll appreciate His perfect love.