1 Samuel 6:19 (NKJV)
“Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter.”
God cannot change His character or personality for anyone. His identity is tied to His nature, and His standards, precepts, and expectations are tied to His character. To imagine that we can change God’s standards based on emotional feelings or any other criteria is a fallacy. God’s love does not and cannot negate God’s nature and God’s character. And one integral nature of God is His holiness. His eyes are too holy to behold anything that corrupts, and that is who He is. This cannot change. His love does not and cannot change His holy standards because if it did, it would poison the purity of God’s personhood. As we relate with God and rejoice in God, let’s never think we can change Him. He does not change and cannot change.
In the story we are studying, God had forced the Philistines to return the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel, and they did, sending it to Beth Shemesh on a cart. When the people of Beth Shemesh lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they “rejoiced to see it” – verse 13. The Levites took down the ark, and the people offered burnt offerings to the Lord. It was a great day of celebration and worship. The symbol of God’s presence had returned to Israel, but alas, God struck them and slew many of them that day. Why? “Because they had looked into the Ark of the Lord” – verse 19. This is a sad story, but it re-emphasizes the principle under discussion. God cannot change Himself for anybody. God’s holiness is not negotiable, and His precepts are tied to His nature. To look into the Ark of God was, symbolically, to look into the face of God, and no man can look into God’s face and live. They knew this. Yet, in their rejoicing and celebration, they assumed it did not matter. It did, and God took note.
Let’s take note that we live within the framework of God’s holiness. God demands that His people stay within this understanding as they worship and serve Him. May we never assume that God will overlook His holiness simply because we are His children and we are ministering in His name. Who He is, does not change, and His precepts and expectations likewise cannot change.