Chapter 4 – Just to give you an idea of our history line so far
The Exodus from Egypt was around 1440 BC
Joshua took them into the Promise Land 1400 BC
Judges were Raised up 1375 BC
Samuel was born 1105 BC
Tomorrow Saul will become King in 1050 BC
The Next major Historical Event will be the Nation Dividing and that will be 930 BC.
But we have a lot to fit in those years between!
The people TRULY had forgotten the major thing God wanted them to remember. Yes, God gave HIS people laws to live by to HELP them live a life separate from all the nations that surrounded them. He wanted them to love HIM with all their hearts and follow HIM. Now… NOT EVEN ELI’s (the High Priest) sons who were serving as priests remembered that they were NOT supposed to remove the Ark of the Covenant from the Most Holy Place. They didn’t remember NO one was supposed to be able to look at it or touch it except the High Priest and he could only enter the Most Holy Place ONCE a YEAR!!
So WHAT do these two guys do?? Well… sure we lost the battle… so let’s just take it into the next battle with us… yep.. that will do it… take this HOLY thing out of its Holy Place (at which point it just becomes wood and gold to be worshiped as an idol) … and then we will win the battle!!! Soooo.. how did that work for them???
A prophecy statement made back in chapter 2 was fulfilled:
‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day. I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.”
Can you imagine the NOISE that was made when the Ark of the LORD entered the Philistine camp??? Even the Philistines noticed it and were troubled.
Poor Eli, he is 98 years old, served the Lord all his life, only warned his sons about their behavior and did not intervene or discipline them. Now he hears about the ark and his sons….. he fell backward, off his chair, broke his neck and died. THEN his daughter in law goes into early labor because of her husband’s actions… Ichabod (means “no glory”)… there is a name you don’t hear everyday!!
Chapter 5 –Do you remember back at the end of Judges 16 when they talked about their god ‘Dagon’, at the death of Samson, and I mentioned this was a name we would see again? Well… here it is!! Dagon was the chief god for the Philistines. See, not believing in just one God is a HUGE deal because it takes the control and power back into OUR hands. We can make and choose a god if the one we are worshipping isn’t working to our benefit.
I know we are reading the Bible but this little scenario between the Philistines was like watching a Three Stooges Movie in my head!! “NOOOOO… we don’t want it … we’re all getting sick… send it to the next capital.” “NO ….YOU take it… NO…You take it!!” Scripture tells us that “the Lord’s hand was heavy on the people..” in whatever city the Ark was moved!! These Philistines realized that God was powerful and their god Dagon was NO match for THE ONE TRUE GOD!! When we are down how we look up to Him, but when life is going “smooth” God is so easy to forget!!
Chapter 6— The Philistines even consulted their priests and diviners as to what to do with the ARK. They determine the best thing to do is send it back to the Israelites. BUT HOW would they send it back, none of them wanted anything to do with it??? So they “tested” the strength of our God by harnessing up a new mommy cow. Any of you a mom? Nothing separates us from our new babies. Our instincts are strong. YET God “passed” their test by not allowing himself to be tested, BUT to SHOW He is God. Did you notice that the Philistines send back IDOLS with the Ark??… Five gold tumors and five gold rats!!! Where do the cows take the Ark….. to the field of Joshua!!! The Levites (they should have known the laws and rules about touching and or looking at the Ark.) God struck down 70 Israelites because they looked at the ARK… remember it was NEVER to leave the Holy of Holies (Most Holy Place) or be touched or looked upon by anyone but the Levite High Priest…ONCE a year!!!
Chapter 7–Samuel says something so important in this chapter and it touched my heart deeply.
“If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Isn’t that what God really wants from EACH of US?????…. To return to HIM with all our hearts, rid ourselves of all our idols, commit ourselves to HIM, and serve ONLY HIM. This is why Jesus Christ came for us. We have Jesus… they didn’t but the message is still the same.
Chapter 8 – BIG BIG BIG CHAPTER!! Israel ASKS for a King… so they could be like all the nations around them. They still did not understand that God was their KING!! Oh no. It wasn’t the asking of for a king that was wrong. God even said back in Deuteronomy I will GIVE you a king, it was the REASON THEY WANTED IT was wrong. Samuel gives them a warning, from God, of what would come if they truly had a king at this time. THEY STILL WANT A KING!!!
God has told HIS people OVER AND OVER again… you shall have no other gods before me and you shall make NO COUNTERFEIT gods. God is a jealous God…. He wants ALL of us. ALL of our hearts. HE WANTS A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH US… just as HE wanted with HIS people in the OT. My Pastor Dave did a marvelous sermon this weekend. One of his major points was that God wanted a relationship with the nation of Israel…..they were nobody…a bunch of servants YET..they TRUSTED the BLOOD OF AN INNOCENT LAMB, they covered their doorways with this INNOCENT BLOOD and they were saved in the first PASSOVER. THIS is the SAME thing HE has for us today… IF WE TRUST THE BLOOD OF THE INNOCENT LAMB THAT MADE THE FINAL SACRIFICE FOR US…. JESUS CHRIST…. Then we also are right with God. The wonderful thing with Jesus Christ is that he was the FINAL sacrifice so when we accept HIM … we have the promise of happiness in this life, the abundant life here, and eternal life with HIM.
So where is your faith… in the blood of the innocent lamb (GOD), or in counterfeit gods? Where do you turn when you are afraid? Where do you turn when your life is coming apart at the seams? Where do you turn for happiness (money, sex outside of the way God designed it, clothing, food, shopping, TV, music, drugs, alcohol, etc.)?? The things I have listed in and of themselves are not bad… it is how we use them, and what we turn to that can destroy us because we are not turning to God when we need comfort, saving, help, a deep loving relationship, etc. So again… I ask… what is your faith in? (Believe me… there is NO finger pointing here…. this is a question I have to ask myself daily and allow God to help me in the areas I am weak.)
What a great study today… to show us how very deeply God desires a close…forever relationship with us.
Sharing HIS love,