Day 100

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1 Samuel 4:12-8:22

Scott Pennington, Small Group Facilitator

Summary:
Eli dies from a fall after being shocked by the Ark’s capture.
The captured Ark becomes an unwelcome guest of the Philistines.
The Philistines return the Ark.
Samuel defeats the Philistines in battle.
Israel requests a king despite Samuel’s warnings.

Why was the Ark so important to Israel?
The Ark was built according to instructions given in Exodus 25:10-22. In the Ark were the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 10:4-5). (These were in fact the second set of tablets, since Moses smashed the first set in anger when the Israelites had built the golden calf.) The Ark originally contained a jar of manna (Exodus 16:33-34), Aaron’s rod (Numbers 17:10 and the tablets (Hebrews 9:4), but by the time of King Solomon, the Ark contained only the two tablets (1 Kings 8:9).

In reading this passage, I was drawn to 1 Samuel 5:22. Eli’s daughter-in-law was pregnant. When she heard news of the Ark’s capture, the death of her husband during battle and Eli’s subsequent death, she went into labor. She did not survive, but as she was dying she said “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”

So, where did God actually reside? In the Ark? In the Tabernacle? Today, because of Jesus, we have a fuller picture of God. I think Israel did not realize that God was with them all of the time, whether the Ark was in their camp or not. Our narrow thinking today can often put God in a box. Jesus, God incarnate (God revealed in the flesh) does not want us to have a well-defined (and confined) religion, he wants us to have an evolving relationship with him. He does not want this relationship to be one of following rules, regulations, and even the Commandments, but one where he becomes a part of our daily lives. When we love Jesus, we will want to please him and do what is right. When trials come and we are tempted to cry out “The glory has departed from us,” we can have the assurance that God has not left us, but is always present with us.

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6 responses »

  1. Exodus 25:8 (NIV) “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

    Exodus 25:22 (NIV) There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

    Exodus 29:42-46 (NIV) “For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. “So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

    I’m so thankful that the veil was torn so that we may be in the presence of the Lord, fully cleansed by the final sacrifice by our Savior, Jesus Christ so that His Spirit can now dwell within us.

  2. Good observations, Scott. Thanks!

    I was attracted to the experience of the Philistines. They recognized that international warfare is in fact a battle between the gods of the nations involved, and so when they won the battle they logically concluded that their god (Dagon) was stronger than the Jewish god (Yahveh). They took the representation of Yahveh and put it on display in the house of Dagon as proof of Dagon’s superiority. God had to correct their wrong theology.

    The sad part is that although they eventually admited that Yahveh was indeed stronger than Dagon (and the rest of the Philistine gods), they didn’t turn to Him. Instead, they wanted to get rid of Him and the problems that He brought. Comfort, familiarity, and national pride were more desirable than submitting to the God of the universe. They chose to keep serving their weaker god. No wonder God had to eventually destroy them.

    Father, may I give up my little gods of pride and comfort, and serve You completely.

  3. God, I don’t want to confine You to the box of my limited understanding. I want to abandon myself to Your infinite possibilities. Help me to turn away from my gods of comfort and security to step out into Your vast and fruit-filled plan. I do not worship a lifeless statue on my shelf. I serve a living, life-giving God of the impossible who lives and dwells (does not commute) in me. Let Your glory fill this cracked pot to overflowing so that all may see and be drawn to You!

  4. I like your insights, Scott! Your question about where did God reside…in a box? in the Tabernacle?
    …sent me on a deeper search. I found some good information through the following link. Here’s a brief nugget:

    “The ark of the covenant was the place of presence. While the Lord was present among His people in the exodus, He localized this presence in the tabernacle for the benefit of His sinful people. The tabernacle was constructed so that the Lord would be among His people: “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Ex. 25:8). But in an even more specific way, the ark served as the place of the presence of God.”

    http://www.ligonier.org/blog/ark-covenant-and-gods-presence-us/

    • It seems to me that the place of the presence of God is always stated in the Bible as being the Mercy Seat… which happened to be sitting on the ark of the covenant. I can’t think of any reference where God says He was at or in or over the Ark of the Covenant: He always refers to the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat sat on top of, but was not part of the Ark (see Exodus 25). This makes it even less accurate to think of God being “in a box”. The closest, Scripturally accurate phrase would be that God was “over a box”.

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