Archive for the ‘The Ark returned to Israel’ Category

Under Gods Command

The Ark Returned to Israel

1 Samuel 6:13-21  13Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 15The Levites took down the ark of the LORD, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the LORD. 16The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

    17These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the LORD—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

    19But 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. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them. 20And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

     21Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to your town.” 

Why were people killed for looking into the ark? The Israelites had made an idol of the ark. They had tried to harness God’s power, to use it for their own purposes (victory in battle). But the Lord of the universe cannot be controlled by humans. To protect the Israelites from his power, he had warned them not even to look at the sacred sanctuary objects in the Most Holy Place or they would die (Numbers 4:20). Only Levites were allowed to move the ark. Because of their disobedience, God carried out his promised judgment.

God could not allow the people to think they could use his power for their own ends. He could not permit them to disregard his warnings and come into his presence lightly. He did not want the cycle of disrespect, disobedience, and defeat to start all over again. God did not kill the men of Beth Shemesh to be cruel. He killed them because overlooking their presumptuous sin would encourage the whole nation of Israel to ignore God.

Lets Bring it Home:  Does the cycle of disrespect, disobedience, and defeat keep starting over for us? Could this be due to disregarding the warnings signs that God gives us in the present?  Does God take people out due to knowing that their presumptuous sin would encourage other believers to go a different way?

Under Gods Command

The Ark Returned to Israel

1 Samuel 6:1-3  1When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”

     3They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.” 

What was this guilt offering supposed to accomplish? This was a normal reaction to trouble in the Canaanite religion. The Philistines thought their problems were the result of their gods being angry. They recognized their guilt in taking the ark and now were trying everything they could to appease Israel’s God. The diviners (6:2) probably helped choose the gift they thought would please Yahweh. But the offering consisted of images of tumors and rats, not the kind of guilt offering prescribed in God’s laws (Leviticus 5:14–6:7; 7:1-10). How easy it is to design our own methods of acknowledging God rather than serving him in the way he requires.

The Philistines had ample evidence that the God of Israel was greater than all gods. Their leaders gave him some token gifts, not out of worship, but in order to remove the plague.

Lets Bring it Home: God does not want tokens of our time and resources. He desires true heartfelt devotion. Our participation in worship services and our contributions please him only when they flow from a heart of love.