THE PRESENCE OF GOD

14 April 2013 |

THE PRESENCE OF GOD

1 Samuel 4

New Living Translation (NLT)

4 1 And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel.

The Philistines Capture the Ark

At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite
army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2
The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing
4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their
camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to
be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring
the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into
battle with us, it[a

] will save us from our enemies.”

4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the
Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim.
Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of
the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the
Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so
loud it made the ground shake!

6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the
shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was
because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods
have[b

] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have
never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us
from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed
the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight
as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the
Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and
fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated
again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that
day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents.11 The Ark of God
was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were
killed.

The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of the God of Israel;
the God you and I serve today. There were a few things that are
interesting to observe about the account of the Ark of the Covenant in
the battle against the Philistines

Firstly, the Israelites took the ‘presence of God’ with them after
they had lost a battle with the Philistines. They truly believed that
taking the ark of the covenant with them would guarantee them victory.
We see a few verses later, that it didn’t. There’s a principal here:
The presence of God is a holy privilege, not a good-luck charm.

Secondly, upon seeing the ark of the covenant enter the camp, the
Israelites rejoiced. The presence of God was cause for praise,
celebration and joy – not unlike what we will (or rather, should)
experience today in our church services.

Finally, the Philistines were fearful when they heard of the ark of
the covenant. Even people who were not for God knew of Him and feared
Him. Today, those who don’t know God do not fear Him – they either
doubt His existence, or mock him.

A CALL TO ACTION

Brennan Manning (who passed away this Friday) said: “The greatest
single cause of atheism
in the world today is Christians

who acknowledge Jesus
with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their
lifestyle,” Manning has said. “That is what an unbelieving world
simply finds unbelievable.”

I believe this quote assists us to understand what happened in the
battle. Christians celebrated the presence of God with their lips.
Christians treated God’s presence like a lucky charm. The difference
though, is that the enemy still feared God.

Our actions need to reinstill a sense of awe and fear of God – even
for the people who don’t know Him. Today, what you can do to help, is
start living like you believe God is Lord of all. Let your life
reflect your words.

**
A PRAYER TO PRAY

Lord please help me today to celebrate who You are, and to align my
life with the way I speak about you. Help me to act righteously and
show the people around me that You are my Lord, and Lord of all. Amen

**

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