"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Nobody Wants That
1 Samuel 4:5-11 KJV
5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the Lord was come into the camp.
7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.
8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
9 Be strong and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
This is a sad story, with a better ending. A story about God’s chosen people who turn their back on the Lord.
When Eli was getting older and Samuel was now grown, sin began to take hold in Israel and destroy the good within the land. God had warned Eli through Samuel that their day was coming when God would no longer defend them. The people had decided they didn’t want the presence, conviction, and standards of God anymore. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even need the Ark of the Covenant anymore.
Listen To This Poem Written By: Robert L. Hinshaw
It has stood for decades along the county gravel road.
Skittering mice and barn owls now call it their abode.
What was once a stately building is now a shambles,
Surrounded by barren fields and prickly brambles.
Where once its weather-boarding was a bright cherry-red,
Due to the ravages of time, they're now a silvered-gray instead.
Yet can be seen a faded Mail Pouch Tobacco sign on its weathered side,
And a rusty weather-vane twisting in the wind, though a bit cockeyed!
Seasons of howling gales have striven to raze its sturdy oaken beams,
But they've held the old barn together though straining at its seams.
Its cavernous lofts once abounded with fragrant alfalfa hay,
That provided children a playground on many a rainy day.
It sheltered horses, sheep and cattle on frigid winter nights,
And for lack of electricity, it was lit by flickering lantern lights.
It was built when neighbors helped neighbors who were skilled,
At wielding hammer and saw and cherished great pride in their guild.
Now those great days are far gone
Nobody wants that old barn around their home
Life will most likely never be the same again
One day we will wish we could get back to how things were back then.
Isn’t this a lot like how we treat the presence and our relationship with God? As a country and people, we have decided that sanctified, holy living for God is something of old. “We no longer need to live that way” they say. “That was for the old people and a different time!” But, are we really better off today economically or spiritually? These things are said and thought in the hearts of man until the time comes when you need his presence, protection, prayer, guidance, conviction, and anything else that is beneficial to man. We have driven God out of our homes, schools, and all facets of life. Just as the barn represents an old and phased out economy, now we wish we had both back. They both represent a better time and lifestyle.
The Israelites had forgotten about God and the need for His presence and holy living. They didn’t need that old stuff anymore. As a matter of fact, His presence convicted them and made them uncomfortable so they moved him out yonder somewhere.
This was until the Philistines had raised up an army and invaded the lands of the Israelites. It was then that they decided that somehow because God gave them this land and that they were His people that He would defend them against this enemy.
It turns out that the Philistines knew the God of the Israelites better than they knew their own God. They had remembered the plagues of the Egyptians, the crossing of the Red Sea, the capturing of the Promised Land. They remembered these events and remembered the God who made them possible. The Philistines believed more in the God of the Jews than the Jews themselves.
The Philistines were afraid, but that was not necessary because the presence of God was not with the Israelites any longer. Just like the Jews, if we do not change… one day God’s presence will not be with us any longer.
The enemy fought and captured the Ark. Eli and his sons now lay dead, their sin and corruption representative of what was happening in Israel as a whole. Complacency had set in the people and they allowed sin to begin to take hold, which led to idolatry and violations of God’s law. Nobody wanted that old relic, that old chest that was said to hold God’s power, that old Ark anymore. That was just an old piece of furniture/relic of a past time that collects dust. Nobody needs that old stuff anymore.
Once the Philistines got it, they soon learned that they did not really want it themselves. They took the Ark containing the old remnants of God’s blessings (really supposed to hold God’s presence) and placed it into a temple of their idol God. The next morning they go back to find their stone God down before the Ark as if it were worshipping the Lord.
Soon after, many people die due to the curse that God places on them for having possession of the Ark. It gets passed around until one day they decide they have had enough death and devastation and they send it back to the Israelites.
They send it back with two cows, but without any direction. The cows are guided all the way down the road to an Israelite area where they receive the Ark with joy and gladness. That old washed up relic, that old box collecting dust, that old Holy Ghost presence that they once disregarded was now back.
Unfortunately, there were very few in the land that was righteous or qualified to take care of the Ark of the Lord. No one wanted that old, doomed, cursed relic around to weigh them down.
To keep that Ark meant they had to be serious about God. They had to give up that unsanctified life. They had to give up sleeping with whoever they wanted, they had to give up going to the bar, talking with poison tipped lips, and start living according to God’s law.
It may have seemed like there was no hope or no man left who could handle God’s presence in the end, but then there was Eleazar.
Eleazar said, daddy I will take it.
I will live how God wants me to live, I will do what God would have me to do, and I will say what God would have me to say. I will live a holy and sanctified life. All these things I will do to keep the presence of the Lord safe.
I must ask you today, are you keeping the presence of the Lord safe in your heart? Is your life and heart clean enough for God to stay with you or is his presence like that old barn, that old relic the Ark… collecting dust and being a hindrance to your lifestyle and desires of the world.
Maybe you been faithful just about all the days of your life and you are more like Samuel. I want to congratulate you because that is an achievement, however are you doing what is necessary to maintain that relationship over time or are you becoming complacent as the Israelites did with Eli?
We have to maintain our salvation as the Scripture tells us:
Philippians 2:12 (KJV)
12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
So I must ask, are you ready to meet the Lord? If today were your last, are you prepared or have you set that old barn/ark/relic/past-time aside?
The Word of God is clear that we must be willing to do what it takes in order for the presence of God to dwell with us once more. Are we willing to do what it takes?