God’s Power and Presence (1Samuel 4-7)

AUDIO:

MOTIVATE

–        Father’s Day: 1) Every man should have a Reeses bc of the union of pb & chocolate is heavenly…, which leads to remind us that 2) Every man should remember to be united to his family… wife, children, family, friends, church

–        My questions as a child to my father…

o   When can we go play catch? When’s my next baseball game? Can I go to work with you? What’s for dinner?

o   What is God like… what does He do each day, what does He like/dislike… what does He expect of us as people of His creation?

–        1Samuel 4-7 teaches us about God’s person and nature.

o   We are prone to domesticate God. People treat God as fully gentle and tame, unchallenging and undemanding, a soft grandfather or maybe even a senile sucker, easily manipulated and mocked.

o   We are prone to doubt God. People treat God not as a priority but as a possibility or a personal preference. When we doubt God, then He becomes one of multiple options or alternatives. Faith becomes something we can accept on our own rather than being humbled to surrender to the Almighty God and Holy Lord of the Universe.

o   We are prone to dismiss God. People have a lofty view of self and society. Life realities are explained by science and technology so there’s no room for discussion of the divine. Yet, even when we dismiss God we realize all our explanations still have a feeling of emptiness for not dealing with mystery and majesty of divine sovereignty.

In today’s message I hope to encourage us to acknowledge God’s presence and power in 3 realities.

EXAMINE           1Samuel 4-7 God’s Presence And Power1Samuel logo

God’s presence can defeat us if we view him in a perfunctory manner (1Sam 4:1-22)

The previous chapters introduced the call of young Samuel. Israel was in spiritual despair with its priests as being cruel and corrupt leaders. Yet, in God’s grace a young man is established to transform a nation. God’s word came to Samuel that Israel may have renewed life and legacy.

1Samuel 4 opens with a battle between Israel and the Philistines. The Philistines were the repeated rival of Israel (like the Redskins & Cowboys / Ravens & Steelers). The Philistines[1] were a highly organized nation with an extensive army equipped with sea and land forces, horses, chariots, food soldiers (1Sam 13:5); archers (1Sam 31:3); experts in metal processing for weapons and armor with bronze helmets, coats of mail, leg protectors, spears, and shields (1Sam 17:5-7). Three Philistine gods are mentioned in the OT: Dagon, Ashtoreth, and Baalzebub; each with pervasive cultic rituals for protection, prosperity & fertility, and prominence.

Israel’s battle against the Philistines ends with a dreadful defeat. 4K men are killed and their troops are desolated asking, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines (1Sam 4:3 / “defeat” 4:2, 3, 10, 17)?” Israel thinks their loss is due to them not having the ark of the covenant – a physical symbol of God’s presence among the people. 1Samuel 4:4 notes that the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were with the ark, indicating the perfunctory manner of worshipping God during this time, since they were immoral and idolatrous priests.

Israel gave a mighty shout at seeing the ark move from Shiloh to Ebenezer for their fight against the Philistines. The shout of worship made an impression on many of the Philistines but not enough to deter them (4:9). The Philistines slaughtered 30K Israelites and captured the ark of God… by the way, Hophni and Phinehas died in battle (4:10-11).

Old, blind and fat Eli (sitting & waiting but never leading & acting) receives the news of Israel’s defeat and the death of his sons and he falls off his chair backwards and breaks his neck dead. Likewise, the wife of Phinehas gives birth to a son but she dies and the name of the son is “Ichabod,” which means “Where is glory” or “Nothing of glory”. [2]

◊      A group or nation can suffer because of the sins of a few, especially when it involves the sins of a leader. 

◊      God does not exist for us but we exist for God. The ark of God’s presence is not some rabbit foot religion that we use for rewarding us with blessings and removing our burdens. We can feel defeated when we think that life is all about our own good and not realizing our purpose is God’s glory. When we begin to grasp a vision living for God’s glory then even our defeats have new meaning to listen and learn for God’s ways to grow us.

–        Kabod = glory, significance, weight/heaviness

o   1Sam 4:18 Eli was kabod (heavy)… His glory was in himself and he became bloated

o   1Sam 4:21-22 the glory of God departed

◊      God’s glory is removed when God’s people worship in routine, perfunctory practices.

è Are you going through the motions or is your relationship with God have vitality with fresh encouragement and daily challenges to walk by faith?

  • Do you have a plan for your Bible reading or do you wander through pages?
  • Do you attend a Bible Group with eagerness to grow in friendships and faith?
  • Do you come to church always seeking to be served and consume rather than discerning ways you can serve and contribute to the whole of the church?
  • Do you walk into or away from the worship service with a sense of awe of God; a sense of surprise for what you hear and know about faith; and a sense of equipping and exhorting to employ your faith Monday-Friday?


God’s presence can destroy us if we view him in a pluralistic manner (1Sam 5:1 – 6:21).

1Samuel 5:1-11

The ark of God was captured by the Philistines and brought to their home in Ashdod to set it beside their god Dagon. The ark had become a trophy or spoil from their war with Israel.

It was a tremendous catch.

–        In HS football before playing our rival we’d go paint their school rock or field our school colors, or they would do ours… some teams capture the mascot… imagine this times a trillion.

Dagon was a common idol of the day as the father of Baal. The idol was commonly represented as a mer-man creature (fish and man).

As the ark was placed beside Dagon, it was as if the Lord had become a prisoner of the Philistines. Yet, God has no comparison or competition. Dagon will fall down in a posture of submissiveness, bowing before the Lord. The people have to lift up and save their God, rather than God lifting up the people. The next day Dagon will be drop again and this time be decapitated & dismembered. This nation’s practices would be demoralized (5:5).

◊      God is no trophy deity among many others, but is topmost on the throne as God of all gods, king of kings, and Lord of Lords.. God does not need our protection but we need His. God never needs carried or lifted up, He does the carrying and deliverance.

Psalm 16:4 “The sorrows of those who rune after another god shall multiply”

Psalm 18:31 “For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”

Psalm 86:8 “There is none like you among the gods; O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.”

Psalm 95:3-4 “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.”

Psalm 96:5 “For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.”

Psalm 97:9/135:5 “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.”

◊      To raise hands or head against God is to lose your own! The Philistines thought the Ark had fallen into their hands but indeed they had fallen into the Lord’s hands.

–        Affliction with plague of tumors (1Sam 5:6)

–        Affliction with panic (1Sam 5:9)

–        Affliction with peril/death (1Sam 5:11; 6:19)

è Plague, panic, and peril occurs upon each nation and person who views Him in a perfunctory or pluralistic manner.

Today:
o   Plagues of diseases, disasters, drought,
o   Panic of economic deficits, relational difficulties, spiritual downfall
o   Peril and death

1Samuel 6:10-21 The Philistines experienced plague, panic, and peril from their capturing the ark of the Lord. They viewed God in both a perfunctory and pluralistic way that they were suffering the consequences. They realized they could not sustain the consequences and so they returned the ark to Israel.

1 Samuel 6-13.pngUpon seeing the ark carted in with two milk cows the Levites of the town rejoiced and offered God a sacrifice (6:14). Yet, because their sacrifice was not in accordance with Levitical law with only male animals to be used for burnt offerings (Leviticus 1:3), and because they looked into the ark contrasting the fact that this was forbidden (Numbers 4:5-15), 70 men also died (6:19).

◊      God can not only take care of our enemies, but He can also take care of us – with discipline & punishment.

è Are you more alarmed about the actions of the world rather than those inside the church?

è Are you more disturbed about the sins of others than of your own?

è If we do not destroy our idols they will destroy us God will not tolerate 2nd place in our life. 

 

God’s presence can deliver us if we view him in a prized manner (1Sam 7:1-17)

The ark of God is returned in its rightful spot with Israel. A long time passes and “Israel is lamenting/mourning after the Lord” (7:2). Israel hits spiritual rock bottom.

–        Before God blesses He requires brokenness.

–        Rock bottom is not just a place of brokenness, but a place to build your life because God is the rock at the bottom. 

–        Remember this entire battle for Israel started with Samuel receiving God’s word (4:1). Here is a reminder that we can warn others but often is the case that we cannot stop others from hitting rock bottom. Samuel could not enable Israel but simply allowed God to work with where they were. Likewise, if we enable people to not experience the consequences of poor choices or wandering from God, then we are keeping them from eventually experiencing the very thing that will be their deliverance and salvation.

Samuel preaches to the house of Israel to return to the Lord with all their heart, which requires a two-fold act:

1)    Put away the foreign gods

o   Repentance. We cannot relate to God without repentance. Repentance isn’t just turning away but is also turning toward God and trusting Him.

2)    Direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only.

Samuel prayed for the Israelites and when the Philistines attacked them the Lord protected His people and punished the Philistines. Samuel took a stone and called its name “Ebenezer” [Stone of Help] – “Till now the Lord has helped us” (7:12).

Our help is the Lord. Jesus is our Ebenezer-Helper…

APPLY/THINK

Concluding application for Believers

–        God cannot be manipulated. We cannot control God in a box. We cannot expect God’s blessings because we are near His ark or church building.

–>  If Jesus doesn’t have our heart, then anything less will not suffice.

Put away idols

Put on worship of God alone.

 

Concluding application for Unbelievers

–        God cannot be mocked. God always has the last word. We can put God on the shelf with all other idols thinking they are the same but only what is done for Christ will last. “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” Isaiah 40:6

 

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[1] Some info taken from Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

[2] Bergen, R. D. (1996). 1, 2 Samuel (Vol. 7, p. 94). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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