Vol 2 - No 38, August 20, 2007
Samuel - Part 4: Jehovah's Holiness
In our last study the Glory departed Israel when the Philistines captured the ark of God. Thirty thousand Israeli soldiers were killed in a battle with the Philistines at Ebenezer, Israel's judge and high priest Eli and his two wicked sons died. Israel remained under Philistine subjection - 1 Samuel 4:10 - 2210 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.
12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out.
14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli.
15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see.
16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her.
20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
. Since God's law was revealed through Moses the manifestation of His presence on earth had been in the ark housed in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle. It was the focal point of the Nation of Israel, and should have been for all mankind. Among other things it demonstrated the Holiness of God. No one could enter the Holy of Holies except Israel's High Priest and he but once a year to bring the blood of a sacrifice offered for his sins and those of the people - Hebrews 9:77 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
. Now the ark was in the hands of a pagan people, - but God is not to be trifled with.
The Philistines first took the ark to the city of Ashdod and placed it before their idol Dagon as if it was subordinate to it - 1 Samuel 5:1 & 21 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
. (According to Bible Commentator Gill the god Dagon, later called Marnas, was the Philistine's chief god. Bible Commentator George Williams indicates this idol was supposed to represent Noah being shaped like a man on top and a fish on the bottom. It was the Philistine temple of Dagon in Gaza that Samson brought down at the end of his life.) When the Philistines went to Dagon's temple early the next morning they found the idol had fallen on its face and lay prostrate before God's ark as if subject to the ark, so they set it up again - 1 Samuel 5:33 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
. The next morning they found Dagon fallen again, this time it had landed on the threshold of the temple, which broke off its head and hands (symbolic of the lack of a brain for wisdom, or power, hands, to carry out anything.) - 1 Samuel 5:44 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
We have observed in these studies to date that God usually worked through men or women to carry out His will. To name but a few we recall Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Deborah, Gideon and Samson. The power to accomplish the mission was always of God but He used these men/ woman who by faith acted as His instruments to carry out His will. However, in this instance the sin of God's people had led to the ungodly, idolatrous Philistines being in possession of the manifestation of His presence and holy law, the Ark of the Covenant. Here, God acted unilaterally and decisively, outside the instrumentality of any man or woman, to protect His sanctity. First He gave the Philistines plenty of warning by causing their idol to fall on its face. When they didn't get the message He caused it to fall and break the head and hands off. But they being blinded by sin still didn't get the message so God struck many in Ashdod and the surrounding area dead and those who survived were hit where it really hurts. They were afflicted terribly with what the King James Version describes as "emerods," which according to the Bible Commentator Gill and others were actually hemorrhoids, piles or large bloody tumors - 1 Samuel 5:66 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
This got their attention and they recognized God's manifest power but instead of turning to Him they did what lost mankind always does when faced with God's truth, they moved the ark out, in this case to the city of Gath - 1 Samuel 5:7 & 87 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
. God did to those in Gath what had been done in Ashdod but they just shuffled it off to another Philistine town, Ekron where the same fate befell them. The Ekronites who survived death, but suffering from piles finally called for the Philistine leaders to return the ark to where it belonged - 1 Samuel 5:9 - 129 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
. The ark had been in the hands of the Philistines for seven (7) months when their idolatrous priests advised they should create five (5) representations of the hemorrhoids they suffered and a number of mice, all out of gold and place these objects in a container next to the ark on a cart. They took two cows that had never worn a yoke and hooked them up to pull the cart. These cows had calves which were left in their enclosures when the cows were turned loose, free to go where they wished. It would have been natural and expected for the cows to return to their calves. However, while lowing longingly at the absence of their calves they nevertheless proceeded on a straight course, without turning to the right or the left, to the town of Bethshemite in Israel - 1 Samuel 6:1 - 121 And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
8 And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.
10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
11 And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.
. The Philistines watched, and it was obvious to them that God's hand was in this.
At Bethshemite Levite priests took the ark and the gold hemorrhoids and mice off the cart, which the Israelites cut in pieces and used for a fire upon which the two cows were burnt as an offering to God - 1 Samuel 6:13 - 1813 And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.
14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD.
15 And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD.
16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.
17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;
18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
. However, the Bethshelites themselves made a grave mistake when they looked inside the ark, probably to see if the Philistines had placed anything therein. The Lord killed a great many of them for doing so and they who were left sent word to those at Kirjathjearim who came and took the ark there, where it resided for the next 20 years - 1 Samuel 6:19 - 7:2.
From all this we get a glimpse of God's glory and holiness; His separation from sin, 1 Samuel 4:21 & 2221 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.
, but what does this have to do with we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ today? Since 70 AD when the Romans tore down Israel's Temple in Jerusalem, sent the Jews into dispersion and God temporarily set them aside as His instrument on earth, Romans 9, 10 & 11, people have attempted to duplicate God's presence in Israel by building magnificent and ornate cathedrals/ churches/ temples; claiming residency of the Lord therein. But contrary to this we know from His Word that He does not manifest His glory nor does He reside in any particular building as in Israel's time in the Tabernacle/ Temple. For, since Israel was temporarily set aside as God's Nation He has dwelt in the hearts of His people, as revealed through the Apostle Paul: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" - 1 Corinthians 3:1616 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
. Whereas God's law (His Word) was kept in the ark at one time the Word of God now resides in those who believe in Him: "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." - 2 Corinthians 3:33 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
However, in spite of the presence of God in each individual believer today, each is still plagued by the old sinful nature, just as the Philistines shared the land of Canaan with Israel and were a plague to them, Romans 6:1919 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
; 7:18, 25; 8:1 - 13. This causes a constant battle within believers today and we are therefore instructed through Paul: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law." Galatians 5:16 - 1816 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
. God would have His dwelling today Holy and separated from sin, just as the Tabernacle/ Temple in Israel was supposed to be, so Paul informs us that: "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are" - 1 Corinthians 3:1717 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
. See also Romans 5:55 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
; Galatians 4:66 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
; Ephesians 3:1717 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
; Philippians 4:77 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
; Colossians 3:15 & 1615 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
God's Law to Israel, and the Tabernacle/ Temple are object lessons to teach us just how much we have been blessed by the finished work of Jesus Christ, along with our magnificent responsibilities, all of which we have by faith: "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." - Galatians 3:24 - 2624 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.