I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.
“Look up – look out – look at the creation I have made and with that the one moment when I met with each person who I had created and will create. The moment on the cross when Jesus said, ‘It is finished’, ‘It is accomplished’, ‘It is done’! Consider all this and be amazed this morning at My mighty works and especially this magnificent act of salvation. It was not done in the abstract, it was done with each person who has ever lived in mind – it was done with you in mind. Stand amazed and in wonder at My Presence. Soak in it and enjoy every moment of it.”
We come now to 1 Samuel ch 6. The Philistines who had been so happy at capturing the ark because they thought it contained Israel’s God, are now desperate to get rid of it. They have also developed a holy respect for the Israelites after their experience with the ark, so they are too scared to just take it back. They should make some sort of sacrifice or offering to make up for stealing the ark, so they come up with this idea of making golden rats and tumours.
By the way the prominence of the rats and tumours confirms that it was bubonic plague which had affected the Philistines- this has no significance in the unfolding story but is only of interest. Bubonic plague is transmitted by fleas, carried by rats and the most prominent symptom is the appearance of tumours or “buboes” in the groin.
The amount of gold that was sent back with the ark reminds us of the way the Israelites plundered the Egyptians when they left Egypt, taking much silver and gold with them cf Exodus 1:35,36. God was once again demonstrating His favour towards His people.
The detail in the story of the return of the ark once again shows us how real this was, not a made up story written years later and serves to remind us of the reality of the whole of God’s word.
The other point that comes to the fore is how slow the Israelites were to learn. Despite the demonstration by God of His holiness represented here by the sacredness of the ark, there are nevertheless some 70 men who would actually disregard this and go and peep into the ark to see what was inside. I stop and shake my head, how can people be so stiff-necked that they don’t learn, despite the demonstration before their eyes of the events that have been described before.
This brings me to consider one of the major lessons of this chapter. How easy it is to misread and misunderstand God and His holiness and awesome might if we are stiff-necked and hard of heart. We are reminded, lest we are in a hurry to point fingers, of Jesus’ frustration with His own disciples when they were so slow to learn and understand. Read Mark 8:17-21 for an example of this. Somehow it is so important to continually prepare your heart in your devotional time so that you remain teachable and ready to “listen to Jesus“.
So this interlude ends with the ark in the house of Abinadab with his son specially consecrated to guard over it. It is not the last that we will hear of the ark. But the message of God’s holiness which is demonstrated by His Presence, symbolized by this inanimate object should remain a lasting reminder to the Israelites and not less to us today. It should give us a new appreciation of what Jesus did on the cross so that we can have access to this awesome and mighty God through Him. Let us not ever lose our awe at the very thought of His holy Presence.
May God bless you till next week.