We've gone to a new church for the past two weekends. We are really liking it. A lot. The pastor had coffee with Ben this afternoon. I'm so grateful for people in our lives that will reach out to us like that. I'm going to their Women's Bible Study tonight on Proverbs 31. I'm really excited to be in a ladies small group again.
The two sermons that we've heard at this church were on 1 Samuel. Two weeks ago, Pastor Mike talked about 1 Samuel 3 and how Eli was asleep in the dark while Samuel had positioned himself by the light. Samuel was called to serve God, and Eli's end - and ultimate seperation from God - was foretold. This past weekend our pastor discussed 1 Samuel 4, where the Israelites were in a battle with the Philistines, and they brought the Ark of the Covenant into the battle thinking that they could use it as a good luck charm to win the battle. They remembered how God had told Joshua to carry it around Jericho right before Jericho fell.
They had missed the point. They weren't relying on God. They were treating the Ark as a trinket to be manipulated and used against their enemies.
I'm no better. I will neglect God, and then read my Bible for an hour, expecting Him to show up and solve all my problems when (and only when) my own means don't do anything. As if reading the Bible summons The Great Almighty. As if reading my Bible tricks God into thinking I have done my part to build a relationship with Him, and now He needs to get on the ball and make some of those promises come true. It's all so very disrespectful. As Pastor Mike said, "That’s not faith. That’s manipulation at its worst, and superstition at its best. "
God let the Ark get captured by the Philistines. He allowed many thousands of Israelites to lose their lives. Because "God wasn't going to let them profane His worship any longer."
One of the best parts of the sermon was when Pastor Mike said this:
In his fabulous little commentary on 1 Samuel, Dale Ralph Davis writes this, which in my opinion, sheds a lot of light on these questions: “The text forces two important implications upon us: Yahweh will suffer shame rather than allow you to carry on a false relationship with him; and Yahweh will allow you to be disappointed with him if it will awaken you to the sort of God he really is,” (1 Samuel, 55).
See, the people thought that they couldn’t lose the battle with the ark in their camp. They had begun to place their hope in an object instead of in God. Even more, they had begun to see God as an object to be used instead of the Lord who needs to be worshiped.
And God was not willing to allow them to stay in that place.
You see, God will allow us to misunderstand His intentions and be disappointed in Him for a time, in order to bring us into correct relationship with Himself."
If you'd like to hear more, you can go here to hear the whole sermon.