Message: In 1 Samuel 4 God allowed the Philistines to defeat Israel. After the defeat they brought the ark of the covenant with them expecting that bringing the presence of God with them would bless them and ensure a victory. Not only were they defeated even worse, but the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant and took it with them. Eli’s 2 evil sons were killed in that defeat together as God said they would. When Eli received the news he fell backward out of his chair and broke his neck, and the wife of one of the sons gave birth prematurely and died in labor.
As I read this I thought about all of the times we have attempted to live with some sort of disobedience in our lives. God warns us to get rid of it like he did Eli, but we don’t. Life starts to defeat us due to our disobedience so instead of fixing the sin issue, we worship and get in God’s presence expecting him to turn it around for us. But He doesn’t move in our worship without our surrender and obedience. In fact, we can’t even authentically worship God without our surrender because worship IS surrender!
I find it interesting that Israel treated the ark like a good luck charm. They thought it would bring them good, but their destruction was even worse because there was still disobedience among them. In fact, the priest was allowing the disobedience to continue right in the house of God and it affected all of Israel. When the Philistines saw the ark they took it and tried to treat it like one of their other idols. They placed it next to their idol Dagon and found Dagon knocked over the first morning and broken the next. Everywhere that ark went it brought destruction because the presence of God is not a good luck charm. His presence will not bless or prosper sin. It’s a pure and holy consuming fire that burns up and destroys anything that is unholy. When we come into the presence of God we should come with a sacrifice and expect that sin and unholiness will be destroyed in His presence. If we are not willing to sacrifice our sin, we will find ourselves destroyed along with it. My challenge today is to ask God what sin issue or matter of the heart that I’m still trying to hang onto and protect, and how has my lack of obedience been causing destruction in the presence of God?