THE BOOKS OF SAMUEL | Week Four

Lucky Charms

1 Samuel 4: 1 - And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel.  At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.” 4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! 6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods have come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!” 10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed. 12 A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battlefield and arrived at Shiloh later that same day. He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head to show his grief. 13 Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. When the messenger arrived and told what had happened, an outcry resounded throughout the town. 14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked. The messenger rushed over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and blind. 16 He said to Eli, “I have just come from the battlefield—I was there this very day.”  “What happened, my son?” Eli demanded. 17 “Israel has been defeated by the Philistines,” the messenger replied. “The people have been slaughtered, and your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also killed. And the Ark of God has been captured.” 18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight. He had been Israel’s judge for forty years. 19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near her time of delivery. When she heard that the Ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth. 20 She died in childbirth, but before she passed away the midwives tried to encourage her. “Don’t be afraid,” they said. “You have a baby boy!” But she did not answer or pay attention to them.  21 She named the child Ichabod (which means “Where is the glory?”), for she said, “Israel’s glory is gone.” She named him this because the Ark of God had been captured and because her father-in-law and husband were dead. 22 Then she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.”
1 Samuel 5:1 -12 - After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4 But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 6 Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors. 7 When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.” The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic. 10 So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!” 11 The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town. 12 Those who didn’t die were afflicted with tumors; and the cry from the town rose to heaven.
1 Samuel 6:1-5 - The Ark of the Lord remained in Philistine territory seven months in all. 2 Then the Philistines called in their priests and diviners and asked them, “What should we do about the Ark of the Lord? Tell us how to return it to its own country.” 3 “Send the Ark of the God of Israel back with a gift,” they were told. “Send a guilt offering so the plague will stop. Then, if you are healed, you will know it was his hand that caused the plague.” 4 “What sort of guilt offering should we send?” they asked. And they were told, “Since the plague has struck both you and your five rulers, make five gold tumors and five gold rats, just like those that have ravaged your land. 5 Make these things to show honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps then he will stop afflicting you, your gods, and your land. 6 Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go.
 1 Samuel 6:11-12 - Then the Ark of the Lord and the chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors were placed on the cart. 12 And sure enough, without veering off in other directions, the cows went straight along the road toward Beth-shemesh, lowing as they went. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.
1 Samuel 6:19-21 - But the Lord killed seventy men from Beth-shemesh because they looked into the Ark of the Lord. And the people mourned greatly because of what the Lord had done. 20 “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” they cried out. “Where can we send the Ark from here?” 21 So they sent messengers to the people at Kiriath-jearim and told them, “The Philistines have returned the Ark of the Lord. Come here and get it!”

I. Lucky Charms

A. Are you a sold out believing Christian or are you religiously superstitious?

  • One should never misinterpret God’s willingness to contextualize his self-revelation, as he did when he gave Israel the Ark, to mean that God is finite.
  • While God may reveal himself in anthropomorphic ways and even temporarily impose limitations on himself to accommodate human freedom and to facilitate divine-human relationships, he remains the infinite God who may be challenged but never defeated.

B. I am not confined. My mission is beyond your reality

  • God was about his business through this whole tale. No one but God got it.
  • Your reality is God says it is.

C. The Philistines feared Israel’s God more than Israel did.

  • Implicit in their words is the belief that Israel’s gods are superior.
  • God viewed the whole fiasco as disrespect.
  • I will not share my glory

D. I AM

  • I am not found in something. I Am.
  • Israel apparently view the ark as a palladium or relic that can be used to compel God to intervene on their behalf.
  • When the Lord gave Israel the ark, he was contextualizing his self-revelation to Israel’s cultural expectations. The nations worshiped images of their gods. The Lord prohibited idolatry in Israel, but he did give Israel a tangible reminder of his royal presence. Unfortunately, Israel, perhaps due to the religious environment of its world, had a propensity toward idolatry and a tendency to treat symbols as objects of worship.
  • The Lord cannot be manipulated or coerced into intervening for his people, and we should not view the Lord as being like a rabbit’s foot or four-leaf clover.

E. Key is Obedience

  • God is not a good-luck charm and should never be treated as such. Obedience is the key to experiencing God’s favor, as the ancient covenant list of blessings and curses makes clear (Deut. 28) and as Jesus teaches his disciples (John 15: 1– 17).
Matthew 6: 7 - “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

I am not a lucky charm. God says, “I want obedience more than sacrifices.” Obedience proves your love for me and your respect for who I am. “If you love me keep my commandments…

II. We worship like others.

A. god’s had power…

  • The Old Testament does not deny the existence of the pagan gods and promote monotheism in a modern, Western philosophical sense.
Ephesians 6:12 - For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
  • If Yahweh does not share power, authority, or jurisdiction with them, they are not gods in any meaningful sense of the word.
  • The first commandment does not insist that the other gods are non-existent, but that they are powerless; it disenfranchises them. It does not simply say that they should not be worshiped; it leaves them with no status worthy of worship.

B. Cultural expectations

  • We need to be careful that we don’t let cultural expectations influence our behavior when it comes to worship.
  • The Israelites started treating God the way other people groups treated their god’s.

C. Be careful what we do… But also be careful what we think.

"We dare not leave things we value most to vagaries of whim. The choice, therefore, is not between structured or unstructured worship, but between thoughtful or unthoughtful structure. Rituals of public worship deeply influence us, imprinting themselves on our subconscious minds and thus shaping the pattern of our personal spirituality. What we do corporately tends to set up boundaries and create an ethos for what we do privately.”
-The Trivialization of God, by Donald McCullough.
  • We are here for God. We are here to worship him and serve him the way he wants to be worshiped and served not the way we enjoy those things.

>>> So the first 2 things I get from this passage. God is not a lucky charm and be careful how you worship Him. He demands respect. He demands for us to worship in spirit and in truth.  And 3rd Can an Almighty and Holy God be appeased?

III. Appeasement

A.  Appeasement comes down to the New Testament word. Propitiation.

  • Question: "What is propitiation?" Answer: The word propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement or satisfaction, specifically toward God. Propitiation is a two-part act that involves appeasing the wrath of an offended person and being reconciled to him.
  • The necessity of appeasing God is something many religions have in common. In ancient pagan religions, as well as in many religions today, the idea is taught that man appeases God by offering various gifts or sacrifices. We saw this in the way the Philistines reacted to the consequences of their lack of respect.
  • However, the scripture teaches that God Himself has provided the only means through which His wrath can be appeased and sinful man can be reconciled to Him.
  • There is no service, sacrifice, or gift that man can offer that will appease the holy wrath of God or satisfy His perfect justice. The only satisfaction, or propitiation, that could be acceptable to God and that could reconcile man to Him had to be made by God.
Hebrews 2:17 - Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
  • The word propitiation is used in several verses to explain what Jesus accomplished through His death on the cross.
Romans 3:24-25 - They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.

B. God is Angry with sin

Jonathan Edwards said it articulately in his famous sermon, "Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God":

O, sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it, and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment.
  • In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul makes the argument that everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, is under the condemnation of God and deserving of His wrath (Romans 1:18). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All of us deserve His wrath and punishment.

C. God in His infinite grace and mercy has provided a way that His wrath can be appeased and we can be reconciled to Him. That way is through the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, as the payment for sins.

  • It is through faith in Jesus Christ as God’s perfect sacrifice that we can be reconciled to God. It is only because of Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day that a lost sinner deserving of hell can be reconciled to a holy God.
  • The wonderful truth of the gospel is that Christians are saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to God not because “we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation, the atonement, for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Summary:

Can we appease God? The answer is absolutely not! Karma is not going to even things out. This thing we call Christianity is not a superstition. Jesus and His cross are not lucky charms. He is our atonement for sin. Jesus’ propitiation on the cross is the only thing that can turn away God’s divine condemnation of sin. Golden tumors and rats are irrelevant no matter what shape they take. Be careful how you worship such a God. We don’t worship the way we want to. We worship the way he says too.