Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Heavy Hand of God

This is quite a long section (Providence Church Sermons) and there is a lot going on. Keep in mind that the main theme about the glory of God is still in play here. God’s glory has been with Israel but Israel has sinned and is not repentant. Thus, God’s glory was beginning to depart. This was revealed in her leaders. Eli did not restrain his own sons or the people of God. The priests of Yahweh, Hophni, Phinehas and Eli all died and the ark of the covenant was captured and taken into the land of the Philistines.
         There is a long recapitulation theme here. The ark has gone down into Egypt, so to speak. While there, it defeats the Philistine (Egyptian) gods and devastates the land. This time, without the service of Moses, Yahweh delivers Himself and is driven into the wilderness. He enters into the promised land but is still required to sojourn in the wilderness, this time Kirjath-jearim for 40 years before there is renewal and the glory of the Lord returns in power under the oversight of King David.
         While in exile, God’s glory was revealed to the Philistines in various dramatic ways. Elsewhere in Scripture, we see God bless Gentiles, so the fact of God breaking out against the Philistines in judgment is not simply because they are Gentiles. It is because they are idolaters and unrepentant sinners, the same reason that Yahweh had brought judgment upon Israel.
         The Philistines think they can add Yahweh to their pantheon of gods, including Dagon, their chief idol. At Ashdod, Yahweh first attacks Dagon, knocking him down and then knocking him down again and cutting off his head and hands. Instead of repenting and worshipping Yahweh alone, the priests have a weird reverence for the wounds of Dagon. They are not repentant and so Yahweh breaks out against them.
         They take the ark to Gath, the land of the giants, hoping that their gods in Gath would be strong enough to contend with Yahweh. But Yahweh shows His glory there as well in a very great destruction, smiting the small and the great. The men of Gath frantically seek to send the ark away to Ekron.
         By the time the ark arrives at Ekron, the Ekronites are ready to give God the glory from the outset, saying “They have brought the ark of God among us to slay us and our people.” The hand of God was very heavy (glory) there.
         Finally, after seven months of terror, plague and disease and an infestation of mice, the Philistines determine that Yahweh is too strong for them and they must get rid of the ark. They have some sense of their guilt before Yahweh and determine to make an offering to Yahweh and to Israel. This is better than the Israelites had done but it is still not a full-fledged repentance and honest worship. The Philistines acknowledge the power of Israel’s God but do not take Him as their one and only God.

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