It has to be one of the most blatant and offensive acts of selfishness ever! It occurred toward the end of the period of the Judges but prior to Israel’s first king. It was a time described like this:
“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” ~ Judges 21:25
The army of God went out to battle the Philistines… and lost! As they regrouped and tried to figure out why God hadn’t given them victory they struck upon what they thought was a great idea.
Every have a “great” idea flop badly only to be followed by an even worse idea? Multiply it by 1000 and you get the idea. Here’s how it reads:
When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” ~ 1 Samuel 4:3
First time out the Israelites lost about 4000 men. On their second time out they lost 30,000 men!
Was this a black eye on God’s reputation? Hardly! It was a terribly self-centered move on the part of the Israelites.
God certainly did His share of punishing the surrounding people groups because of their wickedness but there is no indication here that God sent them out to battle the Philistines. And no indication that God led them to take the ark of the covenant.
Not only did the Israelites get badly defeated, but they lost the ark to the Philistines!
The root issue: Rather than wanting intimacy with God, they merely wanted His power to carry out their own agenda.
As a representation of God’s presence the ark was there when some amazing things happened. But it was God Himself that provided the power to accomplish those things; and God is not inclined to be used like some sort of magical talisman.
But before we get too self-righteous, let’s be honest; we tend to do the same thing. We may not use something physical like the ark but we do our fair share of approaching God to secure His favor on our plans.
Life is His story, not ours. When we presume to invite God into our plans we not only mock Him but make fools of ourselves. And then when God doesn’t come through for us we get angry.
We need to enter every day and every situation with the same attitude and response that we see in young Samuel when God called out to him in the middle of the night.
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Read chapter(s) 11 in The Story this week or click on the page tab above to learn more.
© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.