1Samuel 6 and Colossians 2:8-16
We continue reading the narrative of the loss to the Israelites of the Ark of the Covenant – (the precious sign for them of God’s presence with them.) In his commentary on 1Samuel John Woodhouse reminds us of a connection between today’s passage and the Exodus from Egypt – the connections being:
Both the Ark and the Israelites were ‘sent away’
In both events gold was aquired – as the Ark and the people were not to go ’empty’
In both events there was to be a ‘guilt’ offering and
After the event the people would know something of the POWER OF GOD.
While the leaders and then the Philistine priests did not know the Israelite God they recognised his presence and did not want it!
It is interesting to consider the situation. Having decided to return the captured Ark the milking cows, yoked to the new cart for the first time ever, ignored their calves, and walked STRAIGHT on the highway to Beth-Shemesh ‘lowing as they went’! Was this because they were driven by the unseen hand of God? By the way, Beth- Shemesh was a Levite town! and the Levites were the tribe who were the custodians of the Ark.
There in Beth-Shemesh while there was rejoicing over the Ark’s return, we see the power of God is no less terrifying for the chosen people than for the Philistines. Though we do not know how the seventy men ‘looked’ we do know that there was something inappropriate in their behaviour and the God who would not be mocked by a foreign people (Dagon incident chapter 5) will not be taken lightly by the Israelites.
Today we may well reflect on the narrative of the Ark of the covenant of the Lord, which is part of the whole Bible message of the ‘ God of Israel, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the one whose power always and inevitably accomplishes his purposes’ (John Woodhouse p 122) as Hannah in her prayer claimed, ‘he brings low and he exalts’.
We serve a God who is immeasurably powerful. He is the one who brought the people from slavery in Egypt and returned the Ark from the Philistines and is the one who raised Jesus from death. He will accomplish his purposes.
‘ Trust him – but do not defy him’ is the warning from Dr Woodhouse!
The Colossians passage warns us to be aware of the cacophony of philosophical thoughts which bombard us still today and warns us not to get caught up in considering them. This is because Christ is God. We don’t need any other mediation. Salvation is God’s call. V11-12 strongly focuses on the supreme power of God in the provision of salvation. It is his doing, and we are the beneficiaries. V13-14.
While the United States hold their motto ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ publicly, we may be forgiven if we sometimes wonder about its value in practice. In the Australian census we know that a large proportion of the population still claim to ‘believe in God’ though they don’t want Jesus to spoil Christmas! It is easy to point the finger but let us be sure that what we say personally is lived out in trust. That is the question I am asking myself.
Love God completely and love others as much as we love ourselves is our individual calling and response to our all powerful God.
May God help us.