Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who or what are our gods now?

It was instructive to observe in 1 Samuel 4:3, how after a defeat,
"The elders of Israel asked, 'Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines?'"
Good so far, but in the very next sentence, without so much as a pause for reflection, much less prayer and supplication, or waiting on the Lord, they answer their own question. They'll bring the Ark along next time. That's the ticket! Aren't we smart?

How often do we do the same thing? Ask the Lord for an answer, without any real intention of listening for his response? Of seriously waiting and seeking? Instead, I often do the first brilliant thing that pops into my head that looks like it might work.

And, as we learn from this story, there is no blessing in their own solution. To the contrary, they get another defeat, worse this time, as well as loss of Israel's Ark of the Covenant, and the death of the High Priest, and his two sons (not such a loss there).

Right before the battle, the Philistines had heard the Israelites shouting when the Ark was brought into their camp, and said: "A god has come into the camp..." (verse 7) And, they were correct, in a sense. Israel had made a false god of the Ark: " it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies." (verse 3) Appropriately enough, the Ark, when captured, is placed beside the Philistine god, Dagon, in his temple. And, what happens next is one of my favorite stories.

So, we need to ask ourselves, what are the things we use today to "save us" when God seems too remote or not answering fast enough, or loud enough, or in the way we would like?

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