|Volume 22 Number 6 August 2020||
Now the Ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the Ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” So they said, “If you send away the Ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land. Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?” (1 Samuel 6:1-6)
The Ark of the Covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines because of the wickedness of the sons of Eli and their belief that carrying the Ark into battle would assure victory. It did not. The campaign was lost, the sons of Eli were killed and the Ark was taken to Philistia.
The Philistines suffered much for taking the Ark, and the leaders and people of the Philistines wanted it gone, and with it, the problems it brought upon their land. In 1 Samuel 5:9, we read, “So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them.”
First Samuel 6:4 is of interesting note. When seeking advice from the priests and the diviners of the Philistines, the leaders were told to send back a trespass offering with the Ark when they sent it back to Israel. Specifically, they said, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords.”
This is a small indication of the inequities of the ancient times. What affected the poor and the common people often did not touch the leaders, the wealthy and the protected. God, though, does not respect the status of a man, but instead He judges them based upon their deeds.
As more and more individuals of prominence, from famous actors to U.S. Senators, to the Prime Minister of England, contract the Coronavirus, let us remember something about God and this life: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
God’s judgment, and His salvation, are available to all men, no matter their status, no matter their ethnicity, and no matter their wealth. Every man will meet his Maker one day. When that day comes for you, will you be ready?
Due to the widening of a local road into five lanes of traffic, we see a great deal of road construction when we leave our house, no matter whether we go north or south. Needless to say, we will be glad when the road construction is completed, but then, we dread the noise and speed at which some of the traffic will go; we live only about half a mile away. However, for now, let’s talk about some of the road construction signs.
Of course, with new construction, we will nearly always see a sign that reads “Warning, Road Construction for next so many miles.” That’s just the way life is. Likewise, we must heed the warnings from God’s Word because our lives are under construction for however many years we will be granted. God created man with a purpose in mind for He said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV). God told the first man how to construct his life and also gave him the commandment not to eat of “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). From the beginning, man could not follow directions that were simple and easy. Adam’s sin in the Garden brought death to all after him for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Let’s think about another road construction sign. Sometimes a road sign indicates, “Crooked and Steep Ahead.” When the road is like that, it is dangerous to travel, so we must proceed with caution. Jude taught us about roads like this as he said, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 4). Those will draw one away from the love of God, and that makes for a crooked and a steep road.
Another road sign says, “Single Lane Traffic.” Truly, this is probably the most important road sign for a Christian because it leads to “…one body…one spirit…one hope…one Lord…one faith…one baptism and One God and Father of all…” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Christians must have a single drive of loving and serving God; otherwise, Christianity is in vain.
Another sign reads, “Proceed with Caution.” Caution means to be careful. Our Lord, Himself, taught the lesson on proceeding cautiously. The teaching goes like this. “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:40-42). Be sure to exercise caution regarding who or what you are serving for God, Who admits, “…I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exodus 20:5-6).
Christians must “Fear God and give glory to Him” because He made all things (Revelation 14:7). Sometimes, we may think that some of the road warning signs are silly or unnecessary, but be sure that none of God’s warning signs are frivolous!