Year 2 Day 214
Read - 1 Samuel 4:4-11 and 1 Pet 3:12
Message - Alan Burke
Pragmatism reigns! It clearly did here as the elders send for the ark and as it is brought to the battle front. Notice who brings it though, it’s the wicked sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. The holiest artefact of God’s people was brought by wicked men who had scorned the sacrifices and the offerings of the Lord (2:12). The tragedy of this shouldn’t be lost on us. Here’s a question, would you really expect the Lord God to bless his people, to do something amazing among them, when they despise him, when treat his offerings with scorn? Of course not! As long as the sin of his people and his priests continues the Lord wasn’t going to bless his people, he wasn’t going to give them the victory, he had promised judgment against them because of their sin, these wicked sons of Eli, their presence with the ark is incompatible with the presence of the Lord.
Then as the ark arrives (5), the shout from the people of God was so loud the earth shook, gone are the memories of their earlier defeat. Their hope was in the ark as a good luck charm, but it was miss-founded. Their confidence was not in the Lord but in superstitious religion, they had the vestiges of religion, and their hope was in that not in the Lord.
Initially the reaction of the Philistines was that of total shock, they knew that the God of Israel or rather gods that they speak of are more powerful than anything they have ever experienced. This fear and alarm though is soon dispelled as they are challenged to be men and fight (9) and the Israelites were defeated, the ark was lost. Thirty thousand foot soldiers had died, the defeat at the hands of the Philistines was enormous. Things were so bad that the Israelites fled.
The presence of the ark of the covenant had done nothing, because the people had not sought the Lord, they had not repented from their sins, pragmatism reigned among them. Before they had asked “why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today”, now there is nothing, notice the change though there between verse three, four and now verse eleven. Before they had called it the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and the ark of the covenant, now they simply call it the ark of God. The covenant keeping God and not met their expectations, in their minds he was the one who let them down, but they had throughout in their superstitious religion been led not by principles but pragmatism.
Finally we are told of the death of Hophni and Phinehas. The whole thing was a disaster, things couldn’t have gone any worse, the people were defeated, thirty-four thousand men dead, the remaining army scattered, the priests of the Lord dead, the ark of the covenant that symbolised the presence of God among them was gone.
I want as we close to take you to 1 Peter, there the Lord though him uses Psalm 34, to reminds us…“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” (1 Pet 3:12). The Lord is against those who do evil, we are either in the Lord and are his righteous through Jesus Christ or we are those who do evil. Hophni and Phinehas were those who did evil, how could the Lord bless what his people were doing when they despised the Holy, when in all of this it is not principle but pragmatism that reigns, it was superstitious religion not relationship. What God calls us to is relationship not religion, he calls us to faithfulness not pragmatism, he calls us to have faith in him though the Lord Jesus Christ and honour him.
Q93 Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord’ s supper. (Matt. 26:26–28)