Year 2 Day 235
Read - 1 Samuel 6:13-7:1
Message - Alan Burke
As the ark returns to Beth Shemesh, the people are there gathering in the harvest, the fields would have been filled with men, women with nursing infants and children all helping and they look up and see the ark and they rejoice. What a sight for sore eyes this would have been, seven months had passed since the ark was taken, since the battle at Ebenezer, where the Philistines killed thirty four thousand Israelites on the battle field, with their priest all dead. There was likely chaos in the land in those months, yes the glory of the Lord had departed, but now the Lord had returned.
And there couldn’t have been a more appropriate place for the ark to come to, the people of Beth Shemesh were Levites, the were descendants of Aaron, the priestly tribe to take over that role which Eli had failed (Josh 21:16). There the cart stop beside a large rock, they break the cart apart, chop the wood, sacrifice the cows as a burnt offering, they took down the ark, and the chest containing the gold objects and offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices. Oh what a day that would have been, what excitement there would have been among the people there. Meanwhile the five rulers of the Philistines who had been watching on then left.
On the face of it, everything had changed, imagine the new hope that here would have been in the people once more, the ark was back, the covenant family, young and old were worshiping the Lord in this field by the rock, surely things would be different, surely this was the time to build back better! But things weren’t different, nothing had changed. Their excitement, their sacrifices were no different than what took place in Shiloh at the hands of Eli and his sons. The Lord had prescribed how his people were to worship, for sacrifices they were to use a bull, a year old, a male without any blemish, they were worshiping God in their own way, rather than worshiping him in his way. They were worshiping God in their terms rather than God’s. Even if we missed the issue we see how things were not really any different as God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, seventy of them were put to death.
Look to the question of the men of Beth Shemesh in verse 20, “who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” The tragedy is of course that the Lord had made a way that they his people could come before him their holy God, the whole of the ceremonial law was to teach the people how they come before a holy God, it was to teach them that God is holy and they are not. That’s why there are so many laws about sacrifices, details about washings, the priests clothings, food, utensils, special days. All of it was to make it clear that God is holy and they are not, they should have understood it.
How can we come before a holy God? Well the story of redemption has been pointing us to the need for someone to stand before the Lord on our behalf, this holy God. The book of Hebrews tell us that Jesus came as a merciful high priest in the service of God to make a propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb 2:17), how can we stand, we can stand though Jesus, we can draw near though him, it is through Jesus Chest alone that we can come, that we are saved.
Q4 What is God?
God is a Spirit, (John 4:24) infinite, (Job 11:7–9) eternal, (Ps. 90:2) and unchangeable, (James 1:17) in his being, (Exod. 3:14)wisdom, (Ps. 147:5) power, (Rev. 4:8) holiness, (Rev. 15:4) justice, goodness, and truth. (Exod. 34:6–7)