Tuesday, March 3, 2009

1 Samuel 6 Part 2

1 Samuel 6--Sermon for Sunday PM March 8

Ok, preaching OT Narrative. What's going on in the story?

1. The Israelites are living in Israel. This is important to the story. For much of the OT, the Israelites are NOT in Israel. Of the the Narratives, Joshua, Judges, 1,2 Samuel, 1 Kings are the only books that have Israelites totally in Israel. Ruth has some folks who leave and come back, 2 Kings leads into the exile and captivity, Ezra & Nehimiah come back.
2. The Israelites aren't really being faithful to God.
3. The priestly leadership is currently in transistion. The story line started with Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas the religious leadership of Israel. They all died in chapter 4.
4. The Ark of the Covenant was captured in chapter 4.
5. The Philistines have the Ark, but they also have developed some nasty side effects since they've had it.

Ok, so?

1. The Ark is the symbol of God's presence. For an idolatrous culture like the Philistines, it's hard to comprehend the difference between a symbol for the One True God, and their idols, which were supposed to representations of their gods. (eventually this led to feeling that the wood/stone/metal objects were, in fact, the gods.)
2. The Ark should be in Israel, but the people disrespected the symbol of the presence of God, and instead treated it as if it were a lucky charm. And I don't mean the marshmallow cereal. So, as they fell in battle for trusting in themselves and believing they could manipulate the Almighty, God allowed the Ark to be taken.
3. The Philistines perceive this as a victory from their valor and the strength of their gods over Israel's God.
4. The Philistines aren't supposed to have the Ark. It's critical to the religious system God instituted for the people of Israel.

So, in chapter 5 I see what God is doing to the Philistines. It's a reminder of His judgment and power. Chapter 4 showed that sinful people cannot adequately defend a Holy God. Chapter 5 shows us that a Holy God can completely defend Himself. You see in chapter 5 that, while Dagon loses his hands, the Hand of the Lord is heavy and upon the Philistines.

So chapter 6 is the story of returning the Ark. At this point in preparing, I'll copy and paste the text I'll preach from into the document I'll type my outline/manuscript into. Later I'll either delete it out or suppress its printing, since I'll read the text from my Bible.

The pressing problem to be solved in this passage is what? Well, the Philistines want the plague to stop. They've got tumors, death, rats, and it's just not happy in Philistia right now. So, they finally connect that the Ark is the problem. More than that, they realize that God is the problem.

So how do they send it back? They don't know how to do so. God gave direction to the Israelites about moving the Ark, but not to the Philistines. Here we find a principle worth remembering:
God has standards and expectations of His people that He does not hold expect of unbelievers. So, I'll take that and add it to my sermon document. As I pray over this, I'll determine if I think this is a one-time concept, seen only here, or if it reverberates throughout the whole of the Bible. If it's only here, it needs to not be out of character with anything else, and it might not be as important of a concept.

Ok, the Philistines load the Ark on a cart, pack around it golden rats and tumors, indicative of the symptoms of God's punishment on them. How many? Well, the Philistine priests said to send 5 of each for each of the major cities of the Philistines, but c6v18 indicates that, while they made 5 tumors, they made one rat for every city and village of Philistia. Here's another principle: If you are showing repentance towards God, don't do the minimum.

Then we see that they put the Ark in a cart, let it be pulled, unguided, by two cows that have never pulled a cart, and, on top of that, two cows that are leaving their calves behind. Natural action of these cows would have them turn around, and go back. They don't. The Philistines understand this that God has driven the cattle back to Israel. Here's another principle: Our God can find His way home. This really contrasts with Dagon, god of the Philistines in chapter 5, who couldn't even stand himself back up. And it's reinforced with the Lord Jesus Christ teaching in John 14 that "“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." [John 14:6 (ESV)]

So, now we have some major principles to develop. What I'll do is let those grind in my head and come back to them tomorrow. So, we'll see that in the Tuesday update.

Meanwhile, I have a Wednesday night lesson to prep and a Sunday AM sermon to do. You'll only get the PM sermon, but realize that similar processes are involved in all.

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