The Training Log 01/16/2014
This reading is disturbing. Israel is under attack. They lose a battle. As a result they call for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into battle, it has always helped them prevail before. They carry it into battle only to be defeated and the Ark is captured.
What gives? Is the Ark a fraud. Is God a fantasy of their imagination?
God’s ways are not our ways. To comprehend what is happening requires more information than is contained in this reading. What happens before and after provides the answer.
Eli had two sons, Phinehas and Hophni. They served as Priests at the Temple receiving the offerings from the people to be put on the Altar of Holocausts. They were charged with a sacred duty. Instead of being faithful in their work they used their position to benefit themselves. They kept the choicest portion of meat for their use. They even assaulted the young woman who brought offerings. They were guilty of Blasphemy, Rape and other crimes.
Eli was made aware of this but only gave them a slap on the wrist. God decided on a more appropriate punishment. Phinehas and Hophni carried the Ark into battle and were killed. Eli dies upon hearing the news of their death. The Philistines carried the Ark back to their city.
The story continues with the Ark placed in the Temple of Dagon a Philistine god. The statue of Dagon is knocked down the first night, broken into pieces the second night. The city is beset with a plague. The Philistines begin to play Hot Potato with the Ark with each city succumbing to the plague. Finally they return the Ark to Israel.
This story tells us God is always in charge. He was in charge in Israel, on the battlefield and in the cities of the Philistine’s. His WILL will be done even if we refuse to cooperate. God is first concerned with our immortal souls then with our physical bodies. Our immortal souls will last forever in either Heaven or Hell. Our mortal bodies will wither and die but eventually be replaced with resurrected bodies. Life on Earth is limited, Eternity is not.
God sends the rain on the Just and also to the Evil. But His blessings for eternal joy are reserved for those who do His will. Bad things do happen to good people. Look what happened to Jesus and He suffered that for us while we were sinners. When we suffer we have the choice of complaining or of offering our trials up to God, as Jesus did for us, for the needs of others in distress. Eli told Samuel to reply, “Speak Lord your servant listening.” I must do more than listen, I must also obey.