Here’s the first installment of Wednesday’s Devotionals. If you follow my blog you know that Ron is now writing the Saturday one and I’ve moved to Wednesdays. I hope that the Holy Spirit touches you through this piece.
I Samuel 5-7:17
The message in this section shouts from the mountaintops: “Jehovah is God and there is none like Him!” Just as Moses told Pharoah in Exodus 8:10 “…. there is no one like the Lord our God,” this passage shows God proving himself as all-powerful.
The Philistines captured the Ark of God and placed it in the temple of their pagan god Dagon. And what is God’s response? He knocked Dagon flat on his face before the ark! I love it! God certainly has a sense of humor doesn’t he? The audacious Philistines stand their lifeless god up again. Jehovah looks down and thinks, “Alright, if that’s the way you want it, and down comes Dagon again; this time loosing his head and hands.” A god without a head, cannot think. A god without hands, cannot touch. God was showing the Philistines that He is the one and only living God, but they didn’t get it.
He then struck them with plagues of tumors so they sent the ark away. Wherever it went, the tumors traveled with it until the people were in a total panic. “Get that thing out of here!” they cried. I love the hand of God even in this. Two cows with young calves were hitched to a cart. The calves shut up and the cows released to go where they will. This is absolutely amazing! Not only did the cows submit to being hitched for the first time ever, they ignored their natural instincts of caring for their young, and instead returned the ark to God’s people. It was as if God were saying, “Take that! I AM God!”
After this, the ark just sat for a while, while the children of Israel mourned because they felt as if the Lord had abandoned them. He hadn’t abandoned them. He was merely waiting for them to get serious about him.
Are we serious with God? Many of us find ourselves wondering, “Where is God? Why does he seem silent?” We, like the Children of Israel wonder if God has abandoned us. Samuel says, “If you are really serious about returning to the Lord….” And then he goes on to give specific directions for getting serious with God. We can apply these to our own lives.
First, determine that you’re going to be sincere about your walk with God. Then, rid your life of any idols and false gods. Most of us don’t have crafted idols on our mantles that we pray to each night, but we are still susceptible to false gods. Perhaps we chase after money or possessions. They become our god that is behind everything we do. Maybe it’s entertainment or pleasure that drives our life decisions. For some, it’s climbing the ladder of corporate success or chasing after recognition. God says, “Rid yourself of these things.”
Once God’s people had emptied their lives of idols, they gathered together for prayer. They fasted and confessed their sins. This is repentance. We can’t get serious with God without getting serious about our own baggage and sin. We must repent if we are going to have a close walk with God. After repentance, Samuel offered a sacrifice to God. Then, God moved on their behalf. He threw the Philistines into confusion with just the sound of his voice, and he restored to his children what had previously been lost.
God can do the same for us if we follow these steps. Decide to follow him, get rid of idols, repent, and pray.
Just as we saw God in all his power in our Old Testament passage today, we see that power extended to Jesus in the New Testament. The feeding of the 5,000 is recorded in all four gospels. It is the only miracle, outside of the resurrection, that is recorded in all the gospels. It must have strong significance to be given such a place. This miracle set the stage for Jesus’ teaching that was soon to come; that he is the bread of life.
It is astounding what he did here. He took 5 small loaves and 2 fish and multiplied it to feed over 5,000 people. In December of 2009, the group Feeding the 5,000, hoped to feed up to 5,000 people in Trafalgar Square. They made use of approximately 6 tons of food to feed a large mass of people. I don’t know if Jesus multiplied those small loaves and fish to equal 6 tons, but he certainly increased them by at least five-thousand-fold. Wow! Once again his actions shout, “I AM God!”
Another amazing facet of this miracle is that God showed us that not only does he care about our spiritual needs, but he cares about our physical needs as well. He will meet them even if it takes a miracle to do so.
This Psalm gives us an important reminder. Do not forget what God has done for you! Has he come to your rescue? Has he miraculously provided for your physical needs? Has he fed you spiritually? Yes, yes, and yes. We must not forget what God has done for us. The Children of Israel did forget and ended up bowing before a statue. Just as we saw with the Philistine god, Dagon, a statue has no power, no life, no thought. They exchanged a relationship with the only true God for a meaningless hunk of metal. Yuck!
May we take note of the consequences of their sin lest we fail to be sincere in our walk with God. Remember the things God has done and praise him for his works.