May 31, 2022
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT – THE SIGN OF GOD’S PRESENCE – 1 Samuel 4
Listen to last week’s sermon on: The Ark Of The Covenant – THE SIGN OF GOD’S PRESENCE found in 1 Samuel 4.
In the introduction to the sermon he delivered on May 29, 2022, Pastor Eric referred to the situation that many of us found ourselves in last week in the aftermath of the severe windstorm that swept through our region, which caused widespread damage to homes and businesses, uprooted trees, and caused numerous power outages. We are reminded at times such as these how dependent we are on power.
Pastor Eric’s message today focused on a different type of power, a power on which we can all rely: God. Our strength is in Him. As children of God, we should long for His presence.
Read Psalm 97:5
In Pastor Eric’s opinion, we all crave something. Some people long for love and affection, but oftentimes these are sought in the wrong places and through the wrong means. Others are driven by a desire for power. Many of these individuals are not looking to serve others, but rather to advance their own careers. There are others still who are focused on acquiring greater wealth. They are driven by greed.
Read Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 8:18
The Bible attributes gold and silver to God. It should be noted, however, that this statement does not imply that God opposes wealth. Rather, His Word instructs us to avoid becoming enslaved to money. The Bible does not say we must live in poverty, for Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us that “…it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth”, nor does it exclusively speak about prosperity. Our Lord’s goodness assures us that He will bless us with what we need.
Read Matthew 20:25:28
The most authoritative figure in history, Jesus Christ, told his followers that He did not come to be served, but to serve. Therefore, as Christians, it is possible to hold a position of leadership, but we must do so with a servant’s heart. The goal is not to exert power over others.
The Lord desires to spend time with us. He loves us and wishes to be involved in every aspect of our lives. As someone once said, “God does not only love you, He likes you.”
There is no need to be obsessed with money because the Lord knows what we need. He will provide for us. Furthermore, the problem is not money, but the love of money.
Read 1 Timothy 6:10 and Matthew 6:24
Some people have strayed from the truth due to their obsession with wealth. It is not possible to love money and God simultaneously. As stated in Matthew 6:24, we will either love one and hate the other or we will be devoted to one and despise the other. We cannot serve the Lord and be enslaved to money. If our primary motivation is to accumulate wealth, we will find it difficult to love God.
This morning, Pastor Eric called upon believers to hunger for the manifest presence of God. When he spoke of the presence of the Lord, he was not referring to God’s omnipresence. Rather, he was referring to the manifestation of the Lord’s presence. Omnipresence is the state of being everywhere at once. Although we may not feel His presence, he remains ever-present.
Read Psalm 139:7-8
David asserts in this passage that we cannot escape the Lord’s omnipresence. God’s manifest presence, however, means that His presence is made manifest to us. It is clear and convincing. It is beyond emotions and feelings. Even though God’s manifest presence has an ethereal quality that may evoke some emotion, it is more profound than that. The omnipresence of God had been with Moses all along, but all of a sudden, He chose to manifest Himself to him through a burning bush.
Read Exodus 33:15
God will not reveal Himself to indifferent, noncommittal, or apathetic people. Although He will be present, His presence will not be clearly apparent. If we want the Lord to manifest Himself to us, we must have a hunger for Him. If we lack this hunger, we should pray in order to obtain it. Such an endeavor is not possible on our own. Rather, we must rely on the Holy Spirit who empowers us with the desire to seek the Lord’s presence.
Read Psalm 51:11
In this psalm, David confessed his sins to God after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba. In verse 11, David was not referring to the Lord’s omnipresence. Rather, he was referring to a presence that provided him with shelter, joy, strength, and comfort: the manifest presence of God.
Pastor Eric encouraged us to earnestly seek God’s presence. Nothing in this world should be more important to us than the manifest presence of God.
In 1 Samuel, chapter 4, the Philistines defeated Israel. Nearly 4,000 of their soldiers perished as a result.
Read 1 Samuel 4:3 and Exodus 25
Since the Israelites were aware of God’s provision for victory, they questioned why they had been defeated. Consequently, they proposed to fight again, but this time they would bring the Ark of the Covenant, which would assure them victory.
Moses was commanded by God to construct an ark from acacia wood. It had to have specific dimensions, and the wood needed to be gold-plated. There were strict transportation guidelines. The Ark could only be transported by authorized individuals.
Four gold rings surrounded the Ark of the Covenant, two rings on each side. The Ark contained the Ten Commandments, a pot of manna that had been preserved from the wilderness, and Aaron’s rod. Moreover, there was the mercy seat which needed to be sprinkled with blood. Gold Cherubims were also positioned on either side of the mercy seat, with their wings extending toward the other. Their presence symbolized the angel’s readiness to carry out God’s will. The Ark could not be handled or moved by anyone other than the family of Kohath of the tribe of Levi, and it was to be kept in the Tabernacle, within the Holy of Holies, as it was a symbol of God’s presence.
Read 1 Samuel 4:3-9
1 – The Ark of the Covenant was greatly valued.
The Ark was held in high regard by both the Israelites and their enemies, the Philistines.
Read 1 Samuel 4:5
An extremely loud shout reverberated throughout Israel, as the King James Version and the New International Version respectively state that “the earth rang” and “the ground shook.” Upon seeing the Ark, the people were filled with much hope and joy and appeared to have forgotten their past defeat. Then, their attention quickly turned to the victory that awaited them. The Philistines, however, felt threatened by the Ark of the Covenant. Their fate appeared sealed. The Philistines were apprehensive due to the fact that the Egyptians had been afflicted by numerous plagues. Their understanding that the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt was nothing short of a miracle led them to believe that they would also experience something similar.
The first battle resulted in the death of approximately four thousand Israeli soldiers. It was with the Ark of the Covenant that they engaged in a second battle but they were once again defeated. Not only did they lose the battle, but the Ark was also taken from them. Despite the fact that they had the Ark with them, they were unable to hold their ground in battle since something was amiss.
Read Romans 8:31 and 1 John 4:4
The Bible states that no one can harm us if God’s Spirit resides within us. Moreover, the Holy Spirit who resides within us is greater than the devil who is present in the world. Therefore, those God has blessed, no one can curse.
Read 1 Samuel 4:11-20
The people were defeated. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were dead. Upon hearing about the Ark, Eli collapsed and died. Furthermore, Phinehas’s wife did not respond to the woman who attended her and did not attend to her newborn child, as she was preoccupied with something of greater importance. It is obvious that Eli and Phinehas’s wife valued the Ark of the Covenant more than anything in this world. As a result of the Ark’s capture, the child was named Ichabod, which means “the glory has left Israel”. Pastor Eric’s question to us today is, “Do we value it?” He urged us not to wait until it is gone to value it, but to prioritize it while it is still within reach.
Read Psalm 22:3 and 95:2
How highly do we value the manifestation of God’s presence? The omnipresence of the Lord is well known, but what about the manifestation of His presence? The Bible contends that God lives in the praises of His people, and thus we are encouraged to give Him thanks. However, we do not give thanks to God for a harmonious and perfect world. Rather, we express our gratitude for His perfection and for sending imperfect individuals, such as you and I, into a fallen world to share the gospel with the lost. Let us shout and praise Him with psalms of joy!
The Israelites and the Philistines, as well as Eli and his daughter-in-law highly valued the presence of the Lord. Let us also crave and seek His presence!
2 – The Ark of the Covenant cannot be manipulated.
Without complete surrender and obedience to God, victory cannot be achieved. In other words, if our hearts are not aligned with God, we will fail.
Read 1 Samuel 7:3
The hearts of the Israelites had turned away from God, yet they desired His blessings. It is likely that they still worshipped, sang, and performed sacrifices, but the Lord’s presence was not with them. Similarly, if those who are not right with God attempt to duplicate the actions of an anointed person who is blessed, they will not achieve the same results. Throughout history, obedience has proven to be more effective than sacrifice.
The importance of fully surrendering to God cannot be overstated. Complete obedience is required of us. If we are not yet where we desire to be, we are not to give up. Each and every one of us is a work in progress. Through the sanctification process, we are being transformed into the image and likeness of Christ. Our task today is to examine whether our life more closely reflects the life of our Lord Jesus Christ than it did yesterday.