GOD IS THE ONE TRUE GOD
Mighty God, marvelous are your deeds, just and true are your ways. I give you all my praise.
Read 1 Samuel 5
The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron
5 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors.[a] 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”
They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors.[b] 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.
As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it[c] will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you had any recent conversations or read anything where there is the assumption that all religions are the same? How do you feel about that?
The armies of Israel might treat the ark of the covenant as a good luck charm, but the Philistines treat it with great respect, setting it in the temple of Dagon, the chief Philistine deity, half-man, half-fish. They had heard about Israel’s God (4:8; 6:6). This story is visibly dramatic, even amusing for an onlooker (vs 3,4). The second time the stump of Dagon falls to the ground before the ark, its hands and head snapped off to land in the doorway. Whose God is now the more powerful? How humiliating for the Philistines. Significantly, the writer three times refers to God’s hand (vs 6,9,11) in speaking of punishment inflicted on the three cities, in what may have been a bubonic-type plague. The Philistine triumphalism over the capture of the ark of the covenant has disappeared. They can’t get rid of it quick enough.
In our multi-faith world, where we seek to be tolerant, it is all too easy to loosen our belief in the unique claims of Christ for all humankind. This story is like a bucket of cold water that shocks us to reaffirm graciously but insistently our confidence in the one true God.
How can you be supporting those engaged in dialogue with those of other faiths or none, that the truth of Christ will be held firm and strong?
Lord Jesus, you are truly the way to God! In a world of compromise I pray for strength for courage to share you as the only way to the Father.
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