1 Samuel 5:1–6:12, Jeremiah 42:1–43:7
Asking God what to do can be a “dangerous” prayer. It may lead to something that puts you outside of your comfort zone. It can also be the most fulfilling thing you ever do.
Fulfilling God’s plans sometimes means that you don’t know you’re doing it. Let’s take the story of the Ark in the land of the Philistines. The precursor to this story is that the Israelites acted more like the Ark was a lucky rabbit’s foot, rather than a very holy symbol (and place of interaction) with God. The Ark, and by extension relationship with God, was not taken seriously. So, the Israelites didn’t keep it.
The Philistines took it as a war trophy, displaying it before the idol of their god (Dagon). It went downhill from there. The consequence of their behavior was unpleasant. The war trophy became a symbol of a contagion to be avoided. The Philistines no longer wanted the war trophy. The priests of Dagon and the diviners (i.e., established non-friends of God) came up with a guilt offering and a test.
The cows took the Ark back to the Israelites. After all of that, God’s plan and God’s glory was revealed. Yet, the Philistines, with all of that, went back to their old ways. How often are we just like them?
The leaders seeking to escape the coming conquest asked for guidance and provided assurance that they would follow it. They heard it and got angry. They asked for guidance and did what was contrary to it. To add insult to injury, one infers that Jeremiah didn’t exactly go happily with them to Egypt. He went in obedience. What a mess.
The story of the Philistines and the exiles has a similarity…God’s plan and holiness was right in front of them…they chose their own path.
1) Have you ever asked God for guidance/plan? What happened?
2) While it’s easy to judge the Philistines and the Israelites for their decisions, what reasons can you think of for their decisions? Have you used similar though processes for your own decisions?