Sunday, October 18, 2020
Who Can Stand Before Him?
1 Samuel 5:1-7:1; Remsen Bible Fellowship; 10/04/2020
Do you find yourself concerned about the world? Wondering what God is up to amidst the chaos?
There is a right way and a wrong way to experience such concern.
We should see and mourn sin. We should especially see and mourn our sin, cf Isaiah 6:5
But we should never be concerned about God’s control over events. He takes the blackest darkest night, and is working his will
We will see three truths about God in our text; God’s Supremacy, God’s Severity, & God’s Sanctity
But first, we must remember the dark night of the circumstance, 1 Samuel 4:22
The ark of God had gone into exile, v21 & 22
God’s Supremacy, 5:1-5
v1-2, The Philistines carry away the ark and place it in the temple of their god, Dagon
a Canaanite god whom the Philistines adopted and placed at the top of their pantheistic order
God of agriculture/storms
The God whose feast Samson ruined in Judges 16:23-30
They aren’t opposed to believing there is a YHWH, they just assume that Dagon must be more powerful
V3, what does it say about the power of Dagon that he falls flat before YHWH?
What kind of God is it that the people must help back into place? Isaiah 44:9-20
The people do not understand the deep irony involved in propping your idol back into place
V4, The same thing happens: but this time God knocks off Dagon’s head and his hands (battlefield trophies)
The falling off of the head denotes that there is no mind in an idol (Psalm 135:15-18).
It also points forward to 17:51. Broke off is the same Hebrew verb as cut off in that context
The removal of the hands denotes Dagon’s total lack of power next to YHWH.
While Dagon’s hands have been removed, we will see in the next section the God’s hand lies heavy upon the Philistines
V5, we are given an explanation for a custom of the Philistines which it seems the original readers were familiar with
While the Philistines obviously interpreted their great military defeat of Israel to be a display of their own strength and the awesomeness of their gods, what we find is quite different
God is not a victim of the Philistines and their gods
YHWH executes judgement on Dagon, he takes up his own battle Exodus 15:1-3ff
God has gone onto enemy turf, as it were, and walked away the obvious victor
Where do you set God up in your life? What temples do you try to bring God into, asking for his help with your idolatry? Are you trying to baptize sin?
God will not be party to this. He will be seen as supreme
There is none like Him, Psalm 86:8, 89:6-7
God reigns supreme in and over the universe. There is none who compares to him
God’s Severity, 5:6-6:16
The Israelites had viewed the presence of God, represented by the ark, as a sort of good luck charm or guarantee for victory (1 Sam 4:3-5)
God’s presence among them had not brought victory, though-it ushered in defeat
The presence of a holy God among sinful humanity brings Judgement
v6, throughout this passage we read of “tumors”
We don’t know the nature of the plague; tumors, lesions, boils, hemorrhoids?
Could it be bubonic plague? Highly deadly, carried by rodents (cf 6:4, 11). But not attested to in history until some centuries after this
Whatever the nature, it has devastating
Do you remember what we said another word for glory is? Weight. Or heaviness
The weight of God had departed from Israel, but his almighty hand now lay heavy on Philistia
V4, Dragons hands are gone: but YHWH’s work just fine
V6a, was heavy
7b, is hard against us
9, was against the city
11b, was very heavy there
6:3, does not turn
6:5b, perhaps he will lighten
6:9b, his hand that struck us
That God’s presence was among the Philistines goes from being their point of pride to their greatest trauma
By 5:11, the whole city of Ekron is pleading that the ark not come near
Literally near me and my people, cf Exodus 8:8
They are desperate to be rid of God, so they call together the Diviners to ask how to be rid of this box
6:4, we see a common practice: placate the deity by repeating his work
V7-9, try an unlikely scheme that would be hard to duplicate by chance
V12 tells us this was a success. It had been God’s hand, all along
What should we take from God’s severity with the Philistines? Were they not his instruments against Israel?
They were-and they were volitional actors, responsible for their sins. God is perfectly capable of using sinful human or nation A in his dealing with sinful human or nation B, while still holding A responsible. This is not hypocritical, this is his perfect control over all things.
Israel had all but abandoned God, and needed to be reminded that his presence is what they needed, not in some cultic sense, but they needed his personal presence to bless, which they would only experience by hearing, believing, and obeying his word. He used the Philistines to remind them of this need
The Philistines, at the same time, must be shown that it is not by their own power that Israel fell, and they too are guilty before this God whom they thought they had conquered
We won’t turn, but for more like this: Habakkuk
6:16, after the five lords see the return of the ark and the sacrifice of the cows, they return home
v17-18, what is this stone witnessing to?
God’s total victory over all of the Philistines
God’s hand rested severely upon the Philistines
God’s Sanctity, 6:13-15, 6:19-7:1
In v13-15, we get a good response from the men of Beth-shemesh, they rejoiced to see it
Though the sacrifice is technically not right (should have been bulls, not these milk cows, Lev 1), the narrator gives no indication that this is frowned upon
They are finding their joy in the return of the ark from exile
It seems for a moment that the story will end happily, but moment we get go v19, we find God continuing to strike
The reason, some form of irreverence. Gazing into, or at. The Levites (v15) should know that the ark is to remain covered
The number, 70 or 50,070? MT 70 men, 50,000 men. Some Heb Manuscripts, LXX, etc, 70.
There probably weren’t 50,000 men in this village-much more likely is the 70 number-but even at that, imagine a village the size of Remsen-and 70 people die!
The people realize that they cannot stand before the holiness of God, for He judges and punishes sin
So the ark is taken away to Kiriath-jearim and the house of Abinadab, and rests there for 20 years (7:1).
Here at the end of this ark narrative, the people are still learning the lesson they needed at the front end-God’s presence isn’t always good for you.
It is the deepest need of every human and people
But it is a sign of sure judgement if we don’t have our sin dealt with
In conclusion, I want to meditate for a moment on 6:20
Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God?
Psalm 130:3-4: Same question, who can stand?
With you there is forgiveness-how? Colossians 2:13-15, nailed to the cross
For those who cling to Christ, the record that stands against us and would condemn us has been removed, paid in full, Romans 8:1
That you may be feared: Even for the believer in Jesus Christ, there is a right reverence and fear of the Lord. We cannot treat him like a trinket or take him for granted
We pray our Father-we must revere him as the Holy Father he is, but unlike the men of Beth-shemesh, we shouldn’t run away from the holiness, or ask him to leave-we should be thankful for his provision in Christ, a provision which allows even sinners like us to stand before this Holy God
Who can stand before him? Only those clothed in the precious blood of Christ. In my hand no price I bring, simply to thy cross I cling
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