How closely have you been following the story presented in 1 Samuel? Take a minute to recall 1 Samuel 5 when the Philistines captured the Ark of God. As I read through the scenario, I cant help but wonder what they expected from it. Were they just going to lock it away in a room and forget about it? Alternatively, maybe they displayed it out in the open. It was an absolute prize, after-all. This is the thing that the Israelites paraded it in front of them at every conflict. I assume the Philistines put it in the center of the town, on a pedestal, so that everyone walked by it. Only, they did not worship it. Instead, they walked by and spit on it. Maybe even threw eggs at it. The detested it because it aided Israel their enemy. They discounted its power. That is, until they could no longer deny it.
Now consider, what did the Israelites expect of it? The Philistines sent the ark back to Israel. God was returned to Israel’s presence. The ark was the physical evidence. God was “with” Israel, yet they were filled with lament, remaining under threat of their enemies and living in fear. In fact, the New Living Translation says that they thought God had abandoned them. Sadly, they lived in God’s presence, but without his power. This went on for more than 20 years!
How about us? 2,000 years ago a man was born of a miraculous birth. Yes, we know him as Jesus. He is also called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Do you know what that means? God is right here, among us. What do we expect? Are we, like the Israelites still living in fear, victims of our circumstance? Do we wonder why God has abandon us? Today, it is evident to me that we have a choice to make. Just like the Philistines, just like the Israelites. Do we reject him or accept him? If you accept him, who is he to you? Is he for you, or against you? I pray that we don’t waste 20 years deciding, like they did!