Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Pont Aven, France

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for April 8, 1 Sam 4-8

Today's readings are 1 Sam 4-8. Tomorrow's are 1 Sam 9-12. 

Samuel grows in knowledge and stature. The Philistines invade! Remember them? The ones Samson struck a blow against? They're back, more aggressive than ever before and more powerful, too. Israel is losing the battle. Then, rather superstitiously, Israel brings the Ark of the Covenant into the battle, thinking the Ark would give them victory. The Philistines capture the Ark and the sad spiritual state of Israel is abundantly clear. They allowed themselves to slip so far, they were no different than the nations around them. They put their faith is a symbol of God instead of God, Himself. Now, even the symbol is gone. Eli and his sons die. The glory of God departs (Ichabod).There is little to distinguish them from the nations they have allowed to dwell among them. 

Having the Ark does not go well for the Philistines. Judgment falls on them. This occurs because they have no mediator. They are not believers. They worship other gods. Yet, nonetheless, they are subject to the laws of the one, true God. Once again we see that non-belief does not exempt anyone from God's judgment.

In desperation, they return the Ark to Israel. This is good news. The glory returns. But God is still holy, still pure. There is still only one way to approach Him (Num 4:20) . Those Hebrews who look directly upon the returning Ark die (1 Sam 6:19).

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Samuel continues to develop as a judge, prophet and deliverer. He becomes the leading figure in Israel. He has a son, naming him Ebenezer (stone of help), reminding Israel that, in spite of their rebellion, God has been gracious and consistent in redeeming them.

In 1 Sam 8, Israel petitions Samuel to crown a king for them. 
Note, there is no problem with Israel wanting a king. They were actually designed to be led by a king, the King of kings. The struggle Israel is having is over why they want a king. They want to be like the nations around them. They want a king to judge them and fight their battles for them (1 Sam 8:5, 20). Yet, God is their King. God is their judge and fights their battles for them. Israel doesn't want a king that will make them holy. They want a king that will make them like the rest of the world.

They want to be like the nations around them. We will soon see that they already are.   

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