Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

2020.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 5:6–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Yahweh do to whom, while His ark was in the house of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:6)? What did the people of Ashdod say in 1 Samuel 5:7? Whom did they gather in 1 Samuel 5:8, what did they ask, and what was their answer? Where did they take it? What did Yahweh do there (1 Samuel 5:9)? What did the people of Ekron say that the other Philistines had sent them the ark to do (1 Samuel 5:10)? Now, who gathered, and what did they decide (1 Samuel 5:11)? What had God done to the people of Ekron (1 Samuel 5:11-12)?
How very different Yahweh is from Dagon, and from all manmade religion (i.e., Idolatry). The true and living God simply does not need the help of man.

How foolish Israelites are, when they think that they can harness the power of the Lord through uninstructed use of the furnishings He has given them to worship Him. How foolish Philistines are, when they think that the power of the Lord can be overcome by the power of Dagon or mitigated by location in one or another Philistine city.

What 34,000 Israelites had died trying to do, the Lord accomplishes by Himself with little fanfare and no assistance, devastating Ashdod and Gath and Ekron, the three greatest of the five major Philistine cities. He is what the Philistines feared, after all, the God who singlehandedly destroyed the great Egyptian empire. And yet, Israel (and Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas in particular) had not properly feared this God, carelessly provoking Him as they had at Sinai in the incident of the calf, and as Eli’s family had a history of doing in the day that Nadab and Abihu were ordained.

And what fools we would be if we did not recognize how easily we do the same. When we have problems in our lives—or in our families, or in our churches—let us remember that the Lord can do His work all by Himself, as He did in the cities of the Philistines. He does not need our help. Rather, He has appointed means—yes, things like training and weapons and strength for armies, and other appropriate means to other situations.

But the greatest means are found more directly in our relationship with Him: repentance to turn away from the sin that despises Him, and from which He is determined to cleanse us; obedience that honors Him, and which He is pleased to honor; faith that clings to Christ, so that He is glorified in carrying us through, and glorified in what He brings out of it; prayer in which we acknowledge all of these things before Him, and He responds to us according to His character and the relationship that He has given us with Himself.

When those are the great and foundational means that we are employing in our life as a whole, we will be prepared to employ means uprightly—not innovating in worship or the church, not manipulating or depending upon men or ourselves, but trusting and obeying the God who does not need our help!
What are you concerned about? What use are you making of the “greatest” means? What other means are you employing in faith and obedience?
Suggested Songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH146 “Praise the Lord! My Soul, O Praise Him!”

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