We have some Christian leaders today saying to us, that God is bound to answer our prayers, answer our demands, and so forth; maybe not in so strong a fashion but many times in more subtle ways. One thing we need to realize as Children of our GOD is that God is obligated to us in no fashion. God is obligated to Himself, and His Word.
In my reading this morning (1 Samuel 4 – 16) I read of fear of Israel, the believing that the Ark of the covenant would deliver them from the enemy, even without obedience to the word of the Lord. The Ark was taken from them.
The Ark of the covenant was given to give the people of Israel the assurance that God was in their midst. The tribes, as they journeyed through the wilderness were arranged so that the tabernacle was in the midst of the camps. When they arrive in the promised land the tabernacle is set up in Shiloh, and there is where all the offerings are to be made.
The people however had began to think of the Ark as the source of all their need. As long as the Ark was with them, then, they could live anyway they chose, do anything they liked, give God worship on the Sabbath day, and the Ark would always be their power and means of escape and deliverance from their enemies. That is not any more clearly seen than in chapter 4,
“And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, ‘Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.’” 1 Samuel 4:3 (KJV)
The Philistines are destroying them in battle. They call for the Ark to be brought into their camp; and they are about to learn a very hard and fast lesson. At the end of this battle the two sons of Eli – Hophni and Phineas – are killed, the army of Israel is defeated and the Ark of God is taken (4:10-11).
What God desires of His people is to know that He is with them wherever we are. We do not need a box, a set of beads, an idol. For those who have called on the name of the Father through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross we have the abiding presence of God within us. Yet, I know that there are certainly times we do not feel His presence. We have His assurance that He will never leave us nor forsake us. There are times, however, that we do stray from Him.
The problem with Israel at that time was they were engulfed in rebellion. Their spiritual leadership was defying the commandments of God. God had sent messengers to Eli to correct his sons, yet the abominations continued. Thus, the penalty was death, and the capture of the Ark of God.
O, how miserable a lot we can be when we think we can live as we please; in rebellion against God; and think that we can still have power with Him. That is probably the greatest weakness of the present generation of God’s people in Christ. We model the world “to try and win the world”; rather than model Christ and let His Spirit convict and convince the world of His love, mercy and grace.
When Saul had been chosen as king of Israel, and anointed as king by Samuel we hear these words,
“And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee.” 10:7
Samuel had given Saul some signs; events and people he would meet on his return journey home. That is when he tells him these words. He is telling Saul “Do whatever comes to heart and mind” and for this reason: “For God is with you”. The Spirit of God came upon Saul and he prophesied. We are not told what he preached, but he preached the Word of God for sure.
When we are right with God walking in His Spirit we will do what comes from God to please God. The Spirit of God will not do anything that goes against God, His character, or His Word. We do not have God in a box; however, the Christian has Christ within to do what ever the Spirit of the Lord leads us to do. And that will be to honor and glorify God