Tuesday, July 12, 2022

How Do You Lose God?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.  1 Samuel 7:3 

How Do You Lose God?

Israel was a nation of God’s chosen people who had become too familiar with His presence. This can happen to us in relationships in our lives. Left unchecked, we can begin to treat the most important people in our lives the worst. We give the best of ourselves to others all day long and save the worst for when we are at home. Like Israel we can also become so familiar with God’s presence in our lives that we misplace it. We can let our familiarity with Him cause us to not pay close enough attention to Him and the honor and reverence He deserves from us. 

God made a covenant with Moses - He promised good to the Israelites and their children for generations if they obeyed Him and His laws; but there were warnings also if they were to disobey. As a sign of His covenant, He had the Israelites make a box according to His own design, in which to place the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. This box was called the “Ark of the Covenant” and was to be housed in the inner sanctum of the tabernacle in the desert and eventually in the Temple when it was built in Jerusalem. This chest is known as the Ark of the Covenant.

Eli, the priest of Israel is old, and his sons are godless and rebellious – and they are in charge. Because of unholiness, sin, false gods, and bad leadership, the Philistines were gaining the upper hand in battle with Israel. In 1 Samuel Chapter 4, Israel lost a battle with the Philistines and 4000 of the Israelite soldiers were killed. The elders were confused about why God had allowed this to happen to them – instead of realizing that maybe they were not as committed to God at that moment as they should be, and that might be the problem. 

Instead of looking inward at their own hearts and level of devotion to God, they blamed God for letting this happen to them. Haven’t we all questioned God a time or two about why He has “allowed” some situations or circumstances to happen in our lives? I think the answer is yes and I think the lesson we can learn here is that we need to look inward and take inventory before we blame God. Have we been putting Him first, or have we been allowing other “gods” to sit on His throne? 

Please hear me – what I am not saying is that we bring on tragedy and hurt and illness, etc. because of our sin. I am saying if we feel like God is absent, the first place we need to look is inside our hearts, to check our level of devotion like the Israelites should have done.  

The elders decided that if they brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle that would fix the problem of them losing against the Philistines. The Israelites rallied loudly, and the Philistines were afraid for a minute. Then they rallied and defeated the Israelites in a great slaughter of 30,000 men. In the battle the irreverent and selfish sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were killed - and the ark of God was captured by the enemy. For the first time ever, the Ark was not in Israel’s possession. When Eli heard the news, he fell off the stool he was sitting on, broke his neck, and died. The mood was grim, and the Israelites could feel the absence of God.

The Israelites eventually got the Ark back, but they failed to reverence God's law in handling the Ark and 50,070 more Israelites die. Even with the presence of God among them, they fail to reverence Him. They think just having the Ark back is enough but false worship and empty praise will be nothing more than going through the motions. We can lose God when He is right there with us just like the Israelites did. We tuck Him under our arm or stuff Him in the bag along with everything else we have made more important than Him, and just like that, He is lost in the chaos of our lives. 

We may not realize He is missing until we get to a point like the Israelites where we greatly feel the absence of His presence in our lives. Just bringing Him with us doesn’t make Him Lord over our lives. We place Him in that position, and He won’t share it. Until we align our hearts and minds with Him, give Him the right place He deserves, and get rid of everything else that doesn’t belong, He will be lost in plain sight in our lives. 


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