What Shall the End Be?

By on January 24, 2015

“But Do You Know God??”
1Samuel 5, 6 with 1Peter 4:17

August 26, 2007
by C.W. Powell

I will not read all of chapters 5 and chapters 6 in 1Samuel today. This history does not need a lot of explanation and it will be sufficient for our purposes today to summarize and make some observations and applications.

I should say a few things by way of introduction: We must be careful not to try to derive doctrine from the historical portions of Scripture. The Bible is the word of God, and the inspiration of the Scripture guarantees the accuracy of the history, but does not guarantee the rightness of the deeds. For instance, the Bible says that the fool has said in his heart “There is no God.” That is accurate: the fool does say that there is no God. But the fool lied when he said it. The Bible does not say that there is no God, but the Bible does say that the fool said that there is no God. It is a lie to say there is no God, but it is accurate to say that the fool said that there is no God. Cain killed Abel. That is accurate. Cain did it. It was a wicked act and the Bible records the act accurately. So in this history, there are some astonishing things recorded. Some repulsive things are recorded. We will look at this accurate history and try to evaluate the events from the point of view of the doctrinal portions of Scripture.

You remember that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines and the two sons of the high priest Eli had been slain. Upon hearing the news about the Ark, the old man fell backward from his bench and had died from a broken neck. The daughter in law of Eli, the wife of Phinehas had gone into labor at the news of the capture of the Ark and was delivered of a son, whom she named Ichabod, because she thought that the glory had departed from Israel. The bible record is accurate; she really thought that the glory had departed from Israel, because she didn’t know what the glory of Israel was.

In actual fact, Israel had received two terrible blows that day for God removed a couple of precious treasures from them: the symbol of the Ark of the Covenant was taken from them with the Table of Stones; the high priest and his two sons were removed from then, the beginning of the extinction of Eli’s house.

But the glory had not departed from Israel, as I said. The true Glory of Israel was the oracles of God that were given to them, for God had purposed to see that the promise of the Savior would be preserved in Israel until the One came to whom the promise was given, even our Lord Jesus Christ. The word of God had fallen almost into extinction which resulted in the rise of superstition and error, but God had not forgotten His people, but was even then restoring His word to them through a young lad growing up in the tabernacle at Shilo, Samuel the prophet who would restory the priesthood and anoint David to be king of all of Israel and promise him that his kingdom would be established forever, through our Lord Jesus Christ.

There are two fatal mistakes that people can make about the ceremonies and the objects that God has ordained for His worship. The New Testament uses very few of these. We have two sacraments involving water, bread, and wine. Israel had a great many objects and things and ceremonies. What are the mistakes:

1. We can make too much of them. The Ark was not to be esteemed above measure. It could not deliver them from their enemies or forgive their sins. It was a symbol of God’s presence with them, but even that had diminished, because no one died when men entered into the Holy of Holies at Shilo to removed the ark from the sacred room to take it into battle. Eli and his sons were to be held responsible for the defiling of the worship at Shilo by greed and fornication., so that men despised the sacrifices of the Lord. But even the priesthood established in Aaron was not the glory of Israel. They were but faint images of the true glory, the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek. God had not and would not take away the promise deposited and preserved in Israel until the seed came to whom the promise was given, as Galatians tells us. The symbols, the ceremonies, Aaron’s priesthood were not the real thing, could not take away sin, but were only appointed until the Lord Jesus came. Israel made too much of these things and gloried in the outward things and not in the truth.

2. We can make too little the ceremonies and the things appointed for worship. The Philistines who took the Ark made too little of it, and did not realize that God Himself had appointed it for a symbol of His presence with His people. God had judged Eli’s house and Israel for the superstition and vanity, but He would not allow the heathen to think that there was no difference between His people and the heathen, or that the God of Israel, Jehovah, was just like all the other vanities of this wicked world.

The major lesson is this: if God chastises his people who are given the promises and the covenants, how much heavier will His hand be upon the ungodly who stink with idolatry and would glory over Him. The text for our application is

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1Pe 4:17 AV)

If the people of the promises can scarcely stand in the presence of the Holy God, how shall the ungodly fare in the revelation of His glory and Power? Answer: They shall not stand, but it will go very hard with them. The events of these chapters show that God stands alone in the world; He is above all the vanities that men call God and alone rules in the nations of men. There is only one God, the Living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

So let us summarize the history of the Ark among the Philistines and draw from instruction from it. There are four major considerations in chapters 5 and 6


I. Jehovah’s Triumph over Idolatry:
1Samuel 5:1-5

“1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. 2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. 3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. 4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. 5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.” (1Sa 5:1-5 AV)

A. The heathen do not care about the number of gods. What is offensive about the true worship of God is its claim to exclusivity. You cannot worship God aright if you do not worship Him alone. You do not trust in Christ if you do not trust in Him Alone. God revealed that He alone is the true God, and false gods are thrown down in His presence.

B. The Philistines meant to glory over Israel and Jehovah. This was the reason the Ark was put into the temple of Dagon. The preeminence of Dagon in that temple were serve to show that Jehovah was an inferior god of an inferior people.

C. Any god that has to be propped up by human wisdom and strenghth is no God. Jehovah is the living God. If the bread of the mass is truly the body of Christ, why would Christ allow his body to be eaten with rats? Cannot the living God contend for His own glory? And His own safety?

D. The human part of Dagon was broken off from the fish part. God would show that there is a difference between animals and people. The image of God is not to be confused with animals and creatures, for man is the image of God.

E. If you are not able to distinguish between the true God and vanity; then you will not be able to distinguish between people and animals. Being blind to the image of God because of your ignorance of God, you become blind to a great many things, including the difference between people and fish.

F. Note the stupidity of the idolaters. They hallowed the threshold that broke off the head and hands of Dagon when it fell the second time. This custom would preserve the memory of the shame of Dagon. Vain ceremonies perpetuate the same of the idolaters. This practice had come even into Israel and the prophet Zephaniah condemned those who followed the practice.


II. Jehovah’s Triumph over Idolaters:
1Samuel 5:6-12:

“6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. 7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. 8 They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither. 9 And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts. 10 Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people. 11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. 12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.” (1Sa 5:6-12 AV)

A. There were five major cities of the Philistines along the coast of Palestine. The Ark was first taken to Ashdod where the temple of Dagon was. This did not prove to be a happy decision, for terrible things happened. The men of Ashod were afflicted by God with painful tumors, which we would call hemorrhoids. The men of Ashdod rightly attributed it to the god of Israel and they called a great council of the

B. Their solution: send the Ark to Gath. But where will you escape from the God of the whole earth? The removal to Gath just made things worse. A great “destruction” was added to the hemorrhoids. So they took the Ark to Ekron—I guess they didn’t want to show any discrimination. The result was greater destruction which evidently was plague and the devastation of the fields with field mice, destroying the crops. The plague of the hemorrhoids was very bitter.

C. How can you anticipate what method God will use to afflict the ungodly. He has ways that you have not even thought of. Preachers should beware of pronouncing judgments, for you do not know what God will do. Who would have thought that God would use such a disgusting method of afflicting the Philistines, but an abominable, debased people, worshipping a vain and debased image with abominable and corrupt ceremonies and rites received a just punishment for thinking that Jehovah was just like their God. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but it seems fitting, somehow.

D. One thing I do know: when God reveals Himself in the affliction of the ungodly, it will be fitting and proper, and they won’t like it. The Philistines didn’t like it. Their cry ascended to heaven, and they decided they had to send the Ark back where it belonged.

III. Jehovah Himself Returns His Ark to Israel: 1Samuel 6:1-13

“1 And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place. 3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you. 4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. 5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. 6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? 7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them: 8 And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go. 9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us. 10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home: 11 And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods. 12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh. 13 And they of Bethshemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it.” (1Sa 6:1-13 AV)

A. We should note the baseness and corruption of idolatry. Idolatry always goes downward. How blind and corrupt are the minds and souls of idolaters!

B. How could they think that God would be propitiated by images of hemorrhoids? You have to compliment the skill of the artists, I suppose, but what a horrible and corrupt subject for art. Everything good and beautiful in man is corrupted by idolatry. Music become banging and twanging; painting becomes jarring colors with grotesque subjects; drama become obsessed with the occult, the obscene, the scatological, the foul. Language is given over to excrement and blasphemy, because the heart is full of such things. Fellowship and friendship is celebrated by drunkenness and vomiting. Those who are called Christians ought to have their eyes fixed higher than the dunghill of idolatry and the cesspool of corruption.

C. The artists of the Philistines in the service of the state and of God, made images of hemorrhoids. Nothing else, I suppose, needs to be said, and I shan’t.

D. Note: it is true that in the heathen world in ancient times, people would make images of body parts that had been healed of some disease and lay these images on the altars of their gods. This practice made its way into the Christian church and is practiced even today in some parts of the world. This is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, where we are commanded to “set our affections on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God.” There are no garbage dumps, cesspools, diseases, and corruption in heaven and we ought not become preoccupied with them on the earth. Clean them up when you have to, but take a bath afterwards. Don’t live there.

E. If you follow idolatry and refuse submission to the Living God, a good bit of your life will be involved with the base, the low, the vulgar, the corrupt, for God will give you over to such things.

F. They wanted to make sure that they didn’t just have some bad luck. So they got cows who had recently had calves to pull the cart. They made a new cart, for the heathen somehow know that they should do their best, they put the images of the mice and the hemorrhoids into a coffer, loaded the Ark on the cart, and the Five Lords of the Philistines, with all their retinue I suppose, followed after to see what would happen.

G. For seven months the ark had been among the Philistines. They were slow learners.

IV. Jehovah Brings Joy to Israel and Chastens the Presumptuous: 1Samuel 6:14-21

“14 And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD. 15 And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD. 16 And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. 17 And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one; 18 And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite. 19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 20 And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us? 21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you.” (1Sa 6:14-21 AV)

A. At first the inhabitants of the Israelite town of Bethshemesh were elated. Levites who either resided in the town or were called, came to take down the ark from the cart. They placed it on a great rock along with the coffer with the gifts to Jehovah, and used the wood of the new cart to offer the milk cows unto the Lord. There was much wrong with this ceremony, for little attention was paid to the order set forth in the law concerning the sacrifices to Jehovah.

B. They presumptuously looked into the Ark, and were swiftly visited with the chastening of the Lord. The things which are hidden belong to the Lord and we are forbidden to pry into them. True faith involves mystery and awe—true respect for holy things and things forbidden. If you lay defiled hands upon the holy things, you will pay a terrible price for it. Two sins are warned against:


1. The sin of handling holy things with defiled hands. Judgment comes upon those who do. Coming to the Lord’s Supper with an unprepared heart. Make peace with God and make peace with your brother.

2. The sin of offering strange fire to the Lord: offering up your own agenda to God. The chastening with be harsh.

C. Who is able to stand before the Lord? This question is asked many times in Scripture. There is only one answer: none in his own right, but only those who by faith are engrafted into Jesus Christ.

May God bless you.

May God bless you.

Amen and Amen

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