May 10

1 Samuel 5:11-12 (NIV) 11So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, "Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people." For death had filled the city with panic; God's hand was very heavy upon it. 12Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

Israel was defeated in their first skirmish with the Philistines. Instead of seeking God as to why, they brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle, like a big lucky charm. The evil sons of Eli carried it. They were defeated. Eli's sons were killed, and the Ark was taken.

Upon hearing the news, 98-year-old overweight Eli fell backward, broke his neck and died. Did he think God could not take care of the Ark? Sometimes we think everything is lost, but we forget God can fight without us. Samuel was still in Shiloh but the LORD could bring back the Ark all by Himself.

One God of the Philistines was a fish-man, Dagon. They were sea voyaging traders and so they created a god that looked like a fish but had a head of a man and hands. When the Ark was left before the Dagon statue, the next morning found Dagon collapsed and the head and hands had broken off.

Everywhere the Ark went there was death and sickness. Finally they had enough. They set the Ark on a cart with gold presents. Two cows were taken from their calves and harnessed to the cart. Crying all the way, they took the Ark back to Israel.

God showed that He could take care of His own reputation. In the process He showed that Dagon was just a statue. The Israelites had to see that the defeat was because of their sin not lack of power in God. We learn that God can redeem even the worst situations all by Himself.

Consider: God can defend his own reputation.

May 10

Luke 11:30-32 (NIV) 30For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

When the heart of man is stubbornly hard, God will give signs. In Solomon's day, the world was awed at the wisdom and blessing of God upon Solomon. A heathen queen traveled a great distance to hear his wisdom. If that Gentile would make such an effort to learn truth, what should we do when someone greater than Solomon is present?

Jonah was sent to the Ninevites. They were brutal Gentile enemies of Israel. His three days in the belly of a great fish was a sign to them of how much concern God had for them. Someone greater than Jonah came to the Jews of the first century. He gave them a similar but more amazing sign. He lay dead for three days and rose to life.

We could say that this applies to the Jews of the first century. It surely does, but One equally great is here today. The Holy Spirit has been poured out. He is greater than Solomon and Jonah. Are we listening to Him? How far will we go to hear His voice and learn the truth? Are we considering the many signs He gives us? Are we hearing His preaching that brings conviction, encouragement, and comfort? Will the Queen of the South and the Ninevites rise up and condemn us for not hearing and believing, or have we joined their ranks as repentant Gentiles? We will all rise at the judgment on one side or the other.

Prayer: Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear the Holy Spirit in the world today.