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.
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.
And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (1 Sam. 4:3, 6-8, 20-21)
Israel had forgotten their Lord and put their trust in the ark itself as the symbol of God’s power. The Philistines, recognizing the power but not the Lord who delivered Israel from Egypt with the plagues, stood up in the face of the God of Israel and prevailed. God had pulled back His hand of protection from Israel because of the despicable behavior of the sons of Eli as priests and allowed Israel to be defeated by the Philistines. Eli was devastated by the news of the death of his sons, even though he had been told that the judgment of God was upon them and died of a broken neck, having fallen off the stool he was on when told of their deaths. God was cleaning house and the wife of Phinehas, one of Eli’s sons, recognized the departure of the glory of God, though she attributed it to the departure of the ark, as she gave birth to a son she named Ichabod, meaning God’s glory had departed them.
We should be careful as the children of God not to get ahead of God or go out before Him where He does not lead us. Trying to accomplish any ministry or mission work apart from God, while it may seem to function for a time, will lead eventually to disaster and failure, for God is not in it. Even those programs or plans which God may have led us to, if we take the ministry away from His direction, we will no longer be protected by His sovereign hand. His glory will not be on our work and our works will not be for His glory. Our calling to reach the lost for Christ through the unchanging Word of God, teach all nations the Commandments of the Word of God, and to preach, in season and out, the whole Word of God, has not changed. How we accomplish the plans and purposes of God in discipleship, missions, and ministry may change from time to time as God directs but we must understand that it is God who saves, not the bread, or the cross around our neck, or the water, or any other ‘it’ which we may look to for salvation. Only God saves through faith by His grace alone. Our faith comes from the Word of God, the Scriptures written by holy men of God and preserved that we might know Him and grow in Him because of our faith in Him and His finished and perfect work on the Cross of Calvary. When the object of our faith is no longer the God of Scripture then we miss His blessing and His glory will be departed from us.
God has sent those of us who are His saints and know Him out into this world to reach the lost that they might be saved from sin. He desires that His people strive to be holy and obedient unto Him that we might minister to those around us who are hurting and in need as He provides. We serve others, equipped with the Word of reconciliation and righteousness, rightly divided and fitly spoken, that they may see Christ in us, the hope of Glory. Our God has commanded us to love one another with an unfeigned love, even as He first loved us, and to disciple one another in the Word of God so that we may all grow in grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our Lord has commissioned those who are His with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to go where He sends us in the power of the Holy Spirit. As we go, we are to proclaim the Good News of forgiveness through repentance and reconciliation with the Father through faith in His Son, that those who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of God might have life in His Name.
God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and the knowledge of the Truth. Jesus loves you and wants to establish a covenant relationship with you that is real and personal. Surrender to Him on His terms and He will give you a brand new life of discipleship and fellowship with Him that is abundant and everlasting. God calls you to faith in Christ and His finished and perfect work on the Cross of Calvary to pay your sIn debt. He has provided the only way of reconciliation with God, forgiveness from God, and Salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who is God the Son, to give you a new life in Christ. Turn away from yourself and your sIn and turn to Him alone for eternal Life, now and always.