Knowing God is not
This interpretation focuses on the book of Samuel. Israel had been in the promise land
for quite some time. The time of the
Judges was coming to a close and the kings of Israel were about to reign. This was a time in which Israel was in
rebellion against God.
In those days there was no king in Israel: every
man did that which was right in his own eyes.
This statement at the end of the book of Judges exhibits how
that Israel had walked away
from the God who delivered them from Egypt and had trusted in their own
selfish ways. They had known and
experienced the power of God in their lives yet always went back to worshiping
their own thoughts and attitudes.
1 Samuel 2: 27-30
And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him,
Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when
they were in Egypt
in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him
out of all the tribes to be my priest, to offer upon my alter, to burn incense,
to wear and ephod before me? And did I give unto the house of thy father all
the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine
offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above
me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel
my people? Wherefore the Lord God of
Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should
walk before me forever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them
that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly
Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas had been dishonoring the
Lord by coveting the daily sacrifices.
They also allowed themselves to lay with the women who assembled at the
tabernacle door (1 Samuel 2:22). This
infuriated the Lord and he pronounced judgment against the House of Eli (above)
and against his two sons specifically (below).
1 Samuel 2:34
And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon
thy sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
The fact that the priesthood was in direct rebellion simply
shows how far the entire nation of Israel was from serving the
Lord. The people looked to the priests
as their example and when the priesthood dishonored the Lord, the people simply
followed suit. This overall rebellion
leads us directly to the interpretation at hand. Basically when a people decide to walk away
from God’s witness in their lives, this same witness will walk back into theirs.
1 Samuel 4:1-11
And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the
Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched
in Aphek. And the Philistines put
themselves in array against Israel:
and when they joined battle, Israel
was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field
about four thousand men. And when the
people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the
Lord smitten us today 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.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark
of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and
the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the
covenant of God. And when the ark of the
covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout,
so that the earth rang again (Pride).
And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What
meaneth the noise of this 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 (feared), for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! For there hath not been such a thing therefore. Woe unto us! Who shall deliver us out of the
hand of these might Gods? These are the
gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye
Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to
you: quit yourselves like men, and
fight. And the Philistines fought,
and Israel was smitten, and
they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for
there fell of Israel
thirty thousand footmen. And the ark
of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
What’s the moral of the story? The ones that feared God won. Israel as a people knew God and
they also had the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized the power of God. This is why they let out an earth-ringing
shout. They had great pride in God and
in what He could do. But it was the
Philistines who feared the presence of the Lord.
…Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom…
The value of this interpretation is not difficult to
see. The Philistines had the right
attitude. They were afraid, and even admitted
to it. They knew that Israel’s God
was mighty and they even quoted what the Lord did in the wilderness with the
Egyptians. This showed their
belief. Israel, on the other hand, had
pride in God. They knew God but were not
worshiping Him by the fear of the Lord.
This was the witness they had forgotten which eventually came back into
their lives. To know God is not good
enough. Israel thought just because they
had the ark in their possession that they would overcome their enemies. God rebuked this frame of mind and even
allowed the Philistines to capture the ark and take possession of it, a direct
rebuke to Israel’s
false security. Israel’s
security never should have been in the presence of the ark, but in their
service through fear, which was the witness they had forgotten. When they ignored this, God reminded them by
allowing the Philistines to conquer them.
The Philistines won that day because the people who feared the Lord overcame the people who knew the Lord.
Today the body of Christ claims to know the Lord. Like the army of Israel with the ark we falsely
believe since we carry a bible and claim to know Jesus that we are unstoppable
and blessed, and that God will always honor us.
But we need to understand from the scriptures above. When those who don’t even know the Lord live
in a state of Godly fear because, by their limited knowledge, they see Him at
work in the world or in their lives…won’t God work on their behalf? Won’t God honor them and at the same time
rebuke His body because we who have the Spirit of God living inside of us have
decided to walk away from the fear of the Lord and worship God according to our
attitudes and traditions.
For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles
through you, as it is written. For
circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker
of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the
righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for
circumcision? And shall not
uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the
letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly;
neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and
circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose
praise is not of men, but of God.
I am not saying God is not with the Body of Christ, God is
always with His Body. But because we
have decided to walk away from the fear of the Lord, we have opened a door for
the world to look more stable and secure than we do. When the world, with their limited knowledge
of God, serves God with a consistent fear, then are we surprised that the Body
of Christ has a higher percentage of divorces than the world? Are we surprised that we have more anarchy,
doubt and self-rebellion than the people next to us who don’t even go to
fellowship or even claim to know God.
Maybe this is because we who go to fellowship and claim to know God are
worshiping Him but not serving Him. We
say we love God, yet we do not show it in the witness of our lives. To whom much is given, much is required… and
perhaps because we have the Spirit of God living inside of us, God is requiring
more from us. There is more anarchy in
us simply because we have more to live up to (accountability). The world does not have the Spirit of God
living inside of them, the Body of Christ does.
God says I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy, and I will have
compassion upon whom I have compassion (Romans 9:14-16). If the Body were to start living what they
knew (John 13:17) then God would still have mercy on the world, but His power
would be visible in his Body. He would
honor and mend weak marriages. He would
honor vows and dedications and full service to Himself. He would work within our troubles and efforts
and the Body of Christ would shine as a light on a dark hill. But we cannot expect God to honor us when we
do not honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30). We as
the Body of Christ have the Spirit and power of God present in our lives and we
have no witness of that power. This is
because we have walked away from the fear of the Lord… and from the headship of
Jesus Christ. We claim to know God but
this is clearly not enough. We have to
live that witness by our actions and it is by our actions that we will show the
world that we know the Lord. Understand
from this example of scripture. The
Philistines won that day because they feared the Lord. If we can learn to have a reverent fear of
the Lord through our actions and attitudes then there is no doubt that God will
honor that fear and will work to establish and strengthen His Church, which is
his body of believers.
Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that
glory may dwell in our land.