PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In 1 Samuel, the Bible tells of the Israelites war with the Palestinians, and the Palestinians capture of the Ark of the Covenant.
In a tale that rivals the adventures of Indiana Jones, the Ark was passed from Palestinian city to Palestinian city before being sent back to the Israelites with gold tumors and gold rats as gifts of apology.
Let’s get the image of what gold tumors look like out of our heads for a moment (whatever happened to a nice fruit basket?!) and move into 1 Samuel 7.
Verse 2b of the NLT translation says, “During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.”
The Israelites had their Ark back, and at the end of chapter 6, they were happy and celebrating its return!
But they didn’t feel like God was with them.
Have you ever picked up on the yo-yo-iness of the Israelites history with God?
Over and over, they worship God, get complacent, do their own thing, worship other gods, get in trouble, and finally call out to God to rescue them.
Then they worship God, get complacent again, do their own thing, worship other gods, get in trouble, and call out to God again to rescue them.
I read these stories and think, “How could you people not get it?!”
But, if I’m honest, I’ve not been very different in my relationship with Him.
It’s the same vicious cycle.
I may not have actual idols in my house, but I’ve definitely let other things take priority over God.
How about you?
In this particular case, the prophet Samuel said in verse 3, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.”
Basically, the same thing other prophets said to the Israelites in the past… get rid of idols and only worship God!
But remember, new generation here, new Prophet, same vicious cycle.
More proof that history repeats itself.
As I read this though, I couldn’t help but think of the interaction Jesus had with the rich young man in Mark 10:17-22.
The young man asked how he could get into heaven, to which Jesus replied, “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21).
The man’s face fell, and he walked away disappointed.
He didn’t have an idol in the literal sense as it describes in 1 Samuel, but his belongings were his idols.
Sometimes, like the Israelites, we have everything we want and need.
From outward appearances, we should be happy and joyful.
But we feel alone and separated from God.
So what’s standing in the middle?
In every single case, we can employ the well-worn breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
But unlike the times this line is used in a breakup, in this situation, it’s actually true.
If you don’t feel close to God, what is in the way?
Have you let other priorities get in the middle?
We cannot have a close relationship with God without making changes in ourselves.
And we can’t make lasting changes in ourselves without the Holy Spirit.
It boils down to another quote (I’m full of those today!)… “Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
If you want a change in your relationship with God, and you want to feel close to Him, you have to do what Jesus said—be willing to let everything go and follow Him!
Jesus didn’t mean we aren’t allowed to have possessions, but they are supposed to be just that.
They can’t define us or our lives.
Things and status and money…
Nothing can be more important than God!
And if we allow other things to be the priority, then we’re going to be sitting around with a basket of gold tumors and gold rats as we ask ourselves, “What are we supposed to do with this?”
Change begins with our choice.
He gave us free will and He will let us choose between things and Him.
And when we choose God, the Holy Spirit will help guide us and restore us.
Today, as you pray, praise God that He wants a relationship with us and that even though we often make poor choices, He loves us enough to let us choose.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you (or others on your prayer list) reshuffle priorities and make changes so you can be fully restored to God.