God’s Presence–Blessing or Curse?
Scripture reading for March 18: 1st Samuel 4-8
I love the presence of the Lord. I almost always have tears or sometimes feel all my senses are alive and awake and a sense of His Peace makes me want to wait quietly or kneel before Him. God’s Presence is something that men and women of God have sought. Moses would not move without God’s Presence going with him. He knew how much he needed it. We certainly need it ourselves!
In today’s reading, the Israelites presumptuously took the Ark of God into battle with them. The Ark of God was the place where God’s Presence rested with the Israelites. (1st Samuel 4:3-5) They had just lost four thousand men in battle and were aware of a need for God’s presence and power. When the Ark was brought into the camp by Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two wicked sons, the camp erupted in shouting! They had a “pentecostal” service right there! The enemy heard the commotion, and it ignited a desire to fight extra hard! The Philistines whipped the Israelites and 30,000 more Israelites died in the ensuing battle! Hophni and Phinehas were killed and the Ark of God was captured! Eli died at this news and his daughter-in-law died in childbirth! What a chain of events! Where was God, anyway? I thought that they had shouted because God was in the camp! How could God let such a thing happen to His people?
First, God had warned Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas about their wickedness and about His coming judgment! (1st Samuel 2:16-22) Sin has consequences! Treating God’s Presence as something to be used or manipulated for advantage is not allowed. Hophni and Phinehas had been dishonoring God, their own father, and the nation by setting a bad example. They had been eating the portion belonging to God–the fat! They had been having sex with the women who served at the temple. God will not be mocked! (Galatians 6:7)
Using the symbol of God’s Holy Presence as a “good luck” charm is not wise! Even all the noise and enthusiasm was not an indication of God’s presence with them! We who are Pentecostal need to take note! The loudest and wildest worship is not always a sign of God’s Presence or approval! We can turn things that represent God’s Presence into an idol very easily! We can also try to manipulate God! Styles of worship, being slain in the Spirit, dancing before the Lord, and other manifestations are fine if genuine and a response to God’s Presence. They are a curse if they are not in “Spirit and Truth”. (John 4:24)
God’s Presence was not a blessing to the Philistines either! Everywhere they took the Ark of God, panic, fear, tumors, death and confusion broke out! God’s Presence is Holy and special. He must be treated with honor and respect by those who know Him! He brings death to those in sin and rebellion!
Take time today to thank Him for His Presence with you in the Holy Spirit! His Spirit is a gift of the Father sent to bless His children!