God’s presence–blessing or curse?
Scripture reading for March 17th: 1st Samuel 4-8
I love the presence of the Lord. I almost always experience tears or feel my senses are alive. In His presence, a sense of His peace makes me want to wait quietly or kneel. Moses would not move without God’s Presence going with him. (Exodus 33:15) He knew how much he needed it and we do too!
The Israelites took the Ark of God into battle with them. (1st Samuel 4:3-5) They had just lost four thousand men in battle and were aware of a need for God’s presence. When the Ark was brought into the camp by Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two sons, the camp erupted in shouting! But 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 when he heard about it and his daughter-in-law died in childbirth! 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) Treating God’s Presence as something to be used or manipulated for advantage was not allowed. Hophni and Phinehas had been dishonoring God. 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)
The Israelites had used the symbol of God’s presence as a ‘good luck’ charm! All the noise and shouting 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 or try to manipulate God with our flesh! 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! Let the humble hear and fear!