The Power of God

A conversation between Joe and Nick.

(Nick)  When Joe and Rachel visited we always have great times of fellowship. Their last visit was no exception. They had just returned from Oregon and Joe was primed for preaching. We sat around the table one morning after breakfast and shared the following from the Word.

Joe:  I was reading the first book of Samuel and you know what, the Ark of God was strong. In Chapter 5 we see that the Philistines captured the Ark of God from Israel and took it home with them.

The philistines put the Ark into the temple of their god. The next morning they found their idle bowing down to the Ark of God.

When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon's torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.  1 Samuel 5:2-5

The Ark of God was a serious thing. It was one place on the earth that God kept his presence. As long as it was with Israel, His presence was with Israel. But the philistines who took the ark had to pay a price.

But the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.”  1 Samuel 5:6-7

The Philistines had a problem. They decided to move the Ark of the Lord to another city. Five cities saw death and sickness.

Therefore they sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away. So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them. Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!”  1 Samuel 5:8-10

Then the Philistines had a meeting and decided to send the Ark of God back to Israel where it belonged.

So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.  1 Samuel 5:11-12

The Philistines realized that sending the ark back to Israel was not an easy thing to do. God won't be trifled with. He is not an idle of man. He is the creator of the universe. They called the priests and diviners and asked what they should do.

And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” So they said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” Then they said, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords.  1 Samuel 6:2-4

The Philistines followed that cart until it arrived in Beth Shemesh. They wanted to make sure the Power of God in the Ark was not carried back into their cities.

Then take the ark of the Lord and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go.   And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us—it happened to us by chance.” Then the men did so; they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they set the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors. Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.  1 Samuel 6:8-12

They watched Israel rejoice over the Ark of God and offer a sacrifice. The Philistines did not leave until they saw Israel burn an offering to God.

Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley; and they lifted their eyes and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see it. Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the LORD. So when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day. 1 Samuel 6:13-16

The Philistines included a Trespass offering with the ark of God.

These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned as a trespass offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; and the golden rats, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and country villages, even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the LORD, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.  1 Samuel 6:17-18

Israel had the Ark of God and they had favor with God, but they still didn't understand the power of God. While they celebrated a few fellows went over to the ark and looked inside. Their lack of reverence cost them their life.

Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter. 1 Samuel 6:19

Nick: Yes the Ark was powerful. It was the Spirit of God that went with the ark. It was the Spirit of God who was taken into the philistine camp and away from His chosen people. Can you imagine the sadness of God? He had done so much for them. But they rejected His council and lost their connection to Him when the ark was stolen. We live in a fallen world. Even as believers we can do things that place walls between us and God. God could have prevented the Ark from being stolen. He didn't. He wanted Israel to choose to love Him and honor Him. He isn't interested in forcing us to love Him. He wants us to come to Him with our own free will. 

Joe:  The philistines tried to mix their religion with the one true God. But God won't be mixed into the rules and regulations of man. Their idle was found bowed down to the Ark of God. No idle or religion of man can stand before God. Then sickness and death went through the philistine camp. The Ark of God is not just ornament. It represented the power of God.

Nick: When we give our hearts to the Lord, the Spirit of God comes into us and we become like Arks of God.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  1 Corinthians 3:16

The movies suggest that there is an ark somewhere that has power and fellows like Indiana Jones are looking for it. But they are looking for the wrong thing. The power of the ark was the Spirit of God and not the physical item itself.

We become the ark when we turn our lives over to Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit moves into us. The Holy Spirit through us is the power of God. The bible describes the Power of God in us.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height --”to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3: 14-21

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Ephesians 6:10

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1: 6-7

Joe:  Yes, we have the power to move mountains. The important part is to believe.

So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:22-24

Nick: Believe what though? Should we believe the confession of our mouth? Is this where the power is? Or should we believe in our great faith? Is this where the power is? Please don't miss understand my questions. We do need to need to confess Christ Jesus is Lord and have faith unto salvation. But the power comes from God and not ourselves. We need to believe that the power of God is Strong within us. He moves mountains through us.

Joe: Yes it's the power of Christ within us. We need to meditate on the power of Christ in us. Meditate on what the power of God is able to do in our lives and in the lives of those around us.