SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- After dealing with the ark of God for seven months, the Philistines call upon their priests for help in how to send the ark back to Israel.
- The priests tell them they should send a guilt offering with the ark to try and make peace with the God of Israel. The guilt offering, they suggest, should be five gold tumors and five gold rats. Weird!
- The Philistine priests and diviners devise a test to see if God was really the one who had caused all their recent troubles. If the cows went toward Beth Shemesh, then the God of Israel caused the disaster. If the cows go a different direction, God didn't cause it. God sent the cows to Israel, not to pass the Philistines' test, but to show them his mighty power.
- The Israelites rejoiced at the return of the ark of God. However, some of the men of Beth Shemesh were put to death for looking into the ark. God had warned His people to not even look at the sacred objects in the ark or they would die.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Why were people killed for looking into the ark? Only Levites were allowed to move the ark. And God had warned His people to not look into the ark. Because of their disobedience, God carried out His promised judgment. God did not kill the men of Beth Shemesh to be cruel. He killed them because they disregarded his warnings. Israel was living in a cycle of disrespect, disobedience, and defeat. God was calling His people back to complete obedience to Him so this cycle would not continue.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Are there any commands or teachings of God that you are not taking seriously? Anything you're feeling guilty or convicted about? Do not take God's Word or God's presence lightly. Ask God right now if there is an area of your life that you need to surrender to God and His instruction. Thank Him for His love and guidance in your life.