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Is God here for us?  Or are we here for God?

In 1 Samuel chapter 4 the Israelites go into battle assuming God is there for them.  In two battles, 34000 Israelites are slaughtered.   Oops.  God wasn't with them.  The high priest, upon hearing the news, falls backwards in his chair, breaks his neck and dies.  Upon hearing the news, the high priest's daughter-in-law panics into labor and dies during the birthing.  She named her child "Ichabod" – which literally means "no glory".  The glory of God was not there for them.

What's so gripping in that account is the role the Ark of the Covenant plays.  Yes- that's the same Ark that Indiana Jones discovers.  The Ark is where God chose to place some of his Presence so that Israel would know that He was with them.  But after some time, rather than the Presence of the Lord being worshiped, the Ark became the object of religious faith.  If we have the Ark, the people began to think, then we have God.  If we possess the Ark, then we possess God.  If we take the Ark with us, then God will go where we want Him to go.  The idea became that because they had the object, because they had the religion, then they must also have the Presence of God.  But during the battles, the Ark is captured by the enemies.  The presence of the Ark did not help the Israelites.  They assumed because they had the Ark, they could not be defeated. 

Oops.  Don't assume.  Don't assume that just because God has done great things in the past that he will do your bidding now.  Don't assume that just because God has been present that he will be present in your desires and actions now.  Don't assume that your arrogance and selfishness and pride won't have any impact on God's Presence with you.  Don't assume that your sin will not have any adverse effect on God's protection of you.  Don't assume that God is here for you.  He has come for your sake, yes.  But that doesn't mean you are saved.

We must first accept one powerful reality.  We are here for God. 

Chapter 3 of 1 Samuel was all about the boy Samuel saying to God, "Here I am, Lord."  How differently would things have gone in Chapter 4 if the people had been seeking after the Lord rather than seeking to have the Lord be after them.

Ken Castor

Ken Castor is a husband, dad, pastor, writer and teacher. He serves as a professor at Crown College, Minnesota, where he equips students to pursue Jesus-Centered Faith and Next Generation Ministry. For 20+ years he's focused on equipping the next generations in places like the U.S., Canada, and Northern Ireland. He's the author of Grow Down (Simply Youth Ministry, 2014), Make a Difference (Broadstreet, 2016), the Blue-Letters Editor of the Jesus-Centered Bible (Group, 2015) and numerous other articles and Bible Study guides. But, whenever possible, he gets down on the floor and builds Lego with his kids. Connect with him @kencastor.

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