A jump to 19th week 3rd day. The focus for Sunday (March 6, 2016) is “WHO THE REAL GOD IS.” The real God sits on His throne. The false god falls and breaks apart in the presence of the real God. Here is a detailed account of the event happened among the enemies of Israel, the Philistines. They witnessed the downfall and breaking apart of their own god before the HOLY LIVING GOD of Israel. Many of their people died/suffered an outburst of deadly epidemic plague -tumors (acute cancer). The Philistines leaders witnessed the reality of this God of Israel.
It is no coincidence that today’s Psalm and Proverb both confirm this passage in 1 Samuel 5-6 about the greatness and might of God’s holy presence. He cannot tolerate the presence of evil.
Proverbs 14:32a When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down..
1 Samuel 5-6:13 New Living Translation (NLT) The Ark in Philistia
After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4 But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
6 Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors.[a] 7 When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.”8 So they called together the rulers of the Philistine towns and asked, “What should we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?”
The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic.
10 So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!” 11 The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it[b] will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town. 12 Those who didn’t die were afflicted with tumors; and the cry from the town rose to heaven.
The Philistines Return the Ark
6 The Ark of the Lord remained in Philistine territory seven months in all.2 Then the Philistines called in their priests and diviners and asked them, “What should we do about the Ark of the Lord? Tell us how to return it to its own country.”
3 “Send the Ark of the God of Israel back with a gift,” they were told. “Send a guilt offering so the plague will stop. Then, if you are healed, you will know it was his hand that caused the plague.”
4 “What sort of guilt offering should we send?” they asked.
And they were told, “Since the plague has struck both you and your five rulers, make five gold tumors and five gold rats, just like those that have ravaged your land. 5 Make these things to show honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps then he will stop afflicting you, your gods, and your land. 6 Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go.
7 “Now build a new cart, and find two cows that have just given birth to calves. Make sure the cows have never been yoked to a cart. Hitch the cows to the cart, but shut their calves away from them in a pen. 8 Put the Ark of the Lord on the cart, and beside it place a chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors you are sending as a guilt offering. Then let the cows go wherever they want.9 If they cross the border of our land and go to Beth-shemesh, we will know it was the Lord who brought this great disaster upon us. If they don’t, we will know it was not his hand that caused the plague. It came simply by chance.”
10 So these instructions were carried out. Two cows were hitched to the cart, and their newborn calves were shut up in a pen. 11 Then the Ark of the Lordand the chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors were placed on the cart. 12 And sure enough, without veering off in other directions, the cows went straight along the road toward Beth-shemesh, lowing as they went. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.
13 The people of Beth-shemesh were harvesting wheat in the valley, and when they saw the Ark, they were overjoyed!
Psalm 68 For the choir director: A song. A psalm of David.
1 Rise up, O God, and scatter your enemies.
Let those who hate God run for their lives.
2 Blow them away like smoke.
Melt them like wax in a fire.
Let the wicked perish in the presence of God.
3 But let the godly rejoice.
Let them be glad in God’s presence.
Let them be filled with joy.
4 Sing praises to God and to his name!
Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.[a]
His name is the Lord—
rejoice in his presence!
5 Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
6 God places the lonely in families;
he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
- 68:4 Or rides through the deserts.
Today’s reading: Psalm 68:1-6; 1 Samuel 5:1-7:17; John 6:1-21; Proverbs 14:32-33