“Stealing From God”
I Samuel 5:1-5
- I know I am “preaching to the choir” this morning but, we all know that stealing is not accepted by God.
- We also know that the 7th Commandment of God in Exodus 20:15 is “Thou shalt not steal.”
- I believe I have hit on this point several times over the years as I should, but do we really understand what is stealing and what is not.
- The word “steal” according to Webster’s Dictionary is… 1. To take or appropriate (use for yourself) without permission. 2. To get, take, or give slyly (in a sneaky way) without permission. 3. To obtain that which is not in your possession.
I. The Sins of the Philistines
A) The Philistines took
- Note please in our text of I Samuel 5:1…And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
- This term “…the Philistines took” means that they “stole” something that did not belong to them in the first place.
- Who did it belong to? Israel (God’s people).
- The Philistines…
- Were sea people.
- Were enemies of Israel (To be enemies of Israel is enmity with God) from the time of the Judges to the reign of David.
- Their reign of power was in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza (All of which lie along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.)
- They did not claim to be descendants of Ham, or Hebrew.
- I believe that God allowed the Ark of the Covenant to be taken by the Philistines because Israel had lost its respect for God in their worship and daily living.
- The time of I and II Samuel begins when Israel was at a low point Spiritually…
- The priesthood was corrupt – I Sam. 2:12-17, 22-26
- The Ark of the Covenant was not at the tabernacle (I Sam. 4:3-7)
- Idolatry was practiced (I Sam. 7:3, 4)
- Judges were dishonest (I Sam. 8:2, 3)
- It wasn’t until II Samuel when God withdrew His anger and judgment against Israel for Samuel’s sake.
- To have possession of the Ark meant… to have God’s presence. No matter where the Ark rested, God was present.
- When the Ark of God is removed (as it is here) it meant that God’s presence was gone.
- When you look at 1 Samuel 4:21…And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
- I think of my late father Rev. Kendall Wilcoxson when we would visit a church that had no life, no spirit, and no inkling of God’s presence. He would say upon leaving the services… “They should paint the name “Ichabod” on that church.” And we never went back. I had always thought that Ichabod meant “stupid, or ignorant.” It doesn’t mean that.
- It simply means as verse 21 tells is “…The glory is departed”
- Now back to our main sub-point here “The Philistines took.” You cannot break any of God’s commandments and expect to go unpunished.
- God’s 7th Commandment in Exodus 20 clearly states… “Thou shalt not steal.”
- If you steal something (sin against another person) you will be judged by God, and he will make it perfectly clear who is judging your sin.
- But if you steal from God (Sin against God) God will judge you more harshly and many times that means death.
B) The sin (theft) brings judgment
- Look at I Samuel 2:25…If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
- Eli’s point here to his sons is this…If God is going to bring judgment upon you for your sins against another man (or woman in this case), how much more would God bring judgment upon you for sins against God?
- Speaking of “Judgment,” let us get back to the story at hand…
- Looking at our text of I Samuel 5:2) When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
- What is the “house of Dagon?” Dagon is a “fish god.” This idol was half man (upper torso), and half fish (Lower torso).
- If you believed in God, why would you ever think of putting an idol next to a holy item in the Temple (God’s house.) WHY? It makes no sense.
- The reason for the Philistines to place the Ark in the same temple as Dagon is to give people the idea that Dagon (Philistine god) was not afraid or intimidated by Yahweh (Israel’s God.)
- Well, what do you think happened?
- Look at verse 3) And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
- Their god had fell down on his face towards the Ark of the LORD. What do you suppose that signified? I mean these people thought nothing of it because they picked the idol (Dagon) back up again and put it where it belonged.
- I am sure they probably wrote it off as “The wind blew it over” or there was “a small earthquake” or someone weak may have knocked it over while worshipping it couldn’t lift it up, so they left it.
- Isn’t it like us to write off the judgment of God as a judgment? Or we seem to have tendencies to take God lightly when He is trying to get our attention.
- Now look at what happens next… I Samuel 5:4) And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
- The Philistine priests didn’t get the first message from God, but now the second was pretty obvious wasn’t it?
- Not only had Dagon fell to the ground in front of the Ark of the Covenant (as in showing reverence to God/Yahweh), its head fell off (Always a sign of defeat as David cut off Goliath’s head) and its hands fell off (hands represent work, so it meant the works of this god, or for this god were vain)
- Verse 5) Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
- We see the Philistines sin…whoredom (worshiping idols).
- We see God’s statement… I am God, not Dagon.
- Now look at the punishment (Judgment) of God in verse 6) But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
- Note the two severe judgments…
- “destroyed them” The word “destroyed” here implies that God literally ruined their life, their homes, their army, their worship, their work, everything that had the Philistines hands in it…God destroyed.
- “smote them with emrods” This word “emrods” is like blood boils that are carried by rats and infest humans. These boils are an embarrassment because it attacks “the hinder parts,” as mentioned in Psalms 78:66.
- We see sin, God’s statement, God’s punishment, and now the recognition of God by people… Look at verse 7) And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
- This is the stupidity of men and women today. When sin is evident in their lives and they are content with that, God judges it, people recognize it, but now they still keep on doing what God judged them for. REALLY?
- The Philistines still recognize Dagon as “our god.” STUPID I tell you, just stupid!
- If God showed me a sign like that, I would immediately denounce Dagon as my god, I would throw it in the hottest fire available and start getting on my knees in repentance and supplication and ask God for forgiveness of my ignorance and then thank God for the learning experience.
II. Removing the Item of Sin
A) Recognizing the cause of sin
- When we read verse 7) And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
- The Philistines recognized the fact that the Ark did not belong to them by saying that it “shall not abide (stay, live) with us:”
- Many times people sin and do not recognize it as sin.
- Smoking for example: No where in the Bible does it say “Thou shalt not smoke.” So why is it considered a sin?
- Jesus calls his body a temple – John 2:21…But he spake of the temple of his body.
- Paul says that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit – I Corinthians 6:19 …What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
- Paul further warns us in I Corinthians 3:16…Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
- Smoking is a dirty habit. It pollutes the air, your lungs and the lungs of those within breathing distance. Smoke stains and stinks up everything it touches like clothes, walls, vents, furniture, carpet, paper, interiors, and etc.
- Ask yourself… Would I smoke in God’s house? Would I ask the Holy Spirit for a cigarette? Would I allow someone to destroy God’s house?
- Then why do you do it to the temple of God in your body?
B) Giving the sin to someone else
- Look at I Samuel 5:8…They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, 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 about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about thither.
- So what was wrong with the Philistines giving it to another city of theirs?
- If you steal something, give it back to it’s rightful owner. You do not give it to someone else. WHY?
- Sin has its judgment. That judgment follows and plagues those who touch it.
- Look at it this way…You recognize now that cigarettes are sin, you quit smoking them and so you decide to give your leftover carton of cigarettes to someone else. You have stopped, but you are now helping someone else to keep sinning. You are helping someone else defile their temple (body).
- The Philistines here in verse 8 got rid of the Ark and gave it to their friends.
- The results of their actions are in verse 9… And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
- Now the Philistines have given exact same plague to Gath.
- Gath gets rid of the Ark and tries to give it to Ekron in verse 10…Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people.
- Their punishment was the same… Some it seems were smitten with instant death; others with the hemorrhoids as you see in verse 11… So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines,
- After they had seen the damage start to occur in their own city, they have a meeting of the city council.
- Here is the discussion in the meeting “…and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place,(Its own place is back to Israel) that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
- Verse 12) And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
- The same affect of sin hits those it touches.
- God is not just talking about stealing or smoking a cigarette alone, but rather “anything you do.”
- Parents it is vitally important to teach your children good habits, not bad habits.
- The Philistines were not guilty of just stealing the Ark from Israel, but they stole the lives, spirituality, work, and worship of all the people in Gath and Ekron.
- What are you doing today that is causing someone else to sin?
- Do you realize that their blood is on your hands?
- Get your heart right with God and help people, not hurt them.
- The ramifications of “Stealing from God” are enormous.
Preached by Bro. Ron Wilcoxson on September 16, 2018