And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. 1 Samuel 4:3 + 5
To most of us, Israel’s mistake here is obvious; they formulate a plan of their own outside of the will of God employing the services of two false teachers (Hophni and Phinehas) and steal the Ark of the Covenant. It may have seemed right in their eyes, but the reality was that is was an evil plot. This plan was doomed to fail before it got off the ground.
“When it comes among us it may save us…”
God saves; its are powerless. To erroneously suppose that any eternal good can come out of plan or scheme devised outside of God’s will is ludicrous. That notion feeds into the lie that somehow salvation can accomplished by man’s efforts and the workings of our flesh. Any teaching that incorporates this type of work ethic is not of God and the one professing it should be avoided.
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1
Shouting and Jumping
Within today’s Bible passage there is another warning for the church. Notice as Israel rallied around their plan that they shouted loudly and jumped up and down so vigorously the ground shook. Most certainly there was a hint of godliness in what they were doing; after all they had two priests and they had the Ark of the Covenant in their midst. Perhaps because God did not fry them all on the spot, they incorrectly assumed they were operating in God’s will and with His blessing.
The fact of the matter is that all their hoopla was misguided—they were emotionally hyped about a program and a presentation, and nothing more. They might have been shouting ‘Amen!’ and ‘Hallelujah’, but God was having none of it. Oddly enough, the enemy overhearing the emotion-packed celebration thought these guys were onto something—these non-believers were buying into the hype too! Therein lies another danger.
Is There Any Meat on the Bone
There was no divine substance to what Israel was doing; therefore they were soundly defeated by their unbelieving adversary, giving them the impression that our One and true God is impotent and faithless towards His people. What an awful lie too broadcast to a lost world our Father wants to rescue. I am not saying it is wrong to shout and jump for joy before the Lord; what I am saying is that ‘God says’ it’s wrong to give any kind of honor or glory to something He is not a part of, for to do so is to misrepresent Him and lead people away from salvation.
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1