This is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. As we wrote about yesterday, the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant during the rout of the Israelites that lead to 30,000 men’s deaths. The Philistines believe that the ark itself is the God that the Jews worshiped and so that set it up within one of their own temples to the god Dagon in the city of Ashdod.
But Dagon and the God of the Jews didn’t make good roommates – in fact, Yahweh seemed to play the part of the controlling roommate who takes over the whole apartment. One night together and Dagon is found face down on the floor in front of the ark of God.
Imagine the Philistines! What was going through their heads? They just celebrated a mighty victory over Israel and now here is their god face down in his own temple no less! What to do when your idol falls down? Well, you pick it back up and put it in its place – and so that is what they did.
Unfortunately for Dagon, Yahweh still didn’t want to share space with him. And so the next day, the priest of Dagon enter the temple only to find the idol Dagon face down again but this time his head and his hands have been cut off from the truck of his body. Talk about your rough nights! And there sit the ark of the covenant acting all innocent – but the priests of Dagon knew what happened…they knew…
So not only did the ark of God destroy the idol of their god, but he also began to afflict the people of Ashdod with tumors. In fact the whole area ended up with tumors! And the townspeople begin to quickly decide that they want no part of this ark – and they ask, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They decided to get it out of their town and to ship it down the road to Gath.
But at Gath, things didn’t get better – the town began to be panicked and tumors began breaking out among the men of the city – both young and old. So, they quickly decided that the ark needed shipped off too – send it to Ekron!
Ekron wanted no part of this plan – in fact they thought that their Philistine brothers must be trying to kill them by sending the ark to them. And they sent the ark away to return to its own people…but not before they whole city was in a panic and filled with tumors – some men died and those that didn’t were filled with tumors and they cried out to the heavens…
- One of the descriptions for the God of the Jews and Christians is a jealous God – he is not a god to be trifled with – he is a God that will come into your house and mess with your life because he can – he’s God. We see the idol of Dagon quickly disposed by the nearness of the God of Israel. Which begs the question for me? What idols do I have in my life? Do I really think that this Jealous God will continue to allow them to stand in the temple of my heart? Or will he ruthlessly deal with them like he handled Dagon?
- Another thought that is rattling in my head is this: picture the insanity of the priests of Dagon who simply stood by their broken idol rather than looking into worshiping the God of the Jews? They see their god get destroyed by the God of Israel, but stay faithful to their god rather than aligning themselves with the greater power. But I guess that sometimes I do the same too – I rely on my idols to entertain me, to thrill me rather than seeking the truly wonderful God that I claim to serve. It’s easy to simply do what I have always done rather than seeking what this God has for me. But there is no dispute, this God, this Jealous God will not allow any other gods to be placed before him – he is like no other. He is altogether different than these weak idols.
- Father God, holy Lord, you are different – you are holy, you are set apart. Help me to worship you alone as you alone are worthy of my worship. You alone deserve any praise that I have to give – you alone are the One True God. Ruthlessly destroy any idol that I place in the temple of my heart beside you – cut off their heads and twist off their hands – you alone be enthroned in my heart tonight. You alone be worshiped for what you have done and what you are doing. Be worshiped tonight by my life! In Jesus’ name, Amen.