The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron
5 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.
6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”
They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.
As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
Today we have an interesting story of the Ark of God. The Ark represented God's presence in many places in the Old Testament. It was called the Ark of Testimony, because it contained the tablets of the Law (Ten Commandments), and the terms of the God's covenant with Israel. Since God was present with was in the ark, it was holy and powerful. Note the following uses of the Ark:
1. The waters of the Jordan parted when the Ark was present. Joshua 3
2. The Ark was carried around Jericho as it fell into Israel's hands. Joshua 6
3. When Eli was priest of Israel, it was carried in hopes of defeating the Philistines. Not only did they lose the battle, but the Philistines captured the Ark. Then after 7 months it was gladly returned because calamity and disease oppressed the people in whatever town the Ark was
4. When King David became the King it returned to the temple,
5. When King Uzzah reached out to grab the Ark when it was falling, he died instantly.
6. When the Babylonians destroyed the temple in 586 b.c., they carried out the Ark with them. There is no conclusive evidence what happened to it after that.
So what can we learn from this?
1. God is holy and when he is present there is power and holiness that will not co-exist with evil. Light and darkness have nothing in common.
2. Since our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, like the Ark, God's presence goes with us.
3. What would it look like to realize that every time we engage in something evil, we are carrying the Ark of God's presence with us?
4. We have the power of God within us, so we never need to be afraid of any other power.
5. The Holy Spirit who lives within us is a deposit of our future inheritance. Meaning one day we dwell in the house of God forever, with anyone else who calls on the name of The Lord!