Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Ark, the Milkshake, and the Glory of God

“After the battle was over, the army of Israel retreated to their camp, and their leaders asked, “Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.””(1 Samuel 4:3 NLT)

“Then she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.”” (1 Samuel 4:22 NLT)

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NIV)

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:”(John 17:22 NIV)

“He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(2 Thessalonians 2:14 NIV)

As human beings, we long for the power and glory that only comes from God. This is especially true during desperate times. Early in Samuel's life, the Israelites were in such times of desperation. Already under Philistine domination, they had just fought a new battle with their oppressors in which they lost 4,000 men. The military leaders realized that they needed a new strategy. Desperate times called for desperate measures. In spite of the the anxiety of the high priest, they decided to take the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. Their strategy was simple, "it will save us from our enemies".

Instead, the Israelites experienced an even greater defeat. More that 30,000 people lost their lives, including the two sons of the high priest. When the high priest heard the news, he also collapsed and died. Finally, his daughter-in-law went into labor and died in childbirth. As she lay dying, her last words were, "The glory has departed from Israel". This was a significant insight. It was not the Ark that set Israel apart, it was the glory of God that the Ark merely pointed to.

We all want glory, but when we grab for it the results are disastrous. My friend Dave Young says that stealing glory is like trying to get that last bit of a thick milkshake out of the bottom; inevitably you get glory all over your face.

When Jesus came, the glory of God was all over him. He was the Ark personified. The apostle said, "We have seen His glory". What did Jesus do with the glory that He had from the Father? He gave it away to all of those who submit to His leadership. That very thing that we long for has been given to us. They key is to seek the giver, not the gift. It's not good to treat the glory of God as something we can simply use for our own purposes, but in Jesus, God invites us share in His glory for His purposes.

1 comment:

  1. Al,
    I have been fighting against my prideful flesh recently and praying for God to help me to humble my heart. This really helps me to focus.