1 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.
(1 Samuel 5:1-12)
The Philistine leaders thought they had made a good decision to move the ark of God to Gath. But that decision backfired on them. So they sent the ark to Ekron.
Ekron was another of the five city-states of the Philistines. It has been positively identified as the modern-day city of Tel Miqne which lies about 11 miles north of Gath.
Notice that unlike the previous time, this time there was no meeting to discuss the situation. The ark was simply sent, apparently against the wishes of the people of Ekron. Even before the ark entered their city, 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.”
The people of Ekron had heard about the travails of the people of Ashdod and Gath and wanted nothing to do with the ark. They called together all the rulers of the Philistines and demanded they send the ark of the god of Israel away. Specifically, they wanted it to go back to its own place (Israel).
Yesterday we learned that leaders who do not know God make decisions that make life worse. Today we see that not only do ungodly leaders make life tough for their own citizens, but they make life tougher for those nations they bully into accepting their bad decisions.
I’m sorry to say that the country most guilty of doing this is the United States.
Over the past few decades, the leaders of the United States have arrogantly declared that practices such as abortion and same-sex marriage are acceptable, despite the clear teaching of God to the contrary. And we’ve forced other countries to adopt these same sinful policies in order to get our financial aid.
The Philistines likewise ignored the truth about God and in so doing brought trouble upon other peoples. After the ark was moved to Ekron God’s hand was very heavy on it for death and panic had filled the city. The same thing had happened in Gath.
The Philistine leaders used their power to force other peoples to do something they didn’t want to do. And those people paid the price. Similarly, the United States has done the same.
When any country adopts sinful policies they will face God’s discipline. And if that country has been forced into those policies against their will, like Ekron was, the responsibility for their troubles lies with the country that forced them into that situation.
It will always be that those with more power will control those with less. But when those with financial, military, and economic power are sinful their sinful practices are exported to the rest of the world. For this reason, the world cannot get better.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.