1 Samuel 4:4 – So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
1 Samuel 4:5 – And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
1 Samuel 4:6 – And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
1 Samuel 4:11 – And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
1 Samuel 5:1 – And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
2 Samuel 6:9 – And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me?
2 Samuel 6:10 – So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite.
2 Samuel 6:11 – And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household.
Hello readers, thanks for reading today. Hopefully this blog is a blessing to you, hopefully it leads you to Jesus Christ. Today we are talking about the journey of the ark of the covenant. Who will God dwell with? Is it you? Or will the ark find no home in your place, in your heart? If you read through books like 1 Samuel, you find a lot of references to the ark of God. And you see the ark on a journey. Indeed, the ark took a bit of a journey from the time Israel was in the wilderness to the times of the kings. That ark went places. We want to see some different kinds of people in this blog, and look at ourselves, and think about what category of person we truly are. Is God with us? Does he dwell with us? Is there a home, is there a place for Jesus Christ in our heart and our lives?
I’ve called this blog the journey of the ark, will you be home for the ark? God does desire to dwell with his people, and in his people. But God’s only going to dwell with a certain kind of person. As you will see when you read the Bible, you see the ark was amongst religious people, rebellious people, worldly people, and the ark found no home. God kept moving it on. Who will believe? Who will obey? Whom will God well with?
The ark was meant to be in the midst of Israel, having the ark with them represented blessing, victory, acceptance with God. It was the ark “of the covenant” after all. Yet the ark was taken from Israel in battle because although they brought up the ark, God was not with them. Why was that? Then the Philistines took it and tried assimilating it with their gods, but they found that ark didn’t coexist too well! Eventually the ark ended up in the home of a little old nobody called Obededom. On it’s way to Obededom’s house it had a journey, and encountered many different kinds of people. Many different kinds of people who today for one reason or another, the ark will find no home in their lives, in their homes, in their hearts. No dwelling place for God here. I’m too full of religion, of sin, of worldliness, of deceit, of lies, of darkness. And think about it, the ark that was for all Israel ends up sitting in some guys home. Only he is benefiting from it and being blessed by God for having it. Very few people are right with God, seek God, obey God, believe God, trust God in their lives.
So what’s the relevance of the ark? The ark began back in the wilderness journey when God gave the ten commandments the second time to Moses, and God told him to put them in the ark. The ark was a very special part of the tabernacle worship system. The primary relevance of the ark to us today is that the ark of the covenant is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ten commandments were put in the ark by Moses, and that’s showing us that only Jesus Christ kept the law, only he was sinless and perfect, and we have to by faith trust in his righteousness as we have none. We have all broken God’s law in every point, but in the ark, there lay the unbroken tables of Christ’s righteousness.
Additionally, a golden pot of manna was put in there too, and that’s showing us that Jesus is the bread of life. If you’re hungry for more in life, if you’re looking for purpose, sustenance, fulfillment and for life itself, you will find it all only in Jesus Christ. Finally, Aaron’s rod that budded was also put in there, picturing Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Imagine a branch cut off, yet it buds, flowers and fruits. That takes the power of God. It shows the fruitfulness that is in Christ, it shows the resurrection power of Jesus Christ, it shows he’s God.
So Israel had the ark in their possession, and it gave them great confidence and assurance. It meant a lot to them. When they had it, it meant they won. It was a symbol though, it wasn’t actually God. But it just became an empty symbol over time. But having the ark was a symbol of having Christ in your life, and because of Christ, we can overcome in life. We can overcome sin, death, hell, Satan… because Christ did. God is pleased with his Son, and when we have the Son, God is pleased with us on the basis of his Son as well. It’s all about Christ. Get the ark in your camp. Keep it central. When you trust in Jesus Christ, when he’s dwelling in you, you have the victory. Our victory lies in Christ. Our holiness lies in Christ. Our righteousness lies in Christ. Our hope is in Christ.
But in 1 Samuel, we see the ark begin to go on a journey. The ark was kept at Shiloh. That’s where people would go and do their religious stuff. But something terrible was happening at Shiloh. Eli was the priest at the time, and he had sons that were following him in the priesthood. But his sons were wicked, the Bible says they were children of Belial. They were children of the devil, in the service of God. Satan’s got his people in churches make no mistake about that. The religious system is corrupt.
God is just about done with Israel’s sin. 1 Samuel follows Judges, a time where every man did that which was right in his own eyes. You see at the end of Judges a nation in a mess. They weren’t consulting God’s word, they’d just do what they jolly well wanted to do. Is that what you are? Are you in that category? You’re just doing what you want to do in life, and you have the audacity to tack God’s name to it. They were doing that. They’d pray, they’d give, they’d worship… but they were just living life how they saw fit, not according to God’s word.
Perhaps you’re in this category. You’re calling yourself a Christian, but you’re living in sin. You say you’re trusting God, you think the ark’s going to keep you safe. Well Israel did. Talk about a false confidence. They thought God was with them. They thought God would deliver them. They were like people today talking about the grace of God while their lives are entirely destitute of it. And one day the Philistines come up to battle and Israel goes and fetches the ark… and Hophni and Phineas, the two sons of Eli. Quick, we’re going to turn to religion to win this thing. We’re going to get spiritual. They’re going to pray, and because they’ve got the ark and the priests there, Israel surely will win this battle won’t they?
They won’t. Because the ark was going to be taken from them. God wasn’t in their religion. See, they trusted in the ark, but it’d just become an idol to them. It was an empty symbol. There was no spiritual reality to their worship and service. They were religious, but they were unsaved. They were religious, but they were wicked. The Bible says be not deceived, God is not mocked. Are you mocking the Lord with your life? You’re making a mockery of this thing.
There’s a lot of people who call themselves Christians who are not saved. Oh, they think they are. They say they are. They believe they are. But they’re children of the devil. Someone’s gotta tell you that. If Samuel could tell Eli what was going to happen according to God’s word, so should we be able to say what God’s word says gunbarrel straight. Hophni and Phineas were in the ministry, but they were adulterers and thieves. People didn’t even want to go to the tabernacle to offer their lamb and worship God. Why? Because it was a joke. Honest people see what a joke all this religion is.
Jesus said why call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? The ark is dwelling amongst a wicked and reprobate… but religious, God professing nation. But in their actual deeds, they’re showing they don’t know God. They say they know God. They speak on behalf of God. But they don’t know God. The Bible specifically says Hophni and Phineas knew not the Lord. Are you in this category of person? You say you know him, but you don’t. You think you know him, but you don’t. Maybe you’re in the category of person who does not fear God. How little fear these guys had to be stealing from God, to be using their position as priests to sleep around.
I’m reminded of Genesis, after the flood, where Noah lets the dove out the ark, and the Bible says she found no rest for the sole of her foot. So she returned to the ark. The Holy Spirit has been sent by God’s promise to all who believe, shed upon all flesh. But will the dove find rest upon you? The arks going to be journeying around and yet find no home, no place both with Israel and the Philistines. They’re all in sin. Will the ark find a place in your life? Will the ark find a home in your heart? Is Jesus really there? God was about to take the ark away. I’m not going to dwell with you anymore. God didn’t have a place there. He’s not part of all this sin and filth. He didn’t have a home there. They were a wicked people.
When the ark is gone, so are you. Ichabod was a child born at the time of the ark being taken who’s name means the glory has departed. As soon as you depart from Jesus Christ, the glory is departed. When we left the word of God, the glory departed. When we rebel against Jesus Christ, the glory is departed. Maybe you’re in that category of person. The glory is gone from your life. You’re a shell. It’s all outward show, no inward spiritual truth and life. You sold out on truth, you compromised on truth, you chose sin over holiness, and the glory of God is gone. There’s still glory in the pages of this book, that’s where the glory is, you shut the book, you forsake the book, your glory is gone. They’d finally get the ark back by seeking to get back, and obeying God in getting it back. Maybe God is working in your heart today to seek to get him back to being central in your life, where he needs to be.
So the Philistines fight Israel, and they beat Israel bad. And they take the ark. And they bring it into their camp, and they put it in with the rest of their gods. They’re gonna assimilate Christ with their religions. So they think. But they find out the ark of God and Dagon don’t really get along. Ever noticed Jesus Christ doesn’t coexist with this world? He doesn’t coexist with other belief systems. He doesn’t coexist with your sin. He doesn’t share his glory with any other. His word divides. So often we are trying to reconcile and compromise and find common ground, but Moses said, who is on the Lord’s side? You can’t serve two masters, you can’t be in the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the kingdom of darkness. You’re one or the other. There is a divide as clear as day and night, holy and unholy, clean and unclean.
And in this is a wonderful picture of the preservation of the word of God. If the word of God wasn’t the word of God, it would’ve been assimilated in the other religions of the world and lost long ago. It hasn’t lacked opposition or attempts to pervert it. But God’s word has never been lost. The truth has been preserved. Because the author of the truth is eternal. Thus his word is eternal. Look at the authority the ark of God had, Dagon stood no chance. You’d kind of think the Philistines would see what had happened and been like, why bother with Dagon anymore? Look at God’s authority and power. But nah. They’d rather Dagon. But what we see while the ark is in the temple of Dagon is that Jesus Christ stands apart and alone, and in power and authority.
Could God fight his own battles? He sure could. The Bible says God’s word is with power. The ark of God didn’t get along too well with Dagon did he. Well, well ark, why can’t you get along? Why can’t you just be a little less black and white? Why can’t you accept and tolerate other gods? We’d like you if you weren’t just so salt and light. It’s funny how the ark didn’t get along too well with the Philistines and their gods, but we seem to get along fine with the world and their beliefs, philosophies, friendships, lifestyles. Makes you wonder just how in tune we are with Jesus Christ.
The ark certainly upset their little Dagon god. You’d have thought they’d have though, hey our god is pretty inferior. But they didn’t. They choose to keep Dagon, and let’s get rid of the ark instead. Maybe you are like this. You’re a Philistine. You’re unsaved. You’re unbelieving. And to be honest, you’re stupid. You’d rather lies over truth. You’d rather darkness over light. You’d rather Dagon, because he doesn’t rebuke your sin. You’d rather Dagon, because he doesn’t command authority over you. A god you can control is much better huh. That’s at the heart of all this Bible correcting crowd, it’s fun telling God what he was meaning to say but couldn’t quite say it because he’s like Dagon to us. We gotta help him up. The Philistines had gods, they had beliefs, they’d just rather their gods over THE God. Look at this world, they’d rather serve pleasure, sports, money and even all the other false deities… just not Christ.
Instead of repenting and believing, they’ll rid themselves of the ark. Just like Jesus said. They’re gonna split from light. The light’s doing too much damage to them. It’s not they can’t be saved, it’s they don’t want to be saved. They prefer the darkness. Maybe you’re in this category. You’ve heard the gospel. You know the truth. But you’d just rather you sin. You’d rather your comfort zone. You’d rather what you’ve always done and what you know. You’ll do what everyone else is doing. All those Philistines served Dagon. In this world, you gotta keep step with the world. And you do all serve the same god… just not THE God, but the god of this world, Satan. And you’ll fit in with all the other Philistines. You know, the pressure to conform and fit in and gain peer acceptance keeps many people away from the ark.
What we see here is a fundamental Bible truth. There is only one way. There is only one truth. There is only one salvation. There is only one righteous. There is only one good. And it doesn’t matter if all reject it. It doesn’t change it. See, they’re gonna ship the ark off, so Israel won’t have it, and the Philistines won’t have it… nobody seems to have it. They’ve tried assimilating it into their religion, but it hasn’t gone with all their stuff. People aren’t so opposed to Christianity in many areas that they like, but they’ll drop it like a hot potato soon enough after toying with it for a while when their sin is rebuked. The Lord Jesus Christ can’t coexist with anything in this world, it’s not “a” truth, it’s THE truth.
All the ark did with the Philistines was cause trouble, and not just trouble, death. That’s why they wanted to get rid of it. You know what the Bible does, it takes a big sword and kills your self righteousness. It awakens the conscience, it cuts to the heart of the matter. Not just that, but while the Bible is life to the believer, it’s the savor of death to the unbeliever. The Bible is death to our flesh, that’s why we don’t want to read it. Ever wondered why it’s just so hard sometimes to even physically pick up your Bible to read?
So the Philistines ship the ark off. The ark continues its journey. It still hasn’t found a home. Because it hasn’t found a home. God wants to dwell with us. He’s always wanted a relationship and fellowship with his creation. The Bible says the tabernacle of God is with men. He was dwelling with Israel. But he can’t, because they’re religious but rebellious. They’ve chosen deception. They’ve gone their own way. They’re professing but they’re perverse. Like that dove going around in that world outside Noah’s window, will the ark rest here? Will the ark rest here? Here? No, no and no. There’s seems to be no place for it. God can’t dwell with Israel because they won’t repent. He can’t dwell with the Philistines because they don’t want him. And the ark, which was meant to be for all of Israel, will end up in the home of one man, who will be blessed by God. When it was for everyone, it would end up dwelling with only one man. Jesus said strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
It’s had quite a journey this ark. Whom shall I dwell with? The Philistines ship it off, and it finds a home in the house of Eleazar, the son of Abinadab. One guy, keeping the ark. And the Bible says in 1 Samuel 7:2 – “And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.” They’re going to lament after it, but they’re not going to get it back. Often we can know what we should do, but we don’t do what we should do. We know our ways and our life is wrong, but we won’t do anything about it. We can be so frozen by inaction. Who will be the person to repent? Believe? Obey? When will you do something about the life you’ve got? How long? Twenty years. Does God really need to take that long in our lives to bring us to repentance and faith?
So finally David becomes king, and he wants to bring the ark back. And watch this, this is another category of person that the ark will encounter on its journey. David asks his men how to bring the ark back. They want to do something that’s right, in bringing the ark back. Many people are sincere. Even though our sincerity can fool us, as we so easily deceive ourselves about who and what we are, many people do want to do what’s right. But where they err is that they still refuse to obey God’s word. There was a specific way to transport the ark, but they decided to transport it their own way, copying the Philistines! And God killed Uzzah for touching the ark. Are you in this category of person? You say you’re a Christian, you may well be. But you’re disobeying God in serving God. Your decisions in life, they’re yours, you’re serving God, but you’re doing it your way and God better keep up right? But God had told them who and how to transport the ark, and so many of us violate God’s word in serving God’s word. And God is not in that. We’re trying to make God accept us serving him our way, doing it the way seems right to us.
And when God kills Uzzah for his error, the ark is dropped off at a place of a guy called Obededom. And God blesses this man all the time the ark is there. An ark that was for the nation of Israel, and it’s found home, it’s found a place in just a guy’s house. It’s crazy isn’t it. It’s encountered all sorts of people, all sorts of behavior, all sorts of sin, all sorts of error… and God’s not going to dwell with that. God won’t honour our sin. The glory had departed from Israel, and the way to get it back is through repentance and faith, obeying God’s word. Once you get to that place of God you’re right, and I am a wrong, then the ark is heading back to you. Because David got to that place, he realized his mistake, he saw God blessing Obededom, a blessing that was for all Israel, and he as king brought the ark back obeying God in how he did it.
I saw this wonderful verse… 2 Samuel 6:17 – “And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD.” Look at that phrase “and set it in his place”. There’s a place for the ark. In the midst is of the tabernacle is where the ark belonged. In the middle of our life, in our hearts, that’s where Christ belongs, dwelling in our hearts by faith. The most High needs to be most high in our lives. We need to get back to the gospel being central, the truth being central, for when we set the ark in his place in our lives, everything else will be rightly ordered. This is why David is a great king. No sooner does he become king then he goes to Jerusalem, takes the stronghold, and he brings the ark back. He’s a good king alright.
For so many years, the ark was out of place. Eli honoured his sons before God. Hophni and Phineas were adulterers and thieves… and priests. Why do you think churches have such a low reputation in the world now? Because it’s become a den of thieves. The ark’s not gonna stay there is it. You really think God’s ok with all that rubbish? There’s believers who aren’t. There’s believers who are disobeying God in how they serve God. There’s Philistines, people who just don’t know God, and aren’t interested in a God that can’t coexist with Dagon. They’re not interested in truth, light, salvation. Just leave me alone and let me do what I want to do. That’s this lost world. And for all of them, the ark won’t be staying there. It’ll be going, and it’ll be sitting in the house of a man who gladly received it, and God blessed him for it. David finally put that ark in his place, where belonged. Put some things back where they belong in your life.
Believe the gospel, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, read his word, believe his word, obey his word. Will the ark find a home in your heart? Will the ark find a place of rest in your soul? The ark was on a journey, all those different types of people it encountered, but no home for the ark. Who will God dwell with? Who will God bless? An Obededom. He was happy to have the ark. I’ll take that! Gladly! Obededom is a guy who just believes the gospel, anybody can. Read, hear, believe, obey, be saved. That can be you today. Everyone else can pass on it, everyone else can strike out, and you can just believe and be saved. Salvation is a free gift. Truth has been on it’s long journey to you, what will you do with it? Will it find a home in your heart? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. The journey of the ark, will you be home for the ark?
Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 30 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)