April 2012

As a recap, the capture of the Ark is broken up from 1 Sam 4-7.

1 Sam 4: 1-11- : The war between Israel and Philistines, the Ark of God was captured
1 Sam 4:12-22 : The Death of Eli and the Birth of Ichabod
1 Sam 5: The Ark of God in Ashod , Gath, Ekron, Plagues and Death followed
1 Sam 6:1-19 : The Ark Of God return to Beth Shemesh, Israelites struck dead
1 Sam 6:20 – 1 sam 7:1 : The Ark in Kirjath Jearim (20 Years)
1 Sam 7:2-17 : Samuel judges, Israel repented, war against Philistines won

Now 1 Sam 6:1-19 talks about the  how after 7 months, the Lords of the Philistines decided not to hold the Ark of the covenant captive within their temple. They returned the Ark to Beth Shemesh. The Israelites were overjoyed in the return of the God, but in their joy, they forgot the commands of God.

They looked at the ark, and God struck 50 070 people in that town.

Sometimes the readers of the old testament will accused God of being a blood thirsty God, but why did God struck the people dead?

Facts : The Methods That The Philistines Used To Return The Ark

The Philistines kept the ark “captive” for 7 months, but the plagues were great. So they decided to set up their own little test  to see if it is indeed God of Israel that struck them.

Interestingly, the diviners reminded the Philistine lords of the story of the 10 plagues that God did in Egypt. Apparently, the stories in Exodus are still fresh in their mind.

So they prepared a offering of gold for God (perhaps in their own custom) and prepared a interesting cart to carry the Ark.  they made it difficult for the Ark to go on its own.

1. No Drivers for the cart
2. Took 2 mother calves who was never yoked before, separate their baby from them
3. Let the Ark go on its own and see if it returns to Beth Shemesh

Yet God lead the ark back to Israel, proving to the Philistines that their sufferings were indeed the work of God

Facts : Law Of Moses concerning the Ark

In the law of Moses, there are specific laws, so over here i decided to summarise them here.

1. No one (including Aaron ) is allowed to enter the holies of the holies to see the ark, in fact they will be killed if they do (Lev 16:2)
           a. In fact, bells were attached to the high priest garment so that they will know if God has struck the high priest dead (Ex 28:33-35)

2. In fact, when the Israelites are moving in the wilderness, there are special rules where the priest need to follow with regards to the ark. (Num 4:5-6)
           a. They have to use the Veil, cover the ark.  
           b. Use a badger skin and blue cloths  
           c. Attached the poles, and carry it.
3. Only once a year, the priest could enter the holies of the holies on the day of atonement. 
            a. He had to enter the place with Incense , cover the mercy seat with smoke from it (Lev 16:12-13)
            b. He had to bring the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat on the east side  (Levi 16:14)
            c. He had to use the blood a goat, and sprinkle it on the seat as well (Lev 16:15)

Facts : Beth Shemesh is a city of Levites

In Jos 21:13-19, The City of Beth Shemesh is given to the sons of Aaron as a city to live. Therefore the City is made up of Levites. These people are ministering as priests in the promise land.

The duties of priest and Levites are as follows
1. Take care of the tabernacle and the articles in it. (Num 18:2-4)
2. Judge over the matters and of the Israelites (Deut 17:9)
3. Read and declare the  Law of God once every seven years (Deut 31:9-11)

Therefore, they should be more than well aware of the points how to treat the ark of the Covenant.

Lesson 1 : Not Respecting The Commands Of God

The Levites are over joyed when they see the ark returning from the lands of the Philistines. They were quick to offer  sacrifices  and every other thing, but they seems to have forgotten the rules that they are not allowed to look onto the ark of the covenant.

Sometimes, everyone tend to forget that we need to love our God with all our hearts with all our soul and our minds. Deut 6:4-5.

We need to remember that, although God is always full of kindness and mercy, slow to anger and quick to forgive (Ps 103:8-9). The modern face of Christianity always focus that God is love, and God is forgiving, they tend to forget the fact that God will one day judge us for what we do (Heb 9:27).

Which is the reason why King Solomon concluded his book of Ecclesiastes saying 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

  Fear God and keep His commandments,
  For this is man’s all.
   For God will bring every work into judgment,
  Including every secret thing,
  Whether good or evil.” – Solomon (Ecc 12:13-14)

What is most ironic about the matter, was that the person who did not respect the commands of God are his priests, and from the household of the house of Aaron.

Lesson 2 : Good Intentions Doesn’t Warrant Disobedience

While the priest are overjoyed at the fact that they could offer the Ark,  they were so focused in serving God, that they have forgotten to hallow God.

They feel that it is a good thing to sacrifice to God, which is why they perform the sacrifice on the same day the Ark returned back to Beth Shemesh.

Instead of getting blessings from God, they ended up having a 50070 people struck dead.

Sometimes we tend to forget that God desires his children to obey him more than to make sacrifices. (1 Sam 15:22-23).  Samuel said that to Saul, when Saul out of his good intention decided to keep accursed animals from Amalek and sacrifice them.

At the same time, the priest in 1 Sam 6 focus so much on offering, that they forgot that they should not been looking at the Ark, and they should carry the Ark back to Shiloh.

This reminded us of the story where King David wanted to bring the Ark with him to Jerusalem, but along the way, there was a incident when Uzzah used his hands to support the Ark Of God, apparently the Ark was carried in a oxen. As the result, God struck him dead and David halted his plans to bring the Ark in (2 Sam 6-8) .

David should have followed the instructions of God and to get the sons of Aaron to carry it.

All this incidence tells us that , even though we wanted to serve God, we have to be mindful how we serve God. We must still serve God according to his will.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” – Jesus (Matt 7:21-23) 

Indeed, many Christians followed their heart when it comes to serving God, but have we really considered if our service is acceptable in the eyes of God?

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” John (1 Jn 2:3-6)

Let us learn to respect and keep Gods commands. In whatever we do.

I finally watched that movie 881 and i found this song among the OST take has a very interesting lyrics. It was taken from an original song known as “最后一口气” (the last breath) and it was in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect. The original version does not sound like this song. The singer has replaced the lyrics.

The lyrics contains very simple words, but yet it convey a very deep emotion and meaning.

It was sang by Kelvin Tan, and I think its very well sung. So I decided to add it here.

I guess i am the first person who tried to pen the lyrics down, I did a Google for the lyrics and there was no sites with it.

So I did it, listening to the song and penning down the lyrics. Its human to err , so feel free to correct the lyrics by adding comments at the bottom. 

But I would like to dedicate this to my friends who are unable to let go of their past relationships. May they not hold on to their past and move on with their lives. 

Title:念念不忘 (Unforgettable)  
Performed By: Kelvin Tan Wei Lian

(Stanza 1)
(Stanza 1)
yīn ​wèi nǐ cái zǒu yī​ duàn

méi​ xiǎng​ dào​ lù​ nà ​me àn​
zài wǒ ​men​ de liǎn shàng
bān ​bù de shí ​guāng
gù​ shì​ shuō yě​ shuō bù​ wán​

(Stanza 2)
(Stanza 2)
yīn ​wèi nǐ cái huì​ liú ​làng
shēng​ mìng​ guò​ le​ jǐ ​ge​ wān
dǎ​ kāi huí ​yì de chuāng
zuì chū de​ mó​ yàng
xiě bù​ xià suì​ yuàn​ nóng zhuāng​ ​
shì shéi ràng​ nǐ​ niàn ​niàn ​bù ​wàng
yī​ lù​ píng ​píng huí ​tóu kàn​​
shì shéi shuō guò bù ​jiàn ​bù ​sàn​
ràng nǐ zài yuán ​dì dǎ ​zhuàn​
(Music interlude) (Music interlude)
Repeat (Stanza 2)  
Repeat (Chorus)  
Repeat (Chorus)  
让你在原地打转. ràng nǐ zài yuán ​dì dǎ ​zhuàn​


ài guò jiù méi ​yǒu yí ​hàn


The English Translation are as follow

Stanza 1:
I choose to walk together with you
not knowing how dark and dreary the path is.  
The marks on our faces, 
proclaiming the times we spent,
with endless stories to share.  

Stanza 2
I became a wanderer in life because of you ,
made many turns in life.
Opening the windows of memories, 
of us in the beginning ,
Trying hard to conceal sadness,
by feigning acceptance to destiny.

Who is that you are reminiscing about?
That you often glance back here as we walked.  
Who promised to wait for you here?
That you choose to linger and not move on.

Repeat (Stanza 2)
Repeat (Chorus)
Repeat (Chorus)

Preventing you from moving on with life.
If you have loved him, you will never regret like this.

In our previous part we have studied 1 Sam 4 and have gathered 2 lessons regarding the capture of the Ark

1.  It is God who has the power, not the Ark
2. God uses the incident to execute his judgement on Eli and his house

As a recap, the capture of the Ark is broken up from 1 Sam 4-7.

1 Sam 4: 1-11- : The war between Israel and Philistines, the Ark of God was captured
1 Sam 4:12-22 : The Death of Eli and the Birth of Ichabod
1 Sam 5: The Ark of God in Ashod , Gath, Ekron, Plagues and Death followed
1 Sam 6:1-19 : The Ark Of God return to Beth Shemesh, Israelites struck dead
1 Sam 6:20 – 1 sam 7:1 : The Ark in Kirjath Jearim (20 Years)
1 Sam 7:2-17 : Samuel judges, Israel repented, war against Philistines won

Now 1 Sam 5 talks about the Ark of God after its capture by the Philistines in order to understand the story better, a few background facts should be taken into consideration

Facts: The Philistines Culture Is More Advance Than The Israelites

I believe i shared that when we are reading about the armies of Israel, we should not imagine that the armies of the Philistines and Israel are technologically on par. In fact, the Israelites were the once which are backwards.

The Philistines are known as the “Sea Peoples” and they travelled by boat from the Aegean sea, they are a iron age civilizations where the rest of the Israelites are still in their stone age and bronze age. This is most evidently recorded in 1 Sam13

“Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle;” – Samuel  (1 Sam 13:19-20)

Facts: Capturing The gods Of A Defeated Nation Is A Sign Of Victory

In Ancient warfare,  as a trophy of victory, the victorious nation will take the idol of the gods of the nation they have conquered and place them in the temple of their gods as a act to show that their god is more powerful.

This can be seen a few times from the bible, such as this

“Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena and Ivah? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” – Rabshakeh (2 King 18:33-35)

Nebuchadnezzar also carried off some of the articles from the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon:” – Author of Chronicles (2 chron 36:7)

This is the reason why the Philistines took the Captured Ark and place them into the temple of their God Dagon and set it up besides it. In fact they are treating it.

Lesson 1 : The Falling Of Dagon , and the Plagues Of Tumours

Strangely, the next day. the Philistine awoke and found their God fallen on it face to the ground, before the Ark. When they set it in place again, this time it fell and has it arms and head broken off.

There was also a plagues 1 Sam 5:6 tells us that the people are struck with tumours. there are some version which indicated that the rats sprang up at as well.

As the result, the philistines passed the ark around their cities of Ashod, Gath and Ekron until non of the cities dared to take the ark in.

If we were to look at second fact, that housing the Ark in the temple of the Dagon indicated that Dagon is more powerful than YHWH. In order to teach the Philistines that the reason why they could capture the ark of God , is because God wills it so, God made the Ark a plagues in the land of the Philistines.

The fact that Dagon had to fall headlong against the Ark sends a strong message to the Philistines that their god is not God at all. And plaguing the people is a way of telling the people that their gods are unable to protect them from the God of the Hebrews.

This is similar to the plagues God send to Egypt, and each of the plagues are targeted at the gods of the Egyptians.

The Philistines finds that they are unable to keep the "God” of the Hebrews a captive in their land, in fact, they attempted to do so for 7 months (1 Sam 6:1)

Finally they decided to send the ark back to Israel and they finally realised that they have offended God.

In our present lives, do we still remember that God is all powerful? Sometimes the modern churches focus so much on the love and mercy of God that they have forgotten that God is a judge as well. and that God deserves our reverence. He is God above everything.

Therefore, let us learn to differentiate God from the gods of this earth.

Lately i received a question from a student and friend, talking about the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant, and what we can learn about it.

This prompted me to be reading the chapters of  1 Sam 4-7 once again.

In a nutshell that is what happened

1 Sam 4: 1-11- : The war between Israel and Philistines, the Ark of God was captured
1 Sam 4:12-22 : The Death of Eli and the Birth of Ichabod
1 Sam 5: The Ark of God in Ashod , Gath, Ekron, Plagues and Death followed  
1 Sam 6:1-19 : The Ark Of God return to Beth Shemesh, Israelites struck dead
1 Sam 6:20 – 1 sam 7:1 : The Ark in Kirjath Jearim  (20 Years)
1 Sam 7:2-17  : Samuel judges, Israel repented, war against Philistines won

In my course of revisiting the stories, I learnt that although there are things thats appears to be bad before us. But if we were to look at it with a broader perspective, you can see the hand of God even in the seemingly bad events.

We can see the how God make use of events to teach the Israelites and to call them back to him, like how a father chastise his children.

Facts : What makes the Israelites carry the Ark To Battle ?

I remember once when I was reading this, I was wondering, why did the Israelite thinks that carrying the Ark Of God can ensure victory? 1 Sam 4:3 seems to suggest they think by carrying the Ark of God into battle will save them from the battle.

Perhaps they are very inspired over all the many stories they heard of the Ark. Especially from the book of Joshua

1. Jos 3 , the priest carried the Ark into river Jordan, the people followed
2. Jos 6: The Israelites fought the battle of Jericho carrying the Ark around the city

Lesson 1 : It Is God Who Can Save,  Not The Ark.  

Although the Israelites are aware of the stories they did not understand that the real reason why the 2 miracles happens. The Ark represented the presence of God, and it is not God.

The Reason for the Israelites being able to cross the river Jordan at high tide, and to defeat the city of Jericho, lies not in the power of the Ark, but rather Gods instructions.

1. God Instructed Joshua How To Cross River Jordan With The Ark (Jos 3:7-8)
2. God Told Joshua March Around Jericho With The Ark (Jos 6:2-5)

Therefore the one that is powerful is not the Ark, but God words.

In fact, according to 1 Sam 7:3-4, the Israelites then were not following the Lord whole heartedly, when they are suffering from the consequences of their unfaithfulness, they think that by bringing the Ark of the Covenant into battle will tilt the battle in favour of them. Even if they are unfaithful to God.

Therefore, in order to teach the Israelites, God allowed the Ark Of God to be Captured by the enemies.

Lesson 2: Punishment To The House Of Eli.

Those who are familiar with the stories in 1 Samuel will know that Eli is the second last judge of Israel. He is actually a high priest, meaning that he is a descendant of Aaron.

Most Jewish historians agreed that Eli is the descendent of Ithamar based on the fact that the name Ahitub who was the grandson of Eli, is found in the genealogy of priest (1 Chron 6:7-8)

Being a descendent of Aaron, he is given the special privilege to serve in the Tabernacle as a high priest, it was suppose to be a position of great blessings, but yet Eli honoured his sons more than God. He had disobeyed God in the following matter

1. He turned did not stop his sons when they steal offerings (1 Sam 2:12-17)
2. He reprimanded his sons lightly when they committed immorality  (1 Sam 2:22-25)
3. He did not heed the warning of God when he sent 2 messengers to him
     i .The man of God (1 Sam 2:27-36 ) 
     ii. The boy Samuel (1 Sam 3:10-17) 

As the result, God executed his judgement on the house of Eli, when the 2 sons of Eli bore the ark into the battlefield, resulting their immediate death. At the same time God struck Eli dead, and his daughter in law died at childbirth.

Sometimes in our daily walk with God,  do we also commit the mistakes of Eli? Is there people whom we honour more than God? Eli loves his children more than anything else

Whenever I think of the story of Eli, this proverbs always appear

“Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.” – Solomon (Prov 27:5)

Let us learn to guide our children in the ways of the Lord  at the same time, let us learn to respect God in everything that we do.

The other lessons that I learn from Eli, is the fact that if he were to repent when God sends his messengers to him, perhaps the judgement would not have been so severe on his household.

So in our daily lives, when we listen to sermons or am reminded of the sins we have committed, let our hearts not be harden and listen to the call of God. Let us reconcile with him.  God is always abundant in his mercies, and will be willing to forgive.

Sometimes God is only waiting for his children to repent. Let us learn to return to the Lord often.