Worship No Idol

1 Samuel 5:1-12

1After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3When 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.

4But 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. 5That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

Earthquake

You may have heard of the earthquake that rocked California recently. Have you ever had experienced earthquake, yet? Natural calamities like earthquake are proofs that there are many things that we cannot control.

Who can control things like natural calamities that we cannot control?

Is it simple to accept that a powerful being can control calamities humans can’t control? Yet, intelligent reason cannot make anyone believe the existence of almighty being. Why? It is by faith we believe that the almighty being is God. Faith comes from God. By His grace, we recognize that we need faith to believe.

The Lord commanded in Exodus 20:3-5, 3You shall have no other gods before me. 4You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them.

God’s commands are always contrary to our heart’s desire. God tells us to have Him as our only God but we desire to have many gods. God tells us not to make an image or idols in the form of anything but instinctively, we idolize many things. Humans are prone to worship many things aside from God.

After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they brought the Ark of God and placed it beside Dagon. Did the Philistines assume that the Ark of God was Israel’s God? The Philistines worshiped Dagon an image made of stone. Dagon was an image of half-human-half-fish, the upper part was an image of human and the lower part was like fish tail. The Philistines lived near the seashore.

The Philistines may have assumed that the Ark of God was nice addition to their god Dagon when they brought the Ark of God to the temple of Dagon.

1. Bring

1After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3When 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.

Have you ever heard the problem which one was first: chicken or egg?

The Bible did not specifically mention the creation of chicken or egg. Chicken can relate to birds because both can lay eggs and have feathers.  It says in Genesis 1:20, 20And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.”

Birds have eggs and incubate their eggs so that they are hatched. Chicks need the guidance of mature birds to survive. God created birds first not eggs.

Similarly, God created grown-up human first, not infants. Infants cannot help themselves. When infants were born, they don’t know anything how to live in this world. As children grow older, they observe what other people do, and they imitate things they assume to be good for them.

Religiosity is one aspect of life that humans are inclined to imitate. When God chose the Israelites as His own people, He gave the commandments as a standard of godly lifestyle that they should follow. God wants distinction between believers and non-believers. Obedience to God identifies who belongs to Him.

Incidentally, the Philistines thought that they can have the Ark of God as their idol in addition to their god Dagon. They brought the Ark of God to the temple of their god Dagon but the following morning, they were surprised when their god Dagon has fallen on its face on the ground before the Ark of God.

Can you accept that the incident, when Dagon has fallen on its face on the ground before the Ark of God, was a symbolic picture that everything on earth is under the authority of the Lord? It says in Isaiah 46:9, 9I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

The Philistine may have assumed that the God of the Israelites was just like their god Dagon so that they placed the Ark of God beside Dagon. They may have assumed that it was accidental when Dagon has fallen on its face on the ground before the Ark of God so that they put Dagon back on its place.

Yet that following morning, Dagon has fallen again on its face on the ground before the Ark of God but that time, it was broken.

2. Break

4But 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. 5That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

Dagon has fallen again but its head and hands were broken and landed on the temple threshold. Dagon must have dropped so hard so that its head and hands were separated and tossed out. The Philistines considered the threshold of the temple sacred because Dagon’s head and hands touched it.

For sure, the Philistines placed their Dagon in the most prominent place in the temple of Dagon. So, when the place the Ark of God beside Dagon, they assumed that the God of Israel was just a sidekick to Dagon. They thought that their god Dagon was more powerful than the God of Israel because they easily defeated the Israelites in battle.

Such mindset is common mindset of ancient people. Whoever wins the battle, their god must be more dominant than the defeated enemy.

Field Commander

When the Assyrians invaded Israel, the King of Assyria sent his army to attack Jerusalem. The Assyrian field commander boasted in 2 Kings 18:33-35, 33Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 34Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 35Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

The Assyrian army defeated many nations, and their king did not bother to go to Jerusalem. Instead, he let his supreme commander and field commander led the attack, hoping that the Israelites under King Hezekiah will surrender. The boasting of the field commander of their victory is common among non-believers. Non-believers may have assumed that all gods are the same.

Consequently, Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and pleaded for deliverance.

He said in 2 Kings 19:17-19, 17It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.

The Lord answered the prayer of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 19:35-36, 35That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

Truly, it is very tempting to seek and find help of other entities when we cannot wait for God’s help. We may have observed that, it is when we cannot find help somewhere that help from the Lord becomes more apparent.

The god of the Philistines and the superiority of the Assyrian army were no match to the power of the Lord. There were many biblical events as practical proofs that there’s no other god like the Lord. The Bible is ancient but it is applicable to all generations, past, present and future. The Lord declared in Matthew 5:18-19, 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Do you want to be called great in the kingdom of heaven? Practice and teach it.

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