Never Far Away

“Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, ‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.”  1 Samuel 4:21

What is your glory?  How easy is it for you to lose it?

Israel has just experienced a great defeat at the hands of the Philistines. Scripture tells us that thirty thousand had fallen in battle and that in the wake of the defeat the Ark of the Covenant had been lost to the Philistines. 

It was because Israel had not understood or known God that they had experienced all this hardship. Their waywardness had caused them to drift from God’s protection resulting in their affliction at the hands of their idolatrous neighbor. Their ignorance of God and his ways had resulted in their having such a twisted concept of who God was that they mistook the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol for God’s throne, as an idol or a token of God’s presence. Now, with the loss of the Ark many believe that God’s presence has been taken from them. 

A survivor from the battle, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, ran to Shiloh with the news that the battle was lost and when Eli heard that the Ark had been lost, it was too much, already stricken with grief from the death of his two sons, he became so overwrought that he fell backwards from the place where he was seated, broke his neck and died. 

Eli’s daughter-in-law was pregnant and due to be delivered and went into labor after she heard the news of her husband’s death and the capture of the ark.  After the delivery, as she lay dying, the midwife tried to encourage her by telling her that she had had a son but she wasn’t interested in it; only rousing herself just enough to name her son Ichabod, which means, “the glory has departed.”  She too was referring to the capture of the Ark of the Covenant. 

God’s presence and glory had been a part of Israel’s life long before the Ark or any other part of the temple had been constructed. God’s presence had been with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob protecting and prospering them through all their nomadic sojourns. God’s presence had sheltered and given success to Joseph during all his years in Egypt. God’s presence had fought for Israel’s release from Egyptian slavery and had parted the sea, given them water from a rock and rained Manna from heaven. All of this long before God’s direction to build for him a tabernacle that he might dwell among them. 

Friends, if God’s glory is not with us it’s not because we lost him it’s because we’ve wander away from him and we’ve become lost. 

How do you become unlost?  Spiritually the process is the same as physically. The lost are told to stop running and start calling out for help from someone who can rescue you. 

God can save you. He’s not a symbol that can be lost. He’s living, powerful and loving, and he’s looking for you. His love is his glory and it will never go away.  He will save you if you let him. 

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