Summary: Seventh in a series on Revivl influenced by Rick Atchley. This lesson covers the move one can make to rejoin fellowship with God.
FROM ICHABOD TO EBENEZER
I Samuel 4:1-11,14; 7:1-13
INTRODUCTION: Paul Harvey tells a story about an attractive airline stewardess who was being hounded by two flirts – one at the front of the plane, the other at the back. She was obviously very put-off by the very forward advances being made by the two men, but she kept right on doing her job. Near the end of the flight one of the men became particularly bold and as the plane was about to land he handed her a key to his apartment and the address and said, "See you tonight." So she took them, then she walked to the back of the plane, handed them to the other flirt, winked and said, "Don’t be late." Later on that evening I bet there were two very disappointed men in some apartment somewhere. Have you ever been disappointed when someone you were looking for didn’t show up? Maybe it was the way they were invited. That’s one reason God doesn’t show up. Sometimes God doesn’t come because He doesn’t appreciate the way He is invited. Revival isn’t going to happen as long as we want to God to come so that we can use Him rather than serve Him. That is the underlying principle of our lesson today as we study the revival under the prophet Samuel. A lot has happened since the days of Moses as we studied last time. They have entered the Promise Land under the leadership of Joshua, who has since passed away. They have been through a period of Judges who led Israel through a series of victories, but also tried to being Israel out of a cycle of spiritual digression. When Samuel was born Israel was in one of her darkest times. In fact the Bible says that the Word of the Lord was rare in those days and there was no vision, because by this time the leaders of Israel, Eli’s sons Hophni and Phineas, were so corrupt that they were perverting the very Tabernacle of God with their practices. So God wouldn’t give them a Word because he did not want to use them as His spokesmen. This is the situation Israel is in. She has wandered far from the Lord and her leaders are corrupt. This sets the stage for what we find in I Samuel 4.
I. YOU CANNOT KEEP GOD IN A BOX
A. I Samuel 4:1-11, 19-22. To get the full picture here, you must read ahead. The Israelites were living however they thought best – idols, etc. Yet they thought that so long as they had the Ark of the Covenant they had God. They kept Him in a box.
1. So when they ran into trouble they went and got the box. Prior in their history when the Ark went with them they won –God was with them. Joshua 3 – when they crossed the Jordan, Joshua 6 – when they marched around Jericho, and throughout the rest of the Conquest when the Ark went with them they were victorious.
2. So they were not accustomed to this, to defeat. Yet because of their disregard for God and His ways and their selfish reasons for asking for God’s help God did not show up. He did not accept their invitation. Israel did not understand that they had lost God’s presence long before they lost the Ark. The glory of the Lord leaves when people try to box God up for their own selfish agendas.
B. Does this happen today? Yes it does. When God’s people live like the Devil Monday thru Saturday and then come to church of Sunday to seek Him, God is not going to show up. Why? Because that is keeping God in a box. Rituals of worship – so long as we meet the rituals we are all right. That is inviting God in the same was the Israelites did in I Samuel 4.
C. God does not bind Himself to our forms if our hearts are not bound to His will. If you only invite God to meet your own terms don’t be surprised if He is a no-show.
II. YOU MUST PUT GOD INTO YOUR LIFE
A. A lot happens through chapters 5 & 6. I wish I had the time to work through all of it this morning. At least let me bring you up to speed. The Ark travels around among the Philistines and God brings plagues and death along with it until it is finally returned to Israel.
1. When they get it back , they don’t handle it right either and God strikes down 70 men for looking into the Ark. So out of fear the Israelites sent it to Kiriath Jearim, lock it up, placed a guard over it and leave it for twenty years. Now let’s read I Samuel 7:2-13