Summary: America’s problems are not sin, promiscuity, abortion, etc., but the church’s abandoning the "Ark," the Sacrifice and Prophetic Word. Restoration is the cure!
Restoring the Ark, the Sacrifice and the Prophetic Word! 1 Samuel 7:12 and context.
Intro: Keith Miller’s wife had a Red VW and took her kids to an Animal Farm. She parked down a road and went in. While she was looking around, an Elephant named Millie sat on her “bug,” squishing the front end. When Mrs. Miller came back the elephant keepers met her, explained that Millie was a circus elephant and was taught to sit on a red tub, the VW looked like it and, anyway, the Farm would pay for all repairs. Well, the engine was in the rear and the VW was drivable so she took off to pick up her husband at the airport. She was late and got caught in a long line of traffic. She wanted to make a right turn so she got on the shoulder and tried to work her way up to the turn. Well two policemen were in the way. They looked at her car and said it was illegal to drive a wrecked vehicle. She said, it wasn’t wrecked. They than asked. “What happened?” To which she replied in a hurried, frustrated voice because she was already late, “An elephant named Millie sat on it.” (Long Pause) Keith Miller had to find his own way home that day.
That’s what Samuel wants people to ask when they see this rock, look at 1 Sam. 7:12. It’s not “a” it’s “the” stone. Most commentators believe it was the stone used to sacrifice the lamb in vs. 9: A stone of blood, and fire, and power.
It was better than an ad in the paper, even for a week or month, it’s better than a billboard, even for a year. A hundred years later people can come and see the stone of the Lord’s Help!
Hopefully they all ask the question, “What happened here?”
The short answer: The Lord happened here. We did what God said, and He did what He promised. Nothing can stop the people of God when they pray and fast rightly, underline “rightly.”
And, wow. Here was one of THE GREATEST victories in the Bible. The Lord enabled them to beat the Philistines (Palestinians, Terrorists, Bin Ladin, Personal Problems) so bad, “they did not anymore come within the border of the Israelites” during the entire lifetime of Samuel!
What “happened?” Through Samuel, they: Restored the Ark; the Sacrifice; and the Prophetic Word of the Lord!
1) Restoring the Ark! The ark is a symbol of Jesus! The ark had been taken in a battle by the Philistines, the Israelites hardly noticed it’s absence. The ark was the place of worship, sacrifice, song and praise, see Ex. 15:1-3. Only 2 people mourned the ark’s absence and they both died; why didn’t anyone raise a stink, or get up a “recover the ark” campaign? They just got used to life without their Jesus. And so do we.
America is full of “Christless Christians!” “Atheistic Theists;” people to whom Jesus would be in intrusion, or downright interference.
But, wasn’t the ark returned? Yes, 1 Sam. 16-17:2, Returned, but not Restored, until vs. 3, and all it did was get people crying. They lamented, life was bad, the Philistines were still in charge, fear, dread, depression, emptiness had consumed the people of God. But, at least they were talking, praying, and that was good.
Words are not necessarily the reality. Words of Jesus, labels of Jesus, Bumper Stickers and Tee Shirts about Jesus are OK, if there’s a real Jesus somewhere inside. I have a Tee Shirt I really like, it reads:
JESUS! THAT’S MY FINAL ANSWER!
But I also have Jesus! He’s my constant Savior, Redeemer and Friend!
The Children of Israel didn’t really get the ark restored until 1 Sam. 7:3, when they cleansed their hearts and served the Lord and Him only!
For them, it was a matter of moving Idol Furniture. Just carting out some statues, amulets, and things to the dump. For us it is a matter of moving the Furniture of Time, Priorities, and perhaps even Idol Furniture, like horoscopes, witch things, magic things, etc.
Illus. Years ago, we received the daily paper. We’re radical about this stuff, so our first duty was to find the Pagan Horoscope, tear it out and either burn it, or throw it away. That was OK, until my Grandmother came to visit, not a believer at the time and it just so happened that the OTHER side of the Horoscope was the TV Guide. Every day she asked about the hole in the Newspaper until we explained. We thought it would put her off, being too fanatical, but it piqued her interest. A week or two later, a 64 year old woman prayed to receive Jesus! Maybe our making sure the “Ark” was in it’s proper place in our hearts had something to do with that!