Summary: A look at the story of how the Ark of the Covenant was returned to the people of Israel and how they worshipped God because of it.

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-so here’s what we’re going to do, for the next two weeks we’re mellowing out a little, no powerpoints, no notes sheets, if you really want to take notes there’s paper we can give you, but we’re going to take things easy. We’re going to have story time.

-we’re going to look at stories that talk about worship. Next week will be stories from the New Testament, but today will be a story from the Old Testament.

-it concerns the Ark of the Covenant. Do you remember that thing? Indiana Jones. The Ark was consecrated by God, it was thought to be God on earth. Where the Ark was was a representation of God being there. When Israel went to battle, the Ark went first, like in the battle of Jericho, the Ark went first. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, the Ark went first and the waters parted, the people crossed on dry ground.

-well our story starts in I Samuel 4. Eli is judge over Israel, he’s just gotten a new protégé named Samuel, but right now he’s in charge with his two sons. And the Philistines are the new guys on the block starting wars and trying to take over Israel.

-Israel goes to war with the Philistines, and they lose. So the people try to figure out why and what they can do and they come up with a plan. They decide to bring the Ark into the camp. They decide to let the Ark lead them to battle. When the Ark enters the camp with Eli’s two sons the Bible says they let out a great shout and the ground shook.

-now the Philistines, a little ways away, they hear this, feel the ground shake and think, O crap. They brought in God. Not just any God, the Hebrew God who caused all the plagues in Egypt. God is physically in the camp, we are screwed. But the captains say, no, we have to fight, we have to win, gives some inspirational war movie speech in Philistinian and off to war they go. And they win. They capture the Ark. The capture God.

-so the Philistines take the Ark and they take it to their religious center of Ashdod. They carry the Ark into the temple of Dagon, their god, and set the Ark at his feet as an offering, basically saying their god is over the Hebrew God.

-the next day they come into the temple of Dagon, and Dagon’s down. Their god was on the floor facedown before the Ark of the Covenant. So they pick Dagon back up, put him back where he should be.

-the next day the priests come in and Dagon’s on the floor again, fallen in front of the Ark of the Lord. Except this time, Dagon’s hands and his head broke off. Israel’s God just killed their god. Then all the people in the city of Ashdod begin to get tumors and rats appear and spread disease that starts killing people.

-so the leaders of the Philistines get together and ask what should we do? The Hebrew God is killing us. They decide to take it out of Dagon’s city and take it to the city of Gath.

-the Ark comes to the city of Gath, and so do tumors and disease and rats and death. The people are dying and in torment there. So they meet and try to figure out what to do again. And the leaders decide to move the Ark further away to the Philistine city of Ekron.

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