Summary: For 20 years God’s judgment had been on Israel. He was trying to get them to remember something... but what?
OPEN: The story’s told of an old Navajo Indian who had had the good fortune to have oil discovered on his land. He became a very wealthy man as a result, but wealth did not change him. He went on living just as he was before. In the meantime, the money piled up in the bank.
But every now and then the old man would visit the bank and say to the banker, "Crops all dried up; sheep all dead; cattle all stolen."
The banker would smile and take the old man into the vault, he’d sit him at a table and place several bags of silver dollars in front of him and leave him alone for awhile for the Indian to count his silver.
After a while the man would come out and say, "Crops fine; sheep all alive; cattle all back."
APPLY: Every once in a while, people need to be reminded of things.
Throughout the Bible God’s people are told to remember things
In Number 15:38-39 for example God tells Moses "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will REMEMBER all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.’”
* In Deuteronomy 8:2 Israel was told “REMEMBER how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart.”
* Deuteronomy 5:15 - “REMEMBER that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm…”
* Deuteronomy 15:15 “REMEMBER that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you.”
* Psalm 105:5 “REMEMBER the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced”
And in the New Testament Revelation 3:3 declares “REMEMBER, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent…”
Remember, Remember, Remember.
Now, in our text today we find that the Israelites needed to be reminded of a couple of things.
It tells us here that “… the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They took it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD.” I Samuel 7:1-2
Why did they mourn and seek God?
Because they remembered something… but we’ll discuss that a little later.
For right now let’s revue the events that led up to this story.
In our last sermon we found that – before Samuel became the priest at the tabernacle - the tabernacle had been run by a priest named Eli and his sons. Eli’s sons – Hophni and Phineas – had stolen from the sacrifices and had slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
God was understandably upset. And He told Eli he was going to replace him – and that, as a sign of His judgment, Eli’s sons would both die in a single day…
What happened was this:
The Israelites and the Philistines got into a fight on the plains of Aphek. Israel lost 4000 soldiers in the battle and they were losing badly. The elders of Israel decided it would be a good idea to bring ark of the covenant, and so they sent back to Hophni and Phineas to bring the Ark to the battle field, in the hopes that God would save them from defeat.
Well, that didn’t work out real well.
Not only did Israel lose 30,000 more soldiers but Hophni and Phineas died on the battlefield as well. And even worse – the Philistines captured the ark and took it home with them.
For the next few weeks the Philistines tried to show off their new trophy – the ark of God. Unfortunately for them God wasn’t into show and tell. Everywhere the Philistines took the ark – the cities became overrun with rats and the people in those cities were afflicted with tumors that were so severe that many of them died.
Panic set in… and NOBODY wanted the Ark of God anywhere near them. The Philistines ended up returning God’s ark to Israel along with a guilt offering of 5 golden tumors and 5 golden rats.
By the time we get to chapter 7 we’re told the ark has been back in Israel for 20 years… but the people are still feeling like God hasn’t come home with it. Notice what it says in 1Samuel 7:2 It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD.