Summary: What is missing from our worship? Do we know it is missing? Why is it missing? How do we get it back?
Encountering God – Part 7 – What’s Missing from Worship?
Introductory story: 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.
I want us to look at a time when God didn’t show up and the reasons why.
Context: Eli has been the judge/priest for Israel for many years. His sons, who were supposed to follow in his footsteps as priests before the Lord, were corrupt and wicked. If you were to read the preceding two chapters of 1st Samuel, you would find out how bad they were living and how Eli had noticed but pretty much ignored their sins and the irreverence with which they served before the Presence of God at Shiloh.
This period in Israel’s history was also a period of time when God was not speaking to his people very often.
The bible says that in 1 Sam 3:1 “…Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
The spiritual leaders were corrupt and God’s people were not obeying his law so why should he say anything new to them?
It seems that since men were not listening to God in those days that God simply didn’t bother to speak to them.
This lays the ground work for what is about to happen.
Now the arch enemies of Israel, the Philistines came to fight against Israel,
1 Samuel 4:1-3 Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek. 2 The Philistines drew up in battle array to meet Israel. When the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? and Israel suffered a defeat with a loss of 4,000 men. The elders and leaders of Israel were totally bewildered and perplexed. They called an emergency meeting to analysis the defeat in verse three, they focused on one basic question, “Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today?” (v.3).
They asked the right question (Why did God let us be defeated?) but unfortunately they drew the wrong conclusion.
Another problem, is they asked themselves why it happened, but they never thought to ask God why it had happened.
Sometimes we arrive at the wrong conclusions because we haven’t bothered to ask God why stuff happens the way it does.
Early in their history, God had assured Israel victory over their enemies as long as they kept His commandments and obeyed Him (Lev.26: 3, 7-8).
If they had stopped to evaluate the way that they had been living, they would have had the answer for their defeat.
1 Sam 4:3-9 After the battle was over, the army of Israel retreated to their camp, and their leaders asked, "Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?" Then they said, "Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies." 4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring back the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, helped carry the Ark of God to where the battle was being fought. 5 When the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud that it made the ground shake! 6 "What’s going on?" the Philistines asked. "What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?" When they were told it was because the Ark of the LORD had arrived, 7 they panicked. "The gods have come into their camp!" they cried. "This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as you never have before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours!" (NLT)