Israel loses a battle so they grab the Ark of the Covenant (God’s footstool on earth) and bring the Ark with them the next day in battle and they lose even more decisively.
The account sparked thoughts about how we sometimes treat God as a ‘magic wand’ or a ‘sugar-daddy’.
Missing from the account is any checking in with the Lord. They don’t pause after the first defeat to see if any sin has happened, as Joshua did after the first loss to Ai. They don’t go to the Lord to see if He has a plan for them, instead they just grab the Ark as if it is a magic shield and charge into battle.
I’m reminded of the Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Germans are looking for the Ark, believing that the Ark makes an army invincible.
That’s what Israel did. They treated God as a force or a security shield, something to be used for their benefit. In these instances, God or God’s earthy representation –i.e. the Ark –becomes a tool we use to get what we want.
It didn’t work for Israel and it won’t work for us today.
While I don’t have the ark or a relic of some kind I (and we) can subtly fall into a similar behavior. If I pray a certain prayer, God must answer as I wish. If I give xx amount of money to the church or some ministry, God will repay be 10-fold. If someone tells me that they did this or that spiritual thing and God blessed them. If I do that same practice, expecting God to bless me, I am treating God like Israel treated the Ark… a tool to be used for my benefit.
The Lord calls us into relationship. Now, a relationship suggests two-way communication and in this case, since the Lord is God, I submit to Him. I must never treat the Lord as if He submits to me!
Lord, You are my treasure and my delight. I am sorry for any times I have fallen into the trap of thinking I can control You. Forgive me for any arrogance I ever express toward You. I am sorry and humbly repent. Open my eyes to any behaviors, attitudes or tendencies I have to trivialize You. I love You, Lord, and I desire to serve and honor You all the days of my life. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.