The Ark of Defeat

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How Do You View God?

It’s apparent that we have all made mistakes. We have done things that we are not proud of. One of the dangers of Christianity today is we use the church and God on a need basis. For instance, when our life is in shambles you may hear something like, “I need to get back to church”. When my life is in a spiral of confusion, “I ought to pray and read my bible more”
Honestly, how do you view God? Is He your life’s 911? Do you only reach out during emergencies? This narrative of Eli, his two sons, the people of Israel can be applied to our present lives in a number of ways. We set the stage in 1 Samuel chapter 2 verse 12 in which the bible reads that, “Now the sons of Eli were corrupt, and they did not know the Lord”. These young men had not become acquainted with God. You can tell by their actions, “Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting”. Not only was it an unlawful action but a desecration to the house of God.
Is your prayer life when you are backed into a wall reflective of your prayer life when things are moving in the right direction? Are your study habits the same when you find yourself in the war of life, and the enemy is winning? Victory begins before the emergency begins. If we live our life depending on God from a place of emergency our life becomes haphazard and we end up in places we could have avoided.


The bible says the sons of Eli did not know the Lord, as it pertains to our children knowing God that is in the hands of the father. It’s our responsibility to ensure our children know who God is what God expects. “Train up a child in the way he should go”. Correction provided when teaching has been excused leads a children into an adulthood of destruction.
“You make the Lord’s people transgress…Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them”
Phinehas and Hophni are the sons of Eli, it’s interesting that Phinehas name designates his skin color “mouth of brass” but the root word that forms the beginning of his name actually means to break a part.
His brother’s name Hophni’s name literally means one who indulges in boxing or fighting with one’s fist.
Not only have they broke a part from the instructions of God, but the fight against his will until emergency ensues then they want to depend on the altar of God.
Their Father Eli, his name means ascension or the act of rising to an important or a higher level, and his inability to do this was not only the demise of his family, but an entire group of people.

Responding to Defeat

How we respond to the defeats of life determine how our life will end up. People who have the ability to bounce back and have resilience to persist after defeat find blessings that those who give cannot. Then there are those who expect God to grant victory because we call on his name.
Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.
The interesting thing is the Philistines responded to Israelites, the way the text reads is that Israel threw the first punch. If you start the fight you better be able to finish it. Instead of reflecting and taking ownership about their defeat they blame God. “Why has the Lord Defeated us today before the Philistines”. We want spiritual victories, but refuse to deny carnal influences.
Eli’s son’s wanted Help, not holiness. Bringing God into the equation should not be the response it should be the initial proactive action. Reactionary faith has no foundation. We cannot reduce God to using him solely as a response to the defeats of life. We love to quote And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
But we tend to forget that there is a 15, If you love Me, keep my commandments. The Israelites wanted victory, but they did not want to follow commandments.
So after the defeat, now they wanted the ark, verse 3 states “Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”
They felt strong enough to enter into war with the Israelites and now because they’ve been beat up pretty bad, now they need the altar of God. It’s not that he was prioritized it’s that they do not want to get whipped anymore. This is why there is a difference between a relationship with God and the church. Anyone can come to church, sometimes we can treat church like the Hebrews treated the altar. Who is around the altar when you retrieve is a reflection of the family of God.
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
This is like expecting the Holy Spirit to flow through this place just because we have a bible in our hands, or expecting our lives to change just because we come down front. God is not a genie in a bottle, this is not Aladdin, and we are Prince Ali trying to get Jazmine this is about life and death, salvation and eternity.
The interesting thing about all of this Eli knew they were going to get slaughtered.  And he said, “What is the word that the LORD spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.” 18 Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
Which begs the questions, Why didn’t Eli share with the Israelites what Samuel shared with him? Did he just accept the will of God because he felt it was too late? Did he feel like He couldn’t do anything about it?
The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Church Can’t Save You

Church does not give you victory, God gives the victory through Jesus Christ. Even the world knows when our actions are inconsistent with our message.
What the Philistines were going through was similar to watching a team during warm ups. Sometimes there is a team that looks good, new uniforms and team shoes and doing fancy lay ups just to get in the game and look like they’ve never picked up a ball. The talent is not in the shoes, or the uniform, it’s in the preparation its in that devotion to the game the hard work you put in.
The power in the ark was a power provided by God. This is what happens when we idolized things in the church rather than the head of the church. There is power in the ark, but only by God. There is power in the promises of God, only through obedience. There is power in the church, but only through God. Without God this is just a building, without God these are empty words filled with pointless noise. If we want victory we have to trust God in every facet of our life.
The Philistines knew the power of the God they were supposed to serve, but see what does all the shouting, clapping, and rejoicing mean if my life is raggedy?
God will take away whatever it is that you are idolizing over him “10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died”.
Praise is not about checking boxes, making it here before communion, or being here every time the doors open. God is about growth, God is about salvation, God is about righteousness. If we truly want victory in life we have depend on God before we enter the battles of life.
The New King James Version. (1982). (). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Praise is not about checking boxes, making it here before communion, or being here every time the doors open. God is about growth, God is about salvation, God is about righteousness. If we truly want victory in life we have depend on God before we enter the battles of life.
Just like God promises victory, he can promise defeat!
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