Written by: Rhonda Sue Page
This Week’s Topic: Spring Cleaning
I find it so reassuring that Amy Dalke believes I have a valuable
contribution to be made on this topic….Let it be noted:
I have cleaned out ONE kitchen drawer in her honor.
…..Okay, so I removed the silverware holder and blew hard before replacing the cutlery….
What do you want from me? The only thing I ever really admired about Martha Stewart was her hair. God bless her, she just never seemed to have follicle-challenged day.
I had a wise teacher once tell me,“Write only about those things you know or have experience. Otherwise, people will not care to hear what you have to say.”
So, we can either call it a wrap now ….or, if you have the time….
(That sounds kinda “spring”-y. right?)
Come take a trip with me and let’s talk about what should never be thrown out…….or put in a box.
I think having been in Israel changes and challenges me in ways I don’t fully understand yet. For one thing, I have more reverential fear of God than I did before. That is to say, I think a lot more about what He wants vs. what I want.
Or better yet, how he wants something done vs. how I’d do it. Perhaps before, I readily focused on His grace and mercy….which are both amazing beyond description…..but let’s face it, they sort of make him more my “buddy” than my God. That’s not all bad. Jesus is “a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” We all need that reassurance from time to time. But this perspective also greatly limits him. He’s oh sooo much more than that.
I sat in a place called Shiloh. It’s mentioned in scripture………..but if you are anything like I was………you probably skimmed right over that “geography stuff that had absolutely no meaning whatsoever”.
I might can help with that now. This is Shiloh:
Don’t be shy…………come on in!
Pull up a rock, any rock.
Okay, maybe not that rock…..Holly beat you to it.
It is a pretty cool rock though. Didn’t realize until I got home that it had a cross embedded in it. (You’re on your own…….think of it as Christian I-spy)
So what’s so great about Shiloh? Glad you asked. Please turn with me to the book of Joshua 18:1:
“And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them.“
This is the one and same tabernacle that had been drug through the wilderness for all those years. Shiloh is it’s first real “home” inside the promise land. Why yes, that is cool…but wait, there’s more!
Skip with me to the book of 1 Samuel 3.
The tabernacle abode at Shiloh for over a century! In fact, the tabernacle was still there in Samuel’s time. Remember little Samuel who was brought there to serve the priests as a young boy by his momma Hannah (who had desperately prayed to God for a baby)? This entire chapter is that touching story of how God used a young boy to reveal Himself. Take special notice of verses 19-21:
“…So Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not allowing any of his words to fail. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was trustworthy as the Lord’s prophet. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh because the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh through the Lord’s own word.”
Did you catch it? Samuel first began hearing God’s voice while at Shiloh!!!
The place you are now sitting……….well, virtually anyway. Has your butt gone numb yet? Try to pretend it did. It’s all apart of the glamour of actually being there.
Generations later, two priests ministered to the Lord in Shiloh, Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest there, Eli. Yep the very same Eli who’d been right there with Samuel as a baby. And I wish to tell you that they all lived happily ever after. But it didn’t happen that way. Eli allowed his boys to go uncorrected and they did evil in the sight of God. Hearts got turned around and attention got shifted. These boys would soon help the people try to use the Ark of the Covenant in much the same way as a lucky rabbit’s foot. They figured if they carried it out of the tabernacle and into battle with them they would reign supreme against the Philistines. Only one rather glaring problem with that….nobody actually consulted The Owner.
“And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.“ (1 Sam 4:3)
However, Israel lost the battle that day and the Lord would not fight for them, seemingly due to the sin of the priests. The Philistines took the ark, Hophni and Phinehas were killed, and their father Eli died when he heard the ark was taken from Israel. Phinehas’ wife was pregnant at the time and near to giving birth to her baby when she heard that the ark was taken and her husband and Eli were killed.
“And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast borne a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.” (1 Sam 4:19-22)
THE GLORY IS DEPARTED. Just as the glory left the Garden, it left Shiloh that day due to the people’s sin. You can bet they were shocked and grieved.
As I sat there listening to the story, I found myself wanting to cry. Not because it was sad, although it certainly is sad. But because I found myself in that story.
How often do allow my relationship to God to become too familiar? How often to I lack in requiring Him, needing Him, even enquiring of Him as a basic necessity of life. Remembering he is Holy.
We had an Orthodox Jewish man tell us.
“God should never stop surprising you. If He does, then you have made Him into your own image.” I will never forget those words. It was as if the Holy Spirit had uttered them to me Himself.
We deprive ourselves of such joy and wonderment when we put God in a comfortable box. We also run a very high risk of getting called on it.
Just because I forget who God is …. doesn’t mean He does. He never forgets who He is, and He is always true to Himself and His Word. I don’t want to be comfortable making my own plans anymore. I want God to ruin comfort for me. I want Him to devastate me for anything other than serving Him with all my heart. More than anything I want Him to have all the space He requires to surprise and awe me. If if that means he has to squash some misplaced ideas about to serve, worship or pray. I want Him on the forefront of my thought-life…….. not being taken for granted on the back-burner til desperation sets in.
Because of Jesus, You and I are Shiloh now. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. By working with his Spirit we have the ability to once again house the presence of God and bring Him much glory. We also have the privileged of walking in close communion with Him in such a way that we don’t have to risk becoming deceived about what God will put up with.
As such, I pray God helps us see our need to acknowledge and deal with our sin quickly. May a revival of who God is refresh our spirits and capture our souls until they belong to him alone. Amen.
Thanks for revisiting Shiloh with me…..
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That’s just how we Trend…