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July 13, 2010 / Nick

The church God stopped attending

People in worship with hands raised pentecostal style.

Is God at service today?

The Tabernacles of Moses and David can teach us a lot about worship.

I’ve spent the last couple of months studying the Mosaic and Davidic Tabernacles.   In the days of Eli God allowed the Ark of the Covenant to be captured by the Philistines.  It was a tragic event that showed God’s displeasure with Eli for allowing his sons to corrupt and defile the priesthood.   There is a lesson in the life of Eli for all of God’s leaders i.e. don’t be partial in judgement.  Eli was the High Priest and a Judge in Israel, yet he allowed his own sons to get away with pimping the priesthood, extorting money from worshippers and taking sexual advantage of vulnerable women (1 Samuel 2:12-36).   What is also striking is that God chose to raise Samuel in the cursed house of Eli, only God can raise a blessed man in a cursed house (1 Samuel 3:1)!

Having a symbol of God’s presence without the reality of His presence is a dangerous deception.

As a result of Eli and his sons the Ark, which symbolised God’s presence was captured by the Philistines.  It was entirely their fault as they took the Ark into the battle field, contrary to scripture.  Here is something, these men were corrupt and living sinful, yet they believed that taking a divine symbol to war with the enemy would give them the victory.  The victory is not won by the symbol of God’s presence, but only through the reality of the abiding presence of God in the life of a believer.  This genuine presence can only be secured through living holy. If we don’t live we can’t defeat the devil. Period.

The presence of God in the enemy’s camp is Satan’s worst nightmare.

The Ark remained with the Philistines for seven months (1 Samuel 6:1), during which time it wreaked havoc in their camp.  Once again, the presence of God in the enemy’s camp is dangerous.  This is why the devil can’t keep an anointed man prisoner for long – the anointing will destroy the yoke of bondage.  This is what happened with Jesus being dead and in the grave for 3 days, death could not hold Him because He was too anointed (actually, He is the anointing!).

Continually mishandle God and He can disassociate Himself with your church, ministry or movement.

When the Ark returned to Israel it abided at Gibeah in the house of Abinadab and was cared for by Eleazar the priest, Abinadab’s son (1 Samuel 7:1-2).  God never went back to Shiloh and they had to move the Tabernacle from that spot.   The sons of Eli had defiled God in that place until He didn’t want His name associated with Shiloh any more.  Mishandling God’s name and glory also resulted in the death of Eli and his sons.  As one Jamaican preacher put it “don’t ramp with God, God ramp ruff!”.

The day God stopped attending service.

When David came to the throne over all Israel his first act after the capture of Jerusalem was to bring the Ark from Gibeah and up to Jerusalem.  I love that David wanted to have God’s presence near Him.  If we are going to do anything we must seek to have God with us and near us. As the Fanny Crosby said: “I must have the Saviour with me, for I dare not walk alone, I must feel His presence near me and his arms around me thrown”.

What I find shocking is that when the Ark was established at Mt Zion and placed in the Tabernacle of David, worship continued at Gibeah.  The priests were offering sacrifices daily and attending the lamp of the Golden Candlestick, keeping the Shewbread and Altar of Incense going and yet beyond the Veil the Ark was absent.

There is a lesson in this…

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in our own brand of religion that we miss where God is, and what He is doing NOW.  God, can have moved on and we could be missing it.  We could go through the motions, sing the songs, read the scripture, put up the preacher, yet if God is not in it we are wasting time.  Let us find out where God is attending service and stay there!



  1. zero1ghost / Jul 13 2010 12:38 pm

    so God is not omni-present?

    the last paragraph sums it up nicely, we are to follow the Spirit, or as my congregationalist heritage has put it “Find out what God is doing, and atune your soul to that.”

    • jesusblogger / Jul 13 2010 12:47 pm

      God is omnipresent, but it is His manifest presence we seek in worship. The omnipresence of God is everywhere, but His manifest presence is where He chooses to reveal Himself to us.

      • Scott / Dec 23 2010 9:02 pm

        You said……..What I find shocking is that when the Ark was established at Mt Zion and placed in the Tabernacle of David, worship continued at Gibeah. The priests were offering sacrifices daily and attending the lamp of the Golden Candlestick, keeping the Shewbread and Altar of Incense going and yet beyond the Veil the Ark was absent……Can you please give me scripture
        reference where to find this? I want to read all about it.

  2. zero1ghost / Jul 13 2010 1:38 pm

    ahh! i missed that nuance. good thing to have.

    i know a few churches like that who are content to keep doing the same things even though all that has passed and God is doing something new (Behold, i make all things new!) and the reasons for the liturgy have been forgotten. kinda like the church bake-sale that used to be a big hit, now all those ladies who used to run it have died or can’t come to church anymore and the new ladies just buy things from the grocery store. the bake-sale doesn’t make sense any more. same with, IMHO the invocation in worship. it’s a pagan holdover… so let’s drop it, or call it “atunement” or “centering” or something, where WE try to find God in our lives and in our worship space.

    i dunno if i buy the “Chooses to reveal himself” deal now that i think about it. God is always speaking, it’s our job to tune into the ever-transmitting divine. sound plausible?

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