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Top 10 Posts of the Year – #9: 1 Samuel 5 and Evangelism

December 18, 2012

When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
(1 Samuel 5:1-5 ESV)

If your evangelism is completely based around convincing people through clever arguments, the story at the beginning of 1 Samuel 5 should be a comforting one. The context is one in which the Philistines have captured the ark of God. This was a box in which the presence of God dwelled. It was a blessing to Israel when it was in their hands, but a curse to the other nation when they captured it. The Philistines took the ark as a victory prize after their stunning defeat of Israel in which they killed 30,000 men (1 Samuel 4). They placed the ark in the house of Dagon, their god. Dagon was a statue who the Philistines had adopted as their god shortly after their arrival in the land of Canaan. Dagon was in no way, shape, or form the same as YHWH, the God of Israel. So, you would expect something to happen when the ark of God is placed next to Dagon, right? Yes! The following two mornings, they found that Dagon (a statue, mind you) had fallen down in a position of worship before the ark. Even Dagon, the god of one of the most powerful nations at the time could not resist the call of YHWH to worship him alone.

I heard it said yesterday that trying to defend God to people is like, “trying to defend a lion.” He needs no defense. Like a lion, he does and wills what he pleases. He brings worship into the hearts of people who seem far off from him. Let us remember that as we go about the task of evangelism…to our children, co-workers, families, and others. The Holy Spirit is the only one who does the effectual work of salvation in someone’s life. Let’s charge the gates of hell, aggressively pursuing those who are bound for the punishment pictured in 2 Thessalonians 1:9. But, let us all the more know that the Lord demands worship and he will bring those who are dead to life…including god’s who are opposed to him, like Dagon. Let’s pray to that end.

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