Binding Broken Hearts

Introducing Jesus to Those Who Need Him Most

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The Power of the Word - Part 24

He stood in the stood in his palace window looking down at the angry crowd. He heard someone shout, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!” (1 Samuel 10:5) Someone yelled, “Take away the ark!” Soon the entire crowd was chanting, “Take away the ark! Take away the ark!”

Ekron turned away from the window and returned his attention to the four men sitting at the table. Their faces were disfigured from tumors, tumors that covered their whole bodies. Ekron wondered if he looked as hideous as his fellow Philistine lords. He touched his face and knew the answer. Yes, he did.

For the past seven months the ark of the God of Israel had been in Philistia. Ekron remembered the day well. The ark had been taken to Ashdod’s province and placed in the temple of Dagon. Somehow, the ark of God had knocked over the massive image of Dagon. News of this traveled throughout Philistine. This was unheard of. The priests of Dagon set the image back in place, and the next morning they found the image on the floor again, this time in pieces. If that wasn’t bad enough, the residents of Ashdod broke out in horrible tumors all over their bodies. That was it. The ark had to go.

The ark was sent to the province of Gath. The same tumor outbreak occurred. The ark moved from province to province within Philistia, and now it was in Ekron’s province. Hence the outcry from the angry mob outside his palace.

“So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, ‘Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.’ For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.” (1 Samuel 5:11-12)

The five Philistine lords sat silently looking at each other around the table. There was a knock on the door. One of Ekron’s servants stepped into the room and announced that the priests and diviners from the temple of Dagon had arrived. Ekron signaled that they should be allowed entrance.

Once the priests and diviners were settled around the table, Ekron got right to the point. “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place.” (1 Samuel 6:2)

The priests and diviners talked quietly together and then told the lords, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you.” (1 Samuel 6:3)

Ekron looked at each of the lords at the table. He sat quietly for a moment and then responded, “What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?” (1 Samuel 6:4)

The chief priest answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords.” (1 Samuel 6:5)

The silence was lengthier this time. The ark of God was won in battle. The Philistines had met Israel in war and won. The ark was rightfully theirs. To return it would be a sign of weakness. And to then add an offering of gold on top of that would be utter humiliation. The lords were on the verge of refusing to act on the priests’ and diviners’ suggestion.

The priests and diviners could tell that the lords were not accepting their suggestion very well. So the chief priest spoke up.

“Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?” (1 Samuel 6:6)

The freedom of Israel from Egypt had become legend, and there was a healthy fear of Israel’s God in the surrounding nations. Ekron remembered the stories, especially of how the first born of the Egyptians – including the Pharaoh’s son – were killed in one night. Ekron thought of his own son. Could it be that if the lords of Philistia did not return the ark of God that his son’s life would be at risk? Would his pride go so far as to sacrifice the life of his son?

The lords agreed to the priests’ and diviners’ plan, and they spent the next hour discussing the details. When they were done, Ekron called for his servant to escort the priests and diviners out of the palace. Then the lords went into action.

Ekron called for the palace goldsmith. When he arrived in the meeting chamber, Ekron told him that he needed to stop all work he was doing and focus on making 5 golden tumors and 5 rats. These golden tumors and rats were needed in 24 hours. The goldsmith bowed in acknowledgement and left the room hastily heading straight for his workshop.

Then Ekron called in the palace steward. When the steward arrived, Ekron explained that he needed two cows that had just given birth. The next day, the calves were to be separated from cows, and the cows were to be placed in a yoke and hitched to a wagon. The steward bowed in acknowledgement and left the room hastily heading straight for the palace barns.

Lastly, Ekron called in the palace priest. When the priest arrived, Ekron commanded that the ark of God be made ready for a journey the next day. The priest bowed in acknowledgement and left the room hastily heading straight for the temple.

The other four lords left soon afterward and retired to their own chambers. When the room was again quiet, Ekron prayed that the God of Israel would hear their cries and see their efforts and reward them with healing.

The next day the five lords of Philistia gathered in front of Ekron’s palace and watched as the priest brought the ark of God to them on a cart. The steward led two milking cows toward the group, laid a yoke on their necks, and hooked them to the cart. The goldsmith joined them carrying a chest with five gold tumors and five gold rats. He laid the chest on the cart and stood back.

The group stood there watching in silence not knowing what to do. After a few minutes the cows looked up and focused on something in the distance, something that the group of men standing there couldn’t see. Slowly the cows began to move. The group feared that the cows would head right back to the palace barn and to their calves. But instead, the cows walked in the opposite direction toward the road to Beth Shemesh in Israel. The only noises were the lowing of the cows and the creaking of the cart wheels.

As the cows moved along, the five lords followed. They wanted to make sure that no one interfered with the cows and cart. This mission had to be successful. The ark of God had to return to Israel or the people of Philistia would not be healed.

Mile after mile they walked following behind the cart, far enough away to not spook the cows, and yet close enough to keep an eye on it. The farther they walked, the dustier the lords became. They didn’t care. Their entire focus was on returning the ark of God.

At the border of Beth Shemesh, the five lords stopped, but the cows kept going toward a group of Israelites who were in a field reaping the wheat harvest. The five lords watched as the Israelites ran toward the cart. They could hear the faint strains of singing and shouting. The ark of God had returned home. And so did the five lords.

“So when the five lords of the Philistines had seen it, they returned to Ekron the same day.” (1 Samuel 6:16)

The ark of the covenant held the 10 commandments – the Word of God. God’s intention was that His word would stay in Israel guiding their hearts and lives. However, the Israelites misused the ark of the covenant and the Word of God (1 Samuel 4) resulting in its capture by the Philistines. They used the ark as a talisman, hoping it would bring them good luck, rather than trusting in God and His Word. But God overruled the actions of Israel and Philistia and miraculously returned the ark and His Word to where it should have been all along using two cows. God says what He means, and He will accomplish His purposes. If God said it, you can bank on it!

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

This is why Binding Broken Hearts is passionate about getting God’s Word into prisons and into the hands of inmates who so desperately need it so they can know that God accomplishes mighty things in their lives through His Word. Because these are men and women who need Jesus most.

Perhaps you want to help spread the power of His Word to an inmate who desperately needs its power. If so, please consider becoming a financial partner with us. Click here to see how you can help.

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