Bring Back the Ark
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Greetings and welcome again to Meditation Moments, and again that old-time greeting, “God bless you and make you a blessing.”
I want to talk to you a little bit tonight about the power of God. You know the Lord has a way of propagating everything in the world that He put here for our blessing, for our benefit. He put the seed within the apple, and the seed within the plum, and the acorn for the tree that they might carry on. And it’s just the same in the Gospel. It was to be the power of God that carried on God’s work, and not man’s power. That’s not by man’s might, nor man’s power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.7 If His work isn’t done in His Spirit, it never amounts to anything.
There’s a very wonderful story in God’s Word that brings out this truth so very well, and you’ll find it in 2 Samuel. In fact, the story runs through the book of Samuel. The part I particularly want to talk to you about tonight is in the sixth chapter of 2 Samuel when David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, 30,000, and he went with all the people that were with him from Israel to bring up from thence the Ark of God.
You know, there’s a very remarkable thing about this. When Saul was on the throne—Saul, who was such a magnificent man, he was so tall of stature—Saul just had everything, but he didn’t have the one thing that Israel needed, and that was the power of God. The women, the mothers would sit in their tents with the flap of the tent pulled back there, their children about them, and tell about the days gone by when God so wonder fully worked miracles for Israel. It was implied that there had been a lost vision because God didn’t seem to be working in their midst.
Now Saul hadn’t made an effort to go out and bring back the Ark. The Ark was a type of the presence of God in their midst. It represented the personal presence of God in the midst of His people. But Saul never even missed the Ark. Someone has so wisely said that there’s only one thing worse than not having the power of God in your life as a Christian and having that power manifest, and that is if you don’t even know that you don’t have the power.
Saul wasn’t lazy. I think he did a lot of rushing around and he tried hard to do a lot of things for Israel—doubtless did in a way—but that wasn’t what Israel was needing. Israel was needing the very power of God in her midst.
Sin and disobedience had grieved the Holy Spirit. Saul had been so disobedient. Numbers of times you’ll remember when Samuel told him to wait there for so long a time, seven days, and Saul didn’t wait at all.8 It began with disobedience on Saul’s part. He had gotten away from God. This sin and disobedience had so grieved the Holy Spirit that God’s great heart was so grieved that the Word says that the Lord answered him not when he prayed.9
I wonder in our own lives sometimes if we don’t even know when God’s power isn’t there. I’ve seen churches that just ran along on substitutes, ineffectual things, and wasted energy of all kinds. I’ve known them to put on all sorts of outward demonstrations and all kinds of suppers and eating fests and mechanical observances. And yet the altar of the church would be cold and there would be a formality there that was really pitiful. Political maneuverings even, an awful thing to have these tricks and trappings in the house of God instead of the power of God, the power that the Lord intended should carry on His work. He made every provision to have His work successful and have it magnificent in its usefulness and not to be carried on by such awful effort on man’s part.
Saul didn’t even know, as I say, didn’t even miss the presence of God. In the empty place that was there he had a little of everything to make up for this emptiness. And that’s the way it is with the Christian that has lost the power and the presence of the Lord. They try to fill that empty place in the heart with something else, but it never will be filled—there’s always that terrible void there. You know that something’s missing in your life if you’ve ever known the power of God in your life.
Oh, I wonder why we take the hard way when we can have the divine; that we’d take the human when we can have omnipotence. We take that which is really just impotent, and we take the earthly and passing things, when we can have heaven’s wonderful resources.
So Saul, I would call him the make-believer, because you would remember that when he came back from the battle with the Amalekites and he brought back King Agag, he met Samuel. We mentioned that in talking these things over one time. Samuel, we’ll say, was his pastor, and Saul said, “Blessed be thou of the Lord. I have kept the commandments of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “Then what means the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen in my ears?” (1 Samuel 15:13–14).
Saul has the language of the church, but he’s completely lost the spirit of the church, and lost out with God, but still he keeps up this pretense. Oh, it’s a terrible thing to be a make-believer and not have the real thing, to just not even miss that which could be so powerful in your life, to take some substitute. I passed a church recently that God has not so long ago written the word “Ichabod” over that church, and yet they’re trying to keep it going on just wasted energy and ineffectual things and there’s that empty place, the lack of the presence of God, and the altar there is cold and empty (1 Samuel 4:21).
I think David, in going out to bring back the Ark, is a type of some of these hungry pastors, the other type of pastor, who is just determined to have the presence and power of God. The minute David comes to the throne, he misses the Ark, so he gets this group together—a little Davidic company—and goes out to bring back the Ark.
How wonderful it is that there are some people that have such hungry hearts that they’re not going to be satisfied with any artificial enthusiasm and all this superficiality. They want the real thing! They want the power of God, this wonderful provision that God has made for the Christian to live a victorious life, the provision that God has made for His work to be carried on, that it might be carried on in the power of God’s precious Holy Spirit.
So David goes out on God’s terms. He’s obedient to the Lord and he’s so earnest about it, he’s desperate. You know, God has this power for you. He never meant you to struggle like you struggle sometimes and He never meant for life to be so defeated, to live a defeated Christian life. He meant you to have victory! God has supplied victory for you and victory is there for you, and God wants to give it to you.
I’m going to ask that we just search our own hearts for just a moment and see if we really have the presence of God there and God is in His rightful place, and there isn’t that empty place in our own hearts where we’ve gone on in the natural and with self-effort and the self-enthusiasm, having other things to take the place of the Lord working in our lives.
I wanted us just to have a word of prayer about this because I know just where the temptation is to live in the natural, instead of expecting the supernatural, and as I said, to have the human instead of the divine and to be so impotent, instead of having omnipotence working in power in our life.
Lord, we want to thank Thee that we have all of heaven’s resources at our command. We want to be conscious, Lord, of our spiritual condition; we want to know just where we stand with Thee.
We thank Thee, Father God, that Thou didst make provision for us to have this power through the precious infilling of Thy wonderful Holy Spirit. Thy Word has told us, “ye shall have power,” when the Holy Ghost has come, and You said to tarry until you are endued with power from on high, and we thank Thee for this provision (Acts 1:4,8).
We pray that Thou will put hunger in hearts, Lord, that they might seek the great infilling of Thy Holy Spirit until they shall move and speak and pray with God’s power and all that they shall do shall be done with Thy Spirit, that He might be in His rightful place, Lord. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.