Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
How convicting and encouraging it has been to hear from our Lord’s servants on the mission field in the past several days. Sam Folta shared his work in East Asia and, last night, David Okken shared about his ministry in Uganda. May we commit as a church to praying for our OPC missionaries, for these two brothers and their families in particular, and for the spread of the gospel around the globe.
*Rev. Okken’s presentation will be posted on our church website in the coming days … be on the lookout!
*Please be in prayer for the Presbytery of the Southwest as we meet over the weekend to deal with the business of the church.
*Those interested in participating in our Vos Theology group should purchase “Biblical Theology” and start reading. The book can be found here: http://www.wtsbooks.com/biblical-theology-geerhardus-vos-9780851514581.
*This week’s devotional is a reflection from 1 Samuel 5 regarding the absolute supremacy of God.
I look forward to seeing you all soon!
From the Pastor’s Desk
Dagon vs. the LORD
1 Samuel 5:3, “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.”
1 Samuel 4-7 is often regarded as the “Ark Episode.” In these verses, the Ark of the Covenant – the symbolic presence of God in the Old Testament – takes center stage. These chapters record the defeat of the Israelites and the subsequent capture of the ark by the Philistines (1 Sam 4); and the eventual return of the ark to Israel (1 Sam 6). Tucked in between chapters 4 & 6, however, is a glorious passage picturing the absolute sovereignty and glory of God over and against all false idols (1 Sam 5).
The scene unfolds briefly as follows: having defeated the Israelites and captured the ark, the Philistines placed the ark in their temple next to the god Dagon (one of the many gods in the Philistine polytheistic pantheon) as a type of trophy from their victory. The idolatrous Philistines are basking in their victory. Their god – the false god Dagon – has given them victory over Israel. The Lord has been defeated. Dagon is victorious … or is he?? Verse 3 tells us, “And when the people of Ashdod (one of the main Philistine cities) rose the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD.” The people of Ashdod flood to the temple the morning after their great victory – no doubt basking in their recent accomplishment – expecting to bow before the idol of their own hands … when what do they find?? Dagon on his face before the Ark! “Perhaps he fell over? Maybe a storm blew him over,” one might object. Thus we read in v. 3b, “So they took Dagon and put him back in his place (quite ironic and pathetic for a god to be put back in his place!).” Once again Dagon takes his place of authority over the defeated God of Israel … or does he?? Then follows the stinging report of v. 4, “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.” There will be no setting Dagon back this time! Dagon is demolished before the God of the universe.
What can we take from this brief episode? One simple truth: God alone is Lord. God alone is sovereign! There are no other gods! The God of the Bible is the alone king of the universe. He is a jealous God! He will not suffer any rivals to be in his presence. As the Lord says through Isaiah, “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God … I am the Lord and there is no other … I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:5, 7). The psalmist, on the other hand, well describes the idolatry of the ages, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes but do not see” (Psalm 115:4-5). Idols are just that – the work of men’s hands. And idolatry is just that – worshiping the creature rather than the creator (Rom 1:25).
Brothers and sisters, the God of the Bible is the one, true and living God. He alone is King! He alone is worthy of praise! He is the God who made us; and he is the God who redeems us by the blood of his Son. May we worship him! May we rejoice in him! And may we look forward to the day when every knee will now and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:11)!
In his grace,