Slightly Obsessed #050: God and the Merman
Now the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon, and placed it beside Dagon.
– 1 Samuel 5:1-2
Do we live as if God is a token deity in the pantheon of belief systems?
From the waist up, Dagon was a man. From the waist down, he was a fish. This burly “merman” was the god and protector of the sea-faring Philistines.
Shortly after the young Israelite Samuel became a prophet of the Lord, Israel went to war with the Philistines. The Philistines defeated the army of Israel and took the ark of God in triumph. They placed it in the temple of Dagon as a symbol of the merman’s power over the God of the Israelites.
They were about to learn a critical lesson: The ark of Israel wasn’t just a trinket in the march of the gods. And the God of Israel wasn’t just another token deity in the pagan pantheon.
As the sounds of celebration waned in the hours after the battle, night settled over the Philistine city of Ashdod. Within the dark interior of the temple, in the stillness, there was a stirring.
Then there was a thud.
The next morning, the Ashdodites found Dagon on his face before the ark of the Lord. They assumed he fell over and set him back up in his place.
The next night was again shattered, this time in a crash as the stone fell before the breath of God.
Early in the morning, the Ashdodite worshippers arrived at Dagon’s temple to find him on his face before the ark. This time, his head and hands had broken off on the temple threshold when he fell. The implication was clear. This was a vanquished enemy.
Soon a deadly outbreak of boils fell upon the entire city’s inhabitants. Trembling, the Philistines quickly returned the ark to Israel. Their merman was no match for the God of Israel. Their god was the creation of their own hands. The God who watched over Israel was real.
You are the greater temple, in whom dwells the living God.
Is your enemy tormenting you today? Does it look like there is no deliverance for you? Do you wonder if your prayers fall upon deaf ears? Does it feel as if the devil parades your failings before the world?
Take heart. You have not come to the temple of the merman, nor even to the old temple of God. If you have surrendered your life to the Lord of Lords, you are the temple of the living God. He hears your prayers. He is real, powerful, and very much alive.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
– Hebrews 12:22-24
Throw your trust on Him today. Walk in His righteous and toss away your idols. Listen for His voice. He is speaking; and He says this:
There is only one God. And He is mighty.
Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.