We use cookies to collect general visitor statistics but not personal information. Privacy policy

The Ark is captured

The Ark into taken into battle and captured by the Philistines.
Contributed by Jack Foster
Hannah prayed that if God gave her a son, she would give him back to God to serve Him. Eli the High Priest said, ‘God has heard your prayer. May He give you what you ask!’ Hannah did have a son and she called him Samuel (which means ‘heard by God’). She kept her promise and, when Samuel was old enough, she took him to Eli so Samuel could serve God at the Tabernacle. – Slide 1
Samuel served the Lord with all his heart even though Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were older than Samuel, did not. They would steal and treat the servants badly. They deliberately disobeyed their father Eli and did not show him respect. The greedy pair got fat from feasting on all the best offerings that were supposed to be sacrificed to God. – Slide 2
One night God spoke to Samuel about Eli and his sons. When Eli asked Samuel what God had said Samuel did not want to tell him, but Eli insisted. Young Samuel broke the bad news that Eli and his sons were going to die in the very near future. Eli knew he had let his sons do wrong and God was not going to let them get away with it any more. ‘Let the Lord do what He thinks is best,’ Eli said, as he hung his head in sadness and shame. – Slide 3
Some time later, after a defeat in a battle with the Philistines, the Israelites had an idea how to defeat their enemies. They thought if they carried the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord into battle they could not lose. The Ark was holy and a symbol of God’s presence and power. Foolishly, Hophni, Phineha and other priests, carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle against the Philistines the next day. – Slide 4
Eli put a chair just outside the city gate so he could get the news about the battle as soon as possible. He was very old now and could hardly see. Finally a messenger came running from the battle with news. The Israelites had been beaten badly with the loss of over thirty thousand men. ‘I’m sorry to tell you this Eli, but your two sons were killed and the Philistines have captured the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord!’ A shocked Eli threw himself back and his chair fell backwards. Eli broke his neck and died. Everything God had told Samuel years earlier had come true. – Slide 5
So now the Philistines had The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. They took it back with them to the town of Ashdod and put it in the temple next to their fish god, Dagon. – Slide 6
That night, a strange thing happened. The stone god, Dagon, fell face down in front of The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. – Slide 7
The Philistines gathered and hoisted Dagon back up again. – Slide 8
The next morning, when the Philistine diviners showed up, Dagon had fallen again before The Ark of the Covenant, but this time his arms were broken off and his head was in the doorway of the temple. The diviners were shocked! They called the leaders of Ashdod and said, ‘We have to get rid of the Ark! Not only has Dagon been damaged, but the people of the town are all getting sick!’ – Slide 9
The leaders agreed. ‘Let us send the Ark to the city of Gath.’ And so they did. Pretty soon, people in the Philistine city of Gath were plagued with sickness and there were rats and mice everywhere! So the citizens of Gath decided to get rid of the Ark and sent it to the nearby city of Ekron.’ – Slide 10
The people of Ekron had already heard about what happened in Ashdod and Gath, so when they saw the ark coming over the hill to their city, they cried, ‘No! We don’t want the Ark!’ Even before it had reached their city, people were falling sick and being plagued by frogs. The Ark was moved on to five cities in all and remained in Philistine territory for a total of seven months. – Slide 11
The troubled Philistines took two cows and hitched them to a cart in the middle of a field. The Ark and a guilt offering was placed in the cart. They decided, if the cows began to head toward the Israelite territory, they would know their troubles were caused by the God of Israel. If not, then all these diseases and frogs were just a coincidence.’ – Slide 12
Sure enough, the cows went straight toward Beth-shemesh in Israelite territory. Some of the Philistines followed the cows until they reach the border at Beth-shemesh. When the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord returning on a cart being pulled by two cows, they were overjoyed!  The cows stopped at a large rock, which the Israelites turned into an altar to make sacrifices to God. The Philistine rulers who watched from a distance, then reported back to their cities. – Slide 13
Samuel called all the Israelites together. ‘If you are serious about returning to the Lord, get rid of all your idols and obey God, then He will protect you from the Philistines.’ The people agreed and gathered at Mizpah to offer sacrifices, fast and confess to the Lord. When the Philistines heard about this gathering, they decided to attack. The frightened Israelites cried out to Samuel. ‘Plead with the Lord to save us!’ Samuel prayed. A loud voice came from heaven and confused the Philistine army. The Philistines were defeated and the Israelites lived in peace for the rest of Samuel’s life. – Slide 14
Slide 15