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Pastor Matthew Fanning

May 25, 2010

The Capture of the Ark

Hemorrhoids and Mice

Part 4

By:  Pastor Bill Randles

Now the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites and He destroyed them and smote them with emerods, both Ashdod and its territories. (I Samuel 5:6)

Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep and like a mighty man that shouteth by reason of wine. And He smote His enemies in the hinder parts, and put them to a perpetual reproach. (Psalm 78:65-66)

The Philistines thought they were celebrating one of their greatest victories, when they routed Israel, killed the sons of the High Priest, and captured the Ark of God. But when they found Dagon, their god, prostrated before the Ark, and then found his face and hands broken in the presence of the Ark, they began to realize that the God of Israel was far from dead, let alone defeated. This was a foretaste of an even greater victory to come, which was hidden in apparent defeat.

…Had the Princes of the World known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory… (I Cor. 2:8)

First Samuel 5 recounts the story of the Ark ‘in captivity’, and how the gentiles dealt with the custody of it.

Each of the five major cities of the Philistines took custody of the Ark for a season and each of them were visited by plagues such as, emerods (tumors, hemorrhoids) and plagues of mice. People were dying under these plagues and the reason for them was not lost on the people.

When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, the Ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god… (I Sam 5:7)

So Ashdod sent the Ark to Gath, and Gath to Eshkelon, and they to Ekron, and so on. Everywhere the Ark went, the plagues broke out, and Philistines died. The Philistines almost literally played “hot potato” with the Ark of God, until they decided to send it back to Israel, as a tacit admission of defeat and the superiority of Israel’s God.

But first, like the Exodus of Egypt, the Philistines consulted their own priests and diviners, as to what to do with the Ark.

And they said, if ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not away empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering; then you shall be healed, and it shall be known unto you why His hand is not removed from you. Then said they what shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to Him? They answered, five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the Lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on you all and your Lords. (I Samuel 6:2-3)

The advice given was to make a trespass offering, which amounts to a confession of sin. The trespass offering is in essence a prayer that, “We admit that we have sinned, trespassed, and that we deserve these plagues - please receive this offering and forgive and heal us of the wrath we have brought upon us.”  The logic of the offering is substitution. That which is offered is to be seen as a substitute for the one doing the offering. It is representation.

Every offering is a confession to God; each gift is a representative substitute. Should it be a lamb or a bull, the worshipper is saying “I deserve to die, I am a sinner, behold the lamb I offer in my place, see it as me!”

When the wise men of the Philistines told the five Lords of the Philistines to cast five golden hemorrhoids, and five golden mice, they were in effect having them confess to the God of Israel, “Not only do we have hemorrhoids and mice as plagues from you for our trespasses, WE ARE HEMORRHOIDS, WE ARE MICE, these substitutes represent us, have mercy on us and heal us!”

The God of Israel did receive the offerings, for the plagues ceased upon the humiliating confession of the five Lords of the Philistines. This too is the future history of Israel and the Gentiles.

The Messiah of Israel, upon being turned over to the Gentiles, remains among them, being received by multitudes of Gentiles and Jews, from every tribe and nation, who have made the trespass offering, confessing that Jesus himself is their sin offering, as Paul testified of in I Cor. 5:21-

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.