1 Samuel 5-6 & Romans 5

1 Samuel 5-6

    When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 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. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 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. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

    The hand of the LORD was heavy against the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and afflicted them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for his hand is hard against us and against Dagon our god.” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” They answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be brought around to Gath.” So they brought the ark of the God of Israel there. But after they had brought it around, the hand of the LORD was against the city, causing a very great panic, and he afflicted the men of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. But as soon as the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people.” They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

    The ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us with what we shall send it to its place.” They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why his hand does not turn away from you.” And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?” They answered, “Five golden tumors and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines, for the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel. Perhaps he will lighten his hand from off you and your gods and your land. Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed? Now then, take and prepare a new cart and two milk cows on which there has never come a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. And take the ark of the LORD and place it on the cart and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off and let it go its way and watch. If it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm, but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by coincidence.”

    The men did so, and took two milk cows and yoked them to the cart and shut up their calves at home. And they put the ark of the LORD on the cart and the box with the golden mice and the images of their tumors. And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh. Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there. And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the LORD. And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

    These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the LORD: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the LORD is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

    And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the LORD. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great blow. Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the LORD, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?” So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to you.”

(1 Samuel 5-6 ESV)

Romans 5

    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

    For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

    But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

    Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(Romans 5 ESV)

Something to Consider

Romans 5: For the modern Christian who finds himself unfamiliar with doctrinal terms (whether by lack of interest or lack of teaching), the guarantee of a future glorification may simply arouse a casual coziness or warmth of feelings about what heaven has in store for us. Therefore, it might be helpful to first consider three big reasons why we ought to live in hope of this future glorification. Our glorification by God means: 

  • We will one day look upon the radiant splendor of God’s glory fully displayed. We will actually see God as He is in His fullness.
  • We will also share in this glory and once again fulfill our created purpose to be the image and glory of God which we fall drastically short of doing in our current sinful state. We will be perfected.  
  • We will experience the renewed universe set free from its bondage to decay. We will live eternally in a universe that has been perfected. 

We will see God in His fullness, we will be made perfect, and we will dwell in a perfected universe. One can only imagine what this could possibly look like, but who in their right mind wouldn’t rejoice in the hope that this will one day take place? Our justification by God’s grace alone guarantees us this experience. 

Now, there are three big things that Paul mentions here that are the results of our justification. He says that since we have been justified through faith:

  • We have peace with God.
  • We have access to God.
  • We have hope of future glory with God.

Man has no greater need in life than to be on terms of peace with God. Man doesn’t need the peace of God as much as he needs peace with God. Paul is not talking about a feel good peace experienced by a calm heart. He is speaking of the reconciliation of two sides at war with one another. We are no longer God's enemies. We are no longer the opposition. How many people turn to Jesus in hope of joy, healing, satisfaction and fulfillment without realizing that what they need and must have first is these terms of peace with God? Without this peace with God, man cannot expect all the other things he seeks from Him. 

Man cannot approach God on any other terms except through this peace that is offered to us through Christ our Lord. That is our primary need and must be understood as such.
 
Next, once we are on terms of peace with God, we have access to God. We now have been granted access to the presence and power of God. The Greek word used here for access means ‘to be brought into the presence of’ or ‘to be introduced’. We have no chance of a meeting with the President unless we know someone close to him in the White House. In the same way, we have no chance of standing in the presence of God without being brought into His presence by His Son. This is what the Bible is describing when it speaks of Jesus as our Advocate, our High Priest, the one who clothes us in righteousness. 

How many people live under the false assumption that they have more access than they actually have? How many people are expecting to walk right into heaven when in fact they’re going to be turned down at the door? We need a credential. The cross of Christ is our credential. It bears His name, and He is our only access into the graces and blessings of God’s power and presence. 

Therefore, the man who is at peace with God and who now has access to God can rejoice in hope of the future glory of God. In light of what God has already done for him through his justification, the Christian can live with a favorable and confident expectation of his future glorification by God. It gives us confidence in God’s love for us and that He is always working towards what’s best for us eternally. The Christian can see past the here and now and look out onto the horizon of where He’s going. There’s a greater place and a greater life and it’s with a great God and it lasts forever. It is guaranteed that God will certainly complete what He has already begun through our justification.