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Re: Heathen Proving God  (1Samual 6:9)

"And watch: if it goes up the way to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, 
then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that 
it is not His hand that has struck us; it has happened to us by chance." 

The first few chapters of 1Samuel record a fascinating account, and 
provides a lesson that today's world leaders would do well to review, 
and take heed. Eli the priest was getting old. His sons had corrupted 
the priesthood. (1Sam ch2) So Samuel is born, presented to God, and is 
called by God and begins to be recognized as a Godly prophet, even as a 
child and into his youth.(ch3) But while Eli is still priest, the 
Philistines come against Israel, and Israel is defeated. So Israel takes 
the ark out to the battlefield, hoping for some 'good luck' from "it" 
(not "God"!) (4:3) And the Philistines trounce Israel, and take the ark 
with them. 

Now, before they take the ark, the Philistines -know- of God's power. 
And when God's ark comes to the battlefield, they are scared spitless. 
"These are the gods who struck Egypt.." (4:8) But God's plan was to 
defeat Israel; but also, to reveal Himself to the Philistines.

They take the ark and set it next to their god Dagon. Next morning 
Dagon's head has fallen off, face in the dirt. They set him back up, and 
next morning, his head is in the dirt again, and his hands have been 
broken off, too. For the seven months the ark is in the hands of the 
Philistines, God inflicts tumors upon the people, and many die. (ch5) 
So, they summon their (pagan) priests... What shall we do?

LET'S CONDUCT A TEST: to verify 'where' all these plagues are coming 
from. Is it God's judgment, or merely 'chance'? Let's 'test' the God of 
this ark. (Please read these chapters for the full picture)

What stronger bond is there than a mother and her offspring? I'm not an 
experienced rancher, but have been around cattle enough in my younger 
years to know this much: You don't typically want to get between a cow 
and her calf, especially if the cattle are used to being out-to-pasture 
and not in the controlled barn environment and around people regularly. 
With most animals out in the wild, this is true...don't get between a 
bear and her cubs, etc. When I worked one year for a cattle farmer, 
during calving season we would drive out to the pasture daily to find 
the newborn calves to vaccinate and tag them. It would usually take 
'two' to do it; one to do the chores on the calf, and the other to keep 
the 'mother' at bay. When my uncle sheered his sheep, and the lambs and 
ewes were put back together, they would be bleating for each other, 
because the lambs would not recognize their mothers. 

So, the test. Hitch up a couple of unbroke milk-cows to a cart. Beasts 
of burden have to be "broken" (trained) to either carry a person, or be 
hitched up to do work. Furthermore, these cows have just given birth to 
calves, and we're going to take the calves away from their mothers. 
(6:7) Put the ark on the cart, and see what happens. An unbroke animal 
will buck and kick when first yoked, until they get used to it. And cows 
will not want to leave their calves. So, we've got two tests that are 
'contrary-to-nature'. If it is truly Jehovah, He will cause the cows to 
behave differently than they should. 

So, that's what they do...

"And the cows headed straight for the way to Beth Shemesh, and went 
along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the 
right hand or the left. And the rulers of the Philistines went after 
them to the border of Beth Shemesh." (6:12)

The Philistines had their answer. God proved Himself to the Philistines 
(6:9), and the Philistine rulers followed the ark to Israel, watched its 
reception by Israel, and returned home. (6:16)

Now, on the occasion of Israel's defeat, when the Philistines took the 
ark, Eli and his two worthless sons had died. (ch4) And Samuel became 
established as Israel's leader, until he became old and his sons did not 
follow in his paths. (8:3)

Notice what it says about the days that Samuel ruled in righteousness: 

"So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the 
territory of Israel. And the hand of Jehovah was against the Philistines 
all the days of Samuel...and Israel recovered its territories from the 
hands of the Philistines. There was also peace between Israel and the 
Amorites." (7:13-14)

And then, as Israel rejects God, yet again, and asks for a king, and 
Saul is appointed...the rest of the book is, among other things, a 
history of Israel's struggles with the Philistines.

Recently we observed how the Hindu Vedas included hymns "To the Unknown 
God". Hinduism knows there is a God that is 'higher' than their deities. 
The Philistines knew of God's exploits on Israel's behalf, and their 
pagan priests, even, recognized Jehovah's 'superiority' to Dagon.

Israel lost militarily to the Philistines. But notice that, while they 
were following God, through His prophet Samuel, they had peace: not 
through military might, but by God's -own- hand. "..the race is not to 
the swift, nor the battle to the strong.." (Ec9:11) As Israel later 
would be returning from captivity, God would exhort Zerubbabel, "Not by 
might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says Jehovah of Hosts" (Zec4:6)

In recent months, when Israel has been faithfully defending its 
territory, God has caused many "miracles" of 'finding' terrorist bombs 
and plots...but when their leadership seeks to negotiate with the PLO, 
God allows the terrorists to get through...and kill people.

God implored to Israel on another occasion, "..test (prove) Me now.." 
(Mal3:10) If Israel would only follow and obey God, He would bless them: 
both financially, and in protection from their enemies.

But even if God's 'elect' do not obey, He does not leave Himself without 
witness to the rest of the world... "..doing good, giving us rain from 
heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." 
(Ac14:17) The heathen -are- "without excuse". (Rom1:20) 

Many argue, "What about those who have never heard? Surely, a loving God 
wouldn't condemn them eternally?!" Well, Paul wrote, "..for when 
Gentiles, who do not have the Law, by nature do the things in the Law, 
these, although not having the Law, are a law to themselves, who show 
the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience also 
bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing 
themselves.." (Rom2:15)

The Greeks had their "Unknown God". (Ac17:23)  The Hindus have recorded 
their knowledge -of- an "Unknown God" in their Vedas. And I suspect 
today's so-called Palestinians, in their heart-of-hearts, -know- that 
the God Israel is supposed to be worshiping, -is- the Most High. At 
least, if they would but remember back into history, they would realize 
that their ancestors proved it when they returned God's ark, with the 
milk-cows. Well... in the words of the pagan priests...

"Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh 
hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they 
not let the people go, and they departed? Now therefore..." do what you 
know is right. (1Sam6:6-7)