Snapshots: Day 187
The Snapshot: “Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.” (1 Sam 5:2) 1 Samuel is all about realities and the present one is about realizing that there is only one God. The Philistines had their super-idols but they had to fall before the ark of God, the presence of God. Don’t mess with God, don’t rely on anything that could be considered an idol, something we rely upon other than God, because it will only end up on the floor in pieces. Similarly ‘big people’, leaders, politicians, celebrities, anyone we might look up to. They may have some good points but will all have feet of clay. That’s not being nasty, just real. Have no substitutes.
Further Consideration: This subject of idols, most of us in the West at least consider irrelevant to modern life. I have travelled in lands where all along the roads you see little models, little idols, expressing the superstition of the locals – but that is abroad. Not for us in our sophisticated lives in the modern West. But the truth is, that as I put it in the snapshot, an idol is anything we rely on other than God.
It was Voltaire who said that “if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” Some have suggested that he meant the existence of God and/or belief in God are beneficial and necessary for civilized society to function, which the wider context of Voltaire’s quote shows to be his real intent.
Now I agree with that, but actually the truth is that naturally in primitive cultures the struggle for existence and the fear that goes with it, drives people to look for some deity that might protect them. This is not to be used as reasoning to say that Christianity is just such an expression because it is not based on man’s seeking but God’s revealing. Nevertheless this common superstitious fear is then linked with man’s desire to be able to see the object of its hope, i.e. idols, representatives of the ‘god’ appealed to. A large part of the Exodus story is really all about God revealing the folly in believing in ‘gods’, gods of the river, gods of fertility etc. etc. that the Egyptians used to overcome their superstitious fears and of course He does that by works of power – miracles – that these ‘gods’ could not do. It is the supreme example of God’s power that is so much greater than the power of superstition, and now the story of Dagon is a little support cameo to that. The stages of his downfall are instructive. First he falls down on his face (v.3), then he falls again and his head and hands are cut off and left at the threshold of the temple, as if God had just dumped them there on His way out (v.4). Dagon is totally demeaned. If God is there with His ark, then He will not tolerate this inferior representative of what is real – Himself!