This morning I was reading from I Samuel 5 and 6 about the Philistines after they captured the Ark of the Covenant and had taken it back to their land. At Ashdod, the Philistines took the Ark right into the temple of their God Dagon and sat it down beside Dagon. In the morning they found Dagon lying face down in front of the Ark. They reset everything and the next morning they found Dagon face down, but this time his head and hands had broken off and they were lying in the doorway. Shortly after this, the people of the town started to break out in tumors. More and more people were being afflicted until they sent the Ark to the city of Gath. The people of Gath started getting tumors so they sent the Ark on its way to Ekron. When the people of Ekron saw it coming they begged their rulers to send it back to Israel so “it won’t kill us.”
The Ark of the Covenant was the place where the tablets containing the Ten Commandments were laid and where Moses heard from God between the two cherabim seated on the top of the Ark. When at rest the Ark spend its days in the Holy of Holies, the place of God in the Tabernacle.
How the Ark foiled the enemy made me think of Bruce Olson. Bruce was a missionary to the Bari people of Columbia. So many Bari had accepted Jesus as their Savior as a result of Bruce’s obedience to the Lord that the whole tribal infrastructure was becoming self-supporting and wise in the ways of the world through education and preparation. Because he was so influential, Bruce was kidnapped in the mountain jungles of Colombia and detained for nine months as a political prisoner by communist guerillas. Hoping to win him as a valuable communist leader, the communists attempted to indoctrinate him through daily political dialogues. Much to the guerilla leaders’ dismay, however, Bruce became a source of fascination among the young recruits in training. Many of them began to join Olson in prayer and Bible study. As many as 60 communist guerillas eventually gave their lives to Christ and lost their zeal for communist ideology. Bruce’s refusal to join ranks with the communists earned him death threats and he narrowly escaped execution by a firing squad. Fearing the reprisal of a united war effort of 50 jungle tribes, the guerilla leaders released Olson in the summer of 1989. The Indian tribes of Colombia had united against the guerillas in a war-pledge to defend Olson’s cause if he was executed. The unity of the Indian tribes behind one white man was unprecedented in Colombia’s history.
Ah, the power of God. Whether it be tumors or a loss of guerilla leaders through conversion, God’s ways can make people uncomfortable and change things so much that the enemy’s only recourse is to get rid of Him. The Philistines sent the Ark back to Israel. The communist guerillas sent Bruce back to the Colombians who loved him. When the Ark arrived back in Beth-shemesh, the people immediately set up an altar, used the cart on which it was transported for fireword and sacrificed the bulls who pulled the cart in celebration. When Bruce was released he found that he had become a national hero in Colombia. In the major cities, articles demanding Olson’s release had appeared almost daily in the newspapers. Olson’s courageous stance against the guerillas was one of the key factors which inspired the common citizens of Colombia to take a bolder, tougher stance against the drug cartels.
Today I see churches all over the city and suburban areas where I live rising up to help thousands of people here who lost everything during the flash flooding we experienced over the weekend. God is on the move again. This time He is in my neighborhood and I am very happy to see Him.