God in a Box — the Saga of the Lost Ark, Part 2

Yet more walls of boxes
Petter Duvander
BY-NC-SA | Flickr

Sometimes God doesn’t show up when we want him to. We’d like a God we could stuff in a box and get out when we need him. But that’s not the God we read about in Scripture. Why do we need a God who won’t go into a box? And if we can’t control what God does, and when, how do we know we can trust him? Pastor Luke looks at 1 Samuel 4:1–11 in “God in a Box,” part 2 of his 7-part series “The Saga of the Lost Ark.”

Questions to Consider

OPEN 1. When have you made a poor decision and, when you tried to fix it, only made it worse? Were you ever able to fix it? How?

UNPACK 2. The Philistines and Hebrews arrived in Canaan about the same time (in the 12th century BC) and had been fighting off-and-on since then (see Joshua 13). Which side started the round of the conflict described in 1 Samuel 4?

3. Read Joshua 17:16 and Judges 3:31; 15:15. According to worldly wisdom, is mostly likely to win a battle between Israel and the Philistines? Who wins the battle in 1 Samuel 4?

4. In light of your answer to question 3, how does the question asked by the elders of Israel in 1 Samuel 4: 3 demonstrate their faith?

5. The elders of Israel jump to a conclusion in answer to their own question (v. 3). What is that? What other answers are possible?

6. Why is it significant that Hophni and Phineas were at the battle? (Consider 1 Samuel 3: 12–14.)

7. With perfect hindsight, if you had been an elder of Israel, what would have been your advice in verse 3? In verse 10?

APPLY 8. When have you tried to make God do what you want? What did you try to use as leverage? How did it turn out?

9. What can you do when you need God to do something? What can you do if God doesn’t provide it?