Read 1 Samuel 5:1-6:21
Years ago, it has been reported, a Russian leader publicly expressed his conviction that God does not exist. As his proof, he cited the cosmonauts who had been in space and yet had not seen God there.
This leader is not alone. Throughout the ages, many have questioned the power, superiority, and even existence of God. Perhaps they even felt as if they had proof of their conviction. They may have even made a prideful boast of their conviction.
The Philistines must have drawn similar conclusions. In their battle against the Israelite soldiers in 1 Samuel 4, they were first struck with fear as they realized the people of God had (foolishly) brought the Ark of God to battle with them. They had heard stories of the plagues that this God had brought on the Egyptians centuries before. In spite of their fear, the Philistines fought valiantly and won the battle. As part of their booty, they took this once feared but now apparently powerless Ark into their possession. In fact, as an expression of God’s inferiority, they placed the Ark in the temple of their highly revered fish god, Dagon. In their minds, the God of heaven was weak and second-rate. Their god was powerful and greater.
Over the next days, the existence, power, and superiority of God became clear. The Philistines found their idol, Dagon, face down before the Ark, and then later with his head and hands severed from his fishy body. Soon, they began to experience their own plague in the form of boils and tumors on their bodies. As the Ark was moved from one Philistine city to the next, the plague followed. Ultimately, the Philistines sent the Ark back to the Israelites!
Even though people may pridefully conclude that God is weak, inferior, or non-existent, He will not tolerate it. Whether in this life or in the future, He is One who will take vengeance against those, who, in pride, try to mock Him. That reality enables us to relax when people seem to get away with a lack of respect for Him. But it also calls us to boldly and lovingly invite them to reconsider their conclusion and come to the Savior.