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God's Old Street Address: Shiloh

Mar 28, 2006

In Deut. 16 and 26 God told the Israelites that they were to bring their first fruits offerings and to keep their feast days in the place where He has put His name. In other words, they were to gather at His house. This was the only lawful place where they were allowed to do this.

But God did not say specifically in the law where His house would be located. They were to keep in touch with Him and keep their relationship current.

In Joshua 18:1 we are told that the tabernacle was first set up in the Ephraimite town of Shiloh. This was God's first street address. But after about 300 years, the priests who were serving God at that location became so corrupted that God decided to move to a different address. 1 Samuel 2:12-25 tells us about the corruption of the high priest's sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

Because of Israel's sin and corruption, God had empowered the Philistines to judge and oppress Israel. The people did not like being oppressed, of course, but neither did they want to repent. Certainly the priests did not want to change their ways. They wanted God to bless them so that they could continue to sin with immunity. They did not believe God's clear statements in Leviticus 26 or Deuteronomy 28 that God would judge Israel and bring them into captivity if they refused to obey His law.

Such is how human nature interprets the idea of "God's chosen people." Invariably, they interpret it as a license to sin, as if it meant "God's privileged people."

So Israel decided to fight against the Philistines in order to obtain their freedom as God's "chosen." They thought that if they brought the Ark of the Covenant into the battle, God would surely have to give them the victory. They remembered that in the days of Moses, when the Ark was lifted up and moved to a new location, Moses prayed, "Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered; and let them that hate You flee before You." (Num. 10:35)

So perhaps this would work against the Philistines. Surely they would qualify as God's enemies. Did they not hate the God of Israel? Moreover, God would have to give Israel the victory or else risk losing His sacred vessel, the Ark of the Covenant. It was unthinkable that God would allow His honor to be dragged in the dirt.

Well, they took the Ark into the battle, and their prayers were answered. Israel was scattered, and 30,000 men were killed, along with Eli's two sons (1 Sam. 4:10, 11). Yes, indeed, God's enemies were scattered, and those who hated God fled before Him. As Pogo said in the cartoon, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Psalm 78:60-68 tells us that God forsook the tabernacle of Ephraim (Shiloh) and chose Judah instead. The Ark of the Covenant was moved to Jerusalem in Judah. God's street address was changed, and the people were expected to bring their first fruits offerings there. They were expected to keep the feasts at Jerusalem instead of at Shiloh.

To put this into biblical terminology, God's name was removed from Shiloh and placed in Jerusalem. There David's son, Solomon, built Him a beautiful temple. God had lived in a simple tent while in Shiloh, but now He was to live in a beautiful house. It was certainly an upgrade. I believe He even did this without incurring a mortgage.

But the hearts of the people were no better in Jerusalem than in Shiloh, and so it was not long before God had problems with that priesthood as well. In our next part, we will see what God said and what He did with Jerusalem to resolve this problem.

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones