It begins like this….
Dagon is on his face. The ark of the covenant has been captured, placed in Philistine country, in the temple of the “grain-god” and left overnight… And when the people come to worship the next morning, what do they find? Their god flat on his face. So they set him back up but overnight it happens again… only this time the idol’s arms are broken off and his head is separated from his body. It appears that the God ofIsrael’s strength and power isn’t limited by being “locked down”.
Life; it’s a matter of perspective, right? We hear it all the time. We ask people if they are glass half–full or glass half–empty kind of people, are they optimistic or pessimistic. We play with those optical illusions to see if we can find the hidden elements. We push ourselves to see beyond what is currently visible, and if ever the world needed Christians to have that perspective it could just be now.
The story of the arc of the covenant in 1 Samuel 5 has always been a favourite of mine, because of the humour and irony that a foreign nation thinks they can lock down the power of God by holding Him hostage in a temple. The Philistines thought that by capturing the presence of God they would obtain a spiritual advantage, but God was not a thing or a piece of “spiritual technology”. He is the living God who presences Himself amongst us and the ark was merely a reminder to encourage a people to be obedient in worshipping their Lord and God.
Here in Sydney as I write this, we are back in lockdown. For some of us, this bites harder than for others, with loss of income, jobs, a return to homeschooling or isolation and loneliness. For those in other states or countries, you may not physically be locked down but what I have come to realise is that we can be equally as locked down by situations and emotions, by the trauma of the past or our own internal struggles… and God has something to remind us all…
That HE IS THE LORD OF THE LOCKDOWN
I have come to realise that the Bible repeats itself over and over…
Israel is in captivity
Joseph is sent to jail
Daniel is in prison
Isaiah’s grief holds him ransom
John is in jail
Paul and Silas are in chains
John is on Patmos
There they are in lockdown, some of them wonder if God has abandoned them; they cry out, they ask questions, they shake their fists and let tears stream down their faces. Others, they turn to prayer, they prophesy over inmates, they sing psalms and hymns at midnight… and why? Because they understand that God is not devoid of His power based on the circumstances that we find ourselves in, but He is working behind the scenes to bring the reality of heaven to earth. That there is a thin divide between heaven and earth, that right now there is more going on than we can ever begin to imagine and that there is a story that was started at the beginning of time that will culminate in the coming of Jesus and we need to remind ourselves that we fit into that timeline.
We worship a God who is worthy of our obedience and to whom we bring our worship when we feel like it and when we don’t… we remind ourselves that what should come out of us all in lockdown is exactly what came out of our Bible friends: tears and grief, questions and hope, prayers and praise, songs and psalms… having a confident hope that this is not the end, that freedom is coming, that He is Lord of the lockdown, that He continues to build His Church through each one of us as we continue to seek Him.