There are few solitary words that cause me to shudder than the word “Ichabod.” It is far graver than the man who was chased by the Washington Irving’s headless horseman. Ichabod means “the glory is gone.” I cannot imagine a world that would have that pronunciation upon it. So, why? Why name a child this? How did Israel come to this?

They were at war with the Philistines and they were outmatched. They tried to think of a way to win and then they went back in their history books and remembered that when the Ark of the Covenant went with them, they won battles. So, Eli’s two sons, the two evil ones who took sacrifices from God, were only too glad to be the heroes to carry the ark.

They went on the battlefield with the Chest of God and were slaughtered. Worse, still, the Chest was stolen.

Why? Didn’t God want them to win? Didn’t God cause them to win before?What was different now?

There is something that is startlingly missing from the narrative. Something that made the difference between life and death here for the Israelites. In all the words that I read, I did not see the words, “And God said” or “God told them to” they simply took the ark and expected it to be their lucky rabbit’s foot. It had nothing to do with God, it had to do with what they wanted to happen.

They did not seek the will of God, they did not even consult God. They had turned Him into folklore and superstition. In my opinion, this is when the glory left. They had no need for Him, unless He would make them win.

They saw the amazing fetes of Joshua, but did not live the consecrated, humble, pure life of obedience that Joshua lived. Instead they had two hypocrites who feasted on the Lord’s sacrifices and defiled the woman who served in the temple carry the Ark of the Lord into battle. Shameful.

Ah, but how like them are we? Don’t we often go into battle without consulting the Lord? Don’t we try to wield His power with unclean, hypocritical hands? Don’t we think that we can move in the supernatural through formulaic prayers and actions? Every time I look at the Israelites and growl, I see myself in them.

Lord, help us to seek your face. Not your victories, not your power, not the things that we receive from the throne room, but YOUR FACE! Help us to continually look for that pillar of fire or that cloud. Let us move when you move, not before and not after. Let us be the Israel that you want us to be. Let us be your children, Abide with us! Do not leave us. Please, let Your glory stay with us.

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