When the inhabitants of Ashdod took possession of the ark, they put it in the house (temple) of their false god, called Dagon.
That was a very wrong thing to do, but the people in Ashdod did not realise it. The ark was a very holy object: a box that belonged in the most holy room of Godís house. It offended God to put the ark into the house of a false god.
The people in Ashdod did not belong to Israel and they did not know the real God. So, they did that wicked act because they were acting without knowledge.
God could have punished them immediately. However, God cares about people who do not know the truth about him (Jonah 4:11). His desire is to save people if possible. He does not want even to punish wicked people if they will turn to him. He desires to teach people so that they can serve him properly.
So God did not first act against the people in Ashdod, but against the image of their false god. He was showing them that he (the real God) is much greater than any false god. He gave them an opportunity to choose him as their God.
On the next morning, the priests of Dagon found that the image of their god had fallen. They would consider that incident to be very terrible; it was one of the worst events that could happen in any religion. The image was lying on the ground in the same manner that people often did during prayer. It seemed as if the image was giving honour to Israelís God.
During the next night, an even more terrible event happened. The image fell and it broke. The real God had shown his anger against that false god. It is very wrong to serve any false god. Only the real God deserves our honour.
Next part: The ark in Ashdod (1 Samuel 5:6-8)
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.