– Haemorrhoids and Mice and the Future of the Gentile World
Now the hand of the Lord was heavy on the Ashdodites and He destroyed them and smote them with haemorrhoids, both Ashdod and its territories - 1 Samuel 5:6.
Then the Lord awoke as one out of sleep and like a mighty man who shouts by reason of wine. And He drove His enemies backwards, and put on them a perpetual reproach - Psalm 78:65-66.
The Philistines thought they were celebrating one of their greatest victories, when they routed Israel, killed the sons of the High Priest, and captured the Ark of God – refer Parts 1 and 2 (CETF # 56 pp. 27- 28 & # 57 pp. 12-14). But when they found Dagon, their god, prostrated before the Ark (1 Sam. 5:3), and then the next day found his face and hands broken in the presence of the Ark (verse 4), they realized that the God of Israel was neither dead nor defeated. This was a foretaste of an even greater future victory, which was hidden in apparent defeat.
…had they (the princes of this world) known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory – 1 Corinthians 2:8.
First Samuel chapter five recounts the story of the Ark ‘in captivity’, and how the gentiles dealt with the custody of it.
Each of the five major cities of the Philistines took custody of the Ark for a season and each of them was visited by plagues such as, emerods (tumours, haemorrhoids) and plagues of mice. People were dying as a result and the reason for the plagues and the deaths was not lost on the people.
When the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, the Ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us for His hand is severe on us and on Dagon our god – 1 Samuel 5:7.
So Ashdod sent the Ark to Gath, and Gath sent it to Eshkelon, and they to Ekron, and so on. Everywhere the Ark went, the plagues broke out, and people died. The Philistines virtually played “hot potato” with the Ark of God, until they decided to send it back to Israel, as a tacit admission of defeat and the superiority of Israel’s God.
But first, like the Exodus of Egypt, the Philistines consulted their own priests and diviners, as to what to do with the Ark.
And they said, if you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it away empty; but in any wise return him a guilt offering; then you shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why His hand is not removed from you. Then said they what shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to Him? They answered, five golden haemorrhoids, and five golden mice, according to the number of the Lords of the Philistines, for one plague was on you all and your Lords – 1 Samuel 6:3-4.
The advice given was to make a trespass offering, which amounts to a confession of sin. The trespass offering is in essence a prayer that, “We admit that we have sinned, trespassed, and that we deserve these plagues - please receive this offering and forgive and heal us of the wrath we have brought upon us.” The logic of the offering is substitution. That which is offered is to be seen as a substitute for the one doing the offering. It is a representation.
Every offering is a confession to God; each gift is a representative substitute. Should it be a lamb or a bull, the worshipper is saying “I deserve to die, I am a sinner, behold the lamb I offer in my place, see it as me!”
When the wise men of the Philistines told the five Lords of the Philistines to cast five golden haemorrhoids, and five golden mice, they were in effect having them confess to the God of Israel, “Not only do we have haemorrhoids and mice as plagues from you for our trespasses, WE ARE HAEMORRHOIDS, WE ARE MICE, these substitutes represent us, have mercy on us and heal us!”
The God of Israel did receive the offerings, for the plagues ceased upon the humiliating confession of the five Lords of the Philistines. This too is representative of the future history of Israel and the Gentiles.
The Messiah of Israel, upon being turned over to the Gentiles, remains among them, being received by multitudes of Gentiles and Jews, from every tribe and nation, who have made the trespass offering, confessing that Jesus Himself is their sin offering, as Paul testified in 2nd Corinthians 5:21:
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
The Ark Return - 1 Samuel chapter 6
Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh and went along the highway lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right or to the left, and the Lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh. Now the people of Beth Shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley, and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark and rejoiced to see it – 1 Samuel 6:12-13.
The Ark of the Covenant of God had been in exile for seven months, when the five lords of the Philistines had a conference to determine how to send it back home. The narrative is reminiscent of the Exodus, with the Philistine priests and diviners standing in for Pharaoh’s magicians. But their advice proved to be sound, almost inspired.
What is the guilt offering which we shall return to Him? They answered, “Five golden haemorrhoids, and five golden mice, according to the number of the Lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your haemorrhoids, and images of your mice that ravage the land, and you shall give the glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you from your gods, and your land. Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts?” - 1 Sam 6:4-6.
In spite of being pagans, the advice of the Philistine priests was astute. Note first of all that what happened in Egypt was common knowledge to them. Also they knew that a trespass offering to the LORD was the only way they could be saved. The theology of the trespass offering, as we discussed above, amounted to a confession of sin and abasement before the LORD, which they knew would “glorify God”. Also like the Exodus out of Egypt, the Ark left Philistia with treasures. Finally the priests’ caution not to repeat Pharaoh’s calamity by hardening their hearts no doubt saved the lives of the Philistine lords.
To be assured that the plagues were truly caused by God and that it was the right thing to send the Ark back, two milk cows were enlisted to draw the cart. The instinctive thing for the cows to do would be to stay where they were, that they might nurse their calves. But after harnessing them, loading the Ark and the golden trespass offering for sacrifice, they released the lowing cows which immediately headed straight towards Israel, leaving their calves behind.
This too foreshadows a momentous event that has been happening all over the world, the exodus out of the ends of the earth of Jewish people, heading back to Israel, fulfilling the prophesies,
Behold I will bring them from the North country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labours with child together; a great throng shall return there. They shall come with weeping and with supplications I will lead them…Hear the Word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock - Jeremiah 31:8-10.
Beth Shemesh, the city to which the Ark returned, was a priestly city. But what good is a priest, if there is no Ark? How can a nation perform the priestly function, the ministry of mercy, sacrifice, intercession, and teaching if there is no presence of God among them or if there is no temple, no sacrifice, no Ephod? But when the priests of Beth Shemesh lifted up their eyes to see the Ark making its way back, they rejoiced!
Thus is the culmination of history prophesied by this story, the climax to which we are all headed, the return of the Ark to the people of Israel, rather, the return of the One whom the Ark prefigured, and of whose person and work the Ark was the great object lesson. The restoration and reinstatement of the Priestly nation - He comes back to them.
And I will pour out on the inhabitants of the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me, whom they have pierced. Yes and they will mourn for him as for an only son and they shall weep over him bitterly – Zechariah 12:10.
What was it that those priests saw as they surrounded the Ark and wondered at the golden objects? They certainly saw the confession of sin, the trespass offering of the Gentiles. And furthermore, they must have realized that their God would not ever allow Himself to be used as a fetish, an object of leverage by a sinful nation. Another thing they must have perceived was that God who can humble Himself, and that even by what appeared to be an apparent defeat, He executed one of His greatest triumphs! Finally, they would note, that in spite of their obstinate rebellion and sin, their God came back to them. He returned to His people.
O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord, say to Him, take away all iniquity; receive us graciously. For we will offer the fruit of our lips…I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For my anger has turned away from them - Hosea 14:1-4.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR –
BILL RANDLES came out of the Word of Faith Movement and is the founder and pastor of Believers in Grace Fellowship in Marion, Iowa which has been in existence since 1982. He is the author of 4 books: Making War in the Heavenlies, Weighed & Found Wanting, Beware the New Prophets, and Mending the Nets. He has travelled to Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia and the Philippines preaching the gospel and contending for the faith that has been delivered to the saints. He and his wife, Kristin, have 6 children and 10 grandchildren.
Bill recently spoke at the CWM Conferences in Australia and New Zealand in September 2011.