Many Christians and persons outside the faith often ask why the Lord has not come back yet. “Why’s it taking so long? Can’t He see what we’re going through down here?” In the days of Samuel, all Israel wanted the Lord to come back, too.
“And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord. And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord” (1 Sam. 7:1, 2).
Ask yourself: Why did Israel have to wait twenty years to bring the ark of God back? It was in their territory. The Lord Himself facilitated its return to them from the land of the Philistines (1 Sam. 5, 6). All they had to do was go and get it. But they didn’t. Why?
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God…” (Isa. 59:2).
“And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines” (1 Sam. 7:3).
Israel separated itself from God. They worshiped their idols and cherished their sins more than Him. While they wanted the ark of the Lord back among them, they were not willing to let go of the things that kept Him away from them. They put their idols before their God and their own deliverance.
But Samuel, the prophet, priest, and judge of Israel, seeing the lamentation of his people for their God, went out among them and called upon them to turn from their idols and their besetting sins. Turning from them and turning back to the Lord with all their hearts was the only way Israel would ever have the ark return to their lands. When all Israel did this, when they all fasted and prayed and repented of their sins, when they settled matters between one another, the Lord delivered them from the Philistine army that came to war against them.
This experience in Israel’s history teaches us that the Lord is near and He is waiting to return to us. Few among God’s people today enjoy the privilege and blessing of serving Him and being in His presence as Eleazar did. But despite knowing that the coming of the Lord is near, very few are willing to go to where He is or hear the testimonies of those who He communes with.
Returning to the Lord was something that Israel could not do in its own strength. It took the call of God, speaking through the voice of His prophet, to bring His people back to Him. Bible prophecy, as it has always done, gave God’s people the call to prepare their hearts for the Lord.
Messages like this one testify that the call is going out. Here, and around the world, the call of Samuel is being repeated to those who long for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ today. But we have to put away our idols and our sins. We have to fast and pray. We have to repent of the sins that separated them from God. When we, as God’s people do this, our deliverance will surely come.
The enemies, like the Philistines, will seek to destroy us before that day, but the Lord will deliver us as He delivered the Israelites. As Samuel set up the stone Ebenezer, we will never remove from our memory how the Lord helped us that day. Will you be ready when He comes?