1Sam. 4:21 She named the child Ichabod, meaning, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.
1Sam. 4:22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
Eli's sons had been wicked priests and now had lost the ark of God. It had been captured by their enemies and in the midst of it all both of the sons had been killed. A daughter-in-law gave birth soon after she received word of the terrible loss and destruction and named the child Ichabod. The word means "the glory has departed." What a sad fate for the people of God for the glory represented the very presence of God. The ark was lost and God had removed his presence from among his people.
Reading through this story and realizing that the people of God allowed themselves to gradually come to this place where they allowed the ark of the covenant to slip from their fingers makes me think about God's followers today. Could we become so complacent in our spiritual lives where possibly, without even noticing, the presence of God may no longer be among us? When I read and study of the revivals throughout history there was a genuine sense of the presence of God in the midst of the people. And yet, there are often times today when there seems to be nothing.
A little over a week ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are in that season where we have the joyful privilege of celebrating his resurrection and new life week after week. At the same time we recognize that we are invited to participate in that new life and in the power of his resurrection. When God's followers are willing to put down their rights to themselves and participate in his resurrection power then the presence of God remains with his people. It is through this participation in Christ that we get to experience the glory and the presence of God. When a community of believers who are all participating in Christ unite together in worship and fellowship, the presence of God is there among them.
On the other hand, when we gather together and no one has been lingering in the sweet presence of Jesus, he will not be there. Could it be that there are times when we are experiencing "Ichabod" because the people of God have, in a personal sense, pushed aside the ark? They have quit caring for the heart of the faith. They are not making God a priority. There is very little time spent in prayer. Bible reading becomes a verse or two a week. We attend worship when it's convenient because we have lots of other "better" things to do. And then we wonder why the services just don't feel like they used to. How come there aren't as many people responding to the call of God as they did in the past? Could it be because the collective whole of God's people are not devoting themselves to him and sadly, are experiencing "Ichabod?"
We must again go out and capture the very heart of God and draw him into our lives. We must allow ourselves to fall deeply in love with him and worship and adore him -- making time for him -- making him a priority in our lives. Then the glory of the Lord will come and be upon his people. When we genuinely seek his face, individually and collectively, there will be no Ichabod.
Lord, we are desperate for you! Amen.