In Chapter Four of First Samuel, the Israelites brought the ark of GOD into battle (remember the Ark represents the PRESENCE of GOD?). The preacher boys carried it to where it wasn't suppose to be - into battle! The Philistines captured the Ark which resulted in the wife of Phinehas to name her new born baby Ichabod, because the glory of GOD had departed. (Read also in verse 22 where GOD'S glory was gone.)
I believe about 99% of our nation's churches are "Ichabod" and the name ought to be written over their doors. Like Samson, the presence of God is gone and we know it not (Judges 16:20) since we have our puppets, pizza, projectors and plays. Now back to the thought...
Even though she had received news that her father-in-law, and her brother-in-law were all dead, what upset her was that GOD'S presence was gone, taken by the enemy.
Now if you read chapter five you'll discover the Philistines had the Ark but the Presence of GOD became a curse to them. In fact, the Presence of God is troubling to the wicked of this world. This CHRIST rejecting world will be glad when we are gone from this planet. They literally hate the presence of GOD.
If you will notice in Chapter five, plagues broke out in every city where the Ark went. The Bible tells us that they were diseased in their "secret parts" (vs. 9). What was it? Possibly Herpes? Maybe Chlamydia or Psoriasis? Whatever it was, Preparation H wouldn't help. They sent that Ark to various cities and plagues broke out. So they sent it to more cities and plagues broke out again - until it reached the fifth city. Even their stone-god Dagon was wiped out standing in the presence of our GOD.
Oh they were suffering! They said, "Let's devise a way to get rid of this Ark (GOD'S presence) . We will send it back to Israel. If it doesn't curse them and give them plagues like it has given us, then we will know their GOD protects them."
In chapter six we read what their plan was:
The Philistines found two old milk cows. (The phrase "milch kine" in vs. 7 is a good old-English word for milk cow.) GOD uses different things to illustrate His children. He likens us unto sheep and to eagles. Here I would like to use the two old common milk cows as a picture of what the Christian ought to be like.
Now remember this was not to show stock or pedigree, just plain old common field cows. Watch the providence of GOD in their lives, now don't let the phrase "providence of GOD" scare you. I'm not a Calvinist. Providence simply means that GOD is up to something that you know nothing about. In verse 7 the Philistines go get two old field cows that had never been put in a yoke, neither broken or tamed. For their whole lives, they had just ran with the herd in this world. Do you remember those days in your life? But something happened. The providence of GOD started putting up barricades, letting you know that somebody loves you. He desires for you to take his yoke upon you:
We see these two old common cows reveal Salvation in that they had:
(1) A brand new experience
I'm about to shout! Now you just try walking up on some old milk cows and watch them run or want to fight you.
Remember the colt that JESUS rode upon that had never been ridden? Oh, but when the Master has need for you, you say, "I'm ready: LORD, do with me as you will."
Next, the Philistines took these cows and hooked them up to a new cart (the cart is a type of the local Church).
Boy, I can remember after I had my new experience, GOD hooked me up to the local Church. I don't buy these parachurch outfits or folks going to a TV pastor or radio pastor. Go to the local Church! I believed those cows got hooked up to an old-time, pre-millennial, Independent, Baptist Church.
(2) These cows were different - They had a new nature: they didn't like the old cows any more.
Do you remember when GOD made you a brand new creature?
The things you once loved you now hate. I know pet milk has a saying, "Home of the contented cows," but these cows were contented because the providence of GOD was working in their lives.
The world says they will "wait and see." Go tell folks that you have a new experience and are hooked to the church. The world says, "We will wait and see." They watch you on Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Visitation night, etc. In Acts 11:26 the town people of Antioch waited a whole year before they called those folks at the Antioch Church "Christians" or "like-Christ."
Now for proof that the cart is the local Church, they said take a new one that doesn't pull to the left or right, one that goes straight down the middle. Notice it goes between the liberals and the Baptist Pharisees. Both try to make it lean their way with their list of stinking hang-ups that have no Scriptural basis.
In verse 8, the presence of GOD is in the cargo. Folks say, "Brother Johnny, there are so many churches. Which one is right?"
I say, "Check their cargo. See what are they hauling around. If they are hauling programs and personalities, run away - its phony."
(3) Verse 12 tells us why you should be hooked up - so you might learn the straight way.
Now the Philistines hooked up the cows and said lets see where they will head with nobody directing them. But when a cow has a new experience the Holy Ghost leads them. Thank GOD they went the straight way. When the cows were turned loose, there was three ways they could have taken: 1) the Satan road 2) the self road, or 3) the straight way.
In chapter 6 and verse 12, they went "the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh," Bethshemesh meaning "the house of the sun." Two old milk cows had more sense than most Baptists, Bless GOD. They headed to the house of the sun. When I got saved my feet automatically turn towards HIS house. I love going to the house of my GOD.
4) Not only did these cows have a new direction, they have a new dialect.
Please look at verse 10:
The enemy took their babies away. Even a cow has a love for it's babies. A cow will hide its calf when danger comes. Oh, I wish you mamas could get a glimpse of this message. It says they were lowing. Notice that these cows had some babies. (I'm about to have a spell!) The enemy said he would take their babies away from them (sounds like Hillary Clinton to me), tie them up, and see if they will stay on the straight and narrow. But praise GOD in verse 12 these two old milk cows never looked back. They where lowing away with their hearts broken wanting their babies. But they stayed on the straight path!
I believe one cows looked over at the other and said, "Betsy, I sure miss my babies, but I cant turn back now."
Old bossy said, "I miss my babies, too. I'm heart broken."
These two milk cows were weeping over their babies, but they said if we go back we will lose. Oh, I wish you mamas had as much of GOD as these two milk cows to weep over their babies and stay on the straight way, saying, "Honey, I love you but mama ain't turning back. We are going to the house of the Son. Mamas praying for you. I can't help you by staying at home."
(5) Verse 14-15, A new dedication
"And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Bethshemite, and stood there, where there was a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD. And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that was with it, wherein the jewels of gold were, and put them on the great stone: and the men of Bethshemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD."
We read that they came into the field of "Joshua," a Hebrew equivalent of JESUS. In verse 14 we read that they offered a living sacrifice. They gave it all.
Paul said, "That you might present your body a living sacrifice" in Romans 12:1-2.
They were totally committed to their task to the end of their lives. There was no turning back. I say, "Please GOD, give us some folks that are like these two milk cows that have had:
(A) A new experience
(B) A new nature
(C) A new direction
(D) A new dialect
(E) A new dedication
(F) A new destination
Pastors, watch out for the mad cow disease, and the hoof and mouth disease. Pray that GOD will give you some real beef, then you won't have to ask where's the beef?