Before we see the events of Revelation 11 let us turn to the way of God among his people and those that surrounded them. By seeing how God worked with the Israelites there is much to see of his character. The things that are seen of him in the past can be helpful to us as we study the future.
Do you remember the story of Eli and Samuel? Samuel was the little boy who was taken to live in the temple with Eli when just a little boy. He grew up there, became strong in the Lord and well known in Israel. In his young days while living on the Temple grounds God came to him and told him that the judgment proclaimed upon the household of Eli would come to pass. The endgame of the household of Eli happened in a battle with the Philistines where Eli’s two sons were killed, the Ark of God was captured, and Eli was so distraught over this that he fell off a place where he had been sitting, broke his neck and died.
Have you heard of Dagon?
1 When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the LORD, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. (1 Samuel 5:1-4–ESV)
God judged Israel for their sins and allowed the symbol of his presence to be captured. Of course, God was not captured, but the Philistines pleased with their victory took the symbol of God’s presence into their own temple in Ashdod. It was a great trophy. But see what happened? The Philistine God was face down before the God of Israel, the one, true God. Twice this happened. Not only so, but if you read on in 1 Samuel 5 you will see that the anxiety level in Ashdod reached the level of terror. Not only so, but the people of that region developed tumors.
Keep reading in chapter 5 and you will see that they sent the Ark of God to Gath. Terror and tumors were their lot as well. These things were not hush-hush, but the news of them spread. When they sent the Ark along to Ekron there was no small amount of consternation there as well. They did not want this trophy.
These events were a power play between Jehovah and the enemies of his people. Dagon needed worship by the Philistines to have any sort of standing. Speaking of standing their stone idol could not even stand in the presence of God. Perhaps the stone itself knew its maker. Jehovah needed nothing from Israel to validate his power. It was there; it rose above and he alone thwarted the confidence of the Philistines.
It is as though God was saying, “I am God indeed and my power does not derive from my people’s victory in battle.” This was a contest for the people of the world to see, to draw their own conclusions and to act accordingly. Only eternity will tell, but I bet some Philistines began to believe in Jehovah after this episode.
Maybe you’ve heard of the showdown on Mount Carmel?
This event can be found in 1 Kings 18. The events of Dagon and Jehovah pre-dated the monarchy in Israel. By the time we get with 1 Kings 18 there is a wicked king on the throne named Ahab and his wife was worse. Her name was Jezebel and she worshiped Baal. She installed many prophets of Baal into her service. God sent Elijah to Ahab and a great confrontation was called to order.
The 450 prophets of Baal and Elijah were to meet for a showdown on Mount Caramel. Elijah told the people who gathered that they needed to choose for themselves who was God. Both the priests of Baal and Elijah were to prepare an altar and then call upon the God they represented to see who would of his own power set ablaze the sacrifice. Well, nothing the priests of Baal did could set fire to their sacrifice, but Elijah stacking the odds against himself it seemed by wetting the wood and all saw fire fall immediately from heaven to light the fire of Jehovah’s altar.
The priests of Baal were executed.
Here also was a showdown between the power of God and those who would worship elsewhere.
David and Goliath?
If Dagon and Mount Carmel did not raise an understanding in your mind of collisions on a spiritual level surely David and Goliath will. David heard the Philistine Goliath making great taunts against God’s people. David could not stand to hear the name of God dishonored and took pains to go out to meet him head-to-head. Despite the earthly odds a rock slung from David’s slingshot smashed into Goliath’s head and he died. After he fell the people of Israel routed the Philistines.