“And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.” (1 Samuel 5:1-5)
This story in the passage above is a clear-cut event of mistaken identity in the Bible. The Dictionary definition of ‘mistaken identity’ is ‘an instance when someone incorrectly thinks that they have found or recognized a particular person’ and as a result treat that individual according to their preconceived knowledge of a known identity. That was what happened when the Israelites, the natural branch, who supposed to know better, treated the Ark of Covenant as a magic wand that can be used only when needed and discarded later when they brought the Ark into the battle ground against the Philistines. They said, “Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.” (1 Samuel 4:3) It is a fact that God is able to deliver His children from the hands of the enemy. However, the Ark of Covenant that denoted the presence of God is not a magic wand. Because the Israelites mistook the identity of God, they suffered greatly for it in the hands of the Philistines and they lost the battle. The Philistines captured the Ark of Covenant.
Unfortunately the Philistines also mistook the identity of the Ark of Covenant because they presumed it was the idol god of Israel. Therefore, they put the Ark of God in the temple where they put their idol god of Dagon. Thereby the Palestinians made the Ark of Covenant, that is, the presence of Almighty God to coexist with the idol god of Dagon. Remember that light and darkness cannot coexist. The Creator of the Universe and the dead, powerless and useless idol gods do not have anything in common therefore they cannot coexist. “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:16) Because of this spiritual error, unusual things began to happen to the Philistines. Beginning from the idol god of Dagon itself that fell down the second day and became destroyed completely, various disasters and calamity was the consequence of this spiritual mistaken identity of the presence of God Almighty among the Philistines. There was an outbreak of emerods which was a tumor disease that killed so many of them. As they moved the Ark of God from one city to the other, the disaster and destruction of the disease continued among the Philistines until the people cried out and demanded that the Ark of Covenant must be returned to the Israelites.
The scriptural passages below warn us that we must not mistake the identity of the Living God to be any other earthly object, deity or personality. Neither must we worship nor equate our God with any idol. The honor and glory due to God Almighty must never be attributed to any idol or man.
“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand. For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever.” (Deuteronomy 32:39-40)
“To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him? To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.” (Isaiah 40:18, 25)
“I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8)
“To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me that we may be like? (Isaiah 46:5)”
It is important to note that The Living God, the Creator of Heaven and the entire universe must not be substituted for any other deity. He must be worshiped, reverenced, adored, and honored. He must not be mistaken to be a tool in our hands to obtain a certain desired end and later be discarded. The scripture reminded us that our body is the temple of God. “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) If the true believers have this fact at the back of their minds, it is dangerous then if they turn around to use their bodies for anything that constitutes dishonor unto God Almighty. Like the Philistines, the sinful person is indirectly making the holy temple of God in him to coexist with his or her sinful deeds. That is why we must not subject our minds, our thoughts and the utterance of our mouths to reflect any form of sinfulness. We should endeavor present the glorious beauty of our body to reflect the glory of God in holiness.
Prayer: O Lord, occupy the position of preeminence in my heart. Grant me the grace to understand the purpose of my creation and the cost of my redemption with the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ so that I can reverence and honor you with all my heart, in Jesus name, Amen.