1 Samuel 4:1-22
Putting God in a box means that we are building a comfortable God. A God that caters to our agenda. I want to caution you, this is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible, the one true God is dangerous but good! He doesn’t always fulfill our dreams, yet has better ones that allow us to enjoy Him more! The people of Israel were getting comfortable in their faith and had compartmentalized their worship of God! They had the Ark of the Covenant, what more did they need. They forgot that God is not in a box, but that He must have first place in all we do. I believe this is the greatest danger of American Christianity. Here, our faith doesn’t cost us anything; therefore, we build a comfortable God, an idol!
If you’ve seen or read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia you may remember this quote:
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”  ― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
A Confidence in the Presents of God, but not the Presence of God. vv.1-11
The Israelites were comfortable in their ownership of the ark, but as we’ll see in the next few passages they failed to come to God in faith and obedience.
A relationship with God through Jesus Christ causes us to come to Him through obedience, it’s not a get out of Hell free card. If you have no concern or thirst for the presence of God you are just seeing God as gift giver and not the Holy Creator who so rightly deserves all of our affection!
Background of the Ark of the Covenant
Exodus 25:10-22 is the passage in which God instructs Moses what the Ark of the Covenant should be built of and what it should contain. Hebrews 9:4 states that the Ark of the Covenant contained a golden pot with manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets of the covenant, the Ten Commandants. It was not a box that held God, but rather a bridge in which God and man could meet. Who is our bridge to a Holy God? Jesus is, right! The cross of Jesus became our bridge. Prior to the Day of Pentecost, The Holy Spirit would dwell in the Holy of Holies in the temple on the Mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. Now the Holy Spirit dwells with in us, all who place faith in Jesus Christ!  
The Israelites put God in a box, they built a comfortable god. Chapter four explains the dangers of doing this!
A Lack of Concern for the Perseverance of God’s People. vv. 12-18
Our sin effects generations! The Israelites sin effected generations.
Although our sin may be forgiven by Christ, we may still have to pay the consequences of it. Eli and his sons were disobedient. Eli was guilty because he didn’t correct his sons. Samuel heard from the Lord that Israel would be judged. If Eli was so concerned about the perseverance of God’s people, he would have realized the consequences of his sin before the capture of the ark. When we put God in a box, we are only sadden by our sin when we get caught.
Often times it takes great desperation in order for us to turn to God. (After 911, churches were full for a few weeks.) The Ark had been captured, the people of God may be killed? You and I know His promises, but they might have felt this way.
A Condition We Have the Privilege of Changing vv. 19-22
The glory had departed from Israel! What if the glory of God had departed from your house? Wouldn’t you want to do something about it? Sure! We have the privilege to run to Christ! Like the prodigal son, we can run and He will meet us in the driveway! He loves us! Do not allow the glory of God, your relationship with Him seem like it’s departed! He hasn’t left, we are the ones who drift away from God.
How do you know if you have put God into a box? (Built a comfortable god)
  1. Lack of Repentance. No repentance of sin. Forming a god to fit your lifestyle, your comforts.
  2. Lack of Priority. The worship of Christ has become a time slot instead of a lifestyle.
  3. Lack of Mission. You place little to no emphasis on evangelism, discipleship, and missions when it’s clear in scripture that God commands it.
  4. Lack of Love. You have lost the compassion to love the unloved.
  5. Lack of Church Attendance. You have managed to narrow down corporate worship to once a week, if that. God just doesn’t fit into your schedule.
  6. Criticism of the Church. You have become critical of God’s Bride (The Church) instead of being committed to making it a better hospital for the sinner. It’s ok to see and want to make changes, that’s not what I’m saying. Course correction in order to realign ourselves biblically is a must. Their comes a point in which if we’re not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.
  7. Hypocritical Living. Your home is no longer a place of the worship of Christ, but rather an escape to live a double life.