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The Sad and Dangerous Effects of the Decay of Heavenly Trade

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Cause for Lamentation, Repentance, and Labor

The Sad and Dangerous Effects of the Decay of Heavenly Trade}

And this is cause of mourning and something to be greatly laid to heart. Who can see these things and not be affected? If there is any live flesh, how can it not bleed? If any water is left, surely tears should run down from our eyes and we should abundantly pour out water in Mizpah319 before the Lord for the wasting away of piety, piety that is gasping for breath and ready to give up the ghost.

For where this heavenly trade decays:

319The first three chapters of the book of 1 Samuel tell of great corruption in the priesthood. This was opposed by some, but one gets the sense that the mass of the people had turned away from the Lord. Chapter 4 tells the story of how the Israelites were defeated in battle against the Philistines. The Israelites then foolishly used the ark of the covenant as if it were a magic charm against the Philistines, who not only won a great victory, but captured the ark. Chapters 5 and 6 relate how God judged the Philistines for keeping the ark and how the Philistines sent the ark back to Israel. But some Israelites looked into the ark, something forbidden, so God slaughtered a great number of them. Thus the ark was not returned to its rightful place where sacrifices were made, but stashed away in another city. There was much idolatry, but chapter 7 shows how, after twenty years, some people “lamented after the Lord.” The prophet Samuel urged them to dedicate themselves to the Lord and put away their idols and they did so. Then Samuel told the people to gather at Mizpah. There, “They gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’ And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah” (1 Samuel 7:6 ESV). Commentators are uncertain as to the meaning of the pouring out of the water, but it is clearly connected with repentance and sorrow for sin and turning back to God. (After this, the Philistines attacked them at Mizpah, but the Lord delivered Israel in response to their repentance, prayers, and sacrifice.)

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