Remote Control

Have you ever stopped to count how many remote controls you have in your home? We may not think about them until we can’t find one, and then our reactions my border on panic. We want the remotes out of the way until we need them, but when we want them, we want them immediately. There is something about that semblance of power in wielding a device that allows one to manipulate another device from a distance without wires. We long for control. It doesn’t stop with electronics though. We can sometimes believe that if we can control something or someone, then any potential threat to us will be lessened. All we need is the right “remote” for the person or situation; the power will be harnessed, and all will be well.

I am reminded of the story found in 1 Samuel 4-5. The Ark of the Covenant was taken from the Hebrews by the Philistines and taken to the temple of Dagon. (Dagon was a fertility idol in ancient times depicted as having the upper body of a man and whose lower body was like a fish.) The ark was placed within this pagan temple in the territory of the Philistines as a sign that the God of the Hebrews had been powerless before the forces following Dagon. The Lord, in the eyes of the Philistines, had been delivered to them by their god. Dagon was their “universal remote control.” Push the button, and control is given, even over the Creator.

God disagreed.

In 1 Samuel 5:3, we find that the next morning Dagon was lying face down before the ark as though in a posture of worship. The Philistines evidently didn’t grasp what God was trying to say to them, so they set Dagon up again and went about their way. The next morning, Dagon again was on the ground, but this time his hands and head were broken from the body. It is helpful to note that in ancient times an enemy often had his head and hands removed to ensure that he was indeed dead (2 Samuel 4:12). God sent a clear message: “Dagon is a dead thing with no power before me.” The Lord then sent a plague as judgment upon them, and they returned the ark to the people of God.

Is there something in your life that you have placed alongside God, and you think that it’s bigger than him? Maybe you haven’t intentionally constructed an idol, but you have allowed a problem to get so large in your mind that you honestly believe that God can’t handle it. I confess that there have been situations when I placed something alongside him, and by comparison, the problem looked larger to me than God himself.

Or perhaps you have tried to use a situation to manipulate, cajole, and persuade God to act on your part. Each of us has attempting at times to have a God for our lives that we can easily control – a God with a “push-button omnipotence.” We may see God as one we can reach for only when we think we need him. He stays out of the way until we call on him, and then we want his answer immediately. We may “point” God at a situation like we would direct a remote control and expect him to work quickly.

God works at the deepest level to show us those things we place alongside him in the temples of our hearts. Though we try to “help” him, though we set up a “Dagon” to give us power and though we run to many other things before turning to God alone, he reminds us that he is the only One worthy of total trust because he not only holds absolute control, but he is also perfectly holy.

Is there something you are tempted to rely upon as much as or more than God himself?

Would you ask him to give you the strength to release that and depend upon him alone?      

Pray that…

We would keep ourselves from all idolatry. – 1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

We would wait for God alone to work and avoid seeking ultimate relief from anything or anyone else. – Psalm 62:5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

We will remember that all power comes from God. – Psalm 62:11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God.

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