This past summer, news reports began proclaiming the astonishing discovery of an ancient Egyptian sphinx in Israel. So far, only the front legs of the statue have been unearthed. Archeologist expect the sphinx was deliberately vandalized during the conquest of the city.
This Egyptian sphinx in Israel is an exciting find but it reminds me of an even better story of a mutilated statue from the Bible. 1 Samuel chapter 5 tells us about a time during the reign of the Judges when Israel forgot for a moment to treat God with the proper respect He was due. They decided to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle without God’s permission. The Israelites had reduced the Creator of All to a good luck charm.
And so, God allowed the unthinkable. He allowed the Ark to be captured by the Philistines. It was a humbling defeat for Israel.
The Philistines took the Ark back to Ashdod and set it up next to their own deity Dagon in his temple. When they arose the next morning, they found their idol of Dagon face down before the Ark of the Lord. They returned Dagon to his proper position but the next morning, Dagon had fallen once again. This time, both his head and hands were severed.
It was common practice in the ancient East for the heads and right hands of all the enemy who were slain to be taken back into the conqueror’s camp as a symbol of their victory. When the One True God dismembered Dagon in his own temple, He was making a very clear point about who was really in charge.