Brief Notes

You Cannot
Go to Shiloh

28 March 2024

The history of Shiloh
in the Bible warns us that
today is not the time for us
to enter into rest

As we have seen in this series of Notes, Gilgal in the Old Testament was where the Children of Israel first entered into the Good Land. That was where the Lord dealt with them as they camped there, and thus, it was also the place where they gathered the strength to deal with their enemies.

Shiloh, in contrast, means “Peace.” It was where the Children of Israel chose to put the tabernacle once the land was subdued before them (Josh. 18:1). But, while the Children of Israel left Gilgal, the Angel of the Lord never did (Judges 2:1). It was because they left Gilgal and went to Shiloh that they were eventually defeated by the inhabitants of the Good Land, instead of being victorious over them. (See “You Cannot Go to Shiloh” • 4.)

It was not that God was not in Shiloh; He was, for the tabernacle and the ark were there, and that was where He spoke to Samuel and raised him up to be a priest and a judge of His people (1 Sam. 3:4). What was not there, however, was the Angel of the Lord, what Darby refers to as “the operative power of God in the midst of the people.” Thus, while the Israelites could have the Lord’s presence in Shiloh, and even His speaking, what they could not have there was His operation among them for the sake of carrying out His purpose.

Thus, the history of Shiloh in the Old Testament is not at all positive, but rather, quite negative, to the point that it eventually became a symbol of God’s judgment against the idolatry of His people.

It was in Shiloh that the priesthood became degraded, to the point the Lord finally forsook the house of Eli (1 Samuel 2:27-36). Even when the Children of Israel took the ark of God from Shiloh in an attempt to fight against their enemies, they were utterly routed, and the ark itself was captured and taken to a foreign land (1 Samuel 4:10-11). And while the ark eventually returned to Israel, it was never again brought back to Shiloh.

Moreover, when the Children of Israel could not deal with the idolatry that had come in among them, the book of Judges tells us, in an indirect way, the reason: it was because they had gone to Shiloh:

So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.
— Judges 18:13

Referring to the capture of the ark at the time of Eli, the book of Psalms speaks of how God forsook the tabernacle in Shiloh because of the idolatry of the Children of Israel (Ps. 78:55-64).

And finally, through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord warns the Jews in Jerusalem several times not to trust in mere religious practices to save them, using Shiloh as the example of His judgment upon such evil ways:

“Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the LORD. “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.”
— Jeremiah 7:11-12; cf. v, 14, 26:6, 9

This history, then, is a warning to us, that we must not “go to Shiloh”; we must not seek to enter into rest today, as the Children of Israel did; rather, we must remain at “Gilgal,” so that the Lord may deal with us and prepare us for conflict. If we do seek after rest as an end in itself, our Christian life must end in failure and defeat, just as the Children of Israel could not defeat their enemies.

In reality, we cannot go to Shiloh; Shiloh can only come to us, when the Lord returns:

The scepter shall not
depart from Judah,
   Nor a lawgiver from
between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
   And to Him shall be
the obedience of the people.
— Genesis 49:10

Today is not the time for us to rest, but to arm ourselves with a mind to struggle that God’s will would be carried out upon the earth:

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same mind—for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin—to live the rest of your time in the flesh no longer in the lusts of men, but in the will of God.
— 1 Peter 4:1-2; cf. Matthew 6:9-10

Then we will enter into the true rest, when the Lord returns and establishes His kingdom on the earth.

Amen; come, Lord Jesus!

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— 28 March 2024 —