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How Was Tranquility Lost?
by Wayne Blank
Shiloh was, for all intents and purposes, the capital of the earth at that time:
"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there. And the land was subdued before them" (Joshua 18:1 KJV)
For as long that the Israelites had remained truly faithful and obedient to The Lord, they lived peacefully and perfectly secure. Shiloh really was "Tranquility."
Over time however the Israelites became increasingly careless and disobedient in their relationship with The Lord. They began taking far too much for granted about themselves. They self-righteously assumed that they were "God's people," even though they had nearly ceased living according to God's Way, but were merely living their own way in His Name. Their increasing disregard for The Lord's Law eventually became outright corruption, upon which their society went from the sole undefeatable superpower of the world, since The Lord Himself was defending them from all enemies, to a nation of which nothing could prevent their ruin because they had made themselves enemies of God by living contrary to His Law, after they had known the Truth.
The Israelites actually became an embarrassment to The Lord because they had thrown away the respect and admiration that they once had from the rest of the nations, that was based solely because of The Lord's blessings upon them. But in the end, they simply didn't care about what other nations thought of them. In their selfish arrogance they became like a brazen harlot, "Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness." (Proverbs 30:20 KJV).
The end came when the Israelites were battling the Philistines at Aphek. During the first battle, The Lord permitted the Israelites to be beaten, with a loss of about 4,000 of their finest troops - perhaps as a final warning, and opportunity, to repent. But instead, they returned to Shiloh and removed The Ark, containing the two tablets of stone on which were written The Ten Commandments (see The Decalogue), from The Tabernacle and carried it back into battle with them - a blasphemous act, not only because they were not to remove it from the Holy Place, but because they carried The Ten Commandments, which they were blatantly disobeying, into battle with them.
The Lord then had them routed by the enemy, this time losing 30,000 men, including Eli's two corrupt sons Hophni and Phinehas who would have succeeded him, and The Ark itself - perhaps as a testimony about how they were disregarding its contents, while expecting it to protect them and give them victory.
Upon hearing the news of the capture of The Ark by the Philistines, and the loss of his own two sons in battle, Eli himself died. It was a disastrous defeat that God not only permitted to happen, but actually caused to happen. The entire account is found in 1 Samuel chapter 4.
The Ark was recovered from the Philistines 7 months later (1 Samuel 6:1-2) after the Philistines suffered greatly for possessing it. God certainly would not have allowed its permanent loss then, or now (see Raiders Of The Lost Ark), or in the future (e.g. Revelation 11:19), but it was taken to Kiriath Jearim instead of back to Shiloh (1 Samuel 7:1).
Shiloh itself met its final destruction thereafter. It was completely devastated and remains so to this day. You can go and stand there at the very place, although there is not much left except weeds and bits of rubble.
The story of Shiloh thereafter served as an object lesson to the Israelites of later times, physically or spiritually (see Physical and Spiritual Israel) that God only remains faithful to those who truly remain faithful to Him.
"And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith The Lord; If ye will not hearken to Me, to walk in My Law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth." (Jeremiah 26:4-6 KJV)
Fact Finder: The name Shiloh is always used in the Scriptures for the city of Shiloh, with just one exception - to refer to the future coming of the Messiah who will restore "tranquility," not just to Israel, but to all the world. What does the Word of God say about "Shiloh," Jesus Christ, all the way back in Genesis?