Pristine Grace

Ichabod Etched into Every Door
by Brandan Kraft
Ichabod Etched into Every Door

And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.  - 1 Samuel 4:21-22

    Here's a quick story about Ichabod, the grandson of Eli,  the priest of the Lord in Shiloh.  After the Ark of the covenant was stolen by the Phillistines, the glory of God was taken from Israel.  And that is how Ichabod, or "inglorious" got his name.  There was no more glory in Israel.  Ichabod's poor mother gave him that name as a way to lament their great loss at the hands of the Phillistines.  But in reality, this was from the hand of our Sovereign Lord.  And with this hand He painted a picture that I believe is still relevant today.

    God's favor and His blessings can be aptly described as the Glory of God.  The Old Testament saints saw His favor upon the nation of Israel in the exodus out of Egypt.  And then it can be seen later in the Ark of the Covenant as it made its way from the tabernacle out in the wilderness into the temple.  God's glory was in this ark as a sign of His favor upon the nation of Israel.  And then came Ichabod.  The Phillistines raided and captured the Ark and ran off with Israel's glory.  Israel was now without glory.  Their house was now desolateIchabod.

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.  Matthew 23:37-38

    This concept of Ichabod is later realized in the last words of Christ to the Pharisees just prior to the last supper with His disciples.  Ichabod was once upon the Nation of Israel as they plotted to kill their Messiah.  The nation would be left desolate, and Ichabod would be all that's left.  Christ and His glory would soon be departing.  And Israel would be left with their house.  Christ says it is "your house" because what would remain is the religion of the Pharisees, the religion of man.  Christ doesn't say it's His house.  He says it's YOUR HOUSE.  YOUR religion.  Your nation is cursed!  Your nation will be abandoned!  Your nation will be left in RUIN!  The glory of God has departed.  Ichabod.

    And it seems that even today, Ichabod eventually comes upon every true church.  The glory of God in the Gospel is there for a little while, just for a season... And then it's gone.  Men turn from free and sovereign grace to the religion of man.  We see this time and time again throughout the ages.  Martin Luther and the Lutherans caught wind of the glory of God in the Gospel and within the span of a few years, Melanchthon and his followers sneaked in and snatched the proverbial ark away and replaced it with man-centered synergistic religion.  Ichabod.  The Baptists caught wind in the 17th century Britain only for Andrew Fuller's followers and the gospel that was  "worthy of all acceptation" sneaked in and snatched the true Gospel away.  Ichabod.  And here in the United States, we see how many of our denominations all started out with the Sovereignty of God, and now they are all almost will worshippers.  Ichabod. This pattern will likely repeat itself over and over until the time of Christ's return, even in the churches we belong to today.

    Congregations are planted by the Sovereignty of God with clear Gospel preaching.  They flourish.  People die.  And slowly man's religion starts to sneak in and just like the Phillistines the religion of man proverbially steals away God's grace.  And for proof, I challenge anyone to point to me a congregation that is faithful to the Gospel that has been around for more than a hundred years.  The fact is, they simply do not last.  Why is that?

    The first and most obvious answer lies in the Sovereignty of God.  God has been pleased to bring His remnant together in small little spots where the Glory of God shines bright amongst the people.  And then people begin to take His glory for granted.  They enjoy the sweetness of the Gospel for a short while, and then they slowly turn to the law, freewillism, and the pre-eminence of their leaders.  They dress their leaders up in robes and prance them around.  People walk around adoring the man who is preaching instead of the One he should be preaching about!  Controversies enflame.  Splits occur.  People die.  And as time fades away, those who are left behind have compromised on the truth and adopted the religion of man.   The very principles that led to Ichabod in Israel are even now present today in our churches.  And Ichabod is etched into the wood above every door of even our sovereign grace congregations that we greatly adore today.

    Let us not take the Gospel for granted.  Let's turn from the worship of our gifts, our will, and our leaders.  Let's turn from lording over each other to serving one another.  Let's turn from all idolatry and man worship.  The Glory of God is within our midst and we have been given something most people could only dream about.  We have fellowship with Christ!  We have fellowship with one another!  Let's stop fighting with each other, proclaim the truth in love, and remember that Ichabod is etched into the frame of every door of our congregations reminding us that the Phillistines are more than likely already waiting within the walls of our churches hoping to steal away God's glory shouldst we turn to idols and away from our our Lord and His Gospel where Christ alone is exalted.