Shiloh is the place where the location of the temple Tabernacle was for many years and it’s the place which was mentioned in this prophecy of Jeremiah which I spoke about last week and where Jeremiah 7 verse 12 says,
Jeremiah warns about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon and he’s telling the people there that the same thing that happened in Shiloh is going to happen to them. Therefore, they must know what happened to Shiloh before they can understand what’s going to happen to them.
It’s interesting to note that, if you look through the historical sections of the Bible, in Samuel and Kings, you won’t find any reference to the destruction of Shiloh. And that what you do know is pieced together from a few scriptures which I’m going to refer to, which tell you some things about what happened at Shiloh, the most significant of which is the last thing that the Bible says happened at Shiloh at the time of the prophet Samuel. Shiloh was a very significant place; it was a place where the Tabernacle stood.
This is an archaeological site, the place where the Tabernacle was standing in Shiloh. It stood there for about 369 years and, today, it’s a major archaeological site to the North of Jerusalem, and Israeli government declared it an archaeological heritage site in 2012.
There are now many people going there to see the archaeological site and tourists to see what happened in Shiloh.
Where was it? The Bible tells us very specifically where Shiloh was. It says it was there where the yearly feast of the Lord was held, at Shiloh, which is North of Bethel and East of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem and South of Lebonah. This is what is now called Samaria, technically, the West Bank area, about 28 miles North of Jerusalem which is down here between Bethel which is round about where Ramallah is today on the road from Bethel up to Shechem in the North, which is now the Arab town of Nablus. It’s off this highway.
I went down that highway the first time I went to Israel. We travelled from Haifa, drove from Haifa to Jerusalem through the West Bank, past Shechem, past Nablus, down this highway.
I have also been to a settlement near Shiloh which was called Ofra which is just down here somewhere, where I interviewed a lady who was a very orthodox lady in the in the settlement. I had an arrangement to meet with her, went on the bus from Jerusalem and went into the settlement and talked with her. I asked her how the life was there and she spoke about how they have a very Jewish life, how they feel very protected because they’ve got all the barriers around them.
And I said at the end: ‘Well what happens to all those go, would you be worried about the future?‘ To which she said: ‘No I’m trusting in God and in the Messiah who’s coming‘.
It’s an interesting place to go to and that area is right in the heart of the storm if you like. If you talk about any of the biblical sites, whether it’s Nablus, Shechem, Bethel, Shiloh, East Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, Hebron, all those areas are what’s called the West Bank or Judea and Samaria, all are part of the disputed area today which is the object of world attention. And you have Jewish settlements in most of the religious sites which they want to hold on to, and you have Arabs around about who basically don’t want them to be there and want to have an Arab state, and that’s the heart of the dilemma today.
But we’re not going to get into the politics today, we just look at what happened in this place called Shiloh.
Shiloh is about 28 miles North of Jerusalem, it’s the place where the Jewish people set up the Tabernacle.
And in Exodus chapter 25 verse 8 it says,
The purpose for which God told the Israelites they were to make a sanctuary was that He might ‘dwell among them’. He wanted to be with them, He wanted to be in their midst. As God was there, in their midst, He wanted to have a relationship with them. And, as God is holy, He also wanted to make it clear that they had to have a relationship with Him in the way which He had specified. They couldn’t just come any odd way to meet with Him, they needed to come to Him in an attitude of repentance and faith, believing His Word, and cleansed from their sins.
We’ve done a bit of talking about this Tabernacle in the morning services but just to say very briefly that all the items in the Tabernacle speak of us coming to a relationship with God. When you look at it there’s one way through it, there’s one entrance only to this Tabernacle, one way that cannot be changed, there is no other way except the way God has told us about.
The first thing you come to is the Altar of Burnt Offering where you offer the sacrifice for sin, which corresponds to coming to the cross; first of all coming to Jesus to repent and believe in Him.
After that, you come to the Laver where you wash yourself before you go into the Holy Place, which speaks about the washing of regeneration through faith in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.
Having done that, you then come into the Holy Place. When you come into the Holy Place which is the interior of the Tabernacle, you have the Table of the Show Bread which speaks of the bread offering but also speaks of fellowship with God, and fellowship of God through the bread and the wine of fellowship through Jesus the Messiah.
You then have the Lampstand which speaks of the light of the world, the light of the Word of God and Yeshua being the light of the world who opens the light of God to us.
Next, you have the Incense Altar which speaks of praise and worship to God.
You come to all those things, and having come through, you then come to the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwells and the place where the Ark of the Covenant was placed.
Because the Ark of the Covenant was there, that was the Most Holy Place.
It also had the Mercy Seat where the High Priest would go to once a year to offer the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement with the Blood of Atonement in order that people could come and have their sins forgiven.
Therefore, the Tabernacle was a picture of our approach to God and, also, of God’s approach to us.
We have a problem coming to God, God also has a problem coming to human beings because God is holy and we’re not.
God must do something about our sin to bring us into a relationship with Himself, that is why the Tabernacle was there.
If you read the Book of Exodus, when they completed the building of the Tabernacle, you’ll find that in verse 40 it says that cloud came into the Tabernacle which represented this Shekinah (the presence of God) and that it filled the place. This was a sign that God was with them in the midst of their camp.
Still in Exodus, you find that they camp, they put the Tabernacle, in the centre and all the tribes and gather around it.
This meant having God at the centre of their activities or life and God’s presence with you. Therefore, the Tabernacle was very significant in God’s purposes for the Jewish people.
We also read in Deuteronomy chapter 12 that, before they came into the Promised Land, God told the Israelites that they had to set apart a place of worship. Deuteronomy chapter 12 verse 5 says,
God told them to set apart a place which would be the place where the Tabernacle would be set up and where they would come to worship the Lord.
If Shiloh was that place, that makes it a pretty important place, doesn’t it? A place where they met with God, a place where the Tabernacle was to be set up and where they should go to worship the Lord, to offer sacrifices, and where they should also receive from Him His directions and be shown His Way.
It’s interesting that there’s very little mention of Shiloh in the Bible. There’s quite a bit in Joshua, there’s a bit in Samuel but, apart from that, not very much.
Let’s have a look and see what we can learn.
First, you come to the Book of Joshua, and if you read Joshua, it tells us about how the Israelites came into the land and conquered the land, took possession of it.
They came from the East, crossing the Jordan at Jericho. Having crossed the Jordan at Jericho, they camped to the place called Gilgal and there it says in Joshua that
It’s assumed that the first erection of the Tabernacle would have been there, at Gilgal as they crossed over from the Jordan into the Promised Land.
You read also in Joshua that they then fought the battles at Jericho and Ai, and then, in chapters 9 to 10, they went down to the Southern tribes and conquered these tribes.
During all this time, according to the Bible, the camp was still at Gilgal. They had a camp (here) at Gilgal, just opposite Jericho, and that was where the Tabernacle was first set up.
When you get to chapter 11 of Joshua, they move to the North go (up here) and they go right up to a place called Hazor in the North, North of the Galilee, and conquer the Northern tribes
Joshua 11 tells you there’s a big battle at Hazor when the Canaanite kings all came together and fought against the Israelites.
Hazor is one of the most intact archaeological sites in the land of Israel today. you can go there and see the ancient ruins of Hazor, and this tells you that there was a great a fortified city there. It was a strong city and there’s evidence that this city was destroyed by fire, which is what you read in Joshua chapter 11.
One of the interesting things why I like to do a talk like this is to remind you that the Bible is not just a book about God and about His dealings, it’s also historical and it is geographical and it’s accurate. There’s no other book that has the same amount of evidence; certainly not the Quran or any of the books. All other religions have books which are mythological in nature.
If you look in the Bible however, these places are real places where real things happened and because they’re real places where real things happened, with real people, you can learn something about them, about God’s dealings and talk about real people.
Real people are saints and sinners, they’re good and bad; and, in the Bible, you have evidence of this, you have stories of people who did some bad things.
In fact, I remember I was with Heather once, I met Heather at the council recycling centre (the council tip), and she was witnessing to a man who was obviously not a Christian.
He was saying, ‘How can you believe the Bible. All these stories like Sodom and Gomorrah show people doing bad things!’
I said, ‘Well, these stories are not telling you what you should do, they’re just telling you what people did.’
The Bible is full of stories which are real, about real people and the stories that you get in Joshua and Judges tell you about real people, many of them doing bad things, but also, they tell you about God being in control and having the last word.
They are historical events and these places existed, Hazor existed, Shechem existed, Nablus today and Shiloh existed, and Jerusalem. You can dig under these places and find evidence that the Bible is true which confirms your faith.
The problem with having this down in here in Gilgal is that Gilgal is right at the bottom of a hill, it’s quite distant and it’s not central, so if you decide to have the Tabernacle there, it becomes a problem.
Consequently, Joshua moved it from Gilgal up to Shiloh (where the red arrow is).
He moved it up to Shiloh which is central in in the land and it’s in the hill country of Samaria which is pretty much equidistant between Beersheba and Dan. From Dan in the North (here)
and to Beersheba (there’s Beersheba down here) and right in the middle is Shiloh. North to South, Shiloh is in the middle. From the sea to the Eastern border, it’s also pretty much in the middle. Therefore, choosing Shiloh was geographically quite a smart move because it was in the middle of the country and therefore, just as we have the Tabernacle in the middle of the camp in Exodus, we now have the Tabernacle in the middle of the country as well.
We can see from the evidence that Joshua set up the Tabernacle and that he set it up also as a capital city from where he governed the land in the territory of the Tribe of Ephraim. It became a meeting place for the tribes and Joshua made decisions there. It remained there until the time of Eli the Priest in the days of Samuel some 369 years later.
When you look at Joshua, you find that Shiloh was not just a religious centre, but it was also a place where they had meetings and where they decided what to do with the land. Joshua 18 verse 1 says,
That tells you they put the Tabernacle in Shiloh. Then, in verse 8 it says,
What does that tell you? It tells you that Shiloh was an administrative centre, that Joshua was holding camp there. He was holding court if you like. He was telling people to go out into the land, survey the land, come back, to then divide the land according to the tribes of Israel.
That is what happened in the next chapter. Chapter 19 verse 51 says,
That tells you that there was a connection between the government and the Tabernacle. They met at the door of the Tabernacle. Therefore, you have both the administration of the country and the religious centre there, in Shiloh.
There is another detail. There Joshua portions the places where the Levites were to have their cities which was part of the plan you find in Deuteronomy: how God wanted certain places to be set aside for the Levites. All this takes place there in Shiloh.
Putting all these scriptures together, what does it make Shiloh? What does that make Shiloh in the land of Israel? The answer is: its capital city. It is the main city where the sanctuary is, the Tabernacle, and where the decisions are being made. And it’s the centre in the days of Joshua.
But, interestingly, after that, its importance fades from the scene and one of the reasons the scene changes is what you read in the Book of Judges about what happens to the next generation.
Joshua says Judges chapter 2 verses 10-11,
and it says in verses 14-16,
One generation passes and, after being with the Lord, just one generation later, they’ve forgotten Him. How could that happen in just one generation?
Look at Britain. Within one generation, within my generation, you’ve seen how far this country has fallen from being, basically, Christian – I don’t mean that everyone was Christian, but it has gone form having a Christian ethos behind its education, its government, and the strong influence of Christianity in all areas of life to Christianity being pushed out and to other gods coming in. You see just how quickly and how easy it is for a country to go from being with the Lord to being out of the Lord’s presence.
God says that because they turn away from the Lord, He is going to turn away from them too and deliver them into the hands of their enemies. Then, the enemies come in and you read right through the Book of Judges about series of attacks from outside, enemies coming in, and about the country being under threat while God continues to raise up judges who will stand up and do His will, and save the country from being overwhelmed by their enemies.
You find that Shiloh is no longer the central place of authority and one of the verses which recurs two or three times in the Book of Judges says,
You no longer have a central authority, you have people doing what they think is right, doing their own thing which is very much like what we see in our society today, isn’t it? Everyone does what is right in their own eyes and this attitude doesn’t lead to good government, it doesn’t lead to a happy society, it leads to the enemy coming in and bringing in all kinds of oppressions into the land.
In fact, in the time of the Judges there are only two references I could find to Shiloh in in the history that follows, which indicates that, although Shiloh was still a sanctuary and there was still some kind of religious centre there, it was not a major place or centre. This was affecting the country and we also see other centers being set up contrary to the will of God.
One of the stories at the end of Judges (Judges 18.30-31) says,
That tells you that the house of God was still in Shiloh but that they were setting up their own self-appointed centers with their own images, something which was leading them away from the will of God.
You also have one of the most disgraceful stories in the Bible in chapters 19-21. Has anybody read that in Judges? The story about the Levite and his concubine?
If you have, you know that it is really ‘X-rated’ stuff. You read that the woman is gang raped, she is then killed, divided up, and her body parts are sent to all the tribes of Israel. The other tribes, then, come and attack the Tribe of Benjamin which was responsible for the murder of the woman and wipe them out until there’s just a handful of men left with no women. They tell these remaining men to go up to Shiloh and to wait for the virgin girls who will come and dance before them so they can then abduct them, take them as their wives, and bring them back to Benjamin.
That tells you something about the moral state of the land, doesn’t it? It confirms that there was a real decline in the worship of God and that everyone did what was right in their own eyes. There was no king in Israel.
That is the sad history of that time, yet the main subject I want to talk about is Samuel. Samuel is the one who has most to say about this.
What happened to Shiloh is in the story of Samuel and the last High Priest there, Eli. We read that Samuel the prophet is going to change the way Israel was governed and would end up having a king, Saul first, thus paving the way for the centre, the religious site moving from Shiloh in Ephraim to Jerusalem in Judah under king David.
What happened then? By the time you get to this period, Shiloh was still functioning at a as a centre for sacrifice to and worship of the Lord.
That passage tells you several things. It tells you first that there was a regular sacrifice in Shiloh. Also, that there was a house of the Lord by this time. So, there was not just the Tabernacle but a permanent structure in Shiloh and the people went there to offer sacrifices to the Lord.
This woman, Hannah, went up and she was grieved because she had no child, she was barren which was considered a disgrace in those days. She was provoked by the other wife of her husband Elkanah who had children. She went into the house of the Lord at Shiloh, and she prayed, and she met the priest Eli who was sitting by the doorpost of the Tabernacle of the Lord. This again tells you that there was a building structure there.
It continues by saying in scripture that she prayed in bitterness of soul and prayed to the Lord and that she wept in anguish. As she prays, Eli takes her for a drunken woman – which may be a comment on the decadence of the times. Because this woman was passionately praying, Eli thought the woman must be drunk and rebuked her. Of course, she wasn’t drunk, she was praying from her heart to the Lord.
She prays to the Lord and, as she prays, there she tells Eli that if she has a male child, she will offer the child to the Lord for all the days of his life, no razor shall come upon his head. That means that the child would become a Nazarite, dedicated to the Lord.
Eli answers and says,
Samuel is then born, and Hannah praises the Lord. Her song of praise (like Miriam’s song) is in chapter 2.
Hannah has three more sons and two more daughters and so Samuel goes as a little boy up to the place in Shiloh and ministers before the Lord. He is an apprentice priest of sorts if you like under Eli. The child Samuel, from then on, ministers before the Lord with Eli the Priest.
Chapter 2 also tells you there was a problem in Shiloh: the sons of Eli. Chapter 2 verses 12-17 say,
They were taking the offering for themselves and if people weren’t willing to give it to them, they said ‘I’m going to take it by force’.
You have major sins being committed here: one was to despise the offering of the Lord and take it for themselves; basically, they were taking, they were stealing what belonged to God for themselves. If people weren’t willing to give it to them, they would say ‘we’re going to take it by force’.
That’s not the only thing which they were doing; it also says in verses 22-25,
You’ve got three sins now. They’re taking the offering, they’re oppressing the people, and they’re having illegal sex with the women in front of the Tabernacle.
There are three things which Satan uses more than anything else to attack a ministry of any sort: abuse of sex, money, and power.
These are all shown in this account. That’s what they’re doing, and you can see that Satan knows that this is the way to get into people and to destroy from the inside what God wants to do.
Does that happen in Christian ministries? Quite often. In fact, that’s one of the big issues which destroys more and more Christian ministries and destroys people in power, in government, the abuse of sex, power, and money. And it’s the thing which brings them under judgment.
You can see that Hophni and Phineas were sinning on all those levels and bringing disgrace to the Tabernacle, also bringing God into the picture to execute judgment upon them.
Later in the chapter, you see that the prophet comes and rebukes Eli for not restraining his sons. He says, ‘Eli you’re also responsible because you should be restraining your sons, you should be discipling them, you shouldn’t be letting them get away with this, you’re the ‘head man’, they’re under you and yet you’re letting them get away with it’.
There’s also a principle that if a person in power lets somebody underneath them sin and doesn’t rebuke them then, they’re equally responsible.
The prophet Samuel then says to Eli, ‘your line’s going to be cut off from being priest before the Lord’ and ‘the enemy is going to come into God’s dwelling place’.
Therefore, he’s saying now, the enemy is going to come into this place, into Shiloh, and this will bring judgment upon it. The prophet then concludes in verse 35,
In one sense, this ‘faithful priest’ would be Samuel, but this scripture is also looking forward to the Messiah / Yeshua, the ultimate ‘faithful priest’ before whom the Lord would walk and who will be ‘my anointed’ / ‘my Messiah’.
You have the sins of the sons of Eli: abuse of power, money, and sex, three causes of downfall in ministry and the tactics the enemy uses to corrupt those in authority in the spiritual realm and in the political realm. And it happens in all generations, at all times, and, in our time, we’re particularly susceptible to it, not just by ‘doing the thing’ but even by ‘thinking the thing’.
You know I go on the internet a lot to spread my information. I’m aware that I am always one click away from looking at something I shouldn’t be looking at. And, all the time, there is this projection of immorality, of pornography, and it’s part of our society.
Jesus said that ‘if you look at a woman with lust in your heart you have committed adultery with her’ and we have this temptation all the time. Satan knows how to play on human weakness, and he uses it to destroy and to undermine what is of God.
There’s a warning here from God to be straight and to be honest and to, if you fall into these sins, if you’ve attempted to resist the devil, to confess and to be cleansed from it. But there is always that danger and it’s always there and because we’re human, these things can happen and lead to the downfall of ministers, and it does happen.
We also see in the world today this constant propaganda from the media infiltrating the church and the government. LGBT+ we talked about but, also, just general immorality and ungodly living. And the priest is the one who is meant to take it away, to mediate between humanity and God, to offer the sacrifice in in the Old Testament terms and, in the New Testament, to offer us Jesus the Messiah and Salvation. If the priest or the minister becomes corrupted, then he can’t do that and therefore he’s cutting off the people from God’s presence.
You see that is one of the issues we confront in much of Christianity today, in this country, that because of the compromise and because of the immorality which comes into the church, the people who responsible are now unable to offer people salvation through Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah and they become part of the problem, not the solution. Therefore, God must bring judgment upon that situation.
Now the answer is of course in repentance and faith and in the faithful priest, and God is going to send Samuel into this situation to be the one who’s going to resolve it.
In our situation of course, the Messiah Himself is the One to come to resolve these issues.
The most well-known story about Samuel is in chapter 3, where the boy Samuel was ministering before the Lord and it says,
This was a situation of spiritual decline. People weren’t hearing the Word of the Lord and there was no inspiration, no revelation.
This tells you there’s some experience which Samuel had yet to have of revelation from God. He didn’t know the voice of the Lord yet. He knew about God but he didn’t know the voice of the Lord.
One of the things we must also do is not just know ‘about God’ but to ‘know God Himself’, know God speaking to us, know that God is able to direct us and to reveal things to us by the Holy Spirit.
So, Samuel heard the Word of the Lord and,
The Word of the Lord and the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Samuel was faithful in giving this Word. Can you imagine what he felt like between hearing the Word and giving It to Eli? A sleepless night I think, he must have said to himself ‘I’ve got to go and tell Eli that there’s a great judgment coming upon him because of his sin and because of not restraining his sons’.
But Samuel was faithful and gave the Word, and Samuel received again the Word of the Lord, so, the Word of the Lord began to come to the people.
God needs to have a prophet into the situation to tell them what to do. And as we look at the state of our country, we should pray that God may raise those who can speak with a prophetic word to those in power, and to those in the leadership of churches, and in nations because, surely, they need to hear it and they need to repent and to turn back to God.
Samuel is established as a prophet and the role of the prophet is ‘to speak from God to the people’, have a Word from the Lord. It is not a very comfortable ministry because, often, the Word which they have from the Lord is a Word of rebuke and a Word which is challenging evil and sin in high places and speaking of the coming judgment, but also of a restoration.
Therefore, Samuel is a key person in this situation.
But what happened to bring the fall of Shiloh?
If you go to the next chapter, chapter 4, it says,
We’ve got a map here. (there’s Aphek)
All this territory – which is the coastal area – is, at this point, under Philistine control. There’s Ashdod, Ashkelon, there’s Jaffa which is by Tel Aviv today. So, the coastal strip is not under Israeli control at this time. Palestinians are advancing. They come from the coast. They are not Palestinian Arabs as most people think.
The Philistines came from Crete in boats and settled on the coastal area and moved inwards. It’s interesting that the name Palestine, which is given to the land of Israel, is derived from the word ‘Philistines’, and today is connected in our minds with Palestinian Arabs. But the Philistines were NOT Arabs, they were Greeks basically. And they came and they harassed these people of Israel.
Okay, so, they’ve lost a battle here at Aphek, they feel threatened, and they have a bright idea: ‘Let’s take the Ark of the Covenant from the Tabernacle, from Shiloh, and bring it to our battle people and we’ll have God in the midst of our troops, and we’re going to win the battle’.
Was that a good idea? No, it was a terrible idea!
This means treating the holy object as though it’s some sort of lucky charm, which doesn’t work. People always want to have some kind of object, don’t they? To focus and say, ‘that’s going to bring us to God’. Wearing a Christopher badge or even a cross, or something else like putting a Mezuzah on your door. You think such an object is going to protect you from criminals coming in. People have an idea that if you’ve got some sort of religious object, it’s going to save you. But religious objects don’t save you! What saves you is the relationship with the living God.
And here you have the Israelites trusting that they’re going to take the Tabernacle, take the Ark from the Tabernacle where it belongs, from the Holy Place, and bring it into battle.
Big, big mistake because you’re taking it out of the place that God has appointed it to be, into a place where God is not going to be with them.
Now, the Philistines were shaken when this happened. It says,
The Philistines recognize that they had a problem. Because the Hebrew God was coming into their midst, they knew enough history to understand that the God of the Hebrews had wrought great victories for them in the past over the Egyptians. Perhaps that story was still around. It had happened long ago, perhaps three or four hundred or more years, but the story was still around, they had heard about it, and they feared that now, because the Hebrew God was coming into their midst, they were going to be defeated, especially with the Israelites making this great shout, asserting that God had come into their midst and that, because of it, they were going to win.
Well, verse 10 says,
Therefore, it was a disaster, and the Ark was captured and taken away by the Philistines, Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas died. Then, Eli is told what happened in verse 17. It says,
When Eli knows the Ark is gone, that’s the point which causes him to fall down, break his neck and die.
That’s where you get the phrase Ichabod ‘the Glory has departed’. And as she gave birth to this child, she died in childbirth. She learned that her father and her husband had died; her father-in-law had died and the Ark of God had been captured, and she said Ichabod, ‘the Glory has departed’, the Glory of God has departed.
It’s a total, 100% wipe-out, a disaster. They’ve lost the Ark of the Covenant, it’s gone to the hands of the Philistines and you could imagine the feeling of despair which fell on the Israelite camp then.
In Shiloh what you have is, of course, a degenerate understanding of the ways of God. They were beaten in conflict and they decided to take the sacred Ark with the divine presence into battle with them, they thought that God wouldn’t allow the Ark to fall into the hands of the heathen, so victory would be assured.
But it was an act of sacrifice, they took the Ark from the Holy Place to a place it should never have been, and they lost it. As I said, it amounts to treating the Ark as a lucky charm; an idolatrous idea, not what God’s looking for.
God is looking for repentance, faith, holy living. He’s going to defend people not trusting in lucky charms. Just like a lot of the churches do, they trust in objects, they trust in relics of the cross, and all that kind of stuff, and in church buildings.
God can do without all those things but what He wants is righteous living, only then is He going to bless the people, if they have faith and are obedient to Him.
Now, the Judgment of God began with the capture of the Ark. Ichabod, ‘the glory is departed’, Eli dies, and this triggers the move of the centre of worship from Shiloh and Ephraim. This in turn sets up the division of the Kingdom. What happened to Shiloh next, we are not told.
There is a passage which I’m going to look at a bit later, in the Psalms, which tells you something about what happened to Shiloh. There’s also the passage in Jeremiah 7 with which we began, but there’s nothing in the historical record that explains what happened to Shiloh.
We know that the whole area, later, was taken by the Assyrians, and that the whole of the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity. But it appears that the Judgment on Shiloh happened before that. It appears possible that these Philistines flashed through their victory here, came up to Shiloh and destroyed the place, but we don’t read that in the Bible.
Certainly, something happened that caused Shiloh to be no longer even a place which hosted the Tabernacle, which had the building itself. We’re not told what happened to the Tabernacle, but we do know that Samuel moved, from that time on, from Shiloh down to this area of Benjamin where he had his circuit.
And the Bible says,
So, it seems that the centre of religious life had moved from Shiloh down to this area here, just North of Jerusalem, not yet in Jerusalem. We do read that in Chronicles. It says that the Tabernacle was salvaged after, the building itself was salvaged and reconstructed at Gibeon which is this same place just North of Jerusalem:
This is a deduction, it’s not said explicitly in the Bible, it’s a deduction which points to the Israelites taking the Tabernacle building from Shiloh and erecting it here in Gibeon.
As far as the Ark itself was concerned, you can read about that in in the Book of Samuel.
The Philistines took it down to their territory and put the Ark in the temple of their god Dagon. What happened to Dagon? He kept falling down. It fell down and flat before the Ark. They then put him up again and it fell down again, and his head fell off. At which point, they thought that the Ark was bad news, and so they said to themselves ‘Let’s not put the Ark in our building’.
They also found that there were plagues coming upon them, and that people were dying of disease. So, they slipped the Ark around from place to place in the Philistine territory. Everywhere it went, it brought disaster to the Philistines, and they eventually worked out that having this Ark was bad news and that they should send it back to Israel.
They then devised a plan by which two cows who had just had calves and were still feeding them were taken away from their calves and bound to a cart where the Ark was placed, this to see if the cows did the natural thing and moved back towards their calves. That way, they would know that the plagues had nothing to do with the Ark itself. On the other hand, if the cows did the unnatural thing and went away from their calves and continued into the land of Israel, the Philistines would know that the Ark itself was the reason for all these troubles.
The cows went straight up to Israel, directed by the Lord. When they arrived in Israel, the Israelites took the Ark off the cart and sacrificed the cows on the on the wood from the cart, which was a bit of bad news for the cows, but that was how it happened.
From then on, you find that the Ark goes from place to place. It doesn’t have a secure resting place, they never take it back to Shiloh, they don’t take it to Gibeon, it goes from house to house. It goes to the place of a man called Obed Edom and eventually goes to a place called Kiriath Jearim in Judah, but it never goes back to Shiloh.
After the death of Saul, about 12 years into his reign, after David has captured Jerusalem (Remember at that time, until the time of David Jerusalem not only was not the centre of life for Israel, but it wasn’t even a Jewish city, it was held by the Jebusites. David had to capture Jerusalem and, after David captures Jerusalem he sets up his headquarters there, after he’s been in Hebron for a while), he decides to bring the Ark of God up from the house of Baalah, Kirjath Jearim to Jerusalem. David erected there what seemed to be a replica of the Tabernacle, in Jerusalem and put the Ark into it.
It is only in Samuel chapter 6 that you hear the next thing you about the Ark, at the time of Solomon, when he builds the Temple
and, in 2 Chronicles chapter 5, he takes the ark and puts it into the Holy Place, in the Temple. The Temple is built on the pattern of the Tabernacle and that’s the last you hear of the Tabernacle.
But it’s interesting that it never goes back to Shiloh, and what happens is, now that the transfer of power is no longer in Shiloh, in Ephraim, in the Northern Kingdom, it’s moves to Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom, in Judah. And, from that point on, there is a rivalry between Judah and Ephraim which leads to the later event which happens when the Kingdom divides in the time of Rehoboam, you have the civil war on the division of the kingdom but the rivalry between Judah and Ephraim becomes part of history.
Judah becomes the centre, Shiloh is finished, it is the end of Shiloh and there’s no further mention of the Tabernacle after the building of Solomon’s Temple until the Temple itself is destroyed. There’s no further mention of the Ark of the Covenant though there has been much speculation and movies made about it. We don’t know what happened to the Ark of the Covenant after the destruction of the Temple.
Coming back to Jeremiah 7, this passage sums up what I’ve just said. It says,
Therefore, Jeremiah is saying many years later to the people in Jerusalem ‘God is going to do the same to you as happened to Shiloh’.
It’s a call to repent and to follow the Law. The issue in Jerusalem was that they were trusting in the Temple, the building and saying that this is the Temple of the Lord so nothing bad can happen to us.
Yet, Jeremiah was saying, ‘don’t just trust in the building, it is not the outward form God is interested in, He’s interested in what’s in the heart, in your change of heart, and in you following Him’. He says that if you don’t do this, God is going to cast you out of His sight ‘as He cast out all your brethren, the whole posterity of Ephraim’. Exactly what happened at Shiloh.
Now, there must have been some historical event which caused Shiloh to fall. We are not told what it was. I think it could have taken place after the battle at Aphek; the Philistines came and destroyed the city. But we don’t know that. The only other passage in the Bible that refers to the destruction of Shiloh is Psalm 78. It says,
Later on in the Psalm, in verse 67, it says,
God wanted to change the situation bringing the centre from Shiloh in Ephraim down to Judah, to Jerusalem and to mount Zion.
It says here:
and I believe that God still loves mount Zion, and He still loves Jerusalem. That’s why there’s all this trouble over Jerusalem today.
But it’s interesting that Shiloh is just an archaeological site to the North of Jerusalem today, in the area known as the West Bank. An interesting place to go to but not totally significant.
Jerusalem, in the heart of Judea, is the central place to this day and the central place to which Yeshua / Jesus is coming back to.
And it is the place, of course, where Jesus the Messiah is to be crucified, and to rise from the dead. And it would all take place in Jerusalem.
Therefore, part of this process of moving from Shiloh to Jerusalem was also connected with the coming of the Messiah and even with the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Just briefly, here are a few lessons we can draw from the history of Shiloh.
First. God works in history and the things that you read about in the Bible really happened. They’re not fairy stories, they’re not made-up stories, you can check out the geography, the history, it all adds up. You can’t do the same with other religions, certainly not with the Koran, and with the stories of Islam there exists no record at all, no archaeological, no historical record; it’s a story made-up after the event.
With the Bible on the contrary, you can go to all these places. They’re all in the right places, at the right time, and there are archaeological sites which show what happened. This tells you the Bible is true.
The second point. God wants to dwell with humans, that was the point of making the Tabernacle. But sin separates and makes a barrier, and because of sin, there’s judgment which results.
The third point. The outward form is not important. You can have the outward form but if you don’t have the inward reality then, you just have religious objects. If you have the inward reality, then, you have the truth, and the truth is that we must be born again and receive new life through Yeshua Jesus and have his life within us.
The fourth point. The case of Hophni and Phineas shows us three main tactics the enemy uses to destroy human beings and particularly ministers for God: the abuse of sex, money, and power. The devil is always going to use temptation in these areas, and we must be strong against it and to stand for the Lord, and to know that the enemy is going to use that tactic continually. It’s part of his strategy.
The fifth point. God overrules to preserve His people and His witness through the faithful priest who Samuel, Jeremiah and, ultimately, through Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah. Therefore, we can look forward to the coming of the Messiah as the faithful Prophet, the Priest, and the King who would take away the sin of the world and reconcile us to God.
The sixth point. The Tabernacle with us. The idea of Tabernacle is of God dwelling with us. When Jesus came, He came and ‘Tabernacled’ with us and He is the Messiah who comes to dwell with us and, through faith in Him, we can dwell with Him forever.
The final point. There is a messianic prophecy which uses the word Shiloh in Genesis chapter 49.10 and says,
‘Shiloh’ means in this sense ‘the one who is sent’ and ‘the sceptre shall not depart from Judah’ means that the ruling staff of government will not depart from Judah until the Messiah comes, when the Messiah comes in the person of Jesus.
The ruling staff did depart from Judah, they no longer had control over the land and, ultimately, when the Romans destroyed the city, you have the dispersion of the Jewish people to be returned to the land of Israel at the end of days in the events that will lead to the Second Coming of the Messiah. And to Him shall the obedience or the gathering of the people be.
So, we have something to look forward to as well: that Jesus will return this time as the ‘sent one’, Shiloh the Messiah, the ruling King and He is going to gather His people together to be with Him.
He is also going to rule and reign from Jerusalem which is why Jerusalem is in the frame at this present time.
All these things are these are things which have not yet happened. But, if the things which have happened are recorded in the Bible, the things which have not yet happened must also be in the Bible.
And, as I believe the Bible, I believe they’re going to happen.
To conclude, ‘believe in Jesus’! He is the Messiah, He is God’s Shiloh, the sent one, who has come to redeem us and to bring us to God. And He is coming back soon and He’s going to bring deliverance to Jew and Gentile, to Israel, and to the nations, and He’s going to reign from Jerusalem. Praise the Lord! Amen. Praise God!
Lord, we thank you that you are the Messiah. We thank you that you work through history, you work through people. We thank you Lord that your Word is verifiable, it’s true, we can see from
Geography, from history, from archaeology that the Word is true, that these things really happened in these places. But we can also see that these things happened, in a sense, outside of time and space, from eternity, as the eternal One became flesh and God lived amongst us in the person of Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah.
We thank you that we have a glorious hope in Him coming again in power and glory, and that to You shall the obedience or the gathering of the people be. That you shall reign in power and glory both now and in eternity. So, we thank you for this and pray You bless us and keep us and may we know Your peace.