I Samuel 5:5 – “This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.”
The Philistines had captured the ark of God and taken it to the temple of their non god, Dagon. They set the ark up next to a statue of Dagon in the temple. On the first morning after putting the ark in their temple the Philistines found their god face down on the floor in the temple. So, likely surmising that it had simply fallen, the re-erected it. Next morning the same thing except that this time Dagon’s hands and head were cut off from the body. Now they realize that these strange things are due to the ark being in their temple and they get it out of Ashdod and the ark makes an interesting journey from Philistine town to town because no one wants it near them.
But the thing of interest here is that this verse that tells us that ever since this incident of Dagon falling down, the priests and people of Ashdod do not tread on the threshold floor because this was where the idol of Dagon had fallen. Two related things about this: 1) The falling of their god before the God of Israel did not deter these people from being loyal to their own. Their god had fallen in the threshold and so they do not think it proper to stand where he had touched. The defeat of their god did not cause them to see him as any less worthy of worship. This is their god and even in the face of proof that he is pretty petty, they still remain devout. Their reverence is still very high. 2) This event did not convince them that they would do better to switch allegiances and worship the stronger of the two deities. It actually caused them to adopt a practise that showed greater respect for their fallen god.
Faith, not just the true faith of those who know Jesus Christ, is a very powerful thing. People need something to believe in and it will not always be the truth. But it will give them some help and hope, no matter how false it is. Faith enables people to persevere, endure, hope … . It would be silly to think that only faith in a real God or in real situations is able to help people. How many false messiahs of one variety or another have prophesied the return of Christ, the destruction of the world, the landing of aliens? When their prophecies do not come to pass as they said, they lose very few followers. But they gain explanations from those followers who remain loyal.
The worshippers of Dagon may have come up with explanations as to why Dagon had fallen in the presence of the representation of God. Faith, ultimately, is only as good as its object and that is why the faith of the Dagonites would ultimately betray them. But the fact remains that even in the face of objective proof that Dagon had some power issues, his followers did not give up on him. When Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel many came to their senses and affirmed God as the only true God. But there is no indication that the prophets themselves did as they had their necks bared to Elijah’s sword. We know that it certainly did not change Jezebel’s mind. What greater evidence did she need to prove that Baal was nothing compared to the God of Israel? She needed exactly what anyone needs in order to abandon their gods – an inner working of the Holy Spirit. Abraham told the rich man in hell that even if someone came back from the dead his brothers would not believe. A miracle is not the deciding factor in bringing people to faith. God is. And His chosen method for bringing people to abandon their false gods is the preaching of the Gospel.