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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Anquish Of Eli

The Book of Samuel speaks of a Priesthood that had fallen into disarray. Two sons of the High Priest were corrupt; taking the best of the offerings and sacrifice the people were giving to God and consuming them for themselves. The position of the priesthood and the assigned duties had fallen so far that these two Priests were even laying with the young women who made the yearly pilgrimage to the Temple.

Given the condition and scandals of some national ministries in the United States, I thought and compared it with the condition of Israel in Eli's day. The historical facts in the Bible are to be a blueprint and a guide for us. Mankind has not changed; the human willingness to walk away from the things of God has increased.

God sent a small child, Samuel, to correct the condition of the Priesthood. Eli had been warned repeatedly to correct the situation with his two sons. At one time this elderly man had to hear the voice of God or he would not have risen to the Priesthood. What happened?!

Samuel's mother, who was barren for years, asked God for a son. In her sadness and heaviness of heart she promised God that she would dedicate her son to the Temple as soon as he was weaned. And she did. Little Samuel in the middle of such corruption! Laying in bed one evening he heard a voice; he thought it was the voice of Eli, the High Priest. Three times little Samuel inquired of Eli what he wanted. Eli finally realized that it was God calling out to Samuel. If Eli knew it was God calling; that God Himself was in one of the hallways or rooms of the Temple, he did not care enough to rise up out of bed himself to see what He wanted?

Is it possible that Eli already had a sense of what God was going to say? Did he not want to hear it for himself? Was he afraid or did he just not care. I am reminded of the Children of Israel in the Wilderness when God appeared on the mountain and they grew fearful and afraid of His voice and His appearance. They all cried out for Moses to go to speak with Him and to come back and tell them what He had said. Why the fear? What were they hiding? Did they have a sense that God could see through the things they were hiding in their hearts and spirit? They felt comfortable and confident that they could pick apart what Moses said; but they could not face God Himself.

Is there something in my spirit that fears to approach God? When I hear His voice speaking to my spirit do I already know what He is going to say, and roll over in my bed and just fall asleep? I can identify with Eli and his two sons because I am a former ministers son. I can identify with the people coming to the temple to offer sacrifice and being confronted with ungodly, wicked Priests because I have seen it in my lifetime in newsprint and on television and on the news in my day.

Is anyone listening for the still small voice of God? Does anyone hear? Is everyone just rolling over in their place of rest because they already know what He is going to say? Eli confronted Samuel the next morning and demanded from him what God had said. This elder High Priest, who had neglected to discipline his sons told little Samuel that if he did not tell him everything, may the same thing happen to him that Eli knew was going to happen to his household. Eli knew, because he was told that those that honor God would be honored by Him; those who despise Him shall be lightly esteemed.

Soon thereafter, in one hour the house of Eli fell; his two sons were killed in battle, the Ark was captured by the Philistines and Eli fell over from his chair and broke his neck and died. There is no record that Eli cried out to God for forgiveness. There is no record that he ever took his sons outside of the gates of the city to have them stoned because of their rebellion against God and the shame they had brought to God's House. One of Eli's sons had a child born and his wife called the child ICHABOD meaning The Glory Is Departed from Israel. The Eli Priesthood fell, never to arise again.

God is serious about His holiness. He said He is holy, so we are to be holy.

The "not caring" attitude is deadly. Can one become so comfortable in their relationship with God that they take Him for granted? Is it possible to think that He is just like us? Is it possible as it says in the book of Isaiah to kindle our own fire and live by its light; far removed from the light of God?

What was the background of little Samuel? I think the prayer of Hannah, his mother gives great insight. This woman, so distressed, forsaken and barren, in the middle of a Priesthood that was corrupt and full of everything that stood against God, sought after, found, and experienced God for herself. She did not have to have someone do it for her! Her prayer is in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 ~

" My heart rejoiceth in the LORD,
mine horn (strength) is exalted in the LORD:
my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies;
because I rejoice in Thy salvation."

" There is none holy as the LORD;
for there is none beside Thee:
neither is there any rock like our God."

" Talk no more so exceeding proudly/
let not arrogance come out of your mouth:
for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
and by Him actions are weighted."

" The bows of the mighty men are broken,
and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
They that were full have hired themselves out for bread;
and they that were hungry ceased:
so that the barren hath born seven;
and she that hath many children is waxed feeble."

" The LORD killeth,
and maketh alive:
He bringeth down to the grave,
and bringeth up."

" The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich:
He bringeth low and lifteth up.
He raiseth up the poor out of the dust,
and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill,
to set them among princes,
and to make them inherit the throne of glory:
for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S,
and He hath set the world upon them. "

" He will keep the feet of His saints,
and the wicked shall be silent in darkness;
for by strength shall no man prevail."

" The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
out of heaven shall He thunder upon them:
the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth;
and He shall give strength unto His king,
and exalt the horn of His anointed. "

The insight and understanding of Hannah! And the High Priest, one who should be first to hear the voice of God thought she was drunk when she first appeared at the temple.

Do I hear the voice of God for myself; or do I depend upon another? If He spoke to a small child, should He not speak to me? If I hear Him in the still of the night will I arise and listen, or say as the Beloved in the Song of Solomon that I have already retired for the evening and will listen later at a more convenient time? Do I go to a priest, a minister or deacon for a word from God or do I pass through for myself?

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