Thursday, April 11, 2013

Eli the Priest could have done so much more for God!

The Ark of the Covenant
Beautiful, isn't it?  The Ark of the Covenant?  The ark that holds the Ten Commandments from God!  It just seems to exude holiness, might and power that comes from God.  Designed wholly, holy and soley by God it is not something to be taken lightly.  Let's take a journey to the past.
You have the first five books of the Bible.  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  Followed by Joshua, Judges and Ruth.  Then we get into the story of Samuel.  This is a wonderful story of the boy prophet of God.  But prior to this time we see a great picture of a woman and a priest.  The woman is Hannah.  Samuel's mother was barren and had no children.  So she went to the tabernacle to pray to God for a man-child and she says she will give her child to the Lord to be in service to Him all his days.  While she is praying, we meet up with the Priest, Eli.  He observes Hannah praying.  She is praying within herself, moving her lips but not speaking out loud.  Eli perceives that she is drunken.
Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.  1 Samuel 1:13-14
Eli was very direct with her.  Sounds like he was even kind of stern with her.  Now, let's consider something.  If you were a priest in the tabernacle and you saw someone bent over, being quiet and just moving their lips, would you consider them to be drunk?  Wouldn't the normal reaction be if someone was loud and obnoxious, they would seem to be drunk?  Not someone who was quietly staying still while praying.  To me, there is a discernment issue here on his part.  Now, we will move ahead just a little bit to two other people that he confronts and see how his discernment looks with them.
Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.   Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.  Nay, my sons; for [it is] no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.  If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.  1 Samuel 2:12, 17, 22-25
At first look, it appears that Eli says the right things to his two sons, but when you look closely at it, it is very much a soft rebuke.  As the priest in the tabernacle, and his sons would have been priests too, he should have been much more stern with them.  It almost sounds like he had a stern approach with a woman praying and not with two men having sex with women in the tabernacle.  True, Eli is an old man here, but it seems like he allowed his two boys to get away with quite a bit in the tabernacle, God's holy place!  How sad to think that many of today's churches allow too much tom-foolery in their buildings.
There is so much to tell in this book of the bible.  I am overlooking a ton of information on Samuel and who he was and what he did.  Please forgive me on this one, I will attend to the scriptures soon again on Samuel.
As we get into the 4th chapter of 1 Samuel, we learn that the Philistines are going into battle against Israel.  Israel is losing so they take drastic measures...
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.  1 Samuel 4:3
Time to pull out the bag of tricks.  The Ark of the Covenant will save the day!  The problem is, guess who the ark was with.  The two sons of Eli, the ones that did not serve the Lord, the ones who desecrated the tabernacle with their unholy actions and attitudes.  The ones that received an ever so slight rebuke from their father the priest. 
And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.  And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.  1 Samuel 4:10-11
The Ark of the Covenant is in the hands of the Philistines now.  Why?  Because Israel did not follow after the counsel of God.  Israel has a long history of doing things their own way.  When a man runs back to Shiloh, to the city where the tabernacle is, along with Eli...
And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.   1 Samuel 4:18
And thus, the actions of the priest, Eli, come to an end.  No wait, there is one more thing.
The wife of his son was pregnant during this time.  When she found out that her husband was dead as well as Eli AND that the Ark of the Covenant was taken she went into labor, gave birth and died.
And what was the name of her son?
Ichabod --
the glory of the Lord is departed.
This is such a sad end to what could have been an awesome history lesson.  This could have been a story of Eli, the man who disciplined his two sons at an early age and kept them in line.  The two boys might have been true followers of God, the Ark might not have been taken (it was returned later).  Samuel, still could have been an awesome Prophet of God, a judge of the people. 
How about you?  Are you making decisions today based on what God says you should be doing?  Or are you doing things your own way?  I believe that Eli was most likely a good man but I truly believe that he could have done so much more for God!

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