I'm reading in first Samuel which is always fun because I love reading about Hannah and how she prayed for a son.
Then I always smile at the part where her husbands says "Aren't I better to you than 10 sons!?" LOL
And who doesn't love how sweet little Samuel thought that Eli was calling him during the night but it was really God?
But what struck me today was how the enemies of Israel seemed to have MORE honor and respect for God than His people did!
Israel was shocked that they lost a battle with the Philistines, so they decided to treat the presence of God like a good luck charm of sorts and brought the ark of the covenant into battle with them. They said "that when it comes among us, it may save us from the hand of our enemies." They completely forgot WHO the ark represented.
It amazed me that even though God's people had forgotten, the Philistines had not! When they saw the ark of the covenant, they cried out
"God has come into the camp! Woe to us!" Now, that is respect!
They brought up the fact that mighty wonders were done by God in Egypt when He sent the plagues and because of that they thought they were toast for sure. ; )
Maybe that honor is part of the reason that God gave them the victory that day instead!
But it really is no wonder that the people had lost their focus on God because they were under some pretty corrupt leadership.
-Hebrews 4:14 refers to Jesus as our Great High Priest. So, glad that He is the One who intercedes for us now! But back then the descendants of Aaron were the priests. Eli was the high priest at this time and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas served under him in the tabernacle.
1 Sam. 2:12 says "Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord." ('know' meaning to fear or obey)
For one thing, and I'd say this is a big one, they "lay with women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle!" Ugh! And chapter 4 tells us that Phinehas was a married man!
Secondly, they were also guilty of letting their greed cause them to rob God and the people during their practices of worship which caused everyone to hate coming to the house of God. (I think that will preach)
The Bible geek in me had to study ALL about the offerings so I could understand this. I'll try to make it brief. The people came to the tabernacle with what were most likely, peace offerings. These were optional offerings being made as 'a vow, a confession or an offering of gratitude.' How beautiful is that?! A portion of these offerings were to go to God, the priests and the worshiper!
The fat was the Lord's portion and was burned up (Lev 3:16) for a sweet smelling aroma to Him. In Lev. 7:31 I learned that "the breast shall be Aaron's and his sons (priests) and also the right thigh you shall give the priest."
The Bible is very specific about how things went down when Eli's sons were in charge of the sacrifices. They took a "three pronged fleshhook" and while the meat was boiling "they thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or cauldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up." No breast or just a thigh for these guys!
It also hit me that the sizes of the animals they could sacrifice varied, so the containers they boiled them in, we see, varied. But that fleshhook didn't vary in size. Imagine how much meat you pull up when you 'thrust' that sucker in a 'kettle'? LOL Probably ALL the meat!
So, the worshiper was being robbed while making their sweet 'vow or confession or offering of gratitude.' How sad.
They also didn't have a problem robbing God. 1 Sam. 2:15 says that they stuck that fleshhook in "before they burned the fat." (which was God's portion) And if the people complained about that, then the servants of the priest would say 'we will take it by force.' v.16 (not very reverent priests)
Here's a sad verse;
"Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord."
Their corruption made people despise going to worship the Lord.
Was Eli an oblivious old man who was busy raising Samuel? No.
"Now Eli was very old and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel..." 1 Sam. 2:22
And Eli said to his sons "Why do you do such things? For I hear of all your evil dealing from all the people."
Eli, obviously worried for their souls, said:
"If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?"
Awesome question! Let's take moment to thank God for Jesus who solved that dilemma for us! Amen?
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus," 1 Tim.2:5 : )
Next it says "Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father."
Personally, I always thought that Eli was ONLY guilty of bad parenting, but we are about to see that that wasn't the case.
If all of Israel hated to come and worship and were complaining about these two priests why would a high priest put up with these two?
The first reason, was because they were related!!! (do we turn a blind eye on what the ones we love are really doing?)
God asked Eli two things.
"Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place,
and honor your sons more than Me to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people."
I always got my soul-searching on for ways in which I may be 'honoring my kids more than God' (ouch!) and never really finished that verse before. What a revelation!
It basically said that Eli knowingly made himself fat with the best of the offerings of the people.
So, he might have slapped their hand for it but was really all for it.
And this would explain why his sons "did not heed the voice of their father." Kids know! Telling them to "do as I say and not as I do" never works.
I know this sounds silly but it made me think he had a weakness for dark meat! LOL
As we read, the priests were suppose to be given was the breasts and a right thigh! But these priests' came up with a new 'custom' one differing from God's.
And oh, how many of our churchy 'customs' keep people farther from the Father instead of drawing them closer to Him?!
So, these guys were extracting WAY more than their God ordained amount. And that wasn't lost on God. He asked why they were making themselves fat with the best of the offerings! Eli's weight literally ended up being apart of his downfall.
"Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate: and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy." 1 Sam.4:18
He honored his sons and his appetites more than he honored God. As a result of this, the people despised going to worship and lost sight of God causing His tangible presence on earth to be captured and taken by a people who didn't know him but honored Him more and remembered His mighty wonders.
Speaking of food, here's a little food for thought, brought to us by Eli:
How do we let our appetites rule us? Do we honor those appetites more than God and turn people off to worshiping Him? Do we let love for our family members come before honoring God?
This study has reminded me that it is lunchtime! ; )
Have a great week!