Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Eli & Sons : Remember and Honor God

May 24th, 2009 by Vic

1 Samuel 1-4

A big theme in the Bible is remember, honor, or fear God.  The Lord gave us memorials: rainbow (Gen 9:13-16), Passover Feast (Exodus 12:11-14), Manna in the Ark (Ex 16:32), River stones (Joshua 4:7), Scriptures, Lord’s Supper.  These were to remind us of God’s past deliverance so that we can trust Him in our present circumstances.  Judges 8:34 says the people of Israel did not remember the Lord their God, who had delivered them.  They suffered because they forgot.  We suffer when we forget.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the U.S., a time to remember and honor those who were important in our lives.  Some have traced the event back to April 1863, in Columbus, Mississippi when an elderly mother decorated the graves of her two sons who served as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.  Then she went to the graves of two Union soldiers and decorated their graves.  Her friend asked her why she was doing that and she replied, “Somewhere in the North, a mother mourns for them as we do for ours.”  On May 5, 1866, the people of Waterloo, NY placed flowers on the graves of northern soldiers who had died in the Civil War.  In 1868 General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed that May 30, 1868 would be Memorial Day.   Flowers were to be placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.  The South honored their dead on separate days until after WW1 when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died in the Civil War to honoring those who died fighting in any U.S. war – the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WW1, and now WW2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War.  In 1968, Congress changed the date to the last Monday in May.  Now the memorial includes all veterans and loved ones who have died.

The words ‘remember’ and ‘memorial’ are related.  In the Bible to remember something is more than just recalling a fact, a person, or an event.  When God remembered Noah in the Ark, it means that God was acting on Noah’s behalf.  When God remembered Rachel, He was answering her prayer.  When we take communion as a memorial and do it in remembrance of Jesus, it should imply and include resultant action on our part as an answer to Jesus’ prayer.  The memorial should effect how you live in the present as you reflect on the past action of God.  This is more than recalling a fact.  It is more than thoughtless ritual.  It is more than just remembering, but honoring the memory of the person by living in a way that would please them.

I spent a few hours this week reading through the underlines I had in the OT of The Message translation.  I was looking for the word honor or remember.  One little aside was kind of interesting.  “Buyer, don’t crow; seller, don’t worry: judgment wrath has turned the world topsy-turvy.  The bottom has dropped out of buying and selling.  It will never be the same again.  But don’t fantasize an upturn in the market.  The country is bankrupt because of its sins, and it is not going to get any better.” Ez 7:11-13.

As I kept reading, it seemed the whole thing was about remembering God and His activity.  Both Jeremiah 32 and Ezekiel 18 say “The person who honors and obeys God’s word shall live a full and true life.”  Proverbs 14:31 says, “When you are kind to the poor you honor God.”  Haggai 1:12 says that when you listen to God’s word you honor God.

Malachi 1:11-2:2

Our Bible message today is the story of Eli.  He was a high priest who honored his sons more than he honored God and they all died because they turned their back on God’s ways.  God sent an unnamed holy man to warn Eli but he did not repent.  The key verse is 1 Sam 2:30 “God honors those who honor Him.”

The book of Judges told several stories where the people failed to honor God.  They turned away from God.  They served idols and God was angry.  1 Sam 12:20 says “You have sinned, but don’t turn your back on God.”  Face Him.  Repent.  Bow down before Him.  Honor Him as God.

It is interesting that we are remembering Eli today.  He failed to remember.  He failed to repent.  He failed to give honor to the God he ritually worshiped.

1:3  Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, served as the priests of God around the year 1120 b.c.  For them God was a fact, but not a friend.

1:8 Hannah was depressed, in bitterness of soul.  Her husband was arrogant, stupid, and unperceptive.  God never intended for a man to have 2 wives.  There was tension and stress.  Today we would give Hannah an anti-depressant to level out her emotions a little.  The Bible says keep your mind fixed on the Lord and He will keep you in perfect peace.  Hannah trusts in the Lord and does not lean on counselors.  Too many Christians have put their trust in drugs or psychologists.

1:12 Your pastor may not understand you.  Eli judges Hannah but does not judge his own sons.  Eli accuses her of doing what his own sons were doing.  But Hannah’s humble heart evoked a blessing from Eli.

1:17 God spoke through Eli and he was an encouragement to Hannah.  She was no longer depressed and her face was radiant.  A word from the Lord removed her depression.

1:25 A few years later she brings Samuel and a huge offering to Eli to be dedicated to the Lord and the Lord’s work for life.  It sounds like the Nazarite vow that Samson’s mother made.

2:11-21 She did not know that she was leaving him in a wicked situation.  Samuel was dropped off in a Christian school with Eli.  Bad things go on in churches and Christian schools.  Being in church and working in church did not make Eli and his sons spiritual.  But God used him anyway.

His sons did not know the Lord (12) and couldn’t have cared less.  They were ignoring God’s laws and making up new ones to serve their pleasures.  The 3 pronged fork was not part of the law of Moses.  They abhorred or desecrated the offering of the Lord.  They did not honor the Lord’s sacrifices or His ways.

They had a worldly attitude that says I deserve to be served.  Attitudes change in churches and ministries.  Most ministries start with a servant’s heart then too often begin to feel they should be served because they are a worthy cause.  The world says, “Serve me.”  Jesus says, “I came not to be served, but to serve and give my life a ransom for many.”

You’ll know how well you are being a servant when people treat you like one.  The priests, like some church leaders and ministries, were there to fill their bellies with God’s stuff.

Hannah made Samuel a robe just like Eli was wearing.  It was a symbol of authority and responsibility.  Samuel was doing what Eli and his sons should have been doing.  He kept the fires burning.  Samuel grew up with God in a wicked situation with wicked examples (2:21).

2:22-26 The sacrifices were all symbols or pictures of the coming Messiah.  God took the sacrifices seriously.  Eli and his sons did not.  Eli was clueless about what was going on.  He heard the complaints of the people, but seemed to be the last one to know.

The boy Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the Lord and with men (2:26).

2:27-36  God sent a holy man to warn Eli.  You honor your sons more than God (29).  You’ve spared the rod and spoiled the child.  You’ve withheld correction and your sons are wicked.  Yet Eli does not repent and change his ways.

3:1-2  The word of the Lord was rare.  Eli had the law of Moses, but he did not read it.  He was blind and lazy.  Eli had not heard from the Lord because he had not been seeking the Lord.  There was darkness in the temple and in his life.  His ministry was in cruise control.  He had stopped actively pursuing God and His word.  God chose to speak to a 12 year old.  God made Himself sound like Eli.  He could have sounded like thunder or a waterfall or a wind or his mother or anything else.

3:11-15 God tells Samuel what He is going to do to Eli because he did not discipline his sons.  His sin cannot be forgiven.  He is unrepentant.  It’s a done deal.

3:18 Samuel repeats God’s word to Eli and Eli answers, “Let God do what He wants.  God is God.”  It seems so flippant.  God just told him his sons are going to die.  God just told him he was a loser of a father.  He could have repented.  If he would have fallen on his face like Nineveh, God would have forgiven.  He was just apathetic.  He was not really giving out what he had received from the Lord so he did not receive more from the Lord.  Samuel received from the Lord because he was willing to give out.  Peter says we are dispensers of grace.

God’s word and insights into His revelation are not based on accumulation, but on distribution.  God reveals Himself to you when you give it out.  Not information but a cup of cold water.

3:19-21  Samuel is now established as a prophet of the Lord.

4:1 Israel goes to battle with the Philistines and 4,000 die.  They ask themselves, where is the Lord?  He’s in the Ark.  Let’s get the Ark.  Why didn’t they pray?  Why didn’t they ask Samuel?

4:4  Hophni and Phinehas are going to die because they despised the offerings of the Lord.  They did not honor God.  They were in ministry, but had no relationship with God.  They were hirelings in the temple.  They are now defiling the Ark with no thought of consulting God or Samuel.

When the people were in trouble they did not go to the Lord.  They did not want to hear what God might say.  They turned to their good luck charm.  Their own logic said “It will save us.”  But “it” does not save us.  God and His presence save us.  It is His living word that is powerful.  The Bible does not save you.  The church does not save you.  If they had gone to the Lord first, He may have told them to take the Ark and it will represent My presence, but they didn’t.  This was their plan.

The people should have been warned about their stupidity, but the elders and priests were also impotent and out of touch with God.

4:6  The Philistines recognize the Ark and remember the stories.  They have heard.  The world knows a little bit about the Lord, but their understanding is distorted.  The Israelites should have known and could have known God’s ways and how to receive God’s blessing.

4:10 The Israelites were routed.  30,000 died including Eli’s sons.  And the Ark was taken.

4:13 Eli was unconcerned about his sons.  He knew they should not have taken the Ark, but said nothing.

4:18 Eli died.  He was heavy spiritually and physically.  There was heaviness in his heart.

4:21  Actually God had not left them.  God was there obviously in the life of Samuel.  God is just a prayer away.  If this daughter-in-law would have called out to God she may have named her son Judah/praise.

In chapter 5 God chooses to be present in the Ark.  In 6:19 seventy men died because they irreverently looked into the Ark.

Is 29:16 You treat the potter like a lump of clay.  You try to control your maker.

Is 43:23  God says, ”I did not expect expensive presents, but you didn’t even do the minimum.”

Is 51:13  God says, “You’ve forgotten Me the God who made you.”

Amos 4 accuses the people of ignoring God at least 5 times in this chapter.

Malachi 1:6 says we dishonor God with shoddy, sloppy worship.

We are to honor God by the way we walk. (Micah 4:5)  Do justice (be fair to your neighbor), love kindness, and walk humbly with your God (take God seriously). (Micah 6:8)

Can God speak today?  Sure.

1. If you are in a place to hear (your body can be the temple of God)

2. If you are a child

3. If you are willing to get out of bed and go to the place where God is speaking

4. If you are in ministry faithfully maintaining the fire at the altar

To really honor your loved ones this Memorial Day do more than recall the fact of their life.  Remember what you have been given and pass it on.  Be an answer to their prayers.

To really honor God today do more than attend church and recall the fact of His existence.  Remember what you have been given and pass the grace along.  Be an answer to Jesus’ prayer.

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