1 Samuel 1:9-4:11
Now that we have a little respite from the doom and gloom of the history of the Nation of Israel it is time to get back into it. The last two days have been a breath of fresh air as two days ago we read about Ruth (and now for something completely different) and yesterday we had some genealogies with a quick lesson from Jabez’s Prayer (Ok, so everything is not so original).
Today we get back into the mix of a nation and its people disappointing their Lord. Today we gain some insight into sons that have gone completely bad. Today we learn about Eli, the High Priest of Israel and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas.
During this time Eli was the High Priest for Israel. He is of the line of Aaron and is charge of the temple. We learn some things about his sons:
From 1 Samuel 2 (NLT)
12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests.
22 Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God[n] can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.
Can you imagine that it had gotten so bad that their own father was planning to put them to death.
While reading these passage we learned that they abused the offerings that people made to take the best parts for themselves. The Levite priests were allowed to receive a portion of the offerings for their own subsistence. But there were clear rules on what they could take an how. The sons of Eli were abusing those rules and we read this:
I Samuel 2 (NLT)
17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt.
Offerings in the Old Testament and in the New Testament are treated as returning to God what he has given to us. For example, if an Israelite was a farmer, he gave the first 10% of his crop back to the Lord. As a dedication of and thanks offering for what the Lord had done for him. He the Israelite was a sheep herder, he offered the first born sheep each season.
Today in our churches we take an offering each Sunday at church. We often hear people praying for the offering saying something like this, “Lord, thank you for all that you have given us. Now we want to return to you and your work a portion of what we have received.” It is our offering back to the Lord.
Jesus once taught a little parable on this very topic in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14 – 30.
But the challenge for us today is to look at our offerings. God gives many things to us – He gives money, He gives talents, He gives opportunities. How are we using all that He gives us. Do we treat them with contempt? Do we return to Him his proper portion. Or, are we like Hophni and Phinehas, treating the Lord’s offerings with contempt?
Some questions to ask yourself:
Has God given me a skill or talent that I should be using for His ministry?
Has God given me financial wealth that I should be using to further His Kingdom?
Has God given me opportunities to meet the needs of others, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual, and have I ignored those opportunities?
Remember, it is all His anyways, we are only entrusted with it for awhile while here on earth.
Luke 12:47 – 48 (NLT)
47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.