This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord ’s sight, for they were treating the Lord ’s offering with contempt. – 1Sam. 2:17 NIV.
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Eli who was a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, was the High Priest in Shiloh when Elkannah and his two wives Hannah and Peninnah paid annual visits to the house of the Lord for the purpose of worshipping and offering sacrifices to the Lord – 1Sam. 1:3. He, in the company of his two children as priests, presided over the priestly requirements of the people in Shiloh but the conduct of both children namely, Hophni and Phinehas was becoming unacceptable to the people and to the Lord. The bible records that they had no regard for the Lord (1Sam. 2:12-16) as;
- It was their practice not to wait until the sacrifice was ready before demanding for their portion.
- The portion they took for themselves was not regulated as it was dependent on all that the three pronged fork that they dipped into the sacrifice brought out for them. This is different from the instruction of the Lord that stipulated what the portion of the Priests would be depending on offering brought before the Lord – Lev. 7:28-38.
- They took their portion of the sacrifice without waiting for the fat to be burnt off. This completely negates the instructions of the Lord for no one to eat the fat and blood of sacrificed animals – Lev. 7:22-27.
- They forcefully had their way even when the people tried to caution them on the need for the fat to be burnt before they can take their portion. This definitely brought the name of the Lord into disrepute as all that they did was done in their capacity as Priests of the Most High.
- They were equally sleeping with women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting – 1Sam. 2:22. This seems to be the Almighty God’s way of leading them into destruction due to their earlier acts of disregard for Him.
All the above contravened the guidelines given to the Priests through Moses on how the offerings of the people should be handled by the Priests with specific instructions on how the blood and fat of those offerings must not be eaten just as the share of the priests was clearly specified.
No wonder the Almighty God considered the conduct of the children of Eli a great sin. They were actually treating the Lord’s offerings with contempt – 1Sam. 3:17. It was therefore not surprising to know that the Almighty God decided to reject them as Priests.
There is no doubt that the specific portions of the sacrifices and offerings of the people were allocated to the Priests by the Lord Himself, especially the specific Priest that actually ministered during the offering of those sacrifices (Lev. 6:26) but even then, the Lord expected that the administration of such portions would be done in a manner that will bring honour to Him. The Ministers handling sacrifices and offerings of the people at that time and much more in modern times seem not to be aware of this as they seem to be repeating the same error that the two sons of Aaron in the name of Nadab and Abihu committed – Lev. 10:1-3.
It must be remembered at all times that the offerings, whether brought in fulfilment of a divine ordinance or brought as donations were all done in the name of the Lord. The Priest of God collecting these offerings need to always remember that, but for the name of God that was associated with them, most of those offerings will never come to them in the first place. The one that is also bringing the offering is also doing so either as a way of appreciation for what the Almighty God did through the Priest or in anticipation of a positive response to a request that is being presented. It is therefore important that the emotion of this god is taking into consideration in the course of utilising these gifts and offerings.
That is why the Almighty God granted these advantages to His Priests with clear instructions on how He wants such gifts and offerings administered. Ignorance of these guidelines has no doubt destroyed many Priests today just as it did to Hophni and Phinehas. Many Priests there are today who may be physically alive but are spiritually dead simply because of the mismanagement of offerings made in the name of the Lord. Their spiritual ability is history and sometimes in their attempt to avoid being regarded as “a former spiritual power house”, have back-slidden to source spiritual ability from smaller gods. The Priest who intends to retain spiritual relevance must be very much aware of how to administer offerings so as not to end up like Gehazi (2Kgs. 5:20-27) or the two sons of Eli. It is indeed within the rights of the true Priest of God to receive divinely approved gifts and offerings but it is also important for such to be aware that there is always a guideline for the administration of such gifts and offerings. That is the only way that a right action will not bring a negative repercussion into the life of true servants of the Most High. May God grant us all the wisdom to manage rightly gifts and offerings received in the name of the Almighty God, in Jesus name. Amen.