So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord ; let him do what is good in his eyes.” – 1Sam. 3:18 NIV
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The devotional today is a sequel to the Devotional titled “Avoid Mismanagement Of Offerings” where the mismanagement of the offerings of the Israelites by Hophni and Phinehas led to the Almighty God rejecting them as His Priests – 1Sam. 1:12-17. Although Eli, despite his old age, cautioned his children, especially with regards to their sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, letting them know the danger of sinning against the Lord in comparison to sinning against man, they both refused to listen to him as it seemed the Almighty God had resolved to put them to death – 1Sam. 2:22-25.
All their negative acts with regard to the offerings made to the Lord by the people had been going on for a while and definitely to the knowledge of Eli, the High Priest who seemed not to have taken any step to stop his children from their disrespectful acts towards the Lord.
The visit of a man of God to inform Eli of the discontent of the Almighty God did not have any effect either – 1Sam. 2:27-29. He had on that visit informed Eli that the Lord regarded him as an accomplice in the scorning of the sacrifice and offerings that He prescribed for His dwelling, with his decision to honour his children more than Him, the Almighty God. This dishonour was with regards to how they chose to fatten themselves on the choice parts of every offering made by the people. The Lord had therefore decided to;
- Rescind His decision to have Eli and his father’s house retain the Priesthood forever since He would only honour those who honour Him – 1Sam. 2:30. It was obvious that Eli preferred to honour his children rather than the Almighty God.
- Cut short his strength and that of his father’s house such that there will be no elderly in their lineage again – 1Sam. 2:31. This was the Lord’s way of saying that there will be no one who live into advance age like Eli in his lineage again.
- Make him and his family experience distress right inside the temple – 1Sam. 2:32. It was the Lord letting Eli know that the same people who have made him and his family comfortable with their gifts and offerings will make life become unbearable for them.
- Whoever was left of his descendants will be spared only to experience sadness and grieve as all his descendants were going to die in their prime – 1Sam. 2:33. That should be expected in a family that is always going to experience one sad event after the other.
- As a sign of the commencement of this prophecy, his two sons will both die in one day – 1Sam. 2:34. This came to pass as prophesied when the Philistines attacked Israel and defeated them and in the process captured the Ark of God – 1Sam. 4:1-11.
- They will be replaced by a faithful priest who will act according to the Will of God, who will firmly establish the house of God and will minister before God’s anointed – 1Sam. 2:35. He had arranged for their replacement even when they were still alive and active.
- It is to this faithful priest of the Almighty God that everyone left in the family of Eli will come and submit to, pleading to be fed and allowed to perform a priestly duty so that they can eat – 1Sam. 2:36. In the same situation where they use to give instructions, they will become servants pleading to be found worthy of playing a role.
It would have been expected that any true Man of God who still valued his Call and a good father who cared about his lineage and heritage would have acted in some way or the other to at least attempt to appease the Lord, but that was not the case with Eli, who seemed to have resolved that consideration for the comfort of his children was always going to have priority over the things of the Almighty God.
At this point, the Almighty God is left with no choice other than to replace the incumbent Priest and that was what he set out to do.
This was just around the time that Hannah who although had been visiting Shiloh annually and praying for a child, was making a vow to give the son back to the Lord as a priest, if only He will grant her request for a son – 1Sam. 1:10-11. It became a case of a human request meeting with the desire of the Almighty God and the Lord, on this occasion, promptly granted her request. She too did not renege on her vow as she immediately returned the child to the Lord as soon as he was weaned. This implies that Samuel was between eighteen months and five years, according to the Jewish tradition regarding the weaning of children, when he started ministering before the Lord as a Priest – 1Sam. 1:24-28. Thus at that tender age, Samuel became a priest and started wearing the linen Ephod of Priests of the Almighty God – 1Sam. 2:18. The plan for the replacement of the disrespectful Priests by the Lord was on course.
The defiant nature of Eli became more glaring when the Almighty God called out to Samuel to let him know about His plans for him and the Priesthood in Shiloh, and Eli out of curiosity asked Samuel what he was told by the Lord. Samuel out reverence told him what the Lord said – 1Sam. 3:15-17. It was the Almighty God informing Samuel on why a change was necessary in the Priesthood and His decision to perform a very great act that will tingle the ears of anyone who hears and which no sacrifice or offering will be able to atone for. This is because despite letting Eli know about how discontented he was with the conduct of his children and His intention to judge his family because for that, it meant nothing to him as he still failed to restrain his children – 1Sam. 3:11-14.
The scripture for today’s Devotional is the response of Eli to his awareness of the communication between the Almighty God and Samuel and in a defiant manner, he asked the Lord to do whatever he desires. Simply put, he could not bothered or interested in whatever the Lord chooses to do as He is the Lord.
There are many Christians today who react to the Lord in a manner similar to that of Eli and how he reacted to the expressed discontent of the Lord with the regards to the conduct of himself and his children. It is more like, “do all you can do” as they are resolved not to obey him or submit to his Will. They simply choose to defy the Almighty God and damn all the consequences. They are simply a huge source of problem for the people who have the misfortune of having them as their leader. This is because they seem to have taken full side with the devil and are eager to take along with them to hell as many innocent followers as possible. They usually do end up badly like the way Eli and his entire lineage ended up but not before taking the followership through a very turbulent period of their lifetime – 1Sam. 4:10-18. For one who had led the people for forty years and all that was probably required was for him to show remorse in order to save his people from pain and hardship, he chose an option that took the lives of thirty thousand innocent foot soldiers and threw the entire nation into mourning and darkness as the Ark of God which is the symbol of strength and the presence of the Lord amongst His people was captured by the Philistines – 1Sam. 4:5-22.
Although the Israelites could not dissociate themselves from the leadership of Eli at that time, same cannot be said of Christians today who have the freedom to dissociate themselves from a leadership that has decided to be defiant to the Lord. The follower who does not intend to be a victim of wrong spiritual leadership must be very clear about what the Almighty God desires and where this is not visible in the leadership, must either bring such derailing to the attention of the leadership in a non-rebellious manner or quietly dissociate from such leadership. Many leaders there are today who through allegiance to other creations or things outside the Almighty God are willing to sacrifice, not only their destiny but that of all their gullible followers and it remains the responsibility of each person to guide his/her soul.
Do not be too trusting or reliant on any one but the Lord. Test all pronouncements and actions of all people including leaders using the scriptures as the standard and hold on to the truth – 1Thess. 5:21. That remains the only way that you will not be led into physical and spiritual destruction. May God grant us wisdom to know who to follow for the sake of the survival of our body and soul in Jesus name. Amen.