June 23, 2011 Devotion Time

Submitted by Sunny Kim, Gracepoint Austin.

Reflect on the brazen sinfulness of Eli’s sons.  What special context makes their sin much more than personal moral transgression?

Verse 29: ” ‘Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’” explains why it was such a great sin. Here Eli’s sons were priests, people who were in a privileged position of representing God to the people and yet, they were taking advantage of the people’s offerings and getting fat off of it.

Given that the Bible calls every Christian a part of a “royal priesthood,” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9), what application do Eli’s sons have on my life?

The application Eli’s sons have on me is knowing that I am too am part of a royal priesthood then, I need to accept and realize the reality that my life is under the same kind of scrutiny and subjegation as Eli’s sons. I represent God and His values towards others and I cannot abuse this privileged position God has placed me in and treat others in such blatant ways, disregarding God’s holiness, so that I can advance my own agendas. God sees everything and the little things I do could either lead others to Christ or repel them away from Him.

1 Samuel 2:22-36

What were Eli’s sins and failings?  What lesson is there here about fatherhood and spiritual leadership?

Eli’s sins and failings were that he had known about the offenses of his sons for years, but didn’t do much to intervene. He tolerated this kind of sin (eating the meat that was being sacrificed, sleeping with women at the temple doors, etc) for so long until finally God had to intervene. When Eli finally did respond, his correction was incredibly weak. He didn’t display the proper anger and horror towards his sons’ egregious acts and failed to convey the gravity of their sins to them. His rebuke should’ve caused them to change their ways, but it didn’t.

The lessons here about fatherhood/spiritual leadership are that Eli wasn’t able to separate his parental feelings towards his sons from being their spiritual leader and maintaining God’s holiness in the church. His emotional tie prevented him from responding and swiftly correcting them upon 1st hearing reports of what was happening in the temple. As a parent, I need to guard myself against this temptation – to not gloss over the sins I hear about my kids and not correcting them appropriately and swiftly when I really need to. Loving someone always involves some level of discipline and Eli’s passivity all these years paints a picture of a person who must’ve loved no one really, except for himself. This story always serves a warning to me to never let my own parental love & protective instincts skew the truth in how I see my kids, how they are living, what kind of people they are becoming before God, etc.

Reflect on the fact that Eli’s sons’ sinful conduct went on for years without being stopped.  What lesson about God can I learn from the fact that He allowed such egregious conduct to continue for years, but that, in the end, He punished the family severely?  (cf. Romans 2:4, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”)

Whenever I read this story and reflect on the fact that God allowed the conduct of Eli’s sons to have gone on for years, I am amazed at how deep God’s patience runs. I really saw through this time around how much God was waiting for this family to repent and how He even used Eli first to address them, though he didn’t rebuke them – but to warn them of God’s anger towards what they were doing. But it was to no avail. God could’ve dealt directly with Hophni and Phineas, but He chose to work through Eli first, most likely, so Eli could reflect upon his own passive parenting and lack of spiritual leadership all these years and repent. One takeaway lesson for me is to heed this period of grace I live in and when God prompts me to repent and stop a sinful thought/pattern/behavior, then, to respond right away. To not sit there, contemplating, wondering if I should or not, but to be swift in my repentance for I know God is a holy God and I better change from the err of my ways. I recall R.C. Sproul and his explanation of what happened to Uzzah in 2 Sam. 6 when he touched the ark of the covenant to keep it from falling to the ground. He said that perhaps the story of Uzzah (being swiftly killed) vs. other stories in the bible where God displays His longsuffering patience ( Eli and his sons) is a reminder to not forget God is above all things holy and what happened to Uzzah was the just response from a holy God to humans’ sinful ways  and to never forget that I am living in an age of grace and forbearance by God.

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