June 28, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Carol Chou, Gracepoint Berkeley

1 Samuel 4:11

What can I learn about what God values from the fact that He allowed “the ark of God” to be so disgracefully captured by the Philistines? That God allowed the ark of God to be so disgracefully captured by the Philistines shows that God values the integrity of His people – for them to learn that they can’t use His name to win battles then forget about Him every other day and disregard their covenant with Him. God did not value so much the ark – the token – itself, but what it symbolized – His covenantal relationship with them through the laws that He had given them to keep. He was not concerned about how the Philistines would rejoice over this victory and be proud that they were able to defeat the “gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert” (4:8). He was still God, still in control, not insecure because He would eventually display His sovereignty through David who did honor His covenant.

If there is a situation in which obedience to God’s word or seeking His honor will also lead to a public embarrassment to the reputation of Christianity, what should be done? If there is a situation in which obedience to God’s Word or seeking His honor will also lead to a public embarrassment to the reputation of Christianity, we must obey rather than hide, honor integrity for God sees what is really going on. Embarrassment to the reputation of Christianity is a shame and unfortunate, but it’s nothing God cannot handle, redeem, or outshine with the truth of the gospel and what Christ did for sinners on the cross for those very embarrassments that we are willing to acknowledge and repent of.

1 Samuel 4:12-22

Eli’s sin as the spiritual leader of Israel was not that he did not know what was right and wrong, nor that he did not care enough.  It simply was that he did not have the will and strength of character to take action according to his beliefs, i.e., passivity.  Reflect on the outcome of Eli’s passivity.  How was God’s name dishonored and who are the people who suffered the consequences of his passivity?

Eli knew that what his sons did was wrong and shameful, yet he merely scolded them without properly communicating God’s holiness, and therefore His wrath and outcry against sin, and the depth of their sinfulness and rebellion against God. He failed to use his authority as a father and as the high priest to show them the consequences of violating God’s honor and the privileges and responsibilities of the priesthood.

Eli’s passivity toward the people of Israel, failing to instruct them in the Word of God, reminding them of who God is through His character and history with them, and why He is worthy of their worship and obedience to His laws, led to the people’s disregard for God’s law and becoming users of God only in a time of crisis. They were disconnected from God’s covenant with them, a relationship with God. Trying to take advantage of God’s name led to their disgraceful defeat to the Philistines and loss of the ark of the covenant.

Eli’s passivity in not knowing anything about the people or even his sons led to their shameful sins against God, His holiness, and other people as they took advantage of their position to get the best for themselves with complete disregard for God. Eli had to find out from others what deplorable things his sons were doing and failed to punish them appropriately which caused them to be even more hardened and desensitized to sin. They were so deluded that they thought carrying the ark of the covenant would get God on their side to win the battle against the Philistines even though they had brought shame to God through their sinful acts. Eli’s sons suffered from the consequences of Eli’s passivity as he failed to be a mirror to them and teach them to connect their sins back to God and see their wrong, feel horrified by how they had violated God’s honor and repent. Eli’s passivity with his sons led to the embarrassment of losing the ark to the Philistines.

 

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