July 2, 2011

Submitted by Gary Chang,  Gracepoint Davis

One thing from this past week’s DT that really struck me was the importance of God’s honor.  So important is God’s honor that God was willing to allow His own ark of the covenant to be captured by the Philistines, that He was willing to allow Israel to suffer the public disgrace and embarrassment as the result, and that He was willing to terminate the bloodline of Eli and his sons despite the fact Eli had served him for 40 years.  The social religious reality of Israel at the time was that God’s name was dishonored.  It was dishonored among the Israelites as a whole, as in Monday and Tuesday’s DT we were told that the Israelites were not walking in God’s ways and were not obeying the Word of God in their lives.  Instead, as we learned from 1 Samuel 7:3-4, the people were bowing down to foreign gods and idols like Baal and Ashtoreths.  The people were “serving” God in name only, and so they thought that they could manipulate God into granting them victory over the Philistines if they brought the ark of the covenant to the battlefield.  From God’s perspective, this was very insulting, because the people had no regard for His Words and were not interested in any relationship with Him.  Rather they just wanted to use Him to gain victory for themselves.  Worse off, somehow they thought that they can just move around the ark of the covenant, the holy throne of God, around at their disposal as if it’s nothing more than just yet another tool they are using.
In addition to the people, the priests were equally regarding God with dishonor.  Hophni and Phineas were dragging the name and the sanctity of the priestly office through the mud, and Eli their father, though he had served God for 40 years, was too passive as a spiritual leader to do anything about it.  As a result, the wanton acts of Hophni and Phineas went on unchecked, and in the process the name of God was dishonored by His servants who had no regard for Him or His sovereignty.  And what we saw was that God will not allow His name to be dishonored or mocked.  God will uphold His name, even if it meant allowing His own ark to be captured and even if it meant bringing a nation-scale embarrassment and disgrace to His own people as the result.
This serves as a warning to me that in my life I must never dishonor God’s name.  But how do I properly give honor to God?  This week’s DT, in the midst of a sea of negative examples, also gave us a positive example in the prophet Samuel.  In Friday’s DT, we see Samuel erecting the stone memorial Ebenezer to remember the ways in which God has helped the people to defeat the Philistines.  And in v.7:17 we see Samuel also erected an altar in Ramah his home for the Lord.  It seems that Samuel was someone who constantly related important events in life back to God.  When God answered his prayers and brought victory over the Philistines, Samuel did not just take things for granted and move on with his life.  He intentionally paused and erected a memorial so that people would remember that this is where the Lord helped us.  In this way, we see Samuel’s humility before God as someone who remembers God’s faithfulness, who does not take what God has done in providing for his needs or answering his prayer requests for granted.  In addition, though not specifically mentioned here, we also know that Samuel was someone who did not let the Word of God fall to the ground, but who obeyed the Lord in everything.
Thus, part of what it means for me to honor God with my life is for me to likewise be one who obeys the Lord by taking His Words seriously and who remembers the “Ebenezers” of my life so that I can constantly relate all the significant events in my life back to God.  So as I thought about this, the Ebenezers in my life included: Salvation of my life from sin, provision of a job offer after college graduation, provision of a law school near our church, salvation of my grandfather, provision of my job needs after law school and after I passed the Bar, provision of a godly wife in my life, provision of the opportunity for me to go serve in Taiwan, provision of the ideal job for ministry in Taiwan that was both flexible and close by to the campuses, allowance for us to stay there and serve beyond our one-year term, provision of the Faraday job after my return to the U.S. so that we still have some income, and most recently His provision of a precious daughter to us!  Each of these is an Ebenezer in which God faithfully provided for my prayer request, and I would do well to always remember these ways in which I received help from God, so that I may give Him always the proper honor, praise and gratitude and He deserves.
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