By: Burning Bush Boy
Author’s Advice: Kindly let me suggest that if you are reading this article, God or His Ark, please do well to also read its sequel, Deaconess Phinehas, in this same bulletin. Thanks.
To those who think the Bible is a dead book without any relevance to modern day happenings, I wish this article and its sequel will bring out the truth you’ve always loved to suppress. Indeed, what you call historical and probably, outdated, is sincerely very appropriate in and for all ages.
The story at hand is that of Prophet Eli and his family. You will easily recall that Eli was the High Priest in Israel, whose hands the young boy, Samuel, was raised. Reading through his story, I was exposed to many lessons, but on this platform, his death and indeed, the circumstances leading to it shall be our focus.
Eli was blessed with two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, first introduced to us in 1 Sam. 1:3 as Priests of the Lord, because, of course, they served in the Temple at Shiloh with their father. Shortly afterwards, the same Bible re-introduced them, maybe more properly now in I Sam. 2:12, as sons of Belial, affirming that THEY KNEW NOT THE LORD. That’s ironical!
How do you have priests of the Lord not knowing the Lord they claim to be serving? By implication, while they both served God, so to say, God could not call them His own sons. They were priests by title, but by spiritual birth, they were sons of Belial/Demon – not sons of God.
The Bible has it that before God would take His portion of the daily sacrifices in the temple; Eli’s sons would have forcefully taken theirs. In one word, they rated themselves far and above God. In fact, they played God and obviously, the true God of Israel didn’t like this.
Since God won’t hide His feelings, He took steps to register His displeasure with their father, Eli. In turn, Eli took a step to reprimand his children, but sadly they rejected their father’s correction. Seeing that nothing changed, God made another attempt. This time around, He got a man to speak to Eli of his imminent destruction; but Eli could not just stop his children from defiling the altar of the living God.
As obstinate as these priests were, God did not give up as we saw the third and final attempt to rescue Eli and his family from destruction coming through Samuel. Though a little boy, Samuel relayed God’s message so clearly to Eli; it was the same warning message. You could say Eli was frustrated as he responded (exploded) – “He is GOD. Let him do whatever He thinks best.” I Sam. 3:18 TM.
At this point, it was apparent Eli had given up; no longer interested in chiding his children for whatever they did. With his reply, he was giving God the go-ahead to do whatever, as in WHATEVER, He wishes. You know, I was so interested to find out how well Eli was prepared to handle whatever would come from God. I got fascinated seeing a man daringly bold to face the consequence of his actions or would you say inactions. Was Eli that prepared for The WHATEVER of God? Time will tell!
So what am I driving at?
What you have read so far cannot be different from what you see, hear or read about every day. Is it? Just as in the Bible days, we still have so-called priests of God feeding sumptuously on the people of God. I stand to be corrected, but do you not know of Servants of God who are more of God than servants?
Anyway, the day of reckoning, which God so much tried to avoid, eventually came upon Eli and his family. The Philistines battled against Israel and unexpectedly, Israel, God’s prince, lost the battle. When they did, I expected Israel to run back to God to find out why they were defeated just as Joshua did in Jos. 7:6-9, but instead, the elders reasoned they needed to bring God’s Ark with them to the battlefield.
You want to call this a wise decision? I won’t!
What help will God’s Ark in your camp possibly bring to you when God is personally the enemy standing to fight you? In the case of Joshua, the little town, Ai, defeated Israel and Joshua felt it shouldn’t be. He could have opted to fetch the Ark of God as he prepared for a re-fight, but instead of doing that he first approached God. He wanted to know why Israel fell and right away, God told him it was because of the sin of Achan – one of the few trusted soldiers on duty.
You don’t go thinking the Ark of God will save you when you haven’t reconciled your differences with the God of the Ark. The Bible under your pillow or in your car with a life of complete disobedience will lead you nowhere. Days of fasting and prayer on the mountain with a life packed with disobedience to the word of God will land you nowhere. Honestly, I think we should stop wasting our time quoting God’s word over a situation when our lives stand in total variance to the Word personified.
As expected, Israel lost the re-match with the Philistines. And guess what, the Ark of God they relied so much upon for victory was captured and sadly, Eli’s two sons/the Lord’s priests, also died in the battle. What a tragedy!
When such happens, people go querying God. “Why should God allow this terrible incident to happen to His servant? Olorun, eleyi o da o! (God, this is not good at all).” Well, to think that God tried everything to prevent this from happening until Eli gave Him the go-ahead to do His wish is undeniably tragic!
If I may ask, which of the two sad incidents do you consider the real tragedy? Is it the captured Ark of God or the death of Eli’s children? While you’re thinking of an answer to give, let me surprise you by informing you that Eli would rather lose his two sons than lose the Ark of God in his care to the filthy Philistines. Surprised? Some father!
When the news of the perished soldiers, including those of his two sons got to Eli, he amazingly kept his cool. “And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the Ark of God is taken. (I Sam. 4:17)
We saw him boldly receiving the news of those who died, but when he heard of the captured Ark of God, he collapsed and died in the process.
“And it came to pass when he made mention of the Ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate and his neck brake and he died…”I Sam. 4:18KJV
Did you get that? Will you please read the above passage again, particularly the underlined phrase?
The moment they made mention of the Ark of God, Eli fell down and broke his neck. He, therefore, died, not for his dead children, but for the captured Ark of God. Imagine! How come Eli loved the Ark of God more than the God of the Ark?
Honestly, I wish he had collapsed earlier in repentance before God, but instead, he stood tall and spoke bold. You hardly have this kind of attitude and survive it. Eli dared God when he should have cried and begged for mercy. Even when his children did not budge, he should have made it known to God that he was indeed sorry that His name and glory were being abused by his two sons. Fairly, if he had presented himself remorseful before God, he would have been helped.
If you will humble yourself before God and agree with Him that whatever He says is sinful is without a doubt sinful, He will surely help you out of it. Where is your love tilted? Eli loved and even died for the Ark of God without understanding that you can love the Ark of God without any regard for God, while you cannot love God without regarding His Ark.
How come we ‘love the Bible’ (not the words therein o) more than God? A man will almost fast and pray for forgiveness should the Bible falls off his hand to the floor, but this same man remains unperturbed living a fallen lifestyle; a life constantly disagreeing with the content of the same Bible. He will buy and keep buying expensive and different translations of the Bible without regarding Christ, the Author and Finisher of our Faith.
A religious person is known to greatly disobey God, while he largely honours God’s house. He will bow before entering God’s physical building, which we call the Church, but because he lacks the understanding that his body is the temple of God, he will stand tall against this same God in other places not so demarcated as Church.
While it may not be wrong to honour our Men of God, all is wrong when we do not know and honour the God of these men. A man will not do certain things before his pastor, but foolishly, he does these same things before the ever present, but unseen God. His pastor, he adores; his God, he abhors. Where is your love tilted? Who do you really love? Who will you die for?
Again, I wish to say that the right time for Eli to have fallen off his chair was when he heard of his sons’ lifestyle and eventually, about God’s looming judgment. Sadly, instead of appeasing God, he pissed God off by proudly uttering: “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Ah! That was rude!
Excuse me, but the truth is that you cannot change God from being more interested in your lifestyle than in your services to Him. Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, “Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it…” I Tim. 4:16
Eli’s act of omission and his sons’ act of commission, made many to despise the offerings of God. The people loathed going to the temple the same way many are still despising the things of God because of the unfortunate lives overseeing God’s affairs in His Holy Temple.
The modern day Hophni and Phinehas are continually making God’s fellowship with His children offering-centered; it’s all about giving money. It is, therefore, not surprising that the people are now scared of attending Church meetings, because we have made Jesus less appealing to them. To those outside, Jesus is a gold digger; a money freak and a mere founder of a religion without any integrity. Baba, dariji wa!
Ask me and I will honestly say that I personally believe that Eli shouldn’t have died. God tried so much to save him from death, but he was too weak to handle the situation. He should have lived, but he probably spoke harshly out of frustration and he paid for it. He should have lived, if only he had that understanding that while God may appear quiet seeing the abuse in the Church, no culprit will eventually miss His day of reckoning.
Brethren, please don’t die for the Ark of God when you have not learnt how to first live for the God of the Ark. Your services to God will not save you when God has a query over your lifestyle. The Ark of God may fail you, but the God of the Ark cannot. Be wise!