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Introduction:
This morning we are going to be examining the story of the downfall of the house of Eli.
Eli is a priest, in fact he is functioning as the high priest, he is the spiritual head of all of Israel, and he allows himself to make some pretty bad spiritual decisions that cause God to judge not only Eli himself, but the rest of his family legacy.
That is how bad things got for Eli.
I want to share with you one verse in this story as we begin.
It is the verse that we will be driving towards as we tell this particular story.
1 Samuel 2:30 (KJV 1900) — 30 Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
Eli, made a series of bad spiritual decisions (we would call that sin), that ultimately led him, to despise the very name of God.
How is it, that Eli (and by way of extension any of us) could allow sin to get so bad in his life, that he ended up despising the very name of God?
I. Scene #1- The Big Problem (2:12-17)
A. When we sin we exchange God’s ways for our own ways for selfish reasons (2:12-15)
i.
In the OT Law God had already provided a system for the priests to be provided for.
a. Leviticus 7:34–36 (KJV 1900) — 34 For the wave breast and the heave shoulder have I taken of the children of Israel from off the sacrifices of their peace offerings, and have given them unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons by a statute for ever from among the children of Israel.
35 This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, out of the offerings of the Lord made by fire, in the day when he presented them to minister unto the Lord in the priest’s office; 36 Which the Lord commanded to be given them of the children of Israel, in the day that he anointed them, by a statute for ever throughout their generations.
b.
Hophni and Phineas devised their own methods for getting the very best pieces of meat.
They would send out a servant with a three pronged fork and take exactly what they wanted.
c.
They would even take the meat before the fat was burned.
The fat was usually burned for the Lord.
1. Leviticus 3:5 (KJV 1900) — 5 And Aaron’s sons shall burn it (the fat) on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.
2. Leviticus 7:25 (KJV 1900) — 25 For whosoever eateth the fat of the beast, of which men offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, even the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people.
Hophni and Phineas exchanged God’s ways for their own ways and their motivation was complete selfishness.
They were not satisfied with what God had provided for them.
They wanted more.
What they ended up doing was exchanging their fellowship with God for a piece of meat.
How often is that the reason behind our own sin?
We buy into the lie that our own way is better than God’s way.
But if we stop and evaluate our thinking we surely would see just plain old selfishness at the center of our sin.
B. Sometimes our sin can force others to disobey God, or it can do damage to other’s view of God.
(2:16-17)
i.
The laypeople in Israel were at least trying to get the priests to give the Lord his portion first.
But if they refused the priests would take the offering by force.
ii.
“The MT suggests that the priestly actions were causing the worshipers (Hb.
hāʾănāšîm, “the men”) to look disrespectfully upon the freewill offerings made to the Lord.
Priestly abuse was giving religion a bad name in Israel.”[1]
iii.
It was for this reason, the fact that they were causing the worshipers of God to look disrespectfully upon the offerings of the Lord, that the sin of Hophni and Phineas was VERY GREAT in the sight of the Lord.
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?
Proposition #1- Sometimes we allow sin into our lives because we do not see the seriousness of our sin through God’s eyes
Application: Each young person must diligently seek to see their sin through God’s eyes, they must honestly ask themselves if their life is honoring God above everything or everyone else or if their life is despising God.
II.
Scene #2- The Big Contrast (2:18-21)
A. When we are struggling in our sin it is helpful to remember the spiritual value of walking closely with God (2:18-19)
i. Samuel is sharply contrasted with Hophni and Phineas.
Spiritual Contrast:
“In each of the last three statements, Samuel is described by the root gdl (‘grow, mature, become great’).
Note in 2:17 how the narrator characterizes the sins of Hophni and Phinehas as ‘very great’ [gedolah] in the LORD’s sight.’
Thus, both Samuel and the sons of Eli are ‘great.’
Samuel is becoming a great man of God, while Hophni and Phinehas are becoming great sinners.”
ii.
Yes Hophni and Phineas were indulging in prime rib with the fat still on, but look at what they were missing out on!
No steak is worth that.
Illustration: Deardorf and Hearts
B. When we are struggling in our sin it is helpful to remember the physical value of walking closely with God (2:20-21)
i. Samuel's parents are sharply contrasted with Hophni and Phineas’ parents
As we will see a little bit later Eli was a terrible father to his sons.
But Hannah and Elkanah were godly examples to Samuel.
Hannah’s vow
Elkanah’s approval
Hannah’s prayer
And now in Chapter 2, Samuel's parents receive a blessing from the High Priest in Israel and God chooses to bless them with 5 more children.
And Samuel continues to grow in great in the Lord! (Parents, what an incredible responsibility we have in influencing our children!
Hannah and Elkanah didn’t put anything ahead of God, not even Samuel himself.
Do you think that rubbed off and had an impact on Samuel?)
Wow! What an incredible blessing by God.
God not bound to bless us physically in this dispensation, but often time He does.
What would you be will to trade in exchange for God’s blessing?
Prime Rib?
How is it, that any of us could allow sin to get so bad in our life, that we end up despising the very name of God?
Proposition #2- Sometimes we do not understand the close relationship with God that we give up when we continue in our sin
What are you exchanging right now for your close fellowship and blessing by God?
What is worth more to you than God’s fellowship and blessing?
New car?
Video games?
Sports?
A relationship?
A Job? We give up our close fellowship and blessing by God, we despise the very name of God by continuing in our sin, Why?
Because we don’t understand what we are giving up.
Nothing is worth more than close fellowship with God.
Do you believe that?
III.
Scene #3- The Big Failure (2:22-26)
A. Honoring God sometimes requires us to make very difficult choices (2:22-25a)
i. Eli, when he is very old, hears all that his sons were doing in Israel.
(Why has he not stepped in and dealt with these issues a long time ago?)
ii.
The sins of Hophni and Phineas have progressed to sexual immorality with the women serving at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
a. “Perhaps these women were Nazirites involved in volunteer service at the worship site (cf.
Num 6:2; Exod 38:8); alternatively they may have been cultic prostitutes.
However, they were being treated as though they were pagan shrine prostitutes (cf.
Hos 4:14).”
iii.
Eli does call them on their sin, and gives them a stern warning.
They are sinning not against man only, but against God.
Since their sin is against God who can intercede for them?
It is like going to court against God- does anyone have a chance of winning that kind of court case?
B. Honoring God sometimes requires very difficult consequences (2:25b)
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