Preface: The following article is in two parts. The first is a copy of a letter from the Scottish organisation Rutherford House speaking from the time of Eli and Samuel into the situation in the nation today.
The second piece is a modern paraphrase based on the same biblical time period.
by Nigel Barge
Chairman: Rutherford House
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions (1 Sam 3:1)
Samuel's birth and ministry concludes the rule of the judges. The sad epitaph of this time was that 'every man did as they saw fit in their own eyes' (Judges21:25). There was in effect anarchy — spiritual, moral and social. Within this context, God disciplined Israel through oppression by the surrounding nations, the people then cried for mercy and the Lord delivered. Peace reigned until the people were emboldened once more to ignore God's Word. The result was a cycle of sin, judgement, mercy, peace, sin ......
The Word of the Lord is 'rare' in Scotland in our day. It is not that it is not spoken of, invoked when it suits or even read in parts, it is simply that its authority is ignored and its commands disobeyed.
The now infamous assertion on the floor of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May this year was that 'we know better than the bible now'. Though the Bible is 'the supreme authority' in the church, we seem to be claiming to have reached a state where there is no authority that we acknowledge that is superior to an individual's own reason. This of course is exercised
Are there parallels with Eli's day and today's church in Scotland? Are we not rejecting God's authority in His Word? Are we not under his judgement as the surrounding 'nations' in secular society impose themselves on, and use us for their own ends. If the answer is 'yes', surely there is also hope for us too. Would not God have mercy on us as well if we cry to him for deliverance?
How different is the picture of God's people in the book of Acts. Here the Word was 'plentiful'. In amongst a humble and repentant people, the power of the Holy Spirit was upon the church and the Word of God grew and spread (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:49; 19:20)
In our prayers, as we cry to God for deliverance, it is good for us to imagine what it would be like for God to deliver us and for the Word of God to grow amongst us. May it be so, Lord. Amen?
1 Samuel 2:22 - 36
A Modern Paraphrase
|Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours.
No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the Lord's people.
If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?"
His sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the Lord's will to put them to death.
And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.
Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: 'Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father's house when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh?
"I chose your father out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your father's house all the offerings made with fire by the Israelites.
"Why then do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honour your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?'
"Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and your father's house would minister before me for ever.' But now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me! Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained.
The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line and you will see distress in my dwelling.
Although good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be an old man.
Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.
" 'And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day.
I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.
Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a crust of bread and plead, "Appoint me to some priestly office so that I can have food to eat." ' "
|Many centuries after the Reformation, ministers across the denominations declared that they were living in sexual relationships which were wrong in the sight of the Lord.
So in the courts of these churches it was said: “What are we going to do? This is now public knowledge. It is not good that this is appearing in the newspapers and on television; on Facebook and Twitter. Everyone is talking about it.
"The Bible says it is wrong to do these things; so do not think that there will be any help coming from God."
However those who were living in sin did not listen and the churches let them off with it: but God won't.
But the Lord is bringing a new and younger generation through whom He will speak.
Meanwhile however He is sending a voice of rebuke to the ancient denominations: "I have given you My Word all those years ago; and entrusted you with it."
"Have you forgotten that I raised you up and formed to be My servants in the nations, and provided all that you needed to perform the task: churches throughout and income to support all the work amongst the people.
“So why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you treasuring the denominations that you have created over and above honouring Me? Why have you furnished for yourselves a secure living at the expense of my people?
"Therefore while I had good and lasting plans for your denominations I have now completely changed my mind. I will honour those who honour me, but those who despise My Word will be cast aside and disgraced.
The time is coming when I will ruin all the work of you and your predecessors: you will have no legacy in the lands where I have placed you; and there will be great trouble come upon you.
I will do good things amongst My people; but as for you, anything you do will be blown away.
Those things that are dearest to you, the things of the flesh that you have produced will die. And whatever does survive for a time will only add to your grief.
"All that you had hoped to leave behind you will be shamed and laid low. Your memorial will be in ruins.
But amongst all of this I will raise up those who will listen to me and obey me according to My will. And those that I will appoint in your place will serve Me amongst My people.
In the final analyses you will be humbled; and you will have to plead for and depend on the charity and goodwill of those that come after you even to survive."
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