Thursday 23 July, 2020

1 Samuel 6.13-7:2a

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron. 17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. 19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” 21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.” 7 1 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all.

This passage is the end of a fascinating story. The Philistines had just learnt the hard way, that God is holy. To treat God as less than holy was to invite the terrible consequences they experienced. So, they returned the Ark of the Lord to Israel. Now the Israelites are also reminded that God is holy.

The Israelites see the Ark returning on a cart, no one leading it, but the cows pulling the cart directly to their village. Naturally, there was a celebration. The cows were sacrificed, burnt offerings made, some Levite men set the Ark on a rock, it’s all going well until seventy men decided to have a look inside the Ark and died. The Lord’s holiness killed them.

There are no excuses, the Levite men should have known the Law and God’s clear instructions regarding the Ark. God is a holy God. His Word must be obeyed always. No exceptions, sin can not live in the presence of a holy God. Both the Philistines and the Israelites found this out. The people of the village cried out, “who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?”

Ps 119 opens with this, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord”. (NLT)

I am reminded that we don’t obey God’s law out of fear, but because of our relationship with him, his great love for us, we are now made holy though the sacrifice of Jesus, allowing us into His presence. Blessing, wisdom and joy follow.

Father, your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Written by Andrew Martin

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  1. Linda Stengl says:

    Thanks for sharing , Andrew.
    So heartening to be reminded of God’s awesome power.
    In a world full of here and now, I am thankful to lift my eyes to Eternity. Grace and mercy in Jesus.

    Reply

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Wednesday 22 July, 2020

1 Samuel 6:1-12

6 When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.” 3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.” 4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? 7 “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8 Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9 but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.” 10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

The Ark of the covenant was spoils of war, captured in battle. The Philistines had it by rights, however it wasn’t right for them to have it. My question is this….what is there in my/your life (hurt/resentment/self righteousness/being right/pride) which you feel is rightfully yours but which brings no peace or joy? In fact, if you are honest this thing is eating away at you, bringing destruction. We need to be prepared to examine what is within us and give back to God anything that we feel justified in hanging on to, but which is slowly destroying us or the relationships around us. It might not be gold tumours and rats, but some things can gnaw away at us just the same. This was not a question of entitlement but rather a question of what was demanded by the Most High God. The philistines had to let the ark go and show God they were sorry, maybe it’s time for us to examine ourselves and do the same. 

Heavenly Father show me anything which you need me to let go. Give me the strength Lord to lay down the things I hold on to, but which bring destruction. I pray for healing and peace in my thoughts and in my relationships. In Jesus name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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Tuesday 21 July, 2020

1 Samuel 5:1-12

5 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold. 6 The Lord’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?” They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel. 9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron. As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

Is Jesus number one in my life? I might say he is and I may portray that on the outside, but is he really? What other idols have I set up in my heart that are sitting right next to Jesus? Family, money, control, worry. ‘Dagons’ come in many forms. 

Here’s the thing though, God’s presence, the Ark, should have bought blessing to the Philistines. That’s what happened years later when the Ark was moved to Obed-Edom’s house (see 2 Samuel 6:11). Instead the Ark bought tumours and death. Why? What was different?

God wasn’t first. 

And that happens in my life too. It’s Jesus, but also family. Jesus, but also money. Jesus, but also my sin of choice. I have invited Jesus into my heart where I expect him to co-exist with Dagon. And then I wonder why blessing and answers to prayer don’t come!

Lord help me remember that you told me to not have any other God but you. Help me do the hard heart work – to tear down and break up the idols in my life. To make you Jesus, first.  Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen


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Monday 20 July, 2020

1 Samuel 4:12-22

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry. 14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?” The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.” Eli asked, “What happened, my son?” 17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years. 19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

What a sad tale this is. You certainly cannot dismiss the bible for glossing over the harsh realities of life!

In one day Israel lost the Ark of the Covenant to their enemies (their symbol of God’s presence),  Eli the High Priest died (their spiritual leader), and Eli’s sons and daughter in law also died (their legacy).  

Although this story is a sad and tragic chapter in the history of God’s people, fortunately it is not the end of the story.

Through Jesus, we see that God has redeemed all 3 of these terrible losses:

  1. Many years later, God would send us Jesus, the perfect and eternal High Priest.  Hebrews 10:11-14 says “Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people.
  1. As for the Ark of the Covenant, we do not need a literal Ark to contain the presence of God, because His presence now lives within us by His Holy Spirit.
  1. And lastly, we are not confined to a legacy that is dependent on our children to carry on for us. God has promised us an eternal hope and our future legacy is found in heaven.

So yes, any one of us may well lose everything in an earthly sense, but our hope in this life is not pinned on things going perfectly for us.  This is not the end of the story! Our hope is in our eternal future with Jesus, and that can never be taken away from us.

Written by Shelley Witt


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Sunday 19 July, 2020

1 Samuel 4:1b-11

Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” 10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

“Ouch” I said aloud as I hung up from the call.

I had just been told that I wasn’t successful in my application for the job that I had been interviewed for. It’s not the first time I’d missed out on a job, but in this instance, I was sure that this job was for me.

What really hurt though was that they said they had decided to advertise the position again… That meant that I wasn’t just beaten by someone with more experience, or better interview skills. It meant that they just thought that I wasn’t cut out for the job!!

“Why God, Why!?” I demanded staring in to space, bordering between anguish and rage.

I had done all the right things. I sought God on whether to apply, I confirmed that it lined up with the call that I believed He had on my life, I prayed before and after the interview. Yet, still I failed.

1 Samuel 4 has many layers. On the surface it is about the Israelites being defeated by the people who God had called them to drive out of the Promised land and the death of two evil influencers in Israel, Hophni and Phinehas. But deeper down, it is about the attempts of God’s people to do the right thing, but in a foolish way. It is about failing when they think they are doing the right thing.

As I reflect on this passage and on times of my life where I have failed at something, I realise that God reveals my pride in those moments. It’s at these times when I realise I am angry at God for opposing me, even though in my own eyes, at the time, I thought I was doing all the right things. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) becomes real to me in these moments.

Why does God oppose me when I am proud? Because he wants grace to abound in my life! He doesn’t want to just pour grace on me, but he wants it to flow through me into the lives of all those around me.

Thank You God for your revelation this morning.

Written by Ps Justin Ware

2 replies
  1. Megan Nguyen says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Justin. This is one that I can really relate to as I often pray to God to help me make decisions that will be all about serving him and not my ego. When I reflect on past situations in my professional life I can see clearly now how he was using those moments to bring me more humility and as you day live by James 4:6.

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  2. Claire Moore says:

    Thank you for those honest comments Justin. It’s brought me a new perspective on situations in my life.

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Saturday 18 July, 2020

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a

3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. 4 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

In this passage we see Samuel learn the voice and the word of God for the first time.  What stands out to me is two key things. 1. God didn’t relent on Samuel when he didn’t realise it was God.  God didn’t give up and kept calling out to Samuel until he responded to God.  2. Samuel needed Eli to help him.  God had positioned Samuel where he had oversight and support in order to discern the word of God. 

God doesn’t give up on speaking to us.  It doesn’t matter if we struggle, if we are just learning, if we forget, God won’t relent on speaking to us.  He is more excited to speak to us than we are to hear Him.  God will position us in community to help us.  The people around us are a gift when we struggle to discern the voice of God for ourselves.  Who is your Eli?  Who points out God in your world?  We all need people like Eli in our lives.

Lord, thank you that you know me so intimately and deeply.  That when I struggle to hear your voice you don’t give up on us but you position us with people to help and support us.  Help us by your Holy Spirit to have ears to hear your voice and eyes to see the people you have given us to find you when we struggle.

In Jesus name, Amen!

Written by Ps. Annique Botta


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Friday 17 July, 2020

1 Samuel 2:27-36

27 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 ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor 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 ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites. 29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’ 30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life. 34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day. 35 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 priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’”

Eli the priest and his sons had been taking more than their agreed portion of the sacrificial offerings given to the Lord by the Israelites.  In doing so they were dishonouring God and those who had given the sacrificial offerings in the first place.  The consequences of this grave sin was the wiping out of Eli’s family both now and in the future.

What a sobering passage of Scripture!  Essentially Eli and his sons were taking and enjoying something that did not belong to them. These offerings were given to God and this should have been respected and not treated so lightly. They abused their positions as priests and it couldn’t go unpunished. It is a healthy reminder to firstly honour God and secondly those we serve as we go about doing what God has called us to do. It is so important not to take advantage of a position God places us in for our own benefit. Sometimes it’s good to take stock and ask ourselves, “Is what I’m doing honouring God and others?”

Dear Lord, please help me to serve you in way that brings you honour and glory. Amen

Written by Ps. Ainslie Woods


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Thursday 16 July, 2020

1 Samuel 2:22-26

22 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. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. 24 No, my sons; the report I hear spreading among the Lord’s people is not good. 25 If one person sins against another, God may mediate for the offender; but if anyone sins against the Lord, who will intercede for them?” His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death. 26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people.

This passage shows the inadequacy of the earlier priestly system in setting people right before God – priests were human and basically wore out. Their role was an ongoing never-ending one, representing the people before God with the endless offering of gifts and sacrifices to atone for sins. No wonder Eli was preoccupied and unable to pull his sons into line, and then it was too late.

My great high priest Jesus is not preoccupied or worn out. He is eager to know me, to walk with me, to comfort me, to bless me. Hebrews 4 and 5 reminds me that because of Jesus’ life and death I can “approach the throne of God’s grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Jesus wonderfully represents me to God, so I am not condemned.

Jesus is both priest and sacrifice. He was perfect in his life and his death. For me, for you.

Dear Lord Jesus, you are the Son of God, yet you lived among us. You are “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”. Help me to obey. Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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Wednesday 15 July, 2020

1 Samuel 2:18-21

18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

This is a beautiful passage about Samuel set in stark relief against the sons of Eli. We see a precious glimpse of the care of his mother toward him as they make their yearly visit to offer sacrifice to the Lord.  I imagine the robes being sown and worn with much love, through the years.  But there is another beautiful narrative within this story, the blessing of Elkanah and Hannah, Eli’s prayer for God to bless them with more children and the graciousness of God toward them, with a further five children. 

I love the way that God weaves stories within stories, with most of the answers to our prayers coming in ways we would never expect. The story of a barren woman’s silent desperate prayer to God for a child, and in the chapters to come, the answered prayer, Samuel, who is growing up ministering in the presence of the Lord, and how he is then woven into the leadership of the nation and ultimately anointing a king who’s lineage will culminate in Jesus.  

I see this small paragraph as an encouragement to us to never think that God does not hear or answer our silent desperate prayers. He hears, and He weaves the answers together in ways that we could never imagine.  What an amazing God we serve.

Written by Suzie Hodgson

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Tuesday 14 July, 2020

1 Samuel 2:12–17

12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled 14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” 16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” 17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they[a] were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

When we think of “sacrifice”, we usually think of giving something up, perhaps somehow buying forgiveness. That is so different from the role of sacrifices God gave his people in the Old Testament. Forgiveness was always based on his people humbling themselves, seeking him and turning away from sin (2 Chronicles 7:13-16). In most offerings, only the fat would be burnt on the altar. The family ate the meat with the priests and, above all, with God as a fellowship meal celebrating the restored relationship that God gives. It was a celebration of the wonderful love and generosity of their God (who, in the person of Jesus, really would pay for their sin and buy them back from slavery to it).

The problem with Eli’s sons starts in their hearts: they “had no respect for the Lord” (v12) and so they “treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt” (v17). They turned a celebration of God’s love and generosity into an exercise in selfishness. Instead of receiving a portion of the offering as a gift, they took it. They didn’t even take their part in making the offering (they sent their servants) they just took the best parts for themselves, including the parts that belonged to God.

This passage is included as a contrast to Samuel, who served the Lord (v 11 and 18), and to God’s generosity in his blessing of Samuel’s parents (v 21). So how should I be the opposite of Eli’s sons? At a personal level, I’m challenged to embrace God’s love and generosity, in my relationship with him, and to recognise and copy his love and generosity. But God wants that generosity to be celebrated with love and generosity for the people God has put around me. This is how people will recognise me as one of Jesus’ followers (John 13:35).

Written by David Cornell

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