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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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