27One day a prophet came to Eli and gave him this message from the Lord:
When your ancestors were slaves of the king of Egypt, I came and showed them who I am. 28-29 Out of all the tribes of Israel, I chose your family to be my priests. I wanted them to offer sacrifices and burn incense to me and to find out from me what I want my people to do. I commanded everyone to bring their sacrifices here where I live, and I allowed you and your family to keep those that were not offered to me on the altar.
But you honor your sons instead of me! You don't respect the sacrifices and offerings that are brought to me, and you've all grown fat from eating the best parts.
30I am the Lord, the God of Israel. I promised to always let your family serve me as priests, but now I tell you that I cannot do this any longer! I honor anyone who honors me, but I put a curse on anyone who hates me. 31The time will come when I will kill you and everyone else in your family. Not one of you will live to an old age.
32Your family will have a lot of trouble. I will be kind to Israel, but everyone in your family will die young. 33If I let anyone from your family be a priest, his life will be full of sadness and sorrow. But most of the men in your family will die a violent death! 34 To prove to you that I will do these things, your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will die on the same day.
35I have chosen someone else to be my priest, someone who will be faithful and obey me. I will always let his family serve as priests and help my chosen king. 36But if anyone is left from your family, he will come to my priest and beg for money or a little bread. He may even say to my priest, “Please let me be a priest, so I will at least have something to eat.”
The Lord had specially chosen Levites to be priests, his representatives to the people. It was a holy calling and responsibility. Yet even though Eli is aware of the disgusting, disrespectful, sinful things his sons are doing in their priestly role, he doesn’t stop them. They are thumbing their nose at God and Eli stands on the sidelines.
Disobedience, disrespect – these are widespread attitudes in today’s world. We go our own way, with no thought for God. Envy, lying, theft, and bullying. The race to success, power, wealth, position – with no consideration for others. The almost daily media reports of gun violence, mass murders and other atrocities. Closer to home, gossip, lack of love, selfishness. These all reveal disrespect for God. People continue to thumb their nose at holy God.
Who will speak for God today? Who will prick the conscience of those who disrespect and disobey God in this century? Or will we all stand silent on the sidelines?
A prophet brought a message from the Lord to Eli. There was a consequence to their actions. Eli’s family would have a lot of trouble and everyone in the family would die young. His sons, Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day. Plus, God chose someone else to be his priest, one who would be faithful and obey God.
Grave consequences were not only the fate of Hophni and Phinehas. There are many similar stories in the Bible. Do you remember Ananias and his wife Sapphira? They lied to God. Their fatal consequence was immediate (Acts 5:1-10). And what about Nebuchadnezzar, who gloried in his mighty power and had, as a result, to eat grass like an ox (Daniel 4:29-33), or Lot’s wife who disobeyed God and turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26)?
Actions. Consequences. God will have the last word.
Dear loving Father, You must be saddened by the way the world treats you. I wonder how you feel when your followers stand silent. Please help me speak up for you, for your honour and glory. Because of Jesus. Amen.