You sometimes see the documentaries… or read the stories in a business magazine; an enthusiastic visionary founds an organization and guides it to excellence. But, then, over time the organization is drained dry as less dedicated leadership allows things to grow more and more lax.
That must be similar to the way things were by the time Eli’s priestly ministry in Shiloh was winding down.
Eli is not described as corrupt or sinful in the Bible, but it seems he had let his own sons – who were also priests – become very corrupt and abusive in their office and duties; see 1Samuel 2:10-18. Because of this, Eli’s family was cursed by God.
Eli was an Old Testament person with a very modern problem. He ignored difficult situations rather than resolving them.
God had pointed out Eli’s sons’ sinful behavior to him, but his attempts to correct them were half-hearted, at best.
Like Eli, we may want to avoid becoming involved in situations where confrontation cannot be avoided. It’s rarely easy – and never fun – to “play the heavy”.
Is there something in your life, family, or work that you allow to continue even though you know it’s wrong?
There are times, as pastor, I have to deal with an issue I’d like to ignore… or hope it will get better on its own. There are times, as pastor, I must confront actions or statements that aren’t befitting followers of Christ. It is rarely easy… and never fun. But, there are times when it must be done.
When faced with a moral – or spiritual – issue that requires decisive action, do you react hesitantly or with resolve?
* Effective confrontation involves decisive action.
It may have been behavior like this that created the environment in which few people received special messages or visions from God (1Sam. 2:27-36).
It is so shortsighted to think that all we need to concern ourselves with is our own spiritual walk. But that attitude leaves the spiritual lives of those who come after us at risk.
What are we doing to promote faithfulness to God in our children… and to others who are entrusted into our care?
In the meantime, God was raising up a young boy named Samuel to replace Eli’s sons as priest and leader of the people.
Samuel had been brought to Shiloh as a young boy and left in the cave of Eli; see 1Samuel 2,3.
The final blow to Eli’s family came when the Israelites were fighting against the Philistines. Both of Eli’s sons were killed as they carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle. Even Eli himself fell over backwards and broke his neck when he heard the Ark had been captured; see 1Samuel 4.
The Israelites, under Eli’s leadership, thought of the Ark of the Covenant as their lucky charm. They carried it onto battle with them, believing that the Ark itself – the wood and metal box – was their source of power. Even Eli was devastated when he was told the Ark had been captured by the Philistines during battle.
Eli had become more concerned with the symbols of religion than with the God they represented. The Ark of the Covenant had become a relic to be protected at all costs rather than a reminder of the Protector.
This happens in churches all the time. Pieces of furniture, wall murals, colors of carpet, etc. tend to become more important to us than people… or even God Himself!
It may be easier to worship things we can see – whether buildings, furnishings, people, or even Scripture… but such things have no tangible power in themselves.
* We must NEVER to look to things or people rather than God.
You can read Eli’s story in 1Samuel 1-4. He is also mentioned in 1Kings 2.