Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eli, good but weak

I was listening to Dick Lucas on 1 Samuel 3 when he mentioned about Eli, the High Priest during that time when young Samuel was dedicated to the LORD. I have never thought much about Eli before, more attention was given obviously to Samuel but Lucas brought up a very important lesson from Eli - he was a very good man but he was very weak and the results were destructive.

After calling young Samuel three times, which by the way is usually where we take as the entire reading of the passage in Scriptures and draw the concluding lesson on hearing the voice of God without hearing out what God has to say to Samuel, which again by the way was why God called him in the first place, and three times.

God said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever." (1 Samuel 3:11-14)

Weakness, which on the surface would be regarded as nothing and can be brushed aside, is indeed a very corrosive characteristic. By being weak and leaving things be, whether they are right or wrong, one will allow sin to eat into the very core of souls, so much so that everything becomes okay.

Just look at Hophni and Phinehas, Eli two sons. Take note that they were the priests of the LORD, but his father who is the High Priest could not control them.

1 Samuel 2:12-13,17
Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the LORD and the custom of the priests with the people ... Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for the men despised the offering of the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:22-25
Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting. He said to them, "Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? "No, my sons; for the report is not good which I hear the LORD'S people circulating. "If one man sins against another, God will mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for the LORD desired to put them to death.

Why was Eli weak? And more than that, why was Eli punished for the sins of his sons? Shouldn't they be accountable for their own actions.

Hophni and Phinehas were finally made to pay for their evil acts. Their story is found if you carry on reading from the passages above in I Samuel.

Eli was also accountable because he was responsible for his sons. He was the parent to teach and lead them in the way of the LORD, to discipline them, to instruct and correct them. It looks like he either failed or failed to.

When I think about it, I am fearful for myself. Some of us are parents of kids, little or grown up and some of us are leaders in the church, with many spiritual children so to speak.

To be a parent these days are challenging, I would not even want to begin to talk about it here. If you are a parent you know full well what we are up against - the expectations, forces and challenges from all sides and perspectives and more so the expectations from other people.

And to be a leader these days, we are expected to be diplomatic and tolerant, albeit with misinterpretation of the word. Would we be rendering ourselves weak as a result?

I have seen pastors who have a stronger will ostracised. I have seen leaders who are firm in their words and expectations pushed to the side. It is the "nice" ones that gets the stage and the accolades. But the results of being nice and weak is disastrous.

Be good but weak or be strong yet good?


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