I Samuel 3:12-13 The time has come for me to bring down on Eli’s family everything I warned him of, every last word of it. I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them.
It is a popular assumption that public accomplishments can somehow overrule private life deficiencies. Hardly a day goes by that we are not informed of yet another modern day icon’s demoralizing descent due to poor judgment. Contrary to popular opinion, historical evidence tells us being good and doing good in the presence of others isn’t a true test of core character. It’s much deeper than that and only the Creator of the Universe can be the ultimate judge.
During a time of constant battle and unrest, Eli served as High Priest of God’s chosen people. For forty years, he and his family carried on the Aaronic priesthood legacy established in the days of Moses, when he and his brother Aaron led the Israelites out of Egypt. As far as his priestly abilities go, the Bible offers no disapproving words. But as a father and leader of his home, this otherwise good man fatefully failed. He absolutely refused to direct and discipline the conduct of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. These young men top the “the worst leaders of all time” list. They were rude, obnoxious, and utterly irreverent. God first warned Eli in private through the words of a prophet (I Samuel 2:27-34). Eli did nothing. Later, God spoke to the innocent young Samuel, whose mother had dedicated him to the Lord, three times in the night. The message, in essence was “Judgment is coming to the house of Eli.” Still the priest took no action.
Maybe it was fear of hurting his boys’ feelings or maybe he just thought discipline and training to be cruel. Maybe he even viewed God as too loving to truly allow harsh consequences for corrupt character. Maybe he just didn’t want to do the work it would take to consistently train his sons. I don’t rightly know. But I do know the Bible tells us that because Eli was unwilling to correct his sons, he eventually lost them completely along with his name and position. Instead of being known as one of Israel’s great spiritual leaders, Eli’s clan went down as the priests who cared more about outward appearance before the people than inward obedience before God.
Home can be the hardest place to step up to the plate and direct. Our children are our pride and joy, therefore we often despise having to be the heavy hand in their lives. But if we love them and if we truly respect God, we will periodically play the bad guy, so, in the future, God won’t have to!
Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Genesis 38:26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I…
You’ve seen the tabloids at the grocery store checkout aisle. Illicit behavior seems to earn you a front spot on the walls of fame these days. We shake our heads at the lewdness and immodesty that is plastered in front of our eyes. But even a headline like this would be an all-time shocker here in 2010: Man Pays for Prostitute, Finds Out She’s His Daughter-In-Law!
Yikes! We’re not talking about the 21st century, this event took place thousands of years ago. That’s right, read Genesis, chapter 28. There you’ll find a man named Judah., who after being widowed, decided to find the services of a harlot before retiring. Keep in mind that he’d had some heartache; he’d lost two of his three sons and his wife. Though he didn’t have the goat he’d promised the heavily veiled woman he’d slept with, he gave her his signet and cord to keep until he could pay her. He could never have imagined what was going through the mind of this “woman of the evening.” (Her name was Tamar.) Not only did she know this man, he was her father-in-law! In those days, the custom in place to take care of widows and continue the family line allowed a brother of a deceased husband to take the widowed woman. (Tamar had married the first son, he died, then married the next brother, then HE died. It’s confusing, I know. Now she was waiting for Judah to give her his third son, and he refused to do so.) This doesn’t sound like an emotionally healthy proposition for the wife, but keep in mind, she would need the stability of a new husband and eventually sons and daughters, or she would possibly be reduced to begging on the street. Women of this time knew this. Fair or not, Tamar recognized Judah’s motive and decided to boldly act in the disguise of a harlot, against all sense and reason. She saw no other way out, she was desperate, and she laid her life on the line.
You’ll really have to spend some time reading this roller-coaster of a story and watch as you keep trying to convince yourself you’re reading the Bible! When Tamar was found to be pregnant, Judah wanted her to be burned at the stake. Imagine her walking up to him in front of the whole village, holding his signet and cord, and saying “The man who owns these is the father of my baby.” He was instantly stricken with regret, and says “this woman was more righteous than I.” Tamar ends up giving birth to twins, one of which is in the lineage of Jesus! Wow. Our God is not in a box! He deals with imperfect people, and He judges our true motives. Still feel too inadequate to give your heart to him? Still want to get yourself all cleaned up? Forget it. He is the epitome of mercy, his arms are open wide, and He loves you more than you can imagine…and He’s waiting on you.
Biblical Meditation: Psalm 103:12 …as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.