Today, my reading was in 1 Samuel 4 where Israel goes to war with the Philistines. This passage is powerful for many reasons, especially how it illustrates the effects of sin and purity. To put this chapter in context, let’s look at chapter 3. There we read about God calling Samuel into ministry. Samuel was a young man — almost an “intern.”
During Samuel’s call, God gave him a special word for Eli. I doubt that Eli thought that his “intern,” who wasn’t even trained yet, was going to be used by God for something that would change his life forever. God was displeased with Eli’s poor leadership and his sons behavior. That brings me to my first point:
1. Sin is unacceptable to God.
Eli’s sons were “pastors” and they didn’t check what they were saying. These guys were misrepresenting God and Eli had done nothing about it. As pastors today, I would hope that we aren’t misrepresenting God in our teaching. I don’t think that’s our problem. Our problem is misrepresenting him in our sin. It might be an addiction to pornography, lust for a volunteer, laziness at home, unwillingess to set our pride aside, or even unfaithfulness in our time with God. These sin issues are our version of giving God a bad rap. What’s worse is that we believe the lie that our sin doens’t effect anyone else.
Samuel gives Eli God’s judgement. It isn’t good. God literally says, “Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.” Bad news for Eli. Basically his family is going to pot. In verse 12 God says that he is going to fulfill against Eli what he had spoken. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Eli and God had this conversation multiple times and Eli simply didn’t listen. God wanted Eli to know that his poor leadership and the actions of his sons were sinful and needed to be dealt with.
2. Sin changes things.
In Chapter 4, Israel goes out to battle against the Philistines. In typical fashion, I’m sure they totally expected God to go before them and kick Philistine butt. What happened in the first battle? 4,000 men died! 4,000 men….think about that. That’s a huge number. Verse 3 gives us great insight into their thoughts, “Why has the LORD defeated us today?” Catch that? The elders of Israel saw judgement.
Since the war was still going on, they needed to do something fast. Their idea was to bring in their safeguard. The thought process was, “If we have the ark NOTHING can hurt us.” Right? Wrong. They brought the ark to battle and 30,000 more men lost their lives and the ark was taken.
Death count for this battle? 34,000 men. Who’s fault was that? The soldiers? The generals? Nope. It had solely to do with Eli and his sons. God’s judgement for their sin effected everyone. When Eli heard that his sons (and 34,000 men) had been killed he flipped out and broke his neck. Pretty heavy stuff right? Samuel’s word and God’s judgement came true.
So, where does that leave us? These chapters should serve as a clear warning. Samuel is telling pastors, volunteers, and leaders that we better get our act together. Our sin effects our families, ministries, and friends.
Take warning when you chase an online orgasm.
Take warning when you lead a heavy handed ministry.
Take warning when you expect others to repent while you remain silent.
Take warning when you work for your kingdom instead of the Kingdom.
Take warning when your motives are self promotion.
Take warning when your bible app isn’t opened except for Sundays.
We all have our struggles and we all rest in the hope of Colossians 1:
We’ve been reconciled, made holy and blameless, and are above reproach before God. But Jesus took our sins and sees us for who we are.
How can we take his payment seriously and avoid damaging our ministries?
Also look at Hebrews 10:26-31, “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”