“And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them.14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 1 Samuel 3.11-14
I can not imagine the difficult position in which Samuel was in. He had just been visited by the Lord Almighty, prettying amazing! And he was told two significant revelations: 1) that God was about to do a new work in Israel, and 2) that Eli’s family would be punished just as God said.
The first revelation was awesome. God doing a new thing in Israel that will “make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” is incredible. Perhaps God has been silent, still, quiet. His people were always disobeying and then repenting and running back to him. But now, God was going to do a new thing among his people and he was going to use Samuel through which to do it.
The second revelation was not so awesome. It was rather saddening and very awkward for him to deliver to his friend, mentor and priest Eli. The news was not good — “I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family — from the beginning to the end.” Ugg. Samuel would have to deliver the message to Eli. The judgement would come because Eli knew about the sins of his sons, who blasphemed God, and he did nothing about it. Eli’s guilt will “never be atone for by sacrifice or offering.” There is no forgiveness for Eli and his family. Ouch. Two revelations — both from God, one seemingly good news and the other bad (especially for Eli.)
But would a God who cares about his people punish Eli? Certainly! Would a God who sees a future for Israel not correct or even rebuke his people and put them on the straight path? Eli and his sons were at the heart and soul of Israel. They led the worship in the house of the Lord at the tent at Shiloh where the Ark of the Covenant resided. In order for God to do a new thing, he had to rid Israel of the old and bad thing because he could bring the new.
This is no different in our lives. God sometimes removes things, by force, that are not good for us. We might think they are good because they feel nice in the moment or because we win friends after doing them. But in the end, if they are sinful, ugly and bad for us, they will not only hurt but kill us. Sin doesn’t just separate us from God and harm our relationship on earth, it kills us spiritual for eternity if it goes unchecked and unconfessed.
This is why God sent Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. ”He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion in the day of Christ Jesus,” Philippians 1.6. The only hope we have as people who are naturally bent toward sin, is to trust in Christ.
Eli unfortunately was doomed. But Israel, God’s people as a whole and even us, have hope! We have Jesus in whom we can place our trust and find our place. His new revelation to us is this — “that while were were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5.8).
Have you trusted Christ today? Have you confessed your sins to the Father? Turn. Repent. Find shelter in his arms of love and discover a God who is doing a new thing in you today.
“O Lord God, you are good. In my brokenness I find relief. In my stumbling, I find your hand reaching out. You, Lord Jesus, know me best. You made me, created me, shielded me and protected me. You have a plan for my life beyond this life. Come now, Holy Spirit, help us see with your eyes the Kingdom of God among us. That we live not just for today but for eternity. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen