Morning Light – April 30th, 2015
MLx250Today: [1 Samuel Chapter Four]: The Glory has Departed: The Glory has Come! In this chapter we find the Israelites going to battle with the Philistines. They are roundly defeated and go back with the Ark of the Covenant. 30,000 die and the ark is taken. In the midst of this a 5 year old boy named Samuel is speaking the words of God that do not fall to the ground. The people thought that the glory of God had departed when in fact it had actually come in power.

[1Sa 4:1-22 KJV] 1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

In this chapter we find that young Samuel continues as a servant of the High Priest at Shiloh. When God spoke to Samuel when he was sleeping in the Holy Place there was a warning against Eli for the corruption of his sons. In the midst of a season of judgment Samuel grows in the things of God and his words do not fall to the ground:

[1Sa 3:19, 21 KJV] 19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. … 21 And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Before Samuel it was said there was no open vision in Isreal. In Samuel’s life we see that the Lord appears again at Shiloh. You would think yes this is a wonderful thing and all Israel would rejoice. However the people had become accustomed to living in what Jesus refered to as “the night when no man can work…” (John 9:4). Because there was no open glory during the time of the judges every man “did that which was right in his own eyes…” And there were no consequences for the most part for doing this. Suddenly now there is an open heaven at Shiloh and things that mattered little are going to invoke consequences.

This is similar to what happened regarding Ananias and Sapphira in Acts chapter 5. In fact what Ananias and Sapphira did was no different that what was done in the temple of Herod every single day. They had no reason to expect retribution. This was just business as usual and how religious life was conducted when the made their gift and held back a part of it. What they were unable to take into account was that the early church was under an open heaven. Eli and his sons were very corrupt and took sore advantage of the people of God. They stole the offerings. They oppressed the people. They sexually abused the women who came to worship at the tabernacle in Shiloh. In the prevailing spiritual climate of the time of the judges they had no reason to expect problems. Until Samuel. Until a 5 year old boy said “Speak Lord for thy servant heareth…”

The Israelites have come up against the Philistines in battle. In Judges chapter one and throughout the book of Joshua the people would always consult the Urim and Thummim to inquire of the Lord “should we go out against our enemy…” In this case there was no inquiry made of the Lord at all. We don’t know how the decision was made but God was left out of the planning. As a result 4000 Israelites are smitten before the Philistines. The people complain and lament the defeat and decide things might go better if they fetch the ark and take it into battle with them. This is a very common tactic in warfare. We go into conflict with the assumption or the assertion that we must have victory because God is on our side. This was how Joshua thought when he reconnoitered the battle of Jericho. He encounters the Angel of Lord and demanded of Him whose side He was on:

[Jos 5:13-15 KJV] 13 And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, [Art] thou for us, or for our adversaries? 14 And he said, Nay; but [as] captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy. And Joshua did so.

Take your shoe off your foot. This was a strange thing to do on a battlefield. The point being that whether we are at peace or in battle our lives are not our own and the agenda we serve is at the Lord’s pleasure and not our own thinking or planning.

4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth [between] the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, [were] there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What [meaneth] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.

Just because we are making noise does not mean we are gaining victory. This has been true of the church in the arena of politics. Since abortion was legalized and prayer taken out of school the church has been making a lot of noise. Yet in reality no ground has been taken. The church has harnessed the power of legal process and assaulted the LGBT agenda in the courts and in legislature with great force. Yet every initiative that has been passed is ultimately being turned back.

Rather than going out to battle against the Philistines the nation of Israel should have been looking at the corruption in their own ranks. The sins of Eli and his sons were common knowledge. Yet rather than deal with their own issues they decide to attack an enemy they could all agree to come against. All this with the presumption of not asking counsel of the Lord. The result is defeat. This is truth in the public arena regarding the church today. The fact of the matter is that for almost 30 years where legislative and judicial challenges are concerned the church has been unable to stand before it’s enemies. Rather than pause and seek the Lord we have listened to shrill imprecations of politicians who have admitted defeat yet insisted that all they need is four more years. We have gone into battle without the endorsement of heaven and without first looking to our own condition before God that may need correction first. This is a great seduction in the church as a whole just as Eli and his sons turned the eyes of the people away from their own actions by focusing on what seemed to be the easy target of the Philistines.

7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these [are] the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight. 10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.

At the beginning of WWII when Japan struck Pearl Harbor, General Yamamoto lamented that all they had managed to do was awake a sleeping giant. In passing legal initiatives condemning abortion, homosexuality, taking prayer out of schools the Christian conservative voting bloc has awakened the sleeping giants of secularism. In every major court challenge social liberals have clearly defeated Christian values yet the church has not paused to consider why. Instead they have rattled their sabers and insisted that God is with them and they will prevail if only they try a little harder. The true enemy of the church is looking on and quite effectively distracting us from dealing with the issues that would actually defeat Satan’s agenda – just as the people were effectively distracted from the corruption in their own ranks. What is God’s solution in all of this? A 5 year old boy whose words do not fall to the ground. An open heaven that once prayed for brought unexpected results to the nation – to their own sorrow.

11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. 12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. 13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told [it], all the city cried out. 14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What [meaneth] the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see. 16 And the man said unto Eli, I [am] he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son? 17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.

Eli knew that God was speaking to Samuel. He threatened the 5 year old boy to tell him exactly what God had said (in chapter 3). Samuel repeats the judgments of God against Eli and his sons and Eli’s response is: (1 Sam. 3:18) “… It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good…” In other words Eli is saying “Yada, Yada, Yada … we’ve heard that before … whatever…” Again a man thinking as those who live under a spiritual economy when the heavens are brass and prayers go unanswered and every man does that which is right in their own eyes. God’s intent was for Eli to repent and the worship of God be restored at Shiloh. But Eli has other things on his mind and he isn’t about to deal with his sons for their sins because he has problems of his own. It is never convenient to clean your spiritual house but the ultimate cost to be paid is more than you are willing to endure – but by then it is too late.

18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years. 19 And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, [near] to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard [it]. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.

Eli is dead and his sons are slain in battle. The ark of God is captured by the Philistines. Phinehas’ wife is the only one left to speak with authority for the priestly family. She bows herself dying in child birth and declares that the glory had departed in Israel. The fact of the matter was just the opposite had happened. The glory had come. In the person of a 5 year old boy whose words God did not allow to fall to the ground.

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