27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”
(1 Samuel 2:27-36)
Today we continue reading about the judgment God brought against Eli and his sons for their blatant sin. Yesterday we saw that God held Eli culpable even though it was primarily the actions of his sons that were in question. Today we’ll read about the actions God is going to take.
As a result of the behavior of Eli and his sons, God took away the privilege Eli’s family had in serving Him. This came true years later when Abiathar, from Eli’s family, was deposed as high priest and was replaced by Zadok who was from another family [1 Kings 2:26-27].
God also punished the descendants of Eli by not giving them long life (there will not be an old man in your house). This was done to reduce the influence (strength) of this family line. It is a blessing to have influence. But having influence is a great responsibility.
Having shown that they could not handle the responsibility they had been given as priests in the tabernacle, the descendants of Hophni and Phinehas would not be given any further responsibility. They would no longer be leaders.
Everyone left in Eli’s house would end up being very poor – begging for a morsel of bread – while in distress they enviously looked on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed upon Israel. God was going to bless Israel immensely. In a few generations, Israel would be incredibly wealthy and powerful. But Eli’s family would not participate.
Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas took more than they deserved. And they took it illegally. Sadly, but justifiably, as a result, their descendants would have less than they needed and would be reduced to begging.
When we die all of us will have to give an account to God for each and every of our actions, thoughts, and intentions [Romans 14:12]. And while we’re still on this earth, we should not be surprised if God arranges events to discipline us and future generations as a result of our behavior. This is precisely what happened to Adam and Eve [Genesis 3:16-18]. And this what happened to Eli.
Actions have consequences. Not just for ourselves, but also for our children and their children. We live in a world where people think that they can do whatever they want without being concerned about being held accountable. But this is one of the biggest lies the world has ever told itself.
While some (maybe even most) people may look the other way at their fellow human beings’ bad behavior in the name of “tolerance”, God does not. If He did He wouldn’t be just. Too many people don’t want to accept the concept of a God who metes out punishment for sin. They think a truly loving God wouldn’t punish bad behavior. But such thinking makes no sense.
True justice always commands accountability. Tolerating sin is not justice. It is sin’s accomplice.
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