Abuse of power, hypocrisy, absence of leadership—these realities seem to mark our world. Sadly, tragically, they also describe the church. In such a situation it is easy to become cynical and hard to trust authority. And yet, it seems, that at a fundamental level people cannot exist without leadership. In these dark times of scandal and abuse, where do God’s people turn? How can they move forward in the face of so much corruption. This week we will see that these are the exact questions that 1 Samuel asks and answers. We invite you to come explore this very relevant book with us.
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SCRIPTURE: 1 Samuel 2:12, 17, 22–35
12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. 17 … the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.
22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.
26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.
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.
CONFESSION OF SIN
In Romans 2, the Apostle Paul asks God’s people to consider their own hypocrisy. He writes: if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? … 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
This is a searching and sobering passage. When we act hypocritically Paul says we cause unbelievers to blaspheme God’s name.
But there is good news. Isaiah 30:15 says “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” So we are going to take some time in quietness to repent. To consider, to confess, and to mourn our own hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the church.
SONG OF REFLECTION
For the bread which you have broken,
For the wine which you have poured,
For the words, which you have spoken,
Now we give you thanks O Lord.
By this pledge that you do love us,
By your gift of peace restored,
By your call to heaven before us,
Sanctify our lives O Lord.
With our sainted ones in glory,
Seated at our Father’s board,
May the Church that waits now for Thee,
Keep love’s tie unbroken Lord.
In your service Lord defend us.
In our hearts keep watch and ward.
In the world where’r you send us,
May your kingdom come O Lord.