August 13

Today's Bible Reading
            I Samuel 3
            Romans 3
            Jeremiah 41
            Psalms 17
“For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” (I Samuel 3:13)
            The High Priest, Eli, took office during a period in history, which has come to be known as “Israel's Dark Ages.”  The nation’s leaders were disorganized, and even the institution of priesthood was in confusion. Eli was assumed to be a very capable man or he would not have been chosen as the High Priest.  Eli was accorded a great honor but, with the honor, comes responsibility.  Eli's chief responsibility would have been to train his sons to succeed him as High Priest, a duty that he failed to perform. Years later, when he was almost blind, at 98 years of age, he could not allow either of his sons, Hophni or Phinehas, to replace him.
            These wicked sons even distorted the sacrificial system. When people came to make their sacrifices, they even demanded the fat on the meat, which belonged to the Lord, and was forbidden for any Israelite to eat. (Leviticus 3:16)  Their gluttony was literally stealing from the Lord Himself.
            These wicked sons continued their rebellion by treating the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord in the manner of a pagan idol and marching it into battle. Their ignorance cost them the very presence of the glory of God in the lives of 30,000 additional men.
            The great problem here was that Eli would never discipline his sons in accordance to God's instructions. Why didn’t Eli discipline his sons? It is likely that Eli's awareness of his own problem caused him to be weak and unwilling to deal with similar problems in his son's lives. God specifically explained the disciplinary action was necessary, which Eli, as priest and judge, should have known. In Deuteronomy 21:18-21, clear steps of action are given. First, a father is instructed to confront his stubborn or rebellious son with his wrongdoing. After refusing to obey, the son was to be brought before the elders of the city. The Lord's judgment of Aaron's two sons when they rebelled against their father in performing the Tabernacle ceremonies was a sobering example from which Eli should have learned. (Leviticus 10:1-2)
            The immediate consequences of Eli's negligence were the deaths of his sons, disrespect for the Priesthood, and the departure of the glory of the Lord from Israel. Because he refused to discipline his own sons, Eli died of a broken and grieved spirit, realizing that he was personally responsible for the spiritual decline of the nation he had judged for 40 years. This is a severe warning to parents today of the necessity to biblically discipline their children.
            As we focus on people groups, remember the Nuristani tribes in the mountains north and east of Kabul.  They speak many different languages, some unintelligible to most of the world. They've been influenced by a strict Islamic sect called Wahhabism, which is very hostile to anything Christian. Pray for the miracle of conversion among these tribes.