Summary: Eli, a Judge and High Priest of Israel, had a dysfunctional family? What went wrong? What are we doing wrong? Can God help us bring back our children?

A Very Functional Family

I Samuel 3:22-36

Over the past few years, there have been some very bad reports on the American family. As a matter of fact in every culture, it seems that families have been assaulted by every discourse in society. Ironically, it is the home that has lost its purpose in these times.

Newspapers are filled with news about broken, abusive, and distant homes where every member of the family is going outside the circle to get those missing ingredients to make them a complete individual. There are basically three different relationships carried on in the immediate family, spouse to spouse, parent to child, and sibling rivalries. I don’t know statistically which of the relationships is the most dominant, but the last few years have been very hard for the parent-child situation.

For example, there was a mother who let her two daughters go driving with their father whom she knew was intoxicated. The car skidded into a sewage pond in Wimberley, outside of Austin, and they all drowned. In Fort Worth, a three-year-old girl was beaten to death by her 21-year-old stepfather because she had a potty training accident. And the two most disturbing news that occurred within the last few years in regard to the parent-child relationship is one, the confession of a South Carolina mother to strapping her two boys, a three-year-old and a fourteen-month old, to their car seats, and Susan Smith put the car in gear and the car rolled into the bottom of John D. Long Lake where they drowned. Who can forget the tragedy that occurred in Rowlett, Texas four years ago? Darla Routier murdered her two sons for insurance money and lied and said that an intruder had assaulted them.

We look on these stories with great remorse, bitterness, and a sense of revenge. But spiritually, we are driving our children into the lake of destruction. The Adventist youth are getting fed up with the waywardness in both home and church. And unless we commit ourselves to God and His Holy Word, we cannot fill the gap between our children and us.


Eli had problems, Church. Some of the very same struggles that Christian parents deal with today. Phinehas and Hophni were more than a handful, for Eli let them control him. Loving peace and ease, he did not exercise his authority to correct the evil habits and passions of his children. Phinehas and Hophni had no respect for their father, the services in the sanctuary, and more than that they didn’t fear God. Holding the highest office on earth, Eli did not hold his sons to their high calling. He allowed them to defile the offerings of God, and never castigated them for their unholy acts.

Ellen White comments on their behavior in the book Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 576 and 577 she states:

The cause of transgression was apparent in the corruption and evil that marked the course of his sons. They had no proper appreciation of the character of God or of the sacredness of his law…Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a certain extent.

God had appointed the sons of Aaron to the priesthood of his people. In the case of Eli, he was not only priest but judge of Israel. Eli fell short of his duty to govern his children. And the lack of discipline in his children caused many people to desert the services of the sanctuary. Phinehas and Hophni were so bad that the Spirit of God described them as being the “sons of Belial” which literally means sons without worth! (I Samuel 3:7)

Surrendered to evil passions, Hophni and Phinehas had no proper conception of the God they were suppose to serve. They enjoyed no communion with Him, felt no sympathy with His purposes, and had no sense of their obligation to Him. They merely employed their positions of hereditary right for their own selfish and corrupt ends. They robbed the people for the gratification of their own appetites. They robbed God not only of His portion of the sacrifices but also of the reverence and love of His worshippers. By their vile lusts they lowered the service of the Lord in the eyes of the people to the level of sensual orgies of the neighboring idol groves. Seventh Day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 2, page 462

“Eli” is Hebrew for “My God.” It is no wonder that Paul telling Timothy if a man desired the office of an elder he must manage his house well because if he cannot manage his own house, how can he take care of the Lord’s house. (I Timothy 3:4, 5) Eli was a type of Christ and presented the plan of salvation to the people in the services of the sanctuary. But in the case of his children he failed to exemplify the character of God because the scriptures plainly tells us that whom the Lord loves he disciplines, and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. (Hebrews 12:6) Eli thought that the behavior of his children would change if they had been allowed to participate in the temple services. He knew of the consequences that faced his children if they did not stop. [READ DEUTERONOMY 21:18-21]

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Gordon A Ward Jr

commented on Feb 26, 2017

Very well put . Straight forward with the truth. Love how it is blended together with family and church. Amen.

Gordon A Ward Jr

commented on Nov 9, 2020

I'm wondering if there would be PowerPoint's for this sermon??? Would really look forward to a reply...thank you!!

Gordon A Ward Jr

commented on Nov 9, 2020

I'm wondering if there would be PowerPoint's for this sermon??? Would really look forward to a reply...thank you!!

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