Summary: A sermon about honroing our father with our lives.
“Honor Your Father”
I. Introduction with children’s comments on fathers.
II. Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel 2-4)
I want to share some stories with you today about fathers and their children. I want you to hear these stories and decide for yourself whether or not these children honored their fathers. The first of these stories is found in the Bible in 1 Samuel chapters 2-4.
Eli was a great priest and judge in the early days of Israel. He was loved by the Lord and respected by all the people of Israel. He obeyed all of the Lord’s commandments and encouraged the people to do the same.
Eli had two sons Hophni and Phinehas. His two sons were also priests in the tabernacle of the Lord as was the tradition in Israel. Eli taught his sons the ways of God from early childhood and encouraged them to be faithful to the Lord all the days of their lives. They followed dad around the tabernacle and observed the way he treated the people and practiced his ministry.
They learned that the meat of the animal sacrifices were to be boiled in the presence of the Lord and that priests were allotted a certain portion to feed themselves and their family. They learned from their father how to treat the other priests and temple maidens with respect and dignity. They learned to respect the house of God and the holy objects inside. They learned how to avoid temptation and live a life that pleases God. They also learned how to consult God when facing tough decisions and to accept his encouragement and discipline according to the situation. Eli loved his sons more than any other person and was proud of them. In fact, he hoped that one day he would be replaced by one of them as high priest and judge of Israel. He hoped that God would one day speak to his sons as he spoke to Eli in their private fellowship and that he would have an heir to lead Israel for generations to come.
As Eli grew older and older so did his sons. They worked in the temple alongside their father day after day. When Eli was them everything went well, but when they were alone or Eli was away on business they did things that made God angry.
Hophni and Phinehas quite often committed adultery with the ladies serving at the gate of the temple even though they knew it was forbidden. They would steal the Lord’s portion of the sacrifice when people brought animals to the temple for the Lord. They lied to the people and told them it was okay with God. They tried to hide these evil deeds from Eli, but the Lord told him of their wickedness. Eli talked with his sons and warned them that God would punish them and their descendants for this evil behavior, but the behavior continued and became worse. They had lost all regard and fear of the Lord.
People began to question Eli as the high priest because of the evil practices of his sons. God had enough and passed judgment on Eli and his family through Samuel. He told Samuel that Eli, Hophni and Phinehas would all suffer death because of the wickedness of the boys and the inability to of Eli to stop them. He said they would never again have a male heir to carry on the family name. You would think that upon hearing this they would have changed their ways.
Unfortunately that is not the case. They actually continued to get worse and in fact totally rebelled against God a short time later. The Philistines came out to challenge the people of Israel to war and were beating them terribly. In past wars, God instructed Eli or other leaders to take the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle and victory would be guaranteed because of the presence of God in the battle. This time Hophni and Phinehas decided they would take the Ark to the battlefield and gain recognition for themselves as the source of victory. People were not allowed to touch the Ark unless God told them to. God had not told them to move the Ark so he allowed them to be struck dead during the battle and the Ark was captured by their enemies. Upon learning of their death and the Ark’s capture, Eli fell of his stool and broke his neck and also died. All this happened to fulfill the judgment of God on Eli and his evil sons.
III. Was Eli honored by the actions of Hophni and Phinehas?
Did the fact that everyone knew Eli could not control his sons bring honor to his name? It makes parents look bad when their children do evil things even though they have been taught otherwise. Eli had a great reputation among the people for most of his life until his sons didn’t live a life that protected that reputation. They ignored all the lessons of their youth and even ignored his warnings that something bad was going to happen if they didn’t straighten out. Most importantly, they failed to learn the valuable lessons their father worked hard to teach them. He upheld his responsibilities as the father to teach his children life’s important lessons, but the failed to uphold their responsibility to uphold their family name.