Summary: We choose our level of closeness to God

Ichabod or Ebenezer

1 Samuel 4, 6

June 22, 2014

Morning Service

The Problem of Spiritual Drift

Spiritual drift always begins with desire. The desire for a relationship with God was lost. Slowly the people lost their passion for the things of God. Little by little, spiritual things started to slip away. The change was so slow that the people didn’t even notice. Before long, the nation had turned its back on God but still believed that they were in a right relationship with Him.

People do not drift away from God suddenly, the process is gradual. The slow ongoing process of drifting happens over time. The days of Samuel were some of the darkest in Israel’s history because of ongoing problems. Drifting starts small with small things.

Think about it for a moment, a sudden change would be easily noticed.

* Read the Bible less and less * Heart isn’t into worship

* Pray a little less each day * We hold grudges (Unforgiveness)

* We step away from service * We become discouraged

* We allow bitterness to take root * We develop bad attitudes

* We focus on our preferences

Israel was in a state of spiritual drift. The people had moved away from following God and were now aimless. The people did what they thought was right in their own mind. The problem begins when the people stopped seeking God. The people had lost their desire to pursue a relationship with God. They no longer had the desire for more of God. They did not desire more of God in their lives.

Israel had stepped away from their relationship with God. They were no longer faithful but expected God to be faithful. They were not behaving like believers but they wanted all the benefits of believing without commitment. Many churches want to have all of the blessings of God but no longer want to follow God.

How can we expect God to move in power, when we refuse to follow Him? Why should we expect the blessings of God when we are not faithful to God?

The Defeat of Israel

Israel went into battle with a false confidence that God was with them. Israel faced the Philistines and were defeated. They lost 4,000 soldiers in the first battle. Instead of looking to God for help, they believed that God would help them if they helped themselves.

The leaders bring out the Ark of the Covenant to the battle lines. The Ark was the symbol of the presence of God and Israel believed that they could invoke the presence of God with the Ark. Israel went into battle thinking that they could not lose. The result is that they got thumped and thumped hard.

Israel loses 30,000 soldiers against the Philistines and the sons of the High Priest are killed. The Ark of the Covenant is stolen by the Philistines. The battle is costly in human life and in morale.

16 He told Eli, "I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day." Eli asked, "What happened, my son?" 17 The man who brought the news replied, "Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured." 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had led Israel forty years. 19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, "Don't despair; you have given birth to a son." But she did not respond or pay any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"--because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured." 1 Samuel 4:16-22

The Devastation of the people

Eli’s sons die in the battle and he falls and breaks his neck. The line of Eli comes to an abrupt end and a new priest is going to be needed. God sometimes moves the old out to make way for the new. As chapter 4 comes to a close, the wife of Phineas hears about his death and the death of her father in law and goes into labor. As she gives birth to a son and she names him Ichabod which means the glory has departed. The understanding is that God had left them.

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