Summary: Samuel was to replace Eli as God’s priest because Eli wasn’t listening to God anymore. God is looking for people who’ll listen to Him... how can we make sure we are those kinds of listeners?
OPEN: A businessman who needed several million dollars to clinch an important deal and sensing the need for divine help, he went to church to pray for money.
By chance, he knelt next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt. The businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man’s hand and, overjoyed, the man got up and left the church.
The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, "Now, Lord. Now that I have your undivided attention...."
APPLY: That businessman wanted God’s undivided attention. But frankly it isn’t God who has the problem … it’s us. We really don’t have to work that hard to get God to hear our prayers. He’s promised He would listen.
Jesus even promised “ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.”
We don’t have to work at getting HIS attention…. but too often God has to work to get ours.
In Ezekiel, God complained that "these people have ears to hear but they never hear - eyes to see, but they never see" (12:2).
Why don’t they hear/see?
Because they’re not paying attention.
ILLUS: I read recently that some state was thinking of making new restrictions on young drivers. It seems that having a teenager drive can be a scary thing. But they’ve found that when a teen has a friend in the car, the situation gets even worse. AND if that teen has several friends in the car… that was a recipe for disaster.
So someone has suggested that for the first year or so driving – no friends in the car.
Now, why would a teen be a danger because of his friends being in the car with him?
Because the teen would get distracted by his friends and not pay attention.
They have ears to hear… but they’d just not be listening to the things they need to listen to.
We have the same problem sometimes back in the sound booth. We have dedicated workers back there, but once in a while they talk to each other and forget to change the screens on-time for the songs. It will happen both to teenagers and to adults.
They get distracted.
They have ears to hear… but at the moment the next verse needs to come up on the screen, they’re not listening to what they need to listen to.
Now, as we come to I Samuel – we find that somebody hasn’t been paying attention.
Somebody has NOT been LISTENING to God.
And that someone is the priest of Israel = Eli.
In chapter two God explains what’s been happening (turn to I Samuel 2:13-17)
“Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.
Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’
If the man said to him, ‘Let the fat be burned up first, and then take whatever you want,’ the servant would then answer, ‘No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.’
This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt.”
Then in vs:22 we’re told
“Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”
Not only are the boys stealing from God… they’re making the tabernacle a place of prostitution.
So, Eli takes his boys aside and gives them a good talking to.
But he DOES NOT discipline them.
He doesn’t remove them from their office as he should have.
Now, there are a couple of possible reasons Eli didn’t discipline his sons but the one we’re going to focus today was – he loved them. These are his boys. And he gets distracted by this love for his sons.
He loves them more (pause) than he does God.
And so he overlooks their sin because he loved them too much to obey God.
Now Jesus has something to say about that.
Jesus said “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37