Summary: Eli failed his son in 3 very distinct ways. What can we learn from his "bad" example?
OPEN: Have you ever had something go “bad” in your refrigerator?
How can you tell when food is spoiled?
Well, one of the first hints might be – when you open the door - it smells like something has died inside. But someone has come up with a list of ways in which we can determine whether our food has gone bad without having to smell it:
* Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of… carefully.
* If you can take Chip Dip out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.
* A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.
* Potatoes that are edible generally do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.
* Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt.
* Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese.
* Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese.
* Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese but you realize you’ve never purchased that kind.
APPLY: There are number of ways that you can tell you have spoiled food in your refrigerator.
But when it does become rotten… what do you do with it?
You throw it away.
Now that’s appropriate for food, but what do you do when part of your family becomes “spoiled”? What actions should you take when your children start to act “rotten”? What happens when the influences of an R-rated world make too great of an inroad into your family’s life?
That’s the issue we’re looking at here in the story of Eli and his sons.
Jerusalem did not belong to the Israelites at this time (that would take place under King David, some 80 or 90 years later) and so the Tabernacle was set up at the city of Shiloh in the northern area of Israel.
Eli had been the priest of Israel at Shiloh for about 40 years, but he had not been an entirely successful father.
I Samuel 2:12 tells us that “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.”
Eli’s sons were guilty of terrible sins of disobedience to God and sinning against His people.
Turn with me to 1 Samuel 2:13-17
“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.”
This was what was required under the law. This was how things were supposed to be done…
“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.”
They were stealing from the offerings people were making to God
In addition, 1 Samuel 2:22 tells us that Eli’s sons:
“…slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”
Basically we’re being told that these boys of Eli’s were not nice men!
A preacher by the name of Victor Yap has observed:
”They forced themselves upon the meat of the temple, the ladies at the temple, and the goodwill of the worshippers. God’s people were abused, God’s place was desecrated, and God’s provision was stolen.”
God was so displeased with their behavior, He sent a prophet warning Eli to take action.
But Eli didn’t take action… all he did was talk
“… he said to (his boys), ‘Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD’s people.’” 1 Samuel 2:23-24
What difference did Eli’s words make??? ---- None
1 Samuel 2:25 says “His sons… did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the LORD’s will to put them to death.”
Could Eli have done anything to change his sons’ destiny ? Could he have done anything to have saved their lives?
I don’t know (I mean Scripture says God’s mind was pretty well made up) but I’d LIKE to think Eli would have at least tried to shake his kids up.