Summary: Many people live any way they want, and yet when a trial or tragedy comes their way, they wonder, "Where is God?" The fact is, sin still separates us from God, and deprives us of His presence and power.
Where Is God?
Text: Deut.31: 17; I Sam.4: 12-22
Intro: I would suppose that every Christian, who has at some point in their life found themselves frustrated and discouraged by trials, has silently asked the question, “Where is God?” Even as we asked that question, we knew in our hearts that God hadn’t died or become unconcerned for us. But basically, our question meant that we were confused as to why God had not yet delivered or vindicated us in our trial. It really isn’t hard to understand how Christians, who love the Lord and honestly seek to live for Him, could occasionally ask such a question.
However, what is rather difficult to understand is how those, who for all practical purposes, have brushed God aside, seemingly with no intention to live for Him, could have the audacity in the midst of a series of tragic events, to ask, “Where is God?” They have lived their lives with only token loyalty to God, and for all intents and purposes, have lived their lives as they pleased; yet they wonder, “Why doesn’t God help me?”
The type of attitude mentioned above was the attitude of Israel in our text. They viewed God as sort of a “rabbit’s foot” that they could use when they were in a tight spot. These people had rebelled against God, yet they seemed to believe that God should be at their beck and call. They believed that God should be there for them when they needed Him. Otherwise, they had no used for God.
Though God, in His mercy will often intervene in the lives of nominal believers, and help them with their troubles, we should be aware that God grows weary of such cheap loyalty. God will not long permit Himself to be used only as a “Panic Button.”
Today I want to deal with the events that led up to the question, “Where is God?” In the process, we will seek to paint a mental picture of the spiritual attitude of Israel that produced these events.
Theme: The events that led to the question “Where is God?” are:
I. ISRAEL’S IMPUDENT DEPARTURE FROM GOD
A. The Priests Had Departed From God.
1. The sons of Eli were wicked priests.
I Sam.2: 12 “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord.”
NOTE: The words “sons of Belial” basically translates as “Sons of worthlessness” (Professor F. Davidson, M.A., D.D., Editor, The New Bible Commentary, published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan; pg. 265).
a. Hophni and Phinehas were disrespectful of the Lord’s sacrifices.
I Sam.2: 15 “Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priests; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw.
16 And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force.
29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?”
NOTE: These two young priests had no respect for God. They seemed have forgotten that the sacrifices were for worshipping God, not filling their own bellies with the choicest cuts of meat. As a matter of fact, they had forgotten God altogether.
Woodrow Wilson’s father was a minister in the South. One day he joined a group of men caught up in a heated discussion. One of the men lost his temper and swore loudly. Only then did he see the Reverend Wilson in their midst. The man apologized profusely and said, “Sir, I had forgotten that you were present. Please pardon me.”
Dr. Wilson replied, “It is not to me that you owe an apology, but to God.”
Larry Brook, The Quiet Hour, September-November, 1997, p. 54
b. Hophni and Phinehas were defiled with the women, who came to the tabernacle.
I Sam.2: 22 “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.”
c. Hophni and Phinehas were disobedient to their father.
I Sam.2: 23 “And he (Eli) said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress.
25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the Lord would slay them.”