“Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.’ But now the Lord says: ‘Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’” 1 Samuel 2:30
Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were defiling themselves and the house of the Lord by their behavior as priests. Eli knew what they were doing and ineffectively he remonstrated with them, but his words had no effect; still they stole from God and his people by taking portions of the peace offering not allotted to them; still they continued to seduce women who came to temple to seek God.
Knowing the kind of men his sons were Eli should have taken more decisive action. They should have been stripped of their office as priests and not allowed to serve in God’s house. The people should have seen that Eli loved and honored God above his own children and by his example learned love and honor God deeper in their own hearts, but effectively Eli did nothing.
So God sent a prophet with a message to Eli. Very plainly Eli and his sons’ sins were spelled out to him and just as plainly he was told what the consequences would be for their continued sacrilege: Eli and his sons would die. Additionally, Eli was told that he would know that this sentence was coming to pass when in a single day both his sons would be killed.
After that God said that he would raise up for himself a faithful priest who would do according to the heart and mind of God.
All of God’s judgements come to us first as warnings. Time is given for us to repent and find in God mercy and forgiveness. So it was with Eli and his sons. Months, perhaps years past, between when the warning was sent and the sentence fell.
God’s, through his prophets and other holy men, has given us instructions and warnings in his word to correct and guide us. God’s purpose is that we would all be led to repentance, and forgiveness, and life. He does not want anyone to die.
In Jesus the price was paid for every man, woman, and child to find mercy and life. If anyone is lost it’s because they refuse to heed the warning; they consider the sacrifice Jesus made for us to be of little value; they love the pleasures of this world more than they love God and his ways. Because of this they squander the time God’s given and waste their opportunity to find forgiveness and life.
Friends, don’t let something that’s temporary rob you of a reward that’s eternal. Listen to God’s warning. Hear his call to repentance. God has prepared a reward for those who love him better than we could ever imagine. All that he asks is that we return to him, repent of our sin, receive his Holy Spirit and learn to live a life that honors him.