We expect a lot from our leaders, and we deserve good leadership. I want to share with you an experience fro the Scriptures this morning about the life of Samuel. We're in a series on Samuel. We're going to be in a series on Jesus' second coming in not too long here in our church. We have a lot of exciting things we have to share.
Often time we expect good leadership, but what we get disappoints us. We see wickedness in high places, in people that are leaders. Do you remember the Davenport fiasco? We can all name leaders involved in unethical or unlawful practices. Do you remember Enron? Enron executives are in prison. We see Roman Catholic Priests being defrocked because of public sexual sin. A prominent TV singer and writer has been let go recently and charged with shocking sin. Bright lights do go out.
But all this is nothing new. The Bible is full of it. God does not cover it up. In fact, God exposes evil. He forgives sin, if we want it forgiven and blot it away. But he certainly does expose it. Dark times took over after Joshua died. They were about as dark as if the toner factory exploded. Open Scandal was an everyday happening, even right in the Lord's Holy Sanctuary. Eli was the high priest. And there was sin, and he was a bad high priest. He had not started out that way. None of us do, do we? We all start our as innocent little babies that are perfect, and then it depends on what you do with Jesus as to which direction you're going to go. God had used Eli for years for years before he became so bad. God might use you even though you are living the high life of sin. God sometime even uses bad people to lead. I've thought about that. But all sin does have latent consequences. The Scriptures says in Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Eli's leadership was detrimental to the people. During his time the children of Israel slipped away into deep sin and paganism. They lost their hold on God. And you can do that. Eli's lack of good leadership led the people away from God, in the wrong direction. He should have been their leader. Instead, he was their detractor.
Eli's sons were even worse. In fact, they were terrible. Look at 1 Samuel 2:12. Eli's sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord. Now, I appreciate people who have a regard for Jesus, don't you? They had no regard for the Lord, it says here. This would be fairly bad if they worked downtown at the Shiloh Taco Bell, but they didn't work there. They worked at the Shiloh Temple. They were unholy priests in the Most Holy Place! It was a bad experience. The King James Version says that they were sons of the devil.
There names were Hophni and Phinehas. They were evil ministers. Did you know that both their names were Egyptian! Pagan names for supposedly holy priest. You need to be careful what you name you children. Both Hophni and Phinehas were circumcised but not in the heart.- Romans 2:29. They were not true Jews. And I suppose there are some in every church that are not true Christians. If you have not given your heart to Jesus Christ, you need to do it. Let's be true Christians clear through to the core.
Do you know what their chief sin was? They didn't knowing God. It was manifested through robbery. Look at 1 Samuel 2:13-17 and you can read a story that will make you wonder what is going on. It has to do with the meat sacrifices and other things that were going on. The two unethical Priests had a blacksmith forge a big three pronged fork to plunge into the boiling meat kettle and take whatever it brought up. Now, that's not how god prescribed it to be. They did this during the offering. They were never supposed to do that.
Their wage scale was strictly prescribed: a priest was to receive the breast and the right shoulder, and that's all, and this only after the offering was given to God. Only after the breast was waved before the Lord and only after the right shoulder was heaved - held up high before the Lord. That's all. They took it before it was waved and before it was heaved. In other words, they wanted more than their share.
Imagine entering our church on Sabbath Morning and the deacons greet you at the door. And they've been to the blacksmith's shop and they have a large three pronged barbed hook they jab down into your purse and whatever it brings up, cell phone, check book or whatever... belongs to the Priest. This would be horrible. Or, they force you to give your offering on the spot to the pastor before giving it directly to God in the offering plate. You see, your offering goes first to God. Of course Pastors should be paid by a percentage of the tithe, but, only after the tithe is turned in to God in the offering plate. But that's what was going on with these two boys of Eli. I have tried to make it clear so you can understand it. It was so bad that Eli should have defrocked them. In fact, the church, when it has a bad minister, should let that pastor go. If he's not preaching the Word, if he doesn't know the Lord, he shouldn't be there. He has no business there. And it was so bad that it became God's purpose to kill them - Verse 25. That sounds pretty bad, doesn't it: not to defrock them but to kill them. Is that a little bit vindictive?
Actually, God was patient. They were in there for years and years and years. He is so patient. Don't wee have a gracious God? Often times He could just snuff us right out, but
You know, there are two paths to life. In our story, three innocent little baby boys were all born into priestly families; Hophni, Phinehas and Samuel. Do you realize that in this story, all three of these little baby boys had a daddy as a priest, because Elkanah was a priest. He was of the tribe of Levi, although he was an unemployed priest. They were all preacher's kids. Eli's boys grew worse and worse under Eli, while Samuel grew better and better under Eli. Three kids: two of them going down, one of them going up. How can this be? They were raised under the same leadership: Eli. All three of them. Why is that? It's the choice that they had! When day in and day out you choose a wrong attitude it will lead you to a wrong path and lead you further and further away from where you want to be. You will slowly be turned away from the path of life, and be turned into the path of wickedness and death. That's what will happen.
Now, let's talk about pure Samuel. Samuel was like Jesus; He was a Holy man. And, imagine young Samuel living with this type of evil all around him, Hophni and Phinehas. They were terrible and there were all kinds of evil going on, and yet Samuel was pure! What a great experience Samuel had! Like a pure white flower... One time I went to a foundry and they had a big pile of black foundry sand. Have you ever seen that stuff? Against a dirty old brick wall. And there on the top of that pile of dirty black foundry sand was a white flower. And I thought, "How can that thing do that? Here you have all this beauty among all that dirt." And that's what happened to Samuel. It's what's in your heart that counts, isn't it. That's where it is. It needs to be something in your heart. If you have Jesus in your heart, you're going to go that way. And if you don't, there's only one direction for you, downward. You know, we can learn something from anybody. Either how to do something or how not to. Samuel was intelligent and eager. And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men. - 1 Samuel 2:26. He grew physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
Why did Samuel grow so holy among such an unholy environment? Have you ever thought about that? I think there were four reasons:
1. His RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD was different than Hophni and Phinehas.
Look at 1 Samuel 2:21. ... the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord. Now, he was in the presence of Eli, he was in the presence of Hophni, he was in the presence of Phinehas, and yet, the Bible says he grew up in the presence of the Lord. God is able to safeguard your children from evil. They may go to an evil place but God is going to help them.
One time I used to work at a business where the air was blue with smoke and curse words. I don't think anybody there was a believer. I didn't meet anyone there who was even slightly religious. The never talked about church They never talked about the Lord. And I worked there all summer long and I prayed that God would help me to not be like them, that I would be pure in that evil environment. And do you know what? Their sinful behavior did not attract me. It repulsed me. It was just the opposite of what one might expect. Why? I think because God answered a lot of prayers, mine and my relatives were praying for me. And His presence was very real to me.
2. Another reason why I think that Samuel became good while all the others were not is because of his GODLY PARENTS. Look at 1 Samuel 2:19, 20. Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Once a year at the annual sacrifice she would take him a brand new robe. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, "May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord." Then they would go home. You know, Samuel was loved. His mother really loved him, and he knew that. When you love your children you make a difference. And his mother's robe that she would make for years, a bigger size each year, that long seamless robe. Imagine the time that it took for her to get that seamless robe made. She had to make the yarn or thread. She had to work the spindle. She had to weave the cloth on the loom. She had to make that thing. You couldn't just go down to Walmart. Imagine the time that she put in That robe helped to make Samuel different. Nobody else had a robe like that. And every time he wore it he knew his mother loved him. He like Sampson, he never cut his hair. Now, Delilah cut Samson's hair and his strength was gone, but Samuel had long hair as far as we know. He took the Nazaritic vow. He had long hair all of his life. He looked unique from other children.
3. Another reason Samuel turned out good was ELI. 1 Samuel 3:1 says, The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. That old high priest somehow was a living shield protecting Samuel from evil. Eli had failed with Hophni, he had failed with Phinehas, but he made up for it on the second go-around, and I will tell you parents, if you have failed with your children, make it up on the grandchildren. Do you best the second time around. Make it up. Now, Eli did several things that you might not have noticed in here. Eli made Samuel wear a little Ephod. This meant the boy was a priest-in-training. He knew he was a priest-in-training. In fact, he was a high priest-in-training. This set him apart from all the other boys. Because of his long hair and the Ephod I doubt if the other youth hung around Samuel very much even though they must have respected him. This made him to have his relationship with God instead of with all the other boys.
4. There is something else interesting in here, I think we need to KEEP OUR MOMENTUM going. Look at 1 Samuel 2:26. And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men. He continued to grow. Keep that momentum going. Keep growing. Keep you Bible study going. Keep your prayer life. Keep you witnessing going. Keep your relationship with Jesus. Keep it strong. Keep it growing. Don't lose momentum. Never give up.
Samuel is an example of what can happen to you if you daily keep growing into a righteous person. If you keep on the path, you will eventually become more like Jesus. Spiritual maturity is the product of a lifetime of consistent growth. If little Samuel could grow up good in an evil environment you can grow in the environment where you are. There is hope for your children. Pray for your children. Love them. Set a right example before them. Believe in them. You need to love your children. And never give up on your children.
Now, let's talk about Samuel's HOLY HEAD PHONES. Come to 1 Samuel 3:1. The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. You know, God gives visions to devout people, and there weren't vdry many devout people, so there weren't many visions. God had been silent for years. 1 Samuel 3:2. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
You know what the ark of God was with the cherubim. Now, do you get the picture that he was lying down right there beside the ark, sleeping there in the Most Holy place? Well, not actually. I don't think Samuel was sleeping in the Most Holy place right there beside the ark. His room, you see, the temple had various rooms all around it. And his room was just outside the temple wall near it. So, that's where he was. It was near it. And the Lamp of God was still lit. What does that tell you? Throughout the temple there were lamps that were lit, not just in the Holy Place, but all through the temple. It was Samuel's responsibility to light those lamps. E'd fill them up with oil and light them as it began to get dark and so they were still lit. Which tells you it hadn't burned out yet. Usually they burned until morning. So it could have been right toward dawn.
Now, 1 Samuel 3:4,5. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." Now, when the Lord calls you, you need to answer, don't you. Has the Lord called you? Has Jesus called you? You need to answer Him, don't you. And Samuel answered Him. He said, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli And when God is calling, don't go in some other direction. He ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
Again the same thing happened. "Samuel" called a voice. He came running to Eli but the old man had not called. Old Eli (maybe 80) was almost blind (he has poor spiritual eyesight too) and Samuel (probably 17) quickly ran to his bedside to help the man. Samuel did not yet recognize God's voice. So Again God called him. Look at 1 Samuel 3:8b - 10. Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. Eli was the first one to realize Who was calling him. Now, that says something good about Eli, doesn't it. He wasn't so out of tune that he had never heard God's voice, but he realized God was calling Samuel. And, So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Now, Eli could have said, "Oh, you're just hearing things. Don't you listen because God is choosing you instead of me and I don't want you to listen." Eli didn't do that. He took it like a man. He fully realized God now is calling Samuel instead of me. This is a transition. He realized that. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." Isn't that beautiful? "Speak, Lord." Now does God speak to us today? He certainly does. And Samuel said, "Your servant is listening." Samuel was volunteering for service. "I'm ready to do whatever. I'm Your servant."
What a blessed night! God called him by name. He said, "Samuel!" And, you know God knows your name! God knows who you are. He knows everything about you. If God called your name would you recognize His voice? I wonder what God's voice sounds like? I really don't know. Eli never heard a sound, only Samuel heard. Eli didn't hear a thing. Why not? Because Samuel had the Holy Headphones! In other words, Samuel was different: His heart was open to it. And Eli wasn't. You know, God can be in one bedroom and not the next bedroom.
Now, I've never heard God's audible voice, have you? My wife heard it back in December 1972. Has God ever called you by name? God called Paul and he went blind from the brightness of God's presence. God called me to the ministry. I know that. I have never doubted that But it was not an audible voice. It was an overpowering urging that I could not do anything else but become a minister. I answered God's call. Over the years God has blessed me and my ministry more than I could ever deserve.
Samuel rose early that day and began to unlock the doors and to clean the lamps and perform his daily duties. Young Samuel may have been afraid to tell Eli the bad news God gave him. If you read God's message (1 Samuel 3:11-14), it not a very good one. For the first time it's kind of tough. But Eli stopped him and said, "Samuel, God spoke to you last night, didn't He." Eli knew that, he knew it was God. And he said, tell me. Don't withhold anything from me. Tell it all." Eli also knew that God was choosing Samuel as His replacement in the Aaronic Priesthood. Eli was now a "has been." Replaced. Even though it was supposed to be permanently in his family, he was transferred. You see, God's are conditional, aren't they. Yet he took what Samuel said like a gentleman.
Notice the power of God's word. God's word had come to Samuel, and it comes to you, and it doesn't come to inform us but God's word comes to form us. Not just inform. And that's what it did to Samuel, and that's what it can do to you. Samuel became a prophet that night. He was God's new mouthpiece. Now, a prophet must deliver God's message. Look at 1 Samuel 3:18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Remember Hazen Foss and William Foy? They refused to relate God's message so a 17 year old girl took their place. We who stand in pulpits are under sacred obligation to relate God's message. We're here to deliver the message that God has given us, not our own. It must not be our message. That's why every sermon that you hear must be based on the Bible. It must be a Bible message. It must not be for entertainment but to preach the full unabridged truth of God's Holy word; to uplift Jesus Christ through His word.
Now, look at1 Samuel 3:19-21. The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. 1 Samuel 4:1. Samuel's word came to all Israel.
What a great story about Samuel. You know, I can see God's grace in this story. Can you see a little bit of God's grace shining out of this story? It's there. God waited a long time before coming down on Hophni and Phinehas. That shows His grace. And did you see how God gave barren Hannah 5 more children? There's some grace there. God always does beyond our needs. God loves to eventually reward his Children for their faithfulness and their love.
God will do for you practically the same as He did for Samuel. He'll do it for you. You may say, "Well, He'll never speak to me." Well, God does. Today God desires to speak to His children through His word. In Samuel's time they only had 6 or 7 books of the Bible. The first 5 books of Moses and Joshua and maybe Job. And so the Bible was coming through one prophet at a time, and one person at a time who is inspired. Today we have the whole thing. God wants to speak to us through His Word. We should be able to say, "Speak Lord, for You servant hears!" Are we listening?
God spoke to Samuel because Samuel had taken the time to be God's man. It takes time to be holy. Put Jesus first in your life.
Hymn of Praise: #30, Holy God, We Praise Your name Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:19-21 Hymn of Response: #500, Take Time to Be Holy 040807 #556
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page
McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated August 8, 2004 by Bob Beckett.