Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Helpless Righteousness

The corruption in our churches and in our communities deserves punishment severe than that of the ancient Israelites of Eli's time received. However, let us pray that God will be compassionate to us and hear our intercessions for our people.

We may be people who fear God and honor God. However, there may be stages in our lives when we may be so helpless but just watch the judgment that falls on his people, unable to do something in the matter. Noah was a righteous man. God allowed him to do something in the situation of gross sinfulness. He could at least save his family and few animals. Abraham could save his nephew Lot and his daughters. However, Eli did not have that favor from God.
Eli was not bad. He was a priest who served more than 40 years in the sanctuary of God in Shiloh. Though he did not have any revelations from God (at least in the near past) he knew how to respond when God speaks to his people. Young priest Samuel did not know how God speaks and did not know the formal words of responding to God (1 Sam 3:7). Eli advised him, "... if he calls you, say, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening'" (1 Sam 3:9).
It is wrong to assume that Eli did not do anything about the sins of his sons. He did counsel them and even warned them (1 Sam 2:22-25). He tried to stop them but he could not. They went ahead on the road to destruction and he had to watch helplessly they drive past him.
Worship of God was central to Eli's life. The Bible makes it very clear that the cause of his sudden death was neither the news of the defeat nor the death of his sons. It was the news that the Philistines captured the ark that broke his heart and lead him to his death. "When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy" (1 Sam 4:18).
He was thus a man who had a passion for God and his people (see how he deals with Hannah). He did not approve sinful ways even of his sons. However, he lived in a particular juncture in the history of Israel that God dealt with them severely and he could not do anything about it.
There is only one wish that we can make. That is to ask God that he will hear the prayers of his people and do not judge our nations, and our communities according to our sins. The corruption in our churches and in our communities deserves punishment severe than that of the ancient Israelites of Eli's time received. However, let us pray that God will be compassionate to us and hear our intercessions for our people.

Burning Bushes

'And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning,...