19th August 2011

Shaping The Future

“Samuel before Saul” series (I Samuel 2:21-36)

Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and your father’s house would minister before me for ever.’ But now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me!’”
1 Samuel 2:30 (NIV UK)

Our free will can affect God’s plans for us.

God wanted the priesthood to continue through the line of Aaron, the brother of Moses. These priests were to conduct the religious ceremonies and to live exemplary lives. They were to intercede for the people, helping them to fulfil God’s intentions for them.

Phinehas and Hophni, the sons of Eli, who was descended from Aaron, did not live up to expectations. Statistically, one could have predicted how they would have turned out. They lived at a time when “everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25), with little or no reference to God and his thoughts. “Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12). They sought personal profit from the sacrifices, and committed adultery in front of the tabernacle. Their bad reputation preceded them wherever they went. “It is not a good report that I hear”, Eli told them (2:24).

Due to their free will choices God decided not to use the family of Eli as his priests, even though that had been his hope for them. Their conduct changed their future. Instead God would work through someone else. “I will raise for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind”, said God (2:35).

This faithful priest referred in the first instance to Samuel. It also prefigured the change in the priesthood to the person of Christ. Jesus would “become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Hebrews 2:17). Hophni and Phinehas had no compassion for the people. We, however, “do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus knows the very intents of our hearts, and is able to help us shape our future in God even when we are at our lowest ebb spiritually.

God has a great future in mind for each of us. That is why he alerts us to bad examples like the sons of Eli. “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God’ (3:12). God also reassures us. Jesus is faithful, and, because of his faithfulness, he is able to rescue us from the spiritual consequences of our free will mistakes. He has become the “source of eternal salvation” (5:9).

Let your future be secure in Christ.

Great God, thank you that we have the perfect high priest in Christ Jesus, and that His Spirit shapes our future with you. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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