Story of Eli and His Two Sons Teaches Those Who Serve God a Lesson
Due to embezzling God’s offerings, Eli’s sons met with God’s righteous punishment.
It is written in 1 Samuel 2:12-17, “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not Jehovah. And the priest’s custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a meat hook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the meat hook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites that came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of you, but raw. And if any man said to him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as your soul desires; then he would answer him, No; but you shall give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Why the sin of the young men was very great before Jehovah: for men abhorred the offering of Jehovah.”
According to the laws of the Old Testament, when the Israelites gave offerings to Jehovah God, the priests should first offer the sacrifices upon the altar, and after God accepted the sacrifices, they divided them for the priests and people to eat. However, Eli’s sons didn’t revere God at all. With insatiable greed, they often took the sacrifices on the altar extra, and took for themselves the fat that was the best part to be burnt on the altar, and never intended to repent. As the priests who served God, they should offer sacrifices and make atonement for the people, lead the people to honor God above all and to come to fear God. However, not only did they not do that, but they exploited their power to occupy, rob, and steal God’s offerings, which was a serious betrayal of God’s statutes and ordinances. From what they did, we can see that they weren’t those who served God but those who opposed God. They were people of the same type as Judas. As a result, they received God’s righteous punishment in the end.
Eli was punished by God because of conniving at his sons’ long-term stealing God’s offerings.
1 Samuel 2:22-25 says, “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did to all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said to them, Why do you such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. No, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: you make Jehovah’s people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall entreat for him?”
When Eli heard how his sons approached God’s offerings and how they committed wicked acts, he clearly knew that they had offended God’s disposition and that they should be punished severely according to the laws. But he just blamed them and didn’t take any measures to prevent them from doing evil, nor did he revoke their qualifications for priests. Instead, he connived at their continuing embezzling and stealing the offerings of Jehovah God. So Jehovah God said to him, “I said indeed that your house, and the house of your father, should walk before me for ever: but now Jehovah said, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off your arm, and the arm of your father's house, that there shall not be an old man in your house. And you shall see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in your house for ever. And the man of yours, whom I shall not cut off from my altar, shall be to consume your eyes, and to grieve your heart: and all the increase of your house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign to you, that shall come on your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them” (1 Samuel 2:30-34).
Eli didn’t revere God, nor did he exalt God, but rather connived at his sons’ doing evil so that God got angry with him and cursed his sons and his descendants. We can see from this that, whoever he is, even if he once was faithful to God, served God for a long time, had an impressive qualification, or was possessed of high status, if he doesn’t have fear of God at heart, and to take care of his relationships with others, he covers up and connives at someone’s harming the church, then he will surely meet with God’s righteous punishment. This is determined by God’s righteous disposition.
From the story of Eli and his sons, we can see that the God we believe in is almighty and that He looks upon everyone’s deeds and intentions. God’s disposition is righteous, majestic, and does not allow the offense of man. God’s holy essence can’t be besmirched by anyone. So, after we have known God’s righteous disposition, we should revere God and shun evil at every moment, and only in this way can we receive God’s commendation in our study, work, life and in serving God, and can we avoid making God be disgusted with us. This story indeed is a wake-up call for us. It admonishes us: We should revere God in our belief in God.