Joel Virgo

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A King Like the Nations

June 1st, 2011

1 Samuel 8: 1-22

  • Samuel is being mocked by the Israelites
  • He has served them well all his life but he didn’t raise his sons very well
  • Samuel still has many years left to serve when this is asked
  • Samuel was hurt by this request. We often feel hurt  but instead of pretending all is well or letting everyone know how he felt, Samuel took this to God
  • How do we handle hurt? It is wise to assess our feelings and take them to God
  • vs 7: Samuel receives healing from God
  • When we feel hurt by rejection we might be experiencing a little of how God feels when we reject Him
  • If we get close enough to God people will react to us in a similar way they react to God
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 – we should live not holding grudges
  • It is ambigious whether God wanted to give the Israelites a king.
  • In this passage He seems against a king but in Deutronomy 17:14-15 God is pleased about a king
  • The sin in this passage is how and why they’ve asked for a king
  • The Israelites wanted a king because they are scared of their enemies
  • If they remembered their Ebenezer they wouldn’t have asked for a king as they would remember what God did for them – the Israelites were not trusting God
  • Psalm 46:1 – God helps us
  • Samuel warns the Israelites of the danger of their request but they refuse to listen to him – they have forgotten that God is on their side
  • God wants them to trust Him
  • If we stay faithful to God we have no idea how much He will do for us
  • Stay close to God and He will bless you
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Prevailing With God

May 23rd, 2011

1 Samuel 7:3-12
• This time looking at how the Israelites won the battle – it was God, He won the battle and Israel played their part. It was the Lord who thundered and threw the Philistines into confusion – He is the hero.
• It is humbling to us – God does the heavy lifting.
• How did God get so involved? Samuel was the great warrior – he prayed and heaven broke loose.
• Throughout history, men of God prayed and saw victory – e.g. Moses who prayed when Joshua was in battle, and he prevailed.
• The great power and efficacy of prayer. We don’t pray to feel spiritual but to know God and get things done.
• God invites us to an adventure of changing the course of events and even history.
• Prayer is not weak, pious, religious escapism or a cop-out for not doing “real” work. Prayer here is continuously fighting and prevailing with God.
• It is one of the privileges of being a Christian.
• It is hard – it’s a discipline and a struggle and a labour. But prayer is also sweet! God is our Dad and loves us.
• The more you press in, you find God is dealing with you and shaping you. We’re often tempted to pray only in the shallows.
• Jesus calls us to pray and not give up.
• We are called to live a life of prayer – living our lives with God and prevailing with Him.
• Prayer is not a spare wheel – it is the steering wheel!
• Turn your passions into prayer. Sometimes we only see prayer as a duty. What do you want? Take it to God – you’ll find out if they’re right or wrong. Take your anger to God in prayer – it’s much easier to just sit around and complain. Pour out your heart to Him!
• James 4 – you do not have because you do not ask.
• Whatever it is that angers and frustrates you can unlock and grow your prayer life.
• Sometimes you have to pray for something for years, even decades.
• Prayer is like a business product that sells really well.
• There is a danger – you can think it’s all about you and what you can achieve in your own strength in prayer.
• Samuel cries out to God on behalf of a desperate people who don’t deserve anything, and he prays for their protection and wellness. He was a sign of Someone who was to come.
• The Lord Jesus Christ is the greatest pray-er – He went back to the Father to pray and intercede for us (Heb. 7:25). He lives to pray and intercede for us. He’s not in heaven doing nothing!
• Before Jesus went to the cross, Peter was so sure of himself that he wouldn’t deny Jesus or turn away. Luke 22:31-32 – Jesus said he had prayed for Peter and that his faith would not fail, not for an easy life. Shows the importance and power of prayer.
• Jesus knows what is valuable, what’s most important about us – it is how much we trust God. All of our problems have come from us not trusting God.
• Jesus’ prayers never get denied!
• 1 Peter 1:6-7 – faith is more precious than gold. Your faith will be tested through trials and fire.
• If you don’t think you can make it, take heart – Jesus went through trials before you and for you, and now prays that you will be able to do the same.
• Romans 8:34.
• Jesus names us before the Father.
• John 17 – Jesus’ great high priestly prayer. This is what He prayed for us.

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Remembering God

May 16th, 2011

1 Samuel 7:3-17

  • V.12 – Samuel commemorates the event of God helping Israel – he’s trying to make it clear that God was the one who won the victory.
  • The book of Judges is repetitive – Israel kept making the same error, kept turning to other gods, and God would teach them by handing them over to those gods and allowing the tribes of those gods to rule over them – and Israel would cry out to God and He would raise up a hero to rescue them. Then Israel repeats the same mistake and never seems to learn.
  • Samuel doesn’t want Israel to make the same mistake this time so he sets us this memorial, “Ebenezer”.
  • We are the same – we tend to wander and drift from God, even when He does great things in our life.
  • Romans 1:21.
  • We all make the same error of not remembering God or giving thanks to Him.
  • Samuel wants to break the cycle of forgetfulness.
  • Phil. 4:6-7 – we find peace through thanksgiving to God.
  • We all have an inbuilt human instinct to give thanks and celebrate the good things that come into our lives.
  • Set up reminders in your life – to get you through the tough times.
  • 3 ways Ebenezers can happen in our life:
  1. The ones that are already there, that already exist to prove God’s work in our life – e.g. healings, miracle children, etc.
  2. The ones we set up – steps we take to commemorate e.g. journaling (the book of Nehemiah is a journal), recording what God has done. Deut. 6 – be a household that commemorates what God has done. Even write down the tough times and then what happened after. Ebenezer was the field where Israel got massacred – shows God’s hand was through it all and that He leads us through all times, even things that don’t make sense. Look for what God is doing through each season of your life – take time to think it through. God’s blessings come to us ripe, in the right time.
  3. The one Jesus gave us – the meal of bread and wine, Communion – to remember what Him and what He did for us, how God dealt with our sin and defeated all our enemies: Satan, sin and death. He is victorious. We can either live in it or forget it. “Eucharist” is another name for Communion and it means “thanksgiving”.

Real Solutions

May 11th, 2011

1 Samuel 7:2-14

  • This is a story of dramatic heart change of a community – Israel decided to pursue God wholeheartedly.
  • Israel had wandered so far from God that they had lost their most sacred object – the Ark of the Covenant. It was like a symbol of the covenant between them and God – but even though they had kept the Ark, they hadn’t kept their commitment and promise.
  • Something happened in Israel – heart change and repentance back to God. This was not only unusual but it was impossible, a miracle. The human heart doesn’t choose God in and of its own accord.
  • This was a different sorrow to mere outward, religious sorrow. 2 Corinthians 7 – godly grief vs. worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is selfish grief – being sorry about the consequences vs. sorry about grieving God. Psalm 51 – David acknowledged he sinned against God and God alone.
  • We may not have murdered or committed adultery like David did, but our hearts are still the same. God wants an inner purity at the deepest level – our desires and the way we function deep down should line up with God – we need to rediscover the holiness and purity of God. And we need to realise this is not for misery but for our joy – it is the way to true joy.
  • Samuel exhorts Israel to turn their hearts to the Lord. We don’t turn to outward religion or rules, but direct our hearts to the love of God in repentance. Not trying to do god things or negotiate a deal but trusting in the promise of God that He will receive us by turning to Him. Not a burdensome thing.
  • God is the only one who can truly love us and make us truly happy – we come back to Him in order to return to joy and happiness. Psalm 16:11. We sin because we’re not enjoying God enough!
  • We go further than a mere feeling of sorrow & repentance – we also come under the instruction, input and help of people who are godly and wise, and get them involved. We come to God but also to God’s people – we walk in the light by being transparent with people in our life (not everyone obviously) or healing won’t truly happen. You won’t win fighting sin on your own.
  • Don’t let pride get in the way, or even a false sense of humility (i.e. not wanting to burden others).
  • Conviction of sin can fade if left alone.
  • “Sin” is not a popular term in our day and age. Don’t dress it up guilt and push it away – call it what it is and you will probably end up finding the relief you need.
  • The repentance of Israel started off so well, but then the Philistines decided to come against them. Often the steps of obedience and repentance we take lead to trouble! When you start to take God seriously, trials often come. What’s being tested is who you trust.
  • Israel got scared – but it is an improvement as at least their fear drove them to God (v.8). Who/what do you turn to in times of trouble? Where do you go for comfort? Drink, girlfriend/boyfriend, movies, food, sex?
  • Israel didn’t turn back to their idols in trouble, but God – shows true repentance. And they found peace, deliverance and victory. They found it in the place of prayer – Philippians 4:6-7.

God’s Way of Winning

April 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 5:1-5

  • Relevant to Easter – Dagon was a giant bunny!
  • This passage makes sense as an Easter message
  • The Ark of God had gone into another nation – the Israelites had taken it into battle
  • The Ark is like a wedding ring – a symbol of God’s covenant to Israel
  • But if you commit adultery you are abusing the symbol – the Israelites were like this, looking for other idols – they lost the Ark in battle because of their idolatry
  • The Ark being taken was so awful that when Eli found out he died instantly
  • The Bible is one big story leading up to one climatic ending – tells the story of God’s glory and power
  • The devastation of losing the Ark is a similar feeling to how the disciples felt when Jesus was taken
  • Jesus was their destiny and they were happy to follow Him – He was powerful and authoritative – their hopes must have been really high
  • Jesus was taken without a fight – it would have been devastating
  • Luke 24:21: Jesus/God can sometimes disappoint us but that is because our expectations are wrong
  • Some people are at church because all hope has gone. Others have been away from church because they feel Jesus let them down
  • If you have God on your terms, you will be disappointed
  • If you have God on His terms – the real God – you will see extraordinary things but you may have to wait a while
  • God doesn’t work on our terms
  • Everyone is looking for hope – the problem with Western culture is science argues humanity is an accident – this leads to despair
  • Even on the Cross Jesus was in control
  • The Israelites felt let down by the Ark
  • The Philistines thought the Ark was feeble, no longer able to help the Israelites
  • Col 2:15 – through this seemingly feeble man, God was destroying all evil
  • You may think everything is going wrong and think God isn’t in control, but He is
  • If God was in control at Calvary, He is in control everywhere
  • Dagon fell on his face in front of Ark and the Philistines had to prop him up – on the second night Dagon falls face down, with his head and arms chopped off
  • God is saying “stop it” – stop worshipping anything other than God
  • God might be saying this today – if things are disappearing in your life, e.g. money or relationships, God might be gently pushing over our Dagons
  • People think Jesus died and didn’t rise again – that people felt He was still alive in their hearts and out of that stories about the empty tomb were created and eventually made into a myth – then into a fraud religion.
  • This doesn’t work as myths take generations to be created and Jesus’ story was being told 20 years after they happened.
  • Paul names eye-witnesses that can be verified and the disciples were killed for preaching this message so unlikely to be a myth
  • Jesus was raised to life!
  • Why did Jesus have to die and rise again?
  • Deut 28:64 – we can’t be with God if we can’t keep His covenant – to resolve this God came to earth to live the perfect life and be sent into exile and death for us – we can’t achieve goodness on our own

What’s The Real Problem?

April 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 4

  • This is a tragic story of Israel’s defeat. It was a case of bad leadership, bad decisions and bad results. They made it worse for themselves.
  • This was before Samuel was judging Israel.
  • Israel were upset – they knew that it wasn’t right that the Philistines were defeating them – they were given this land by God. They asked “why is this happening?” At least they asked the question and wondered why this was happening – could there have been a wrong turn? Some people don’t even ask why it has gone wrong or try analysing it, wondering if they have made a mistake – asking why their marriage/finances/children/work situation is failing.
  • Asking why is one thing, getting the right answer is another thing – and we don’t like the right, honest answers. But when you get the right diagnosis, you can find the right cure.
  • We are “compulsive misinterpreters”.
  • The Bible goes much deeper than we do – it looks at our hearts, the core of who we are – and this is where the real cause of our problems is to be found.
  • It’s not that what has happened to us isn’t real or doesn’t count – but the heart is at the core.
  • Prov. 4:23 – guard your heart above all else, for out of it flows the wellspring of life.
  • If we don’t love the God of the Bible with everything then we will reap mess and error in our life and in the world.
  • The Israelites, rather than looking at their own hearts, just go for a “plaster” option – the centre of it all, Shiloh, becomes corrupt and no one does anything.
  • They go for a religious option – very different to real worship. They took the Ark of the Covenant with them into battle, using it like a religious, superstitious trick, believing the box will save them (as opposed to God).
  • Religion is deceptive because it looks like the real thing but it lacks God and worshipful hearts. Even secular people can be religious – morality. We major on minors and neglect loving God and people.
  • Phineas’ wife – “the glory has gone” – true but also half-wrong. The glory had left decades ago but no one had noticed or cared.
  • We often equate our bad circumstances with the glory being gone – the things we truly care about being gone from our lives. We have all exchanged the glory of God for a lie – for ourselves and for created things.
  • What is at the Shiloh, the centre of your life? What is your glory?
  • We were made for God – we need to get the glory back.
  • The whole story of the Bible is the glory of God returning to our lives and to this world.
  • We think we will work for it but this is not the case. The glory returns to us in the most extraordinary way – God became one of us and displayed His glory through sheer mercy and grace by His cross.
  • God wants the world to know His glory through the grace of His Son – and that is the only way we will know it.
  • Ephesians 1:6.
  • It’s not by trying harder – it’s understanding and knowing the grace of God. It’s so joy- and peace-giving that you would gladly give up anything for it.
Author: Categories: What Kind of King? Tags: , , ,

The Sin of Doing Nothing

March 27th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-36

  • This time we are looking at Eli.
  • There seem to be 2 ways of living here – Eli’s way or his son’s way – but both, we will find out, got it wrong.
  • The sons are flagrantly wicked – they are greedy bullies who take things and women for their own gratification. This is not unusual in our day.
  • Eli seems the polar opposite – the “nice” guy, the “good” guy. He is effectively in charge of Israel – the closest to a king in that day.
  • When God sends a rebuke, He sends it not to the 2 sons but to Eli – because Eli is responsible and held responsible. A shocking speech is delivered to Eli – fierce prophetic judgement. But why? Eli didn’t do anything! That is exactly why – he did nothing and that is what he is rebuked for.
  • If we’re not in the camp of the 2 sons we think we are “good”, because we’re not doing anything.
  • We think there are 2 ways of living – the “wicked” way or the “good” religious way. We think we can placate God through religious acts – but we can’t.
  • There is the sin of commission but also the sin of omission – not doing the right thing. Eli’s failure is omission.
  • But didn’t Eli try to sort his sons out? The hint is in the language he uses – he only really cares about people’s opinions, about the public reputation of him and his family rather than the honour of God.
  • We often do the same to keep our conscience clear – we speak out against bad things and show off our disapproval. But there is a huge difference between disapproving or complaining about something and actually doing something about it.
  • “Tear your hearts and not your clothes” was a familiar saying of the prophets.
  • Eli’s story is a massive warning to us.
  • Eli is so different to Christlike people of the Bible, e.g. Job. Job 1:15 – Job wants to honour God in every way he can.
  • V.29 – Eli is probably in on the deal of the stolen meat – it’s inconvenient for him to change things because there is gain for him in it. Similarly, we let things persist that shouldn’t because we gain from them.
  • V.29 – God asks Eli why he honours his sons about Him.
  • There is something at the root of all of our decisions.
  • It is possible to dishonour God through respectable, religious ways – like Eli did.
  • Many things we put before God sound right and respectable.
  • If you make anyone else into a god – such as your kids – and put them first above God, you will actually harm them. God needs to be first always.
  • Sometimes we disobey God because we’re frightened of hurting other people – but we’re trying to play God.
  • Kids, marriage, etc can all take us away from putting God first. The idol of popularity can also squeeze honouring God out of the picture.
  • Eli probably wanted his sons to like him and so put them first – ironically though, they don’t like him and don’t listen to him.
  • We are made to show the world what God is like – to be His representatives.
  • What is happening on your watch, under your radar? In other words, what are you allowing to happen?
  • Matt. 10:34-39 – Jesus is kind enough to show us that anything else we put in the place of God will harm and destroy us.
  • Worship is like petrol – you wouldn’t give it to your kids, but only your car. Similarly, you need to give worship to the right source – God.
  • To dishonour God is a dangerous thing – there is nothing worse than God dishonouring you, giving up on you and not speaking to you. You could even be saved and yet still dishonour God for years.
  • How do we honour God? It is neither the evil or the religious way.
  • Only one person truly has honoured God – Jesus. It comes from the heart – loving righteousness and doing the right thing, utterly focused on honouring God above all else.
  • This is a gift given to us by Jesus – we cannot do it ourselves. This is the third way to live – coming to Jesus and receiving His grace to live.
  • Jesus died and rose again for us to give us a new life and new heart that loves righteousness. We partner with Him – He is a loving Master who helps at every stage and transforms us by His power.

Process and Crisis

March 20th, 2011

1 Samuel 2:12-26

  • It was a bleak time in the history of Israel – the nation had missed its calling, to be God’s pure people. Even the people in charge of religion were corrupt, stealing and sleeping with the temple women. The end of the book of Judges paints a similar picture.
  • God’s desire through the book of Samuel is to set up the right kind of kingdom and the right kind of King.
  • All God seems to be doing at this time is sending one little boy (Samuel) into the centre of Israel’s corruption. God uses the most unexpected people for the His work – He uses the weak people for great things to show His great strength.
  • None of us have fully obeyed God – we all need rescuing. And God sent a little baby boy to accomplish this – His own Son, Jesus – to achieve the greatest victory in history.
  • God’s power and greatness is made perfect in our weakness. Part of knowing God is that we come to know and see how weak we are. A Christian is no more weak or needy than anyone else – they have just come to realise it. We are all weak and needy whether we feel it or not.
  • God GROWS us.
  • When Samuel was older, he would speak and everyone would listen. He had great authority. But v.21-26 simply says he grew and continued to grow – in stature and in favour with God and man. It speaks of God’s pattern for people He wants to use.
  • God has saved us for a purpose – Ephesians 2:8-10.
  • Samuel achieved the purpose that God had for him, but he had to grow. It took time – it wasn’t glamorous or exciting.
  • We have to accept the process.
  • There’s a big difference between process and crisis (dramatic moments). Process takes time; here are things you can only have or achieve if you submit to the process.
  • Luke 2:52 – Jesus went through the same process of growing as Samuel.
  • Hebrews 12:11 – we need to be trained in God’s “gym” – it’s not pleasant at the time but it is essential and produces fruit.
  • Discipline brings freedom. God wants us to be liberated not oppressed.
  • Our generation prefers crisis to process – we want dramatic moments, crisis solutions, shortcuts and quick fixes.
  • We barely look at the Wisdom books of the Bible, e.g. Proverbs. We need to be learning a life of wisdom in the day-to-day – this is where we truly grow, and not so much in the dramatic/emotional moments.
  • We want instant success but it can take years and years.
  • Proverbs 13:4.
  • We need a plan, to get to grips with God’s plans. Proverbs 13:12.
  • It’s wisdom to not only to plan to achieve something for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren – to build a legacy.
  • You have to take the stairs – there is no elevator option. One step at a time.
  • How do we build a life for ourselves and the generations to come? Psalm 1:1-3 – God’s word has to be our foundation, immersing ourselves in it daily, trusting that it will do us good – then we will be truly happy and will be like a tree planted by streams of living water.
  • Samuel also grew in his reputation with men as well as God – same as Jesus. It’s important that we reflect well to others, representing God well.
  • Jesus worked hard in the day-to-day life of carpentry. He grew in wisdom and submitted to His parents. Why? Because He was living the life we should have lived in our place, and also showing us how to live.
  • Submission scares us – we think it’s going to be hard, tough and unpleasant. But we need it – or our hearts will end up sick.
  • Both submitting and not submitting will exhaust us – but Jesus came to give us rest as we submit under His yoke (Matthew 11:28-30). It makes us free, not oppressed, the closer we get to Him.
  • The Christian life is both hard and easy.
  • Jesus is the most gentle and patient with us – so different to what we expect.
  • Jesus took the worst burden for us. He became obedient even to death, on our behalf. Now we can be obedient to Him.

Hannah’s Song

March 1st, 2011

1 Samuel 1:21-2:11

  • Hannah did something astonishing – she gave away the one thing she asked for, the one thing she had been longing for her whole life, which was a child. Her baby boy was her answered prayer.
  • Her decision seems irresponsible, but she is actually being bold and is not a victim, but is liberated in this decision.
  • She goes away singing after giving her son to Eli the priest – she expresses her emotion and something of a summary of what she has learnt. She is an extraordinary woman.
  • Her song teaches us a number of things – firstly, that God is holy and unique – He is much bigger and greater than we think, and should be taken more seriously than we do. It is like she is getting our attention and warning us – she has seen what God is like and knows that we cannot just live our lives as we please.
  • God is the only true rock – we base our lives on many things (money, relationships, etc) but they are all useless.
  • Everything we have is a gift of God – He is the only reason we have anything. When we understand that, it is so much easier to give things back to Him.
  • We need to be warned off any arrogance or pride. We are wired to think that if we do good things for God, then He has to do good things for us, like He owes us – many people think this is how religion works. Christianity goes flat in the face of that – it’s based on the arrangement of a free gift. None of us deserve God’s favour or grace or mercy or any of His gifts. We need to get to know the God of mercy who gives way beyond anything we could imagine. This is the God of the Bible.
  • The only thing God could have given to redeem us was Himself – His very own Son. When you meet this extravagant God, you start to see things differently – like the way Hannah did. You begin to live more risks – someone who hasn’t met God won’t take many risks.
  • V.8 – Hannah is saying she can trust in God. Even the poorest, the lowliest can be raised up if they trust in God. This gives us freedom to be generous and take risks because we know that God will look after us – He has our backs.
  • God also guards our feet – He shows us where the next step is and we can trust Him with our future.
  • God meets our needs in the process of risk-taking.
  • Hannah is like another hero of the Bible: Abraham, who was willing to give up his son – the one who was promised and who he waited so long for. Abraham obeyed God and totally trusted Him – even to the point of believing that He could raise his son from the dead.
  • Sometimes God will take us to the wire, where we need to be willing to let our dreams die – willing to give up the things we’ve longed for.
  • God’s desire is to prove Himself – to raise up things in life where we have experienced “deaths”.
  • It’s not that God is a slot machine – but He will always supply our needs. Sometimes He doesn’t provide in the way we’d like Him to, but He is always faithful.
  • We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future – that is what counts.
  • Hannah ended up bearing more children – she didn’t know  or expect that that would happen. We mustn’t presume on what God will do when we give, but we can trust Him.
  • Hannah also learned that she has a greater purpose in life than her own purpose. She speaks of her hope that God will set up a great Kingdom and a great King; at that time there was no king, no order, no standards – she was living in a nation that was far from God, living in darkness. And what came upon her was a terrible sorrow for her nation.
  • God wants us to see the bigger picture – He wants us to have a heart for our nation, for our city – to long for His Kingdom to come.
  • Hannah knows one thing for sure: God will rule one day. And in some way she believes that her giving of her son Samuel to God, He will accomplish this. The greater King was to come.
  • Hannah saw that, if God can do the impossible of giving her a son when she was barren, then He could sort her nation out as well.
  • If God can raise His Son from the dead, He can bring restoration in our nation and our city. He can change the hearts of those who reject Him. This can happen when we give ourselves and our money to God.
  • It’s so much more than just our small dreams – the real dream is Jesus and His Kingdom.
  • God is doing something extraordinary all around the world – but what about our continent, our nation, our city? God will do miraculous things as cities like Brighton become alive with the gospel and Jesus is exalted.
  • Giving is very practical – we have to actually do something. It is also painful. V.24 is very slow – God wants us to understand how hard it was for Hannah.
  • The death of the bull can be seen as symbolic for the death involved in Hannah giving up her son.
  • Be need to put to death the love of money – it will either kill us or we will kill it.
  • It’s appropriate to sing and celebrate when we give – the two things go together.

What Kind of Priest?

February 21st, 2011

1 Samuel 2:11-36

  • The 2 sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were not pleasant people – the Bible calls them ‘worthless men’, even like sons of a demon, with nothing redeeming about them.
  • We evaluate people all the time – we work out the value of others and encourage each other to evaluate others, even from a young age.
  • But we react saying that no one can evaluate us – we are our own judge. This kind of attitude is applauded in our culture – that we should only have to answer to ourselves. But is this the ultimate truth? Could there be someone else – someone far more important and powerful with far higher standards – who is evaluating us and whom we have to answer to?
  • People assume this isn’t true – they gamble their life on their being no God. But the truth is, we will all have to answer to God.
  • The sons were called worthless men, not because of their behaviour but for this reason: ‘They did not know the Lord’ (1 Samuel 2:12). They were judged on whether they knew God – not on their moral or religious state. They were even in charge of religion in that day!
  • We will be judged on the same grounds: do we know God as revealed in Jesus Christ? The sons didn’t and neither did they want to. They knew about Him but didn’t know Him.
  • Humankind doesn’t want to know about God and none of us seek Him.
  • Jeremiah 9:23 – if there is one thing we can/should boast in, it is that we know the Lord.
  • The apostle Paul’s one goal in life was this: to know Christ.
  • If you’re bored with God, you probably don’t really know Him. The more you get to truly know God, the more you desire Him and the more you hate sin. You see that you can’t love both God and sin.
  • The sons of Eli were priests and were in charge of all the sacrifices. These food sacrifices were God’s way of eating with sinners and making sure the priests were looked after. But the sons wanted all the food – they were greedy, for both the temple food and the temple women. They took what didn’t belong to them.
  • God wants us to represent Him as a generous giver – not a snatching thief.
  • 1 Samuel 2:28 – God is trying to make the sons see how much He has done for them.
  • God’s problem with greed is that we don’t realise what He’s already given us – all the blessings and provision – and that we don’t trust Him.
  • Greed makes us steal and take things that are not ours, whether it’s people or things.
  • Jeremiah 2:7-8
  • In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve such an abundance – but they went for the one tree God said they couldn’t take from.
  • We don’t expect good things from God and we think He is narrow-minded. But we are the narrow-minded ones! God wants to give us the best but we’re so focused on what we can’t have.
  • 1 Timothy 6:6: ‘Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment’
  • The sons of Eli were a terrible representation of God – they were supposed to be the mediator between God and man.
  • We are also all supposed to represent God as we were made in His image. God was so determined to restore this poor representation that He set up the priesthood. It was a complicated process to show that it is complicated for God and sinners to be friends – but God is determined to be kind to us.
  • God had to deal with Eli’s sons – He was not going to put up with being represented so terribly.
  • But it is not the end; God also promised to raise up a faithful priest, who would show what He is truly like. And He did just that – by His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave up what was rightfully His rather than demanding what was not.
  • Philippians 2:6-8