Bible Readings for August 13th
Sometimes we imagine that the people living in the Old Testament were constantly surrounded by great signs and wonders—a parted sea here, a prophetic vision there—but that wasn’t the case. Here in 1 Samuel 3:1, we read specifically that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.” The reason God communicated so infrequently with his people is obvious if we remember the stories we have been reading since the book of Judges: Israel has abandoned Yahweh again and again, and part of the way that Yahweh judges his people for their apostasy is by withdrawing his word from them.
But when Yahweh breaks the silence, he does so in order to tell Samuel that he has rejected the house of Eli entirely as priests because of the sins of Hophni and Phinehas (as well as Eli’s failure to stop them), even going so far as to say that “the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever” (1 Sam. 3:14). Shockingly, when Samuel tells the prophecy to Eli the next morning, Eli does not repent in hopes that Yahweh might relent from his judgment. Instead, he simply acknowledges that “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him” (1 Sam. 3:18). While Eli does not dispute the charges against him, he also doesn’t make any movement toward repentance.
We ought to glean two important lessons from this story. First, this story should help us cherish our Bibles more. In those days, the people of God had to wait for infrequent visions to hear anything from Yahweh, but we have the privilege of holding the written word of God—through which he continues to speak by his Spirit—in our hands. Let us never take God’s word for granted.
Second, let us seek the Lord while he may be found. Yahweh leveled threats against his people multiple times during the ministry of Moses (e.g., Ex. 33:1–6; Num. 16:45), and even during the days of Joshua (Josh. 7:10–15). In each of those cases, Israel’s mediators pleaded with Yahweh for mercy, and each time, Yahweh graciously relented. The reason that Eli’s house will not be atoned for has nothing to do with the effectiveness of the sacrifices—instead, it has everything to do with the fact that Eli would not repent.
Do you worry that you are too far gone for God to save? Those lies from Satan are a form of self-righteousness, misleading you to believe that Jesus might be sufficient for others but that your sins are somehow bigger than Jesus.1 Repent from your sins and your self-righteousness and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is willing and able to save.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.