I was reading about a 40 year old Bangladesh farmer, Mokhairul Islam, who killed thousands of ugly rats and collected their tails as part of the national month long campaign to kill millions of those critters, in order to protect crops and cut back on food imports. The farmer won a first prize of a color television for killing some 83,450 rats during a period of nine months or around 10,000 rats a month.
That is a lot of rats and one heck of an exterminator.
Anyone who has lived in a major city knows that rats are a problem.
Rats will ruin anything. They can eat through concrete. They gnaw and chew through wires causing fires. They can even destroy crops. Rats spread disease to livestock and humans contaminating food with their urine and feces.
My mind was brought back to the account in the Old Testament in the book of 1 Samuel chapters four through six when the ark of God was stolen by pagans after a battle with the Israelites. God acted in retribution by sending disease, rodents and death (1 Sam. 5-6).
But before then, apostasy had diseased the ministry and worship of Israel and now it would spread to even the pagans.
We learn of Eli and his sons and co-priests Hophni and Phineas were vulgar, crude and they manipulated God’s people using the things of God for their own advantage and pleasure and, “their sin was very great before the Lord for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.” (1 Sam. 2:17).
They made, “the Lord’s people to transgress” (1 Sam 2:24).
Even Eli became morbidly obese and made himself fat on the things that should belong to God (1 Sam. 2:29).
God reprimanded him for showing contempt for holy things and honoring his sons above the Lord (1 Sam 2:29-30).
Like in our day here is yet another example of a whole generation of ministry that had no sense of the justice and holiness of God and therefore could not understand his mercy and grace.
They are committing spiritual fraud.
It becomes inconvenient to preach such things as the radical sinfulness of man, God’s wrath and judgment especially when you cannot enforce them in your family.
If you think that is difficult, just try preaching God’s radical grace, imputed righteousness especially when people want to be in charge of their own eternal destiny and salvation by religion and ritual.
Salvation and redemption lose their meaning without exposing the need for them. So you change the message to a lie by compromise and you have neither justice nor grace.
Like Eli there are some men that were ordained to condemnation that he will never forgive for, “the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever.” (1 Sam 3:14).
All the while because God’s sovereign grace, a young boy named Samuel is growing up right under their noses, in their own home.
Hey, he certainly couldn’t testify Sunday night in church, “Well I thank God for my praying surrogate father Pastor Eli and my step brothers Hophni and Phineas who were good examples to me!”
This shows that God’s salvation is really by grace alone and he was grooming Samuel to serve him despite the hypocrisy of the home and church in which he grew up. Thank God for his mercy.
God was sick and tired of their hypocrisy, so he divinely arranges for the Philistines to kill the two young priests and he also allows the ark of God, symbolic of God’s glory and power, to become a spoil of war (1 Sam 4:22).
The ark of God, not to be confused with Noah’s boat was a sacred chest in which was stored the Ten Commandments, Aarons rod that budded and a pot of heavenly manna (1 Kings 8:9; Heb. 9:4).
It was a symbol of God’s earthly throne from which he spoke (Num. 7:89). It was the central piece of furniture, for the annual ritual of atonement for the nation of Israel’s sins called the mercy seat. It was unthinkable but the place of God’s presence and forgiveness was embezzled.
When Eli heard that the ark was taken he fainted (imagine this if you can) he slumps backward and because he was so fat and old that he broke his neck and died. During this battle Eli had a grandson named Ichabod which meant in Hebrew that the “glory had departed” from the nation of Israel.
God’s presence symbolized in the ark had exited the worship of his people.
The Bible says, “That he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; and delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.” (Ps. 78:60).
God’s presence has already left; the ark being stolen was inevitable. Such was the Older Covenant. Because of the New Covenant genuine Christians need not be anxious over the presence of God leaving them or the forfeiture of salvation because of bad behavior.
BUT notice how quickly God can change the guard and take the positions of power from compromising men who break his laws in the sight of God’s people. that has not changed. The modern day priesthood of Eli and his sons will be removed from their places of service and replaced with prophets and leaders after God’s heart.
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