“Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.” [1 Samuel 2:17 NKJV]
The tragic story of Eli the priest and his two sons is a stern reminder not to trifle with what God has established concerning worship. Eli’s sons were greedy, violent men who did not know the Lord. Their father Eli did not restrain them from functioning as priests so that the worship that God desired from His people was turned into a hated thing rather than a place of joy and fellowship with the Lord.
The Gesinius Hebrew lexicon defines the Hebrew word translated ‘abhor’ as ‘to despise, to deride, to reject with contempt and derision’
It is likewise a tragic thing when a local church meets to worship but the people of God have their hearts manipulated by over bearing individuals who do not know the Lord or who may be saved but are out of fellowship with the Lord. Too often God’s people are caused to despise worship because there are either men in the oversight for whom their position is all about themselves or the leadership simply fails to silence or restrain men and women who monopolize the attention of God’s people for themselves.
The Lord warned His disciples that the age between His two advents would be made difficult by the work of the enemy who would sow tares in among the wheat. (Matthew 13:24-30) This describes the difficulty of distinguishing between believers and unbelievers as they grow up together.
The Apostle Paul wrote this helpful warning to his protege, Timothy concerning the establishment of a local church: “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. … 24 Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some [men] they follow after.” [1Timothy 5:22, 24 KJV]
The exercise of discipline in a local gathering sometimes means believers will have to choose between their allegiance to family members versus their allegiance to God’s Word. The lesson from Eli and his sons is that a failure to do so constitutes a great sin before the Lord. It robs the Lord of worship and so becomes a form of idolatry. It is impossible to know the joy of the Lord when His glory is given to another.
May God cause us to be discerning and deliver us from being unfaithful to His Word.
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