Sunday, 29 May 2011

God can revoke his forever-promise

In Samuel we read an account of God rebuking Eli.
And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, "Thus the LORD has said, 'Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?' Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,' but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, "Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread."'" (1 Samuel 2:27–36)
It is interesting to note that God says to Eli that he choose Eli's ancestors, and further that God,
promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever.
God gives a promise that is forever. Eli's family would serve the Lord forever. Nevertheless, when Eli failed to ensure his sons honour God, or at least fail to discipline them for blaspheming God, God removed the promise. God says he will raise up another priest, a faithful one.

It seems to me that Eli was unable to bring about God's promise that he and his family would serve the Lord. God chose Eli and his ancestors to go in and out before God. This position and honour was all God's doing, and not from Eli. Those outside of Eli's family were unable to take part in this honour without God enacting it. Importantly however, Eli was able to forsake God's choosing. By dishonouring God, Eli was rejected; God's promise that was forever was revoked. This point is important for our instruction.

We cannot enter God's kingdom thru our effort. We must be chosen by God. Fortunately God has given us a forever-promise in his son Jesus. Be grateful that God has offered us redemption when we could not earn it. But be also fearful. If we reject Christ then God can revoke his forever-promise. Our salvation is not our doing, it is all in God's offering it to us. But like the house of Eli we can still reject it. God's eternal promises do not give us security to continue in our sinful ways. God's grace is wonderful, beyond comprehension; but it is not to be abused. If we blaspheme God he can certainly cut us off from himself.

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