Israel had just lost a battle against the Philistines. They lost not only the battle, but the ark of the covenant as well. The statement above was uttered by the wife of Hophni when told that her husband, along with his brother Phinehas, had died in the battle and the ark taken by the enemy.
Yet, it was because of Hophni and Phinehas that Israel lost the battle and the ark, for they were defiling the offering to God:
Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD. Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.” If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.” This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight, for they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt (1 Samuel 2:12-17).
Their defilement had three factors.
1. They defiled their calling.
How? They were not being true to their priesthood. The mandate of the priesthood was to be mediators between God and man. They ministered to God and then to man. Out of the priesthood came the High Priest. Thus, the priesthood was held to the most stringent of standards and behavior.
Hophni and Phinehas failed to live up to those standards.
We, too, as Christians have a calling or purpose from God if we have professed a commitment to follow Christ. When we refuse to heed God’s calling, it is akin to defiling that calling. If we do not know our calling or purpose from God, than we must seek to know it. When we are true to our calling or purpose, God’s glory shines upon us.
2. They defiled their heritage.
Along with their calling, Hophni and Phinehas had a heritage to keep. First, they had the heritage of being sons of the present judge who was Eli; yet they defied their own father by not obeying God.
Second, they had the heritage of being Levitical priests. The Levites were called to be priests because of their loyalty to God, being the first to side with Moses against those who were worshipping the Golden Calf. Yet, they showed disloyalty when they defiled the offering.
Third, they carried the heritage of being victorious in battle. Israel had the reputation of always being victorious in battle because they had the one true God on their side. Their enemies were deathly afraid of them. So, when they lost the battle, they lost their reputation, their integrity, their credibility and, of course, the glory of the Lord
They defiled their heritage by assuming that, in spite of sinning against God, they could still carry the ark into battle believing they would be invincible. But God had already judged them and the ark became merely an empty ornate container.
As Christians, we too have a heritage to keep. It is the heritage of being children of God, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is a heritage that brings with it the Transfiguration, the Ascension, the various miracles of Jesus, the death on Calvary, the Resurrection and not the least the hope of his return as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Does the world see us as a glorious heritage of Christianity? Or does the world see us as an empty, ornate container?
3. They defiled their worship.
By misusing the offering and then by misusing the Ark, they defiled their worship of God. To them God was merely an instrument instead of them being instruments of God. To them God was not worthy; they were. To them God was not the most valuable factor in their lives; it was their stomachs.
In their act of defilement, they were not worshipping God, they were worshipping themselves. In effect, they were robbing God of what belonged to him.
Worship is to declare that God is worthier than all things in that he is more valuable than anything we own, and more valuable even than our own lives. (Read how David worshipped God in this post.)
Yet, we can be guilty of not giving God the glory due his name by not giving the correct tithes, our time and our talents. We come late for the Sunday worship service and thereby miss out on the time of corporate worship. Singing songs of praise and worship is an integral part of the service.
Have we been defiling the offering as Hophni and Phinehas did? In doing so, we cheapen God.
We make him less than who he truly is, the Most High God!
(I’d love to read what you think about this article. Please comment below.)