2017-11-01 / Religion

Faithful God, unfaithful people

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Numbers 25; I Samuel 2:27-36

Every individual, who has accepted Jesus Christ of Nazareth as his or her personal Savior and Lord, has been given a divine assignment. During the forty days between the resurrection of our Lord, and his ascension into heaven, his followers were given many instructions. Matthew recorded the words of our master, “Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Matthew 28:19. Mark recorded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15. Luke recorded the scene at the time of the ascension. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:8. This directive has never been amended nor deleted.

The divine intention for the chosen nation, Israel, was that of carrying the Good News of the love of our heavenly Father, the creator of the universe, to all the world. Under the old covenant, testament, the priests were to be the divine representatives to Israel and the other nations. The man, Aaron, the brother of Moses, was selected as the first high priest. The succession of the priesthood would be through this family.

Under the old testament system, the sin nature, present in all mankind, was not removed. This nature was, simply, covered. The countries around the chosen nation served many gods. Their pagan worship appealed to the lower, sinful nature of the fallen human race. The record is clear, “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredoms with the daughters of Moab.” Numbers 25:1. These people knew that they were disobeying the commandment. Exodus 20:14. Their disregard for the divine Law resulted in divine judgment upon all who were participating in these immoral actions. Moses relayed the divine directive to the leaders of the people, “Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor.” Numbers 25:5.

The grandson of Aaron, Phinehas, was the priest at the time of this problem. This man found one of the Israelite men having sex relations with one of these heathen women. In accordance with the divine command, the priest slew both offending parties. The zeal of this priest was not overlooked by God, Jehovah. Our heavenly Father sent a message to this priest. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.” Numbers 25:10, 11. The action of this faithful priest became the basis for a divine covenant with this household — “Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” Numbers 25:12, 13. This man did not forget his divine call!

Time marches on. Generations tend to forget the grace and mercy of God that has been part of their heritage. For some people, the pleasures of the moment overshadow the blessings of the past. The time of the judges was not a spiritual high-point for the nation of Israel. The priesthood had degraded to the point of complete disregard for the divine ordinances.

The man, Eli, was the high priest at the time of the record that we know as 1 Samuel. Most of the responsibilities of the priesthood had been assigned to the two sons of this priest. The sons of Eli were Hophni and Phinehas. The record gives us the divine picture of the spiritual condition of these men, “they knew not the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:12.

The lack of spiritual knowledge that characterized the lives of these men, led them to abuse the provisions that had been made for the livelihood of the priests. See 1 Samuel 2:13-16. “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:17.

While this degradation continued in the tabernacle, the place of worship, God was at work in the life of the dedicated child, Samuel. 1 Samuel 2:18, 19. Thus, we can understand that God does not ignore sin, nor does he leave hungry hearts without divine assistance.

The record shows the level to which these men had fallen. “Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel, and how they lay with the women that were assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” 1 Samuel 2:22. His reprimand was very weak. 1 Samuel 2:23-25.

God sent an unnamed spokesman with a direct message to Eli and his wicked sons. 1 Samuel 2:27. This faithful man reminded Eli of the divine call that had been placed upon him and his sons. A question was presented to the weak, faithless priest, “Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, and make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?” 1 Samuel 2:29.

The promise to the faithful priest of the past was amended because of the unfaithfulness of Eli and his sons. “Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel; and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.” 1 Samuel 2:31-33.

As faithfulness is rewarded, so unfaithfulness comes under divine judgment.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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