Hope Chapel Blog
Learning and living the Way of Jesus!
HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, September 26, 2021
Teaching Series - “Our Family Tree–Through the Bible in 2021"
Weekly Topic - “Called by God—Hearing His Voice” – Communion & Sharing Sunday
Text – 1 Samuel 1-7
Prayer Emphasis Week – “God’s Power Made Perfect in Weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
What are some of the keys to hearing from God? Listening is just one component. [get responses--wanting to hear, asking for God to speak, having the right attitude, paying attention]
Sometimes it is as simple as being able to recognize His voice when He speaks!
Often times, we don’t hear God because we assume that we know what He would say, or He says something we don’t want to hear. There are times that He chooses to be silent to help us in learning dependence on Him, but at other times we don’t hear Him because we’re just too busy listening to other voices. When God first spoke to Samuel, Samuel heard Him calling, but didn’t know who it was that was trying to get his attention. Samuel had come to live in the Tabernacle and work for the priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas when he was just a boy. His mother, Hannah, had been unable to have children and told God that if He would grant her a son, she would give him back to God to work at the Tabernacle in Shiloh. God heard her prayers and allowed her to conceive. Did God require her to give up her young son, Samuel, in order for her to answer her prayer? I don’t believe so, but God did bless her gift and it is obvious from a young age that God had a plan for Samuel.
“GOD SPEAKS TO SAMUEL”
1 Samuel 3:1-10 – Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. 2 One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. 4 Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”
“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5 He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. 6 Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Eli said, “I didn’t call you, my son. Go back to bed.”
7 Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. 8 So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 9 So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. 10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
Samuel is sleeping in the Tabernacle and hears his name being called. He assumes it is Eli, the aging priest whom he helps out. But when he awakens Eli, the old man assures him that he hasn’t called Samuel and tells him to go back to bed. Samuel has been serving in the Tabernacle under the guidance of the priests, yet the Scripture tells us he did not yet know God. But that was about to all change!
After the third time that Samuel goes to Eli, the priest realizes that something special is happening. He tells Samuel what to say if he hears his name called again, “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.” Samuel does so and God gives him a message for Eli…a message that must have caused the young Samuel some angst to share. But the next morning, Eli doesn’t give Samuel any option but to speak openly; if he doesn’t, Eli pronounces that Samuel should die if he withholds anything from him. So, Samuel tells him straight up. God has rejected Eli, his sons and his future descendants from the priesthood. The men of his family will all have their lives cut short, and to prove the truth of the message, both of his sons, Hophni and Phinehas will die on the same day.
You might think that Eli would be shocked by this message, but it’s actually the second time God has given it to him—once through an unnamed man of God and now confirmed through Samuel. His sons, though priests, are described as ‘scoundrels’ who used their position for their own gain and to abuse others; they had no respect for God and Eli had stood back and watched it happen. Rather than attempting to make things right, Eli resigns himself to the prophetic message. As the years pass, Samuel continues to receive messages from God and he becomes well-known as a prophet. But the time is quickly approaching when God will fulfill His judgement on Eli and his family.
“GOD’S MESSAGE FOR THE ISRAELITES”
1 Samuel 4:1-5 – At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”
4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
The Israelites are exuberant. Yes, the Philistines had killed 4,000, but now the Israelites fully expected, with the Ark of the Covenant—which was normally kept in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle at Shiloh—to gain the upper hand. After all, hadn’t they brought God to the battlefront? God would now become aware of the struggle in which they were engaged. He would now fight for them!
The first thing that stands out to me is their incredible misunderstanding of the nature of God. He isn’t limited to a box. He cannot be contained. Secondly, they were using the Ark like a lucky token. Surely, now God could see what was happening and would act on their behalf. And finally, it is abundantly clear that no one stopped to inquire of God Himself. They recognized that God had allowed them to be defeated, but they came to the wrong conclusion as to the why.
However, bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield did anything but dissuade their enemies. The presence of Israel’s ‘gods’ galvanized the Philistines determination to fight like their souls depended on it…and at the end of the battle they had killed an additional 30,000 Israelites, including Hophni and Phinehas who had come as caretakers of the Ark, and had captured the Ark of the Covenant itself as part of the plunder. God may have permitted the Philistines to gain the upper hand, but He has a message for them as well…
“GOD MESSAGE FOR THE PHILISTINES”
1 Samuel 5 – After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. 2 They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon. 3 But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the Lord! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again. 4 But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor anyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod will step on its threshold.
6 Then the Lord’s heavy hand struck the people of Ashdod and the nearby villages with a plague of tumors. 7 When the people realized what was happening, they cried out, “We can’t keep the Ark of the God of Israel here any longer! He is against us! We will all be destroyed along with Dagon, our god.” 8 So they called together the rulers of the Philistine towns and asked, “What should we do with the Ark of the God of Israel?” The rulers discussed it and replied, “Move it to the town of Gath.” So they moved the Ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9 But when the Ark arrived at Gath, the Lord’s heavy hand fell on its men, young and old; he struck them with a plague of tumors, and there was a great panic.
10 So they sent the Ark of God to the town of Ekron, but when the people of Ekron saw it coming they cried out, “They are bringing the Ark of the God of Israel here to kill us, too!” 11 The people summoned the Philistine rulers again and begged them, “Please send the Ark of the God of Israel back to its own country, or it will kill us all.” For the deadly plague from God had already begun, and great fear was sweeping across the town. 12 Those who didn’t die were afflicted with tumors; and the cry from the town rose to heaven.
God had sent a message to the Israelites that He would not be used as a lucky charm, and He also sent a message to the Philistines—their god, Dagon, was no match for the God of Israel and they were to return the Ark of the Covenant or suffer the consequences. He spoke quite clearly to the Philistines that He was not to be treated as some captive prize; but it still takes seven months for the rulers of the Philistines to acknowledge that the rats and boils that were causing so much death amongst the people were a punishment from God. They finally relent and decide to send the captured Ark back to Israel, but will do so in a manner that will prove that they have been suffering at God’s hand and the plague has not simply been a coincidence.
They place the Ark on a cart, pulled by two cows with calves that are locked up; these cows have not been trained to pull a cart and their every instinct would have been to stay put with their calves. But in this case, they take a straight line back to Israel, lowing all the way, pulling the Ark behind them. The Philistine leaders follow them to the border separating the two enemy nations and watch as the cows arrive in the Israelite territory of Beth-shemesh. They are left with no doubt as to God’s message for them.
God spoke directly to Samuel and He had a message for the Israelites and the Philistines. The God of the Old Testament is still the God we serve today and He still speaks…but do we hear?
· Do we know enough about Him to recognize His voice? God spoke directly to Samuel, but he did not recognize His voice; I suspect he had never been taught that God could speak directly to him. God still speaks to us today, but if we don’t recognize His voice we’ll be left just as bewildered as Samuel was initially. God can speak to us directly like Samuel; He may speak to us through His word like Daniel; He may speak to us through another like David; or He may speak to us through the storm like Elijah; no matter how He chooses to speak, we are likely to miss hearing and/or understanding Him if we don’t know enough about Him. We should never be satisfied to know ‘of’ God, but should seek to know Him personally. Such an amazing gift that is available to each one of us—a personal relationship with the Sovereign God of the Universe and our loving Heavenly Father!
· We must not make presumptions on what we think God would say rather than asking Him? The Israelites chose to use the Ark of the Covenant like a lucky talisman; they had placed their faith in an object that represented God, rather than God Himself. We as people do this all the time—replacing a relationship with God for mere symbols like the Bible, a church building, a habit or strict adherence to Christianity’s many ‘thou shalt nots.’ Rather than asking for God to speak to us, we assume we already know what He would say given a particular situation…and that is a dangerous assumption. Just ask the 30,000 Israelites who lost their lives in the battle with the Philistines!
· God is more than capable of defending Himself—He doesn’t ask us to serve as His arbitrators against those who don’t know Him, but to love and pray for them—with compassion, grace, forgiveness and generosity. Too many Christians are spending far too much of their time making angry pronouncements and have forgotten Jesus’ expectations of His followers. Debates, accusations, denials, anger, resentment or anxiety will never persuade anyone of the realness of our God and His love for humanity. We are called to be His ambassadors not His attorneys—He is more than fully capable of defending Himself when He deems it necessary.
God is never the victim of man’s scheming and rebellion. Even the cross, though entirely for our benefit, was His choice.
For Further Study
The Chosen – television series on the life of Jesus and his disciples (2 seasons completed and accessible free online at thechosen.tv)
Sunday, October 3, 2021- “Getting What You Want” - In-person and Online
Sunday, October 10, 2021- “After God’s Own Heart” - In-person and Online – Thanksgiving Luncheon (Guests welcome, RSVP required)
Weekly lessons are now being made available on Youtube – “Pastor’s Study” - Go to our website: hopechapelcollingwood.ca and click on the Youtube icon or click on the link below https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrF8GWFnLjTmRyXjYnq1Ytw
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!