Ichabod! The Glory of God Departed
“And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas:” -1 Samuel 2:33-34
This pandemic has kept me busy writing our new book, “Can You Miss the Will of God? Yes, You Can!” Eli was a priest and a judge. He was a Levi, a descendant of Aaron. It was only the Levites that could serve as priest.
Eli was born into this privilege and honor. It was his calling and his mandate. A generational blessing. This meant the priests had to live a life of integrity, holiness, and godliness. They were set a part to judge and perform all the priestly duties. Let’s use a little of today's terminology. We expect judges in a court of law to follow the rules according to the law of the land. We further expect any person of the cloth to walk the life of righteousness. Easy to comprehend. No behaviors that go against the laws of the land. For the priests both. Laws of land and the laws of God.
Eli, wasn’t keeping neither the laws of the land or the laws of God. He was a very poor example of a judge and a priest. His life is not one we wound model after. Nobody I know would say, “When I grow up, I want to be like Eli.” This man liked to look the other way to corruption, sin, and abuse of power. Anyone who has studied the strict rules and regulations that applied to how priests needed to live would understand how unbelievable it was all the atrocities he allowed and how deportable his actions were.
From the very beginning of his story, we find his inability to judge correctly. It starts with Hannah. The woman praying at the alter for a child. She was weeping before God to grant her a child. Eli accused her of being drunk. Can you imagine that? I can. He was so far away from God that he absolutely no discernment between a woman crying at the altar before God and a drunk woman who would have been unruly. There’s a huge difference between the two. Where was his discernment to distinguish the difference between a praying woman and a drunk woman? Please catch this. The hand of God had departed from him. This left him to judge on his own. God help us that we don’t make this fatal mistake.
We find that story just in the previous chapter. What comes next is a terrible judgement and execution by God Himself. You see, His sons were evil. As evil as it gets. They were committing every kind of sin, robbing the people, threatening the people, engaging in disgusting sexual acts with the women who were coming to the Tent of the Tabernacle. Folks, this was the House of God. These things were happening in the House of the Lord, the place where God's laws were to be upheld. Eli was receiving complaints left and right. He had the authority to stop it, and he didn’t. No wonder the Spirit of God left his side. Eli was now ruling on his own. We all know how well that goes.
God sent someone to deliver a word to Eli. The word was a terrible one.
“And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas:” Oh my God. I think I would have fallen to the ground begging God for mercy and changing my ways, make amends with God and men and would have kicked the butts of my two sons, all over the Middle East, not Eli. He continues to let it go on. I can’t help myself. I have to ask the question why? Sin in a your life blinds you to ALL of the truth. When you allow sin to enter your life, they will choke the very life out of you. You begin to rationalize, defend, excuse, and believe that which are lies. You are now completely blinded by schemes, lies, misconceptions, and delusions. How do I know this to be true? He didn’t change His ways nor did he correct and hold his grown sons accountable for what they were doing in the very house of the Living God! This why I know. Wow! Just Wow!
God just proclaimed His judgement and it was harsh. Have you ever seen a judge throw the book at a criminal? This is what took place for Eli. God said, “I’m done of this evil you have allowed to take place before my eyes. You have allowed every wicked things to take place in MY HOUSE. My House, Eli. I can’t and will not look the other way. I’m going to kill both your sons. Furthermore, I’m going to completely cut the blood line from your family line. Your descendants will end. I’m removing your children by death. Your descendants will no longer occupy the office of priests or judges. I’m ending and wiping out your very lineage.” God, I can’t believe this sentence he received.
Still, Eli, says nothing, and does nothing about it. God gave him many, many years to change his actions and mind to repent and make things right. To discipline his two sons, who were serving as priests. Instead, he allows the wicked actions to continue. How do we know this? Remember Hannah? God heard her prayer. God granted her request. She and her husband had a miracle baby. His name was Samuel, and Samuel replaced Eli and his two sons. Samuel had to be born, and Samuel had to become of age to be a judge, a priest, and he became a prophet, too. During those years, Eli continued in his foolish condition. The day came. His two sons were killed in battle at the same time. When Eli heard of their death, he fell of his chair and broke his neck. Thus, Eli, and both his two sons were killed in the same day. His daughter-in-law went into labor and died after giving birth to his grandson. She called him "Ichabod," which means the glory of God has departed. She knew exactly what took place. God fulfilled the second part of this prophecy when Abiathar was deposed from his office by King Solomon. God fulfilled the entire prophetic word over time. There’s no game playing with God.
Can we miss the will of God?! Yes, We can! We have a part to play to ensure we don’t miss our destiny. It all starts by living lives of integrity, moral character, and obedience to God. We are sadly mistaken when we allow ourselves to think we are exempt from God’s judgement on the evil actions we uphold, and participate in. God will not look the other way. I’m scared to death of God. This is a very healthy feeling. I know the love of God, I know the mercy of God, I know the compassion of God, I know He is slow to anger and judgment giving us ample time to make things right. But, there’s also an anger side of God. It’s the side that says, “I had enough!” When that happens we are done.
Let’s go to God today in an attitude of humbleness and with a sorrowful heart, asking forgiveness and changing of attitudes and ways. I like watching court of laws shows. I’m intrigued by judges. I watch their facial expressions, and I intensely hear what they are saying. I often know how they will rule.
Once I was walking in New York City, and I got picked off the street to participate in one of those court television cases. I agreed. I wasn’t alone; there were about 50 of us chosen off the street that day. After the case, we were all asked how the judge would rule. My answer was total opposite of what everyone else said. I was the only one that said, “He is going to pardon that man.” The interviewer was shocked. He didn’t agree with me either. I knew the judge would be lenient based on one thing said and done. The criminal was asked specific question by the judge. The criminal answered in an honest manner and apologized with a sincere heart. I saw the judge’s face looking very intently on the man. I saw the judge pause and ask another question and I saw both the criminal and the judge’s face. That criminal was truly sorry. The judge let him off the hook. The guy that was asking us the question came back to me, “How did you know?” I said, “It’s all about repentance in this case.” Well, that got me on television. My one moment of fame. But, the truth today still rings true. Don’t wait for the gavel to strike in judgment. Then it’s too late.
Make right what you need to make right. Don't be Ichabod. Don’t allow the glory of God to depart from you.
Rev. Dr. Teresa Allissa Citro Founder and President at Thread of Hope, Inc.