Boy it sure is dark in here. This reminds me of when I first came to the Lord's house at Shiloh how clearly I remember those early days. My grief could not have been greater than when mom and dad left me there. As they turned and walked away from the doors, an overwhelming sense of darkness covered my soul. Silent tears trickled down my cheeks as I began life in a new home with Eli, the priest and his sons. From the time I could understand, my mom had snuggled me and told me about the privilege of serving at the Lord's house that I would soon have. She recounted the story of the miracle of my birth. She and my dad were unable to have children until one year she sat in the Lord's house and poured out her heart to the Lord. She told me about the promise she made to the Lord. I never really understood until that day when they walked away from the Temple. I felt such darkness and desperation
Eli, the priest, seemed glad enough that I was there. He was a kind old man who's eyesight was almost gone. He gave me small tasks to perform that kept the Lord's house running well. I checked the oil lamps, I swept and kept things in general order. Eli sons... well, they were a different story.
Eli sons were just plain evil , much like many of the people of that time. It was a very dark time for the nation of Israel yet in the midst of all in the midst of all the darkness I sensed God's presence and this was even before I had a relationship with God. It was in the midst of this dark time spiritually that God shown His light into my world. I will never forget that night let me tell you about the night that changed my life forever. I was just a little boy, not much older than you. I was lying down in the temple of the LORD, the lamp of God was just about to go out, hmm that’s a lot like what it was like in the nation. There were not many who sought the LORD, there were a few however to whom God still spoke but I wonder if they ever felt like the lamp of God was about to go out for the nation of Israel. Even in the darkest times God is still at work. Raising up men and women who will serve Him and be His light in a dark world. I was raised up for this very reason. As I was saying it was my job to make sure that the oil in the lamps did not go out. I would wake up every so often and top of the oil so that it would burn continuously giving light to the temple. On this night however I was not yet asleep I was probably just ready to doze off when I heard my name " Samuel", well naturally I jumped up and ran to Mr. Eli after all when he called I listened and did what he told me to do. Yet when I got to him he was fast asleep, I had to wake him up and when I did he looked confused, "I did not call you, go back and lie down". Huh funny I could have sworn that I had heard my name. So I went back and lay down in the temple keeping an eye on the lamp, it was burning down but had not gone out completely. Just as I was about to fall asleep I heard my name, now this time I really heard it. So I got up and ran to mr. Eli after all when he calls I listen and do what he says. Once again I had to wake him and once again he told me that he had not called me and that I should go back to bed. I thought he would be mad at me but he wasn't. Who was calling me? I didn't know? Like I said I thought it was Mr. Eli after all he was the only one who really called me nicely. Sure now I know it was the LORD but then I didn't. Why didn't I know it was the LORD? Well there are a couple of reasons; In those day we didn't hear the voice of the LORD very often. As I said earlier these were dark times, it's not that God didn't want to speak to us, we didn't want to speak to God or to listen to what He said to us. Those days God was pretty quite. It had to do with the evil that was present not only in the temple but in the nation as a whole. We were not used to listening to God we were used to doing whatever we thought was right. It was as if we were god of our lives. There were not many people who even cared to know the LORD. I had heard about the LORD from my mother but I never really had a relationship with him, that is until that day I heard His voice.
A third time I lay down in the temple this time I was going to try and stay awake. There it was I heard my name again, this time I was sure about it. So just like before I ran off to mr. Eli. This time though Mr. Eli got a strange look on his face. A faraway look like he was seeing something that he had not seen in a long time. He knew who was calling me it was a voice that he had not heard in a long time. He said it was the LORD who was calling me. Me?!! Why me? What did God want to say to me that He couldn't or wouldn't say to Mr. Eli? Mr. Eli told me to go lie down but this time when I heard my name called I was to say "speak LORD for your servant is listening". I went back into the temple it was just as dark as before however as I lay down in the temple again I didn't have to wait long till I heard my name, but this time I looked up and there was the LORD standing before me. Was I scared, what do you think? Yet as scared as I was it didn't seem so dark anymore I couldn't put my finger on it but there was also a sense of great peace as well. When He spoke I croaked the words "speak for your servant is listening".
What He told me next I could hardly believe. He told me that He was about to do something in Israel that would make the ears of everyone who was listening tingle. Wow, what was He going to do? Why was He telling me this? Why didn't He tell Mr. Eli this information? When He told me what He was going to do I realized why He did not tell this to Mr. Eli. The information concerned Mr. Eli. You see Mr. Eli's sons were bad, I mean really bad in fact they were downright wicked. Whenever you were around them there was a real sense of darkness that was present. I never understood how they could work in the temple since they were so bad. They treated people rudely, they took what they wanted even by force at times. They didn't care who they hurt or what people said. The darkness in the lives of these men was polluting the whole nation. When Mr. Eli spoke to them they wouldn't listen. Now the LORD was telling me that He was going to judge the house of Eli for the sin he knew about but did nothing stop. Yes, I heard Mr. Eli scold his sons but that is where it stopped. I suppose it was due to Mr. Eli's great love for his sons that he didn't do anything stronger to his sons. In fact if the truth be told what Mr. Eli was supposed to do to his sons was have them executed because they had made a mockery of the sacrifices of God. Can you imagine what must have been going on in Mr. Eli's heart? How could He do what God had asked him to do? He loved his sons, but I wonder did he love them more than he loved God? Eli's sons didn't get this way overnight , much like Mr. Eli's blindness little by little the light went out in the life of his sons and in Eli's physical eyes somewhere long ago his failure to discipline his sons led to this day. God was going to carry out everything that He spoke against Eli's family. Shortly before the LORD spoke to me he sent another prophet to Mr. Eli who told him that God was going to bring judgment upon Mr. Eli's house and that Mr. Eli and his sons would die and that there would no longer be anyone from his line who would serve as priests. God would bring an end to the darkness that pervaded His house. He was raising me up so that I could be a reflection of the light of God.
Wow , now what was I supposed to do? I loved mr. Eli, but I also loved God. Oh why hadn't mr. Eli listened to the LORD long ago? If only he had listened to the LORD he wouldn't be in the mess he was now. If only Eli's sons would have listened to their father. What was I going to do? When the LORD finished talking to me I knew I had heard from the LORD. I knew exactly what He had said. I knew as well what I must do. But I loved Mr. Eli, but I also loved the LORD. What was I to do? If I obeyed the LORD then I would have to tell Mr. Eli that he and his family were going to die. If I disobeyed the LORD then what would happen to me? Was this not the reason that Mr. Eli was in this fix in the first place because he loved his sons more than he loved the LORD. I considered sneaking away but Mr. Eli was blind not deaf, he would hear me and ask where I was going. I lay there in the dim light of the temple till morning and with the first rays of the sun I opened the doors of the temple. Almost as soon as the doors were open I heard my name again this time it was mr. Eli. He wanted to know everything that "he" said to me. I thought that it was funny that Mr. Eli called the LORD "he" rather than The LORD. Mr. Eli told me to tell him everything that "he" had said and that I was to hide nothing from him or else God would deal with me. Oh I wished I could have been in any other place but there. Why me LORD, Why now, yet in spite of these questions I told Mr. Eli everything. When I finished you know what he said? He didn't say what I thought he would say, I thought he would cry out for mercy from the LORD, instead he said "He is the LORD let Him do what is right in His eyes" This is the attitude that had gotten us in so much trouble for this is what we had done all along, what was right in our eyes not what was right in God's eyes. How much different things would be if only we had listened to the LORD. If we truly love God we will not only listen to Him but we will do what He says no matter how difficult it is. I remember another promising young man by the name of Saul. He had so much promise, he was anointed as our first king, yet right from the start he struggled with doing what he knew God had told him to do. Tragically much like Eli darkness began to overtake Saul's heart. God desires for our lives to be a reflection of His glory and when they are not He will speak to us through His word and through His servants. Will we listen? Will we even be able to hear? More importantly will we do what the LORD calls us to do?
As you have heard me today and as you have seen these examples I would ask you to consider, who do you love more? Do you love the LORD? Because if you love Him you will obey what He tells you to do, for this honors God. Maybe you are in a fix right now, could it be that you are in this fix because you didn't obey what you knew God was telling you to do? I would urge you to do what Eli and Saul refused to do, repent of this and ask God to forgive you. He will forgive you. Then when you hear His voice in His Word, or in a sermon obey what it is that you hear Him saying. Oh how different our world our nation, our homes and our lives be if we would not only hear the voice of the LORD but do what He says.