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Faithlife
Faithlife

A Superstitious People

Prophets, Priests, and Kings  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Notes & Transcripts
Common Superstitions
Spilling Salt
Friday the 13th
Baseball Superstitions
Don’t step on the foul line
Wade Bogs always takes batting practice at 5:17
He always ate fried chicken
Define Superstition
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While these superstitions seem unreasonable and irrational, superstions are at their core an attempt to control things that we have no control over. they are at thier core a belief that some sort of action will be able to manipulate God’s behavior. And that is certainly what we see in today’s passage.
Hophni and Phinehas are corrupt priests
Eli told them, but allowed them to remain serving
It has been prophesised that they will be removed
God has been silent
The only thing spoken has been the prophesy that they will be removed
God commissioned Samuel as Prophet
1 Samuel 4:1–2 NIV
And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield.
1 Sam 4
Location
Agressor
Questions
Not unreasonable thought-Doesn’t seem entering into battle is out of the question
Loss
Transition-Regroup
1 Samuel 4:3a NIV
When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”
1 Samuel 4:3 NIV
When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”
They ask why?-the thought of the battle wasn’t questioned, just why they lost
Had they known the scripture, it would have been obvious
, Moses
The book of Deuteronomy lays it all out.
Deuteronomy 28:1 NIV
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
Deuteronomy 28:1–3 NIV
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
Deuteronomy 28:1 NIV
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
Deuteronomy 28:1–2 NIV
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
Deuteronomy 28:7 NIV
The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.
,
Deut 28
Deut 28
Deuteronomy 28:15 NIV
However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
Deuteronomy 28:25 NIV
The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven, and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth.
Had the Elders known the scripture, it would have been obvious why God had brought the defeat on Israel. They were not following God’s word. In what ways were they not following God’s word?
There ay have been other ways that they were not following God’s word, but the important one here in 1 Samuel is in regard to the priests, Eli’s leadership, and the matter of how the sacrifices were being conducted.
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The elders would have been in close contact with Eli, and Hophni, and Phinehas, so they would have know that they were being unfaithful to the priesthood, and leading Israel to treat the offerings with contempt, but still they asked why.
The Elders surely knew the scripture. Even the everyday people knew that the priests were doing wrong. Back in chapter 2 we learned that people would confront the priests and tell them what they were doing wasn’t right, but they didn’t listen.
The elders either ignored scripture
1 Samuel 2:16 NIV
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.”
Or their pride kept them from doing what they should do.
So it must have been something else. It must have been pride. It was their pride that they knew better, or their pride that led them to believe that they were entitled to the extra portion. It was the pride that they were the Chosen of the Chosen?
You know they thought they were the REAL JEWS not like the rest. They were were the ones dedicating their whole life to God, not like the people that only come on Saturday. I can see it happening.
So then they hatch the plan. God is our God, he is on our side, they are so prideful they don’t even see their sin. They think it is because they need to do something to get God to help them.
1 Samuel 4:3 NIV
When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”
1 Samuel 4:3 ESV
And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.”
They take the ark and bring it into battle. That is their solution. Throughout this passage we read phrasing describing the ark as, the Ark of the Lord, the ark of the Lord’s covenant, the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, with phrasing like that it is unlikely that the elders actually thought the ark was magical.
They still seem to think that the Lord is the actual power behind the ark. But where they go wrong is to think that they can determine the Lord’s hand, or make the Lord behave in a certain way according to their actions.
The elders are standing on the covenant of the Lord. God said we are his people and he will protect us, so they carry that symbol into battle. But they are missing a very important piece of the puzzle.
Although the Abrahamic covenant was one-sided, in that Israel was a chosen people. That God chose them to be his people, they were to live under the Mosiac covenant that Moses recieved at Sinai. That was the covenant carried and symbolized by the ark. While a chosen people they were still to live according to God’s laws.
The covenant God made with Moses at Mount sinai, was an agreement of blessings and curses. God said, do well and follow the law, and I will bless you. Stray from me, do wrong and you will be subject to the curses.
What the elders should be doing is leading the people in a time of repentance. They should be seeking the Lord’s forgiveness for their unfaithfulness to their end of the covenant. They needed to be humbly accepting the word of God and its impact on their lives, rather than parading their grace in front of the pagans.
Here is a little illustration on this point. Let’s suppose a married couple. Now all week long the husband throws his clothes on the floor, leaves a pile of dirty dishes everywhere, and doesn’t do any chores. His wife is getting more and more angry, but she is patient and thinks on Saturday he will do his part. Now suppose the husband has some single friends that are going fishing on Saturday. Without discussing it with his wife, the husband heads out to go fishing, leaving her with the chores and the kids. He gets home and she is mad at him, of course.
So he decides I know, next Saturday I will take her fishing with me. Once, when were on vacation she really enjoyed fishing. The husband says I can see that your mad, so you can go fishing with me and the guys next Saturday. Then, when she gets even more angry, he holds his ring up to her and says, honey you have to do this, we are married, we have a covenant.
Although Israel is God’s people, he is not going to protect them as long as they are not living according to the agreement he has with them.
Bringing the ark into battle is nothing more than an attempt to try and control God, based on rules and regulations rather than a relationship.
The idea of the relationship comes from the reference to the ark .
1 Samuel 4:4 NIV
So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
It is not just called the ark, Instead it is called “The ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty who is enthroned between the cherubim.” The author specifically mentions the top of the ark and cherubim.
The ark was a wooden box, overlaid with gold, it contained the 10 commandments a symbol of the covenant, the rules to live by as God’s people. The cover of the box is called the atonement cover, had 2 cherubim on it, and it in , God says that is where he will meet with his people.
Exodus 25:22 NIV
There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
The priest
The priest sprinkles the blood of the sacrifice on the cover to cover over the violations of the law, and God meets with his people.
God up to this point had given them all the clues that the relationship between Him and his people was severed. He wasn’t speaking to them. He gave the prophecy regarding the failure of Eli to restrain his crooked sons, the priests Hophni and Phinehas, and now he gave them the defeat at the hands of the Philistines. Everything is pointing to the need for repentance, but somehow their pride is still in the way.
Even the people missed this.
1 Samuel 4:5 NIV
When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.
This is reminiscent of the glory days. The days of when they first came into the promised land. In those days the Lord himself told them to march the ark around the city of Jericho. the Lord told them to march around the city 7 times. The Lord told them to shout and the walls would come down. And they did.
So the people certainly must have thought that the plan was a good one. If fact, if it worked once way wouldn’t it work again. The difference is, in the walls of Jericho, the people were following what the Lord told them to do, not trying to make the Lord do what they wanted the Lord to do.
Back to our illustration of the married couple, just because the wife wanted to go fishing one time, when they were vacationing, doesn’t mean that is the answer to the problem, what she really wants is repentance so that the relationship can be restored. Any attempt at trying to manipulate the situation through a repeated action is not going to work.
The power of God is evident to Philistines. That isn’t what is missing. Had God been there, had God been in it, the Philistines would have been defeated, they were afraid. It isn’t a lack of God’s power, it is a failure of the Israelites in being in relationship with him.
1 Samuel 4:6–9 NIV
Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
1 Sam 4.6-
But Since God wasn’t in it, Israel was defeated.
1 Samuel 4:10–11 NIV
So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
And the prophecy of the death of Eli’s family come true. The ark is in the hand of Philistines, so that God can make it very apparent that Israel has violated the covenant.
1 Samuel 4:10 NIV
So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers.
So what does that mean for us today?
I started talking about silly superstitions. I don’t know that any of us really believe in superstitions like that at all, however many people today live their religious life in a very superstitious manner. Remember superstition is doing something in an attempt to try and manipulate or harness God’s power for your own benefit.
In the years leading up to the reformation people in the Catholic church went on pilgrimages, and handled relics and offered money to attempt to gain God’s favor. In fact many people still seek after healing by touching a certain relic of a saint, or visiting a certain church. People travel long distances hoping to gain God’s favor and healing, by dipping in certain water, or viewing a painting or statue that appears to weep. It isn’t what you do, it is who you know, and to know the Lord Jesus Christ is to know God.
Church leaders must guard their heart by checking their motives. Everything that they do must be viewed through the lens of God’s word, in order to maintain their relationship with their head the Lord Jesus Christ. When churches do not see the working of the Holy Spirit, they must take an inventory, and seek to determine if they have stepped aside of God’s law. Leaders must examine their hearts to determine if pride is playing a role in their leadership decisions.
When you know GoSome religions today have a number of pillars that people have to complete to move into favor with God.
When churches have found they are not following God’s law, leadership must first seek to restore the broken relationship with the real leader of the church Jesus Christ through repentance. Simply hiding under the banner of Christianity, trusting in new programs or methods are insufficient to restore the broken relationship.
Sometimes individual believers in Jesus Christ can struggle with the subtleties of this temptation. Sometimes believers although they may know better, functionally the behave as if it is their actions that bring them back into God’s favor. So they throw themselves into church attendance or volunteering rather than seek after the repentance that will restore the relationship that has been strained.
This can happen when well intentioned Christians read about the blessings and the curses in the Old testament, then try and carry over that same idea into New Testament Christianity.
The entire point of the Old Testament law and the blessings and the curses is to establish the parameters of our relationship with the Lord, through the Lord Jesus Christ. The relationship with the Living Lord Jesus Christ, is begun and maintained by repenting of ways in which we have failed to abide by the parameters of that relationship.
1 Peter 1:16 NIV
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16 NIV
for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Be Holy as I am holy. We we are not seeking after holiness, or we break that relationship with God, God is silent, the spiritual blessings are not as apraent, although we may still be a child of God and he has not abondedn us for good, he is waitng for us to come back to him, repent of our sin, and begin waling with again. And no amount of things we do aside from our repentance will restore that relationship, because is stored by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
When we are not seeking after holiness, we strain our relationship with God. Then, God is silent, then the spiritual blessings are not as appraent in our life. Although we may still be a child of God and although God has not abondoned us for good, he is waiting for us to come back to him, repent of our sin, and begin walking with Him again. And no amount of things we do aside except our repentance will restore that relationship. It may PREPARE Us for repentance but it is repentance only and trust alone in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that rstores that relationship
When we are not seeking after holiness, we strain our relationship with God. Then, God is silent, then the spiritual blessings are not as appraent in our life. Although we may still be a child of God and although God has not abondoned us for good, he is waiting for us to come back to him, repent of our sin, and begin walking with Him again. And no amount of things we do aside except our repentance will restore that relationship. It may PREPARE Us for repentance but it is repentance only and trust alone in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that rstores that relationship
Sometimes well intentioned Christians, read the Old testament blessings and curses, and try to make some sort of a tie into their material lives. The material things we experience in this life are not necessarily tied to the sins we do or do not commit. Sometimes they are, but certainly not all. This is a trap of the prosperity Gospel movement. It goes like this, things in my life are not going well so I have to do something to gain God’s favor, so I will have a better life, maybe my best life now. DO you want your best life now? Repent Now.
The material things we experience in this life are not necessarily tied to the sins we do or do not committ. Sometimes they are, but certainly not all.
Sometimes your sin can cause your health to fail, or can cause you to lose a job, or lose a loved one. But sometimes even people walking closely with the Lord, even when we repent of a sin in our life, we may still lose a job. Sometimes people growing in Christ still get sick and sometimes Christians still suffer.
But by attempting to kill the sin in your life you are filled with the Spirit, and then you experience the spiritual blessings of Christ in the middle of the suffering Blessings like Peace that transcends all understanding, and joy in the middle of suffering, and patience when the world is falling apart around and love in the middle of hatred.
Brothers and Sisters, we cannot sin our way into heaven and try to justify ourselves because we claim to know Jesus. If we claim to Jesus we won’t sin our way into heaven
The primary message of this passage is that it is not in what you do so so much is it is in who you know.
Matthew Chapter 9, verse 13 Jesus said,

13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ v For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Instead of leading the people into repentance the elders are trying to
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