honor: to grant someone respect and authority in your life; high esteem made public; to treat with submission
Eli had two sons, Phinehas and Hophni. They were sleeping with the women in the temple, lying and taking the sacrifices that belonged to God for themselves. When it was brought to Eli’s attention what his sons were doing, he rebuked them, but he allowed this wickedness to continue. One day, a man of God went to Eli and reminded him that out of all the tribes of Israel, God chose the tribe (Levi) that he was born into to be priests for Him, to sacrifice upon His altar, to burn incense and to wear priestly robes as they served Him. God made a promise to his ancestors that the tribe of Levi would always be HIS priests, but because Eli honored his sons more than he honored God, his family would die prematurely.
In the meantime, the Israelites went to battle and were defeated by the Philistines. The elders of Israel had this idea to take the ark of the covenant to the next battle in hopes that it would save them. The people carried the ark of the covenant and Eli’s sons stayed with the ark. Isn’t that something? Phinehas and Hophni wouldn’t honor or respect God with their bodies or with their substance, but now they wanted to honor Him – because they wanted something from Him.
But God doesn’t overlook sin. Eli was warned. The people described in Romans 1:18-24 reminded me of Eli’s sons. They exchanged the glory of God for an image that wasn’t of God. They did what they wanted to do. They thought they were wise without Him. They used their bodies for their pleasure, but not for God’s pleasure. Because God didn’t do what they wanted Him to do, they created in their minds ideas of what God was like and what He wanted them to do. They worshipped the god they made instead of the God who made them.
Because the sins continued, the glory of God departed. As a result, Israel lost to the Philistines, the sons died and the ark of the covenant was stolen by the Philistines. When Eli heard the news, he fell backwards off of the seat and broke his neck. When Eli’s daughter-in-law heard about it, she died during childbirth and the baby was named Ichabod, meaning the glory is departed from Israel.
Someone once told me, God is everywhere. He is at every church.
God is everywhere, but His glory isn’t.
Everyone likes to have ‘good church’, but God desires us to be a ‘changed church’. The glory of God is described as God’s greatness, presence, power, beauty and character, but in 2 Corinthians 3:18, we read that the purpose of God’s glory is to change us into His image. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Sometimes when people read that scripture, they read it as something that will happen after we leave this earth, but this is what God wants to do in us now.
When the glory of God appears, we see God as He is. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord (Isaiah 6:1). He also saw seraphims crying to one another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. He not only saw the image of God, but he saw himself and the people he hung around. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:5). Revelation just doesn’t come so you can have knowledge of something, but it comes to bring transformation. He saw who he was, but he also saw what he should become. This is why we need His glory.
After Isaiah confessed his sins, one of the seraphims took a live coal from the altar and laid it on Isaiah’s mouth and said, This has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged (Isaiah 6:7). If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And that’s what He did for Isaiah upon his confession. After Isaiah spoke, God spoke. Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Because of the change that took place in Isaiah, God knew that when Isaiah spoke, he would be speaking for HIM and for all of heaven. God needs someone who will say what HE said and not what they want to say.
But I don’t want to confine God’s glory to a temple (the church building) because our bodies are also called the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people (1 Corinthians 6:16).
It has always been God’s desire to live in us and to walk in us, but we must first do something. Come out from among them, and be ye separate (remember Isaiah was in the midst of a people with unclean lips), says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:16-17). In other words, change. Change your ways. Change who/what you hang around. Change what you’ve been doing. Change what you’ve been listening to. Change what you’ve been speaking.
Have you ever lost something good and wished you could get it back? Can you imagine what it was like when the Spirit of God departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14)? I don’t want you and I to ever know what it feels like to not feel God’s presence or to not hear His voice. So, we must do what Eli didn’t do.
Paul urged children in Ephesians 6:2 to honor their parents. How do children honor their parents? By obeying them. And just like a parent, God is honored when His children do what He tells us to do. This people draw nigh to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me (Matthew 15:8). Honor is not just spoken. It is shown.
Prayer: Lord, help us to honor You in everything we do and not just what we say.
[References: 1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-36; 1 Samuel 4; Isaiah 6:1-8]