Is God Fair?

And other questions about First Samuel

  1. Why did God severely punish Eli’s sons for the disobedience, viagra canada seek yet did not do the same with Samuel’s sons?
  2. What happened to the Ark of Covenant?   Is it hidden somewhere?
  3. What was the religious organization of the Israelites?   Where the priests in each small community?   Hannah and her husband traveled 15 miles each year to worship at the temple.   How did they worship the rest of the year?
  4. Do you have any idea of how many were in the tribes at this time?  Thousands lost in battle seem to signify a large population.
  5. Why did God severely punish Eli’s sons for the disobedience, yet did not do the same with Samuel’s sons?

Word Reference

I Samuel 2:12-17, 22-23; 4:17   12 Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord 13 and the custom of the priests with the people. When any man was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand. 14 Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. Thus they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15 Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.” 16 If the man said to him, “They must surely burn the fat first, and then take as much as you desire,” then he would say, “No, but you shall give it to me now; and if not, I will take it by force.” 17 Thus the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord. 22 Now Eli was very old; and he heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.  23 He said to them, “Why do you do such things, the evil things that I hear from all these people? I Samuel 4:17  Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.”

I Samuel 8:1-3   1 And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. 2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. 3 His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

Answer:  Pastor Kent McClain

Since the Bible does not give us a direct answer to the question of why God judged Eli’s sons more severely than Samuel’s, I can only give you what I think the reason may be.   After reading the passages about the evil conduct of these two fathers’ sons, it seems to me that Eli, for the most part, made little effort to disciple his sons.  He gave them powers as priests when they were young, but only rebuked them for their behavior when he was quite old.   His rebuke should have been given when they were young, and they never should have been made priests.    Samuel, on the other hand, seemed to make a greater effort to disciple his sons.    I draw this conclusion from the absence of any rebuke from the Lord toward his parenting.  He also did not give his sons any positions of spiritual authority over the people; that is until he was quite old.    This tells me that Samuel was well aware of his sons’ walk with the Lord, and cared enough to withhold positions that would ruin them and those they served.    But it also tells me that as Samuel grew older, he softened in respect to his sons.    Perhaps he gave them positions of authority hoping that such a responsibility would bring them around.  In my estimation, Samuel made an effort to do what was right by his sons.   And because of that, they were not judged like Eli’s sons.

Before I leave this topic, let me give you a personal experience that helped me in my parenting; one I have shared over the years with my fellow pastors in ministry.   When I was a young pastor with very young children, I met a missionary on leave who made an incredible impression on me.   This impression guided many of the decisions I made concerning my children and the demands of ministry I repeatedly faced.  I was in Seattle at the time when I met Tom; he had been on the mission field for years.  He was very important to his missionary organization; he served as its president right before he took his leave.

When I met him, I assumed he was on a furlough or even a sabbatical.    We became good friends over the months.   As I sat down with him one morning for breakfast, I said, “Tom how long have you been on Sabbatical?”   He looked at me and laughed,  “Oh, about five years now.”  “Five years! I exclaimed.”  “Well, Kent, it has not really been a furlough or even a sabbatical. I left the field permanently, and for good reasons.     You see I decided a long time ago that my children were my first discipleship responsibility.  And if anything ever came between them and the Lord then it had to go.   And if that meant that my ministry was hurting their spiritual growth then leaving the mission field is what I was prepared to do.  And it happened.   My oldest son struggled being second to my ministry and became rebellious.  He began to resent my work; but worse than that His love for the Lord had grown cold.  So I packed up and headed for home.   I became a vacuum cleaner salesman, and prioritized time with him and my other children.    His recovery took longer than I thought, about five years.   But finally he turned back to the Lord.   Now I am headed back to the field.”  I was so surprised to hear what Tom did for his son.  As we ended our time together, I asked him one final question,  “Do you regret the time you lost from the mission work?” Confidently Tom answered, “I do not regret my decision for a moment; my son was worth it all.”

Tom’s testimony never left my thoughts.   Years later, I found myself in a somewhat similar situation with my own son.   He was much younger than Tom’s son, but I could see he was growing tired of being a pastor’s son.   It was wearing on him; he had to maintain a spiritual maturity in the presence of my congregation that he did not have.   I saw his faith fading month after month.   The excitement he once had for the Lord was waning.   After seeking God, talking with my wife, and remembering Tom’s words, I decided to leave the church I was pastoring.    This particular church had many wonderful people, but it was a very needy church with some overwhelming problems.

I found that as time passed I was spending more time with the church, and less and less time at home.  So I resigned and moved back to California, where our families were.  Both my wife and I became teachers, and I spent the next years discipling my children.

Like Tom, to this day, I have never regretted my decision, even though I never regained the stature of the ministry position I once held.  Both my son and daughter maintain a deep relationship with the Lord today.  I believe it is because we made them our discipleship priority.    My son is married now with three children of his own.   He has just been hired as a youth minister of a church that loves him, and will finish seminary next December.    My daughter married a Godly man and together they also serve God in many ways.  They just returned from a medical mission in Kenya, Africa.

I guess the point in all of this discussion is if you want to see your kids grow in their faith, if you want to spare your kids from the kind of lives the sons of Eli and Samuel experienced, then disciple your children.   Your children, as well as the rest of your family, should be your first discipleship priority.  And if you are a pastor reading this, remember that congregations come and go, but your kids will be with you for life.   If you disciple your children, I believe God will reward you for this commitment.   But if your children turn away from God anyway, it won’t be because you did not do what God asked you to do.

2.  What happened to the Ark of Covenant?   Is it hidden somewhere?

Answer:  Pastor Kent McClain and “The Splendor of The Temple” by Alec Garrard (Page 92)

The Misnah tells us that the Ark of the Covenant was hidden under the Wood Chambers (Shekilim 6:1-2) in the Temple.    But the chambers surrounding this have been explored and nothing has been found.   The Misnah was written in about 200-400 B.C.  It was a collection of writings, sayings, traditions, rules and regulations collected by rabbis.   When the Misnah refers to the Wood Chamber as the hiding place of the Ark, it means the Wood chamber that existed in Solomon’s time.   Like other buildings in ancient times the Temple would have had secret chambers beneath it in which to store treasures.

When the Egyptians plundered Solomon’s Temple after his son Rehoboam came to the throne, all the valuable Temple treasures were taken away.  In 70 A.D., The Romans completely destroyed the Temple again and took everything of value away.  Could the Ark still be hidden in a secret chamber?  We may never know.    Today the Dome of the Rock stands on the site of the Temple, where the secret chamber might be.  The Muslims exercise authority over this site at the moment.

The following is the journey of the Ark according to the Scripture.

  • The Ark is constructed and carried by the Levitical Priests of Israel throughout the Wilderness for 40 years. (Exodus 25,26,40, Leviticus 16,  Numbers 4,10,14, Deuteronomy 10)
  • The Ark is carried across the Jordan River.  (Joshua 3)
  • The Ark is carried around Jericho as Joshua and Israel surround the city and march on it according to God’s direction.  (Joshua 4)
  • The Ark rests in the Tabernacle where it is set up at Shiloh. (Joshua 18)
  • Israelites who are in conflict call on the Lord as they stand before the Ark. (Judges 20:27, 35)
  • The Lord speaks to Samuel who is sleeping near the Ark. (I Samuel 1:3)
  • The Ark is taken from Shiloh to help Israel in a battle with the Philistines.  Israel loses its battle with the Philistines and the Ark is captured and taken to Ashdod, a Philistine city. (I Samuel 4)
  • The Philistines get rid of the Ark and send it out of the country. (I Samuel 6:10)
  • The Ark settles in Bethshemesh, where many die because of irreverence. (I Samuel 6:19)
  • The Ark is taken to the house of Abinadab and remains there for 20 years. (I Samuel 7)
  • Saul uses the Ark for war purposes. (I Samuel 14:18)
  • David removes the Ark from house of Abinadab and takes it to the house of Obed-Edom.  The Ark is then taken to the City of David. (2 Samuel 6; I Chronicles 13 and 15)
  • Solomon brings the Ark into the Temple. (I Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 5)
  • King Josiah celebrates Passover and puts Ark in the Temple. (2 Chronicles 35)
  • Jeremiah prophesies that the people will forget the Ark.  The Ark is lost and never reconstructed. (Jeremiah 3:16)
  • In summary, The Ark has never been located or seen.   The presence of God now dwells in the life of each believer; you are God’s Ark now.   The next time any of us will be seen is at the end of times as recorded in Revelation 11:15-19. (Revelation 11: 15-19)

15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders, who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying, “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.  18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.” 19 And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.

3.   What was the religious organization of the Israelites?   Where the priests in each small community?   Hannah and her husband traveled 15 miles each year to worship at the temple.   How did they worship the rest of the year?

Answer:   Pastor Kent McClain and Dave Roper (A fellow pastor and friend, who is an expert in the Old Testament)

Elkanah, Samuel’s father, came from “Ramathaim-zophim” in the hill country of Ephraim (1 Sam 1:1).  That’s about all we know. The Tabernacle was at Shiloh which was also in Ephraim, but don’t know how far away he lived. There was no temple then, but worship was centralized at Shiloh. There may have been high places throughout the countryside where they worshipped, but Israel was supposed to worship in one place–the Tabernacle. That’s why Elkanah went up to worship at Shiloh each year.

4.      Do you have any idea of how many were in the tribes at this time?  Thousands lost in battle seem to signify a large population.

Answer:   Pastor Kent McClain and Dave Roper (A fellow pastor and friend, who is an expert in the Old Testament)

I have no idea how many Israelites there were at that time. There were at least 1,300,000 men of military age in David’s day 40 years later (2 Sam 24:9), so if you add in older men, women and children there would be 4-5 million people I would guess.