Lenten Devotional – Day 8 – The Priest
Prophecy Against the House of Eli
27 Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Did I not clearly reveal myself to your ancestor’s family when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your ancestor out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your ancestor’s family all the food offerings presented by the Israelites. 29 Why do you[a] scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?’
30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that members of your family would minister before me forever.’ But now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your priestly house, so that no one in it will reach old age, 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, no one in your family line will ever reach old age. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from serving at my altar I will spare only to destroy your sight and sap your strength, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life.
34 “‘And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you—they will both die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”’”
Do you want the wrongs of this world to be righted? In this text, we learn in v. 28 that the role of priests was 1) “to go up to my altar”— they should have been going before God on behalf of the people to intercede and plead for them, 2) “to burn incense”— which was a religious duty and ritual that honored God (Leviticus 16:13), and 3) “to wear the ephod”— which would mark the priests as those who counseled the people with wisdom from God.
In v. 29, we see that Eli’s sons, who were the priests at the time — the very ones who should have been caring for the people — were in fact “fattening” themselves on the labor of others wrongfully. Not only was this injustice, but the very people who should have been caring for others were in fact harming them. How would God right these wrongs
When we look at our own lives and the lives of those around us, we often ask the same question. How will God right the wrongs of the world? It becomes a traumatic question when we realize that we are guilty of wronging others as well. The very people we know we should love and serve are often the victims of our selfish focusing on our own interests and priorities.
We are told God does see this injustice and that he must stop it (vv. 30-31) as well as administer just consequences to the offending parties (v. 34). We need the wrongs to be stopped, but we also need someone to go before God and plead for us, as we too are offenders.
Who will this be? Verse 35 says, “And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest … my anointed forever.” The Hebrew word for “faithful” also means “enduring,” so this priesthood will last forever, but the fact that he is “my anointed forever” means my “king” in this context. Who is both a faithful and enduring priest who is also the king forever?
Only one person history could be both — Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, enduring great high priest and king, you have opened a way for us to approach you even though we are often guilty in our thoughts, words and deeds. Give us your grace that restores, preserves, leads, guards and supplies our hope. In Christ’s Name, Amen.