Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 20 2019 - 1 Samuel 2:12-36 – Eli's family rejected

Eli the priest was responsible for the worship at the Tabernacle but seems to have delegated much of the day-to-day work to his sons whom he expected to succeed him in the work. But his sons, Hophni and Phineas, were intent on serving themselves rather than the Lord – and serving themselves rather than those who came to worship. They took by force the best parts of the animals brought for sacrifice and slept with the women who helped with the work of the Tabernacle. Their conduct seems to have been modelled more on that of the priests of Baal that the Law of God.

Such conduct shows contempt not only for the sacrifices that were being offered to the Lord but contempt for the Lord himself. Remember our readings in the book of Judges relating the history of Israel immediately before this point. Disobedience towards the Lord and compromise over worship brought trouble time and again upon Israel. Did Eli's sons really think that God was like the idol gods of the nations round about? Did they think that he could see nothing and would do nothing, ignoring their disobedience and immorality?

And what of Eli? He rebuked his sons for their wickedness but they took no notice of his words. He was the high priest of Israel, commissioned to serve God on behalf of the people, but he seems to have been a weak man who felt he could do nothing to curb the conduct of his sons except utter ineffective rebukes. Did he really think that Israel would prosper when they took over from him? The whole situation was inviting God, the Holy one of Israel, to take action.

Meanwhile, Samuel "continued to grow in stature and in favour with the LORD and with men" (1 Samuel 2:26. Compare what is written of Jesus in Luke 2:52).

The Lord sent a prophet to Eli to tell him that because of the behaviour of his sons, judgment will fall upon his whole family; "Those who honour me I will honour, but those who despise me will be disdained" (12:30). It is telling that the judgment is pronounced against Eli; he is held responsible for the conduct of his sons. The sign that God will fulfil all that he has spoken will be that Hophni and Phineas will die on the same day.

But God's purpose will not be defeated; his enigmatic promise through his prophet is, "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 house, and he will minister before my anointed one always" (2:35). This prophecy clearly speaks of Samuel and of Israel's coming king – the Lord's anointed. But it also points beyond them. Ultimately, God's faithful priest and his anointed – his Messiah – are one and the same; Jesus Christ is our faithful and righteous High Priest who offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins and lives for ever to build the house(hold) of God. He is God's anointed King not only over Israel but over all the earth.

Holy Father, even though you have given us a heart to serve you, we recognise that we are often led astray by our own desires and do what we want rather than what you have commanded. Forgive us those times when we have shown contempt for you. Thank you for the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you that the punishment our sins deserved fell in all its force on him. Thank you that he is our Great High Priest who ever lives to intercede for us. Thank you that he is the Christ, your anointed one, whose kingdom shall increase and never end. Help us by your Spirit so to follow him that we may grow in grace and rejoice in favour before you and before a watching world.

Apr 20 2013 - Luke 20:1-26 – Jesus the cornerstone

The Jewish leaders were not happy that Jesus had thrown the traders out of the temple. Who gave him authority to do such a thing? When they challenged Jesus on the matter he turned the tables on them by asking who they thought gave John the authority to baptise?

This was not just a tit-for-tat question. Jesus goes on to tell them a parable about a vineyard whose tenants will not give the owner his share of the harvest. As Jesus tells the story of how servants are beaten and sent packing and then the son of the owner is killed, he is speaking about these leaders and their like down the years. They have rejected the messengers sent by God – they rejected John, and now they are planning to kill the son and heir. Jesus has authority to cleanse the temple because he is the one to whom it belongs.

Jesus concludes the parable by quoting Psalm 118:22, "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone [or capstone]" (Luke 20:17). Again he is speaking about himself. The Jewish leaders may reject him, but it is God's purpose to make Jesus the chief stone in the new temple that he is building. He will have a temple that it fit for God and his people to live together.

God plans to create a people among whom he will live and in whom he will display his glory. This will be a new people (see 20:16); a temple for God's dwelling made out of living stones. Jesus is the foundational cornerstone for this new temple; the stone against which every other stone is positioned and fitted. And he is the capstone; the one who finishes off and crowns the whole edifice. He is the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.

We are to live out our lives in vital connection with Jesus. He is to shape our lives. Only as our lives are connected to him will his glory be seen in us.

We are to live also in vital connection with one another. There is more to a temple than a field of scattered stones. We are to "grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:15-16). This is an organic temple, bound together and made strong by the ligaments of love. This then is our prayer:

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
Bind us together in Love

There is only one God,
There is only one King
There is only one Body,
That is why we sing.

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
Bind us together in Love

Made for the glory of God,
Purchased by His precious Son;
Born with the right to be clean,
For Jesus the victory has won.

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
Bind us together in Love

We are the family of God
We are the promise divine
We are God's chosen desire
We are the glorious new wine.

Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
With cords that cannot be broken
Bind us together, Lord
Bind us together
Bind us together in Love

Peter Misselbrook