December 17, 2017

The Glory Departed

I Samuel 4:10-22 (NASB)

So the Philistines fought and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent; and the slaughter was very great, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” 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.” When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years. Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’s wife, was pregnant and about to give birth; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken and that her father-in-law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”

We have seen in our series The Glory of Christmas that the invisible and immortal Creator God chooses to reveal Himself in Scripture as light (I John 1:5) and fire (Hebrews 12:29). This light and fire in the Old Testament represented God’s presence, and in Hebrew it is called The Shekinah. It’s the Glory that made Israel such a special nation. “I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God” (Exodus 6:7). The “dwelling place” of God for 400 years was the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) and later Solomon’s Temple.

  1. The Glory of God First Departed Israel When the Priests Disrespected the Sacrifice.
    The first time is in I Samuel 4:10-22: The Philistines capture the Ark. Why did God allow this to occur? “The sin of the men was great before the Lord; they abhorred the offering of the Lord” (I Sam. 2:17). The men in question were Hofni and Phineas, the sons of Eli the High Priest. These two boys were taking “three-pronged” forks and stealing meat from the Peace Offering intended for other people.
    1. The Peace Offering represents the work of Jesus Christ.
      Anyone who profits off the gospel, to the expense of the poor and needy, is without grace.
    2. Judgment from God comes with disrespect of the Savior.
      The boys died in their sins. They were killed. When Eli heard it, he too died. When Phineas’ wife was giving birth, she too heard of the death of Phineas and the capture of the Ark. She named her son Ichabod – which means “The Glory Has Departed.” Israel had lost the revealed Presence.
    3. Eventually Israel came to repentance and the Glory returned.
      Through mourning over sin, God’s Glory returned. All the while it was gone, religion continued.

  2. The Glory of God Departed Israel a Second Time When the People Turned to Idolatry.
    I don’t have time to read all three chapters of Ezekiel 8-11, so I’ll summarize: In the year 591 B.C., the prophet Ezekiel is a prisoner in Babylon. He’s given a vision of the Glory leaving Jerusalem and the Temple and the coming destruction of the city, her people, and the Temple. It’s a graphic vision. Ezekiel sees “an appearance of fire (like a Man), fire from the waist and a brilliant light above” (8:2). The Glory tells Ezekiel what is coming: Judgment for the sins of Israel. The people are going through the motions of religion, but their hearts have been captured by idols. God is sending six men to the city to destroy the people, but one Man, “dressed in linen and an inkhorn at His waist” (Ezekiel 9:2) was to “mark the foreheads” of the people who were “mourning over their sin” (Ezekiel 9:4). The mark was a “tau” – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet (a cross). Those delivered are broken.

  3. The Old Testament Closes With the Rebuilding of the Temple After the Babylonian Captivity.
    The Glory of God never returns. For 400 years, the Jews worship, but the Glory is not present. It is during this time – the intertestamental period – that the Pharisees and the Sadducees arise. Anytime there’s religion without the Glory there is either the rise of legalism or liberalism.

  4. The Glory Returned in the Person of Jesus Christ When Emmanuel Was Born in Bethlehem.
    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Glory – Grace and Truth.
    1. Religion without Grace and Truth is religion without the Glory.
      It makes no difference how often you worship, or how you worship, Grace and Truth are Glory.
    2. Without brokenness over the absence of Grace and Truth we become legalists or liberals.
      It’s worked like this throughout the history of the people of God. Repentance means revival.
    3. The question for each of us this Christmas is whether the Glory inhabits our hearts.

You can view the video for this sermon HERE.