What a tragic time for Israel. Less than a century before, Israel was given its freedom from the Egyptians and started its adventure as God’s chosen people. The Israelites wanted to use God like a tool or a weapon–but when the task or battle was over, they wanted to put him back on the shelf. It wasn’t that the entire people did evil deeds, but it was simply that they chose to relegate God to a granter of their desires and protector of their interests. This was especially true of Eli and his sons.
So on this day of battle, God left Israel to battle on their own. When they did, they were horribly defeated. Then, they thought, “Hey, let’s pull God off the shelf, and face our enemies with the Ark in tow. Neither the Israelites nor Eli’s sons had any reverence for God or His ark–but, they saw it as unleashing the secret weapon to assure their success. Sadly, God said no. He was not going to be a good luck charm nor a mascot! So Israel’s plan back fired. Thirty-thousand men died that day. the Ark was captured and the priest and his sons died. Israel was left–defeated, disheveled and in complete disarray.
God is simply not a switch to be flipped on and flipped off. We are to either follow the Lord and allow Him to transform us into His chosen and His ambassadors; or, we are to try to do life on our own and experience the chaos and consequences of running from God and not walking with Him. God says it most clearly in Revelation 3:15-16–“ I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Only sort of following God–makes Him sick! We need to be all-in in our walk with the Lord. Then when we face a struggle or battle, we know He will lead us and be our protector and provider. We will walk in confidence and faith knowing God is there for us.
God Bless You
So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.
14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”
The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”
Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”
17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”
18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led[b]Israel forty years.