Sunday, September 08, 2013

[Matt's Messages] "Those Who Honor Me I Will Honor"

“Those Who Honor Me I Will Honor”
A Heart for the Heart of God: The Message of 1 Samuel
September 8, 2013 :: 1 Samuel 2:11-36

We started our new sermon series in 1 Samuel last week, and we’re calling it “A Heart for the Heart of God.”

That’s what God was looking for in the man whom He was seeking to be the king of Israel.

And that’s what God is seeking for in our hearts today.

A heart for the heart of God.

And God can tell whether or not we have it because God does not just look on the outside but on the inside. God looks upon the heart.

Last week, we were introduced to a godly woman named Hannah who had a heart for  the heart of God.

She prayed for a child, and God gave him to her, the little boy, Samuel.

And she had vowed for Samuel to grow up in the tabernacle and serve as a priest.

And Hannah kept her promise, saying goodbye to little Samuel and only seeing him once year.

She entrusted him to a fat, old, ineffectual, spiritually-deaf priest named Eli. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do. But she did it in faith because she knew Who her God was and she trusted Him.

She had a heart for the heart of God.

But Eli’s sons did not have heart for the heart of God.

And in today’s passage (verses 11-36), the author of 1 Samuel sets up a contrast between the little boy Samuel who is growing in faith and the sons of Eli who have grown in wickedness.

And it tells us (especially in verse 30) how God relates to those who will honor Him.

He says, “Those who honor me I will honor...”

That’s the title of the message today and the main truth we need to meditate upon.

The LORD says, “Those who honor me I will honor.”

Having a heart for the heart of God means having a heart that desires to honor God above all else.

And God delights to honor those who have that kind of honoring heart.

Let’s look at this contrast that the author is setting up for us to see. Starting in verse 11.

This is right after Hannah and her husband Elkanah have dropped off Samuel at the door of the tabernacle. V.11

“Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, but the boy ministered before the LORD under Eli the priest.”

Now, remember that this story takes place at the tail end of the period of the judges.
This was an evil time when everyone did what was right in their own eyes. And that included in the family of the high priest. V.12

“Eli's sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the LORD.”

How bad were they?  V.13

“Now it was the practice of the priests with the people that whenever anyone offered a sacrifice and while the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand. He would plunge it into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot, and the priest would take for himself whatever the fork brought up. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh.”

This is NOT the way it was supposed to work. Yes, according to Leviticus, the priests were to get a share of the meat being sacrificed.

But what appears to be going on here is that they are sending out their servant to stick in his big ole fork and get some extra servings for themselves.  Whatever he stuck, he brought back to them.  Double dipping.  But it gets worse. V.15

“But even before the fat was burned, the servant of the priest would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give the priest some meat to roast; he won't accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’ If the man said to him, ‘Let the fat be burned up first, and then take whatever you want,’ the servant would then answer, ‘No, hand it over now; if you don't, I'll take it by force.’”

The Law of Moses was clear that the fat belonged to the Lord. It was supposed to be burnt up as a sacrifice to Him.

But these crooked priests wanted the juiciest pieces for themselves, not the Lord.

And they were willing to threaten violence to get them. V.17

“This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD's sight, for they were treating the LORD's offering with contempt.”

This was a big deal.

“This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD’s sight.”

It wasn’t just a piece of meat. It was treating the LORD’s offering, and therefore the LORD, with contempt.

Now, notice that these guys were leaders.
In today’s terms, they would be church leaders.

They would be pastors and elders and Sunday School teachers.

But that didn’t mean that they had heart for the heart of God.

They only had a heart for their own tastebuds and tummies.

They grew up around the Lord’s tent, but they never grew a heart for the Lord Himself.

Beware growing up around the church and the work of the Lord but never growing a heart for the Lord Himself.

Contrast.  Samuel. V.18

“But Samuel was ministering before the LORD–a boy wearing a linen ephod.”

This little guy grew up in the same place, but he had a very different kind of heart.

And I think that a lot of it stemmed from his mother’s prayers. V.19

“Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, ‘May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the LORD.’ Then they would go home. And the LORD was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.”

Do you see the contrast?

Eli’s sons have great contempt for the Lord’s offering.

Samuel grows up in the presence of the LORD.

I’ll bet that Samuel was prayed for at every stitch in every one of those little robes that his mother made for him.

Hannah had a heart for the heart of God, and she passed it on to her son.

And the LORD honored her. He gave her 5 more kids!  Those who honor Him, He will honor.

But, Eli had not passed on a heart for the heart of God to his kids. V.22

“Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”

Not just sinning with the sacrifices, but with sex!

And Eli, apparentely, did very little to stop them. It sounds like he waited until he was old to try to confront them.

But it’s too little, too late. V.23

“So he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours. No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear spreading among the LORD's people.”

Eli wasn’t doing those bad things but he had not stopped them. And now everybody had heard and everybody was talking about how the priests were crooked!

Eli is shamed by their behavior, and he tries to reason with them. V.25

“If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?’ His sons, however, did not listen to their father's rebuke, for it was the LORD's will to put them to death.”

They had gone too far. And like Pharoah, their hearts were hardened, these “priests” of the LORD.

Contrast. Samuel. V.26

“And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.”
These two were going this way.

Samuel was going that way.

Now, two things about this.

First, don’t forget that God is always up to something good, even in the darkest days.

These are the days of the Judges and everyone could see how bad things were with Hophni and Phinehas.

But God was up to something good.

Samuel was growing, and growing, and growing, in stature and favor with the LORD and with men.

Don’t forget that God is always up to something good, even in the darkest days.

But His work often ... quiet. It’s often only visible for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

But He’s doing something, and something good.

Do you need to hear that today?

Here’s the other thing I want to point out about this verse. Does it sound familiar?

It sure sounds like Luke 2:52 to me which says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

Our Lord followed in Samuel’s footsteps and then did perfectly what Samuel did well.  He fulfilled this verse!

All godly men and women live out this verse. They continue to grow.

Not always in stature, hopefully. But in grace.  In favor with other people and with the Lord.

Having a heart for the heart of God means growing in faith.

We don’t start out where we end up. It’s a process.

It was even a process for the Lord Jesus!  A perfect process, but a process nonetheless.

Having a heart for the heart of God means growing in faith.

Are you growing in your faith?

Now, you see the contrast, right?

The author has set it up so that we see the two paths that these men are on.

Eli’s sons this way, Samuel this way.

And the two paths going in different directions end up in different destinations. V.27

“Now a man of God [a prophet] came to Eli and said to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: 'Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father's house when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? I chose your father [probably meaning Aaron] 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 father's house all the offerings made with fire by the Israelites.”

I did all of that, and how do you respond in kin? V.29

“Why do you 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?' Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and your father's house 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.”

#1. THOSE WHO DESPISE THE LORD WILL BE DISDAINED.

This is the other side of the coin.

“Those who despise the Lord,” those who have contempt for the Lord, those who continually disobey the Lord, “will be disdained.”

The King James and the English Standard Version say, “will be lightly esteemed.”

Thought as nothing.

Eli, if this is the way that you respond to the gifts poured out on you, then get ready to receive the consequences.

Notice, that he talks to Eli. Not to Hophni and Phinehas. Eli was culpable for these offenses.

He had not stopped them. He had apparently eaten some of the meat himself. We’re going to find out that he was a fat man in future chapters.

He’d gotten fat off of stolen food. Even if he didn’t steal it himself he didn’t stop it and (v.29), he had honored his sons more than his Lord.

And there were will be consequences.

Those who despise the Lord will be disdained.

We often say, “With disobedience comes danger.”

I know it doesn’t always seem like it!

Often it seems like the worst people get away with it!

And it often seems like we can get away with it, too.

While we were on vacation, I preached at a Mennonite church in Alberta.

And I preached on Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.”  Remember that?

I heard back afterwards that that message had totally changed someone’s life.

This one lady had never realized that God was watching her secret sins.

And all of a sudden, she came to understand that nothing escapes the Lord’s notice.

The Bible says, “You may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23).

V.30, “Those who despise me will be disdained.”

God had made wonderful promises to the family Eli belonged to.  But they were apparently conditional upon the family honoring God with their lives and ministries.

And now, the Lord was going to take them all away. V.31

“The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel [He’s always up to something good], in your family line there will never be an old man. Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life. And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you–they will both die on the same day. I will raise up for myself a faithful priest [that’s what we need!], 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. Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a crust of bread and plead, ‘Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”

Those who despise the Lord will be disdained.

We’ll see how this prophecy gets fulfilled.

The two boys will die in one day. And there will be no old men in this family.

I’m not sure if the faithful priest if Samuel or Zadok, scholars make good arguments for both.

My guess is that it’s probably both, Samuel is the near fulfillment and Zadok the fuller fulfilment. Either way, God keeps this threat and this promise.

The point is that those who despise the Lord will be disdained.

If you are tempted to cast contempt on the Lord and to disobey Him and run away from Him and do things your own way, there will be consequences.

You will not and cannot get away it.

And if you are suffering under the evil abuse of someone else who seems to be getting away with it, know that justice is coming.

Those who despise the Lord will be disdained.

And know also, that the flipside is true.

V.30 again.

“Those who honor me I will honor.”

#2. THOSE WHO HONOR THE LORD WILL BE HONORED.

Those who have a heart for the heart of God will be honored by God.

V.35 says that God will raise up for himself a “faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind.”

A priest, in other words, who has a heart for the heart of God.

And if someone has that kind of heart, then God will honor them. V.35

“I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one [Messiah King] always.”

And those who had once been at the top and then fell will seek the favor of the one who has heart for the heart of God.

Those who honor the Lord will be honored.

The Scottish athlete Eric Liddell was slated to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympics. He was the favorite to win the 100 meter dash, his best event.

But the Olympic planning committee set a qualifying heat for a Sunday, and Liddell did not believe that he should run on a Sunday, being the Lord’s day.

And there were a lot of people mad at him.

But he signed up for the 400 meter race instead, not historically his best event. His best time at this event before the Olympics was modest by international standards.

When the 400 meter race day came, Liddell went to the starting blocks, and a trainer for the American Olympic Team slipped a piece of paper into Eric’s hand.

Do you know what was on that piece of paper?

1 Samuel 2:30, “Those who honor me I will honor.”

Eric Liddell not only won the race and the gold medal but set an Olympic and a world-record for the 400 meter that day.

Now, I’m not saying that God will let you win whatever race you run.

But I am saying (because God said it), those who honor the Lord will be honored.

It may not seem like it at first.
It may not happen on your time table.

That honor may not even come until after you die!

But it is an principle God has woven into the warp and woof of His world.

“Those who honor me I will honor.”

How are you going to apply that to your life this week?
How can you make your life about honoring the Lord?
How can you grow in favor with the Lord and with others?
How can you be like little Samuel, growing in faith and obedience?

What does that look like in your life?

Those who honor the Lord will be honored.

But what if you have not honored the Lord?

I don’t know about you, but when I read passages like this, I sometimes start to worry because I know about the times when I have despised the Lord and not done things His way.

What about that?

Let me tell you a secret:

There was one time when this verse got turned upside down.

There was one time when the One person who honored the LORD the most was disdained.

There was one time when the One person who had never despised the LORD was shamed and dishonored.

One time.

It happened to Jesus.

Because the Lord laid upon Jesus all of the disdain and dishonor and shame and guilt that we deserve, upon His shoulders.

And He poured out His wrath on His Son.

The Father treated His Son as we deserved.

And because of that, He treats us with the honor His Son deserves.

That’s the gospel!

For those that put their faith in Christ, we get grace!

We get what we do not deserve.

Isn’t that awesome?

And at the same time, that truth changes our very hearts so that we begin to have a heart for the heart of God and want to do according to what is in His heart and mind.

He begins to change our hearts so that we want to honor Him above all.

All because of what Jesus did for you and me.

“Those who honor me I will honor.”


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A Heart for the Heart of God

01. Hannah's Prayers

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