The Wicked “Religious”

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God in his sovereign power brings judgment against wicked “religious” people who pervert the worship of God. But in his sovereign grace, he raises up faithful men in the service of his great and redemptive purposes.

This truth is evident from the following passages from 1 Samuel chapter 2:

Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt. Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod (vv. 17-18).

“If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death. Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man (vv. 25-26).

“And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever” (vv. 34- 35).

These three passages show remarkable contrasts between Samuel and the two sons of Eli the high priest, Hophni and Phinehas. These two young men were great sinners in the sight of God, but Samuel was pleasing in God’s eyes. These two young men were about to die as God’s just punishment for their sins, but “Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with man.” These two young men, along with their father, were unfaithful priests. But Samuel was God’s faithful priest whom he will raise up for himself, and from his ministry will come “a sure house” and God’s “anointed” one, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, the Anointed One and our faithful High Priest.

Our heavenly and gracious Father, I praise you for your sovereign power to bring to nothing and bring to justice those who are proud and unfaithful and raise up those who are humble and faithful. I praise you for your judgments are sure, your promises are secure. I confess that in my priestly ministry as a pastor, I am not always faithful in fulfilling the responsibilities you have given me. For being selfish and not compassionate enough. For not offering you the service your glory and your grace deserve. For not doing everything that is in your heart and in your mind.

I have sinned against you. Who will intercede for me? Jesus is my high priest forever. God will intercede for me. A faithful human high priest will. Jesus the God-Man who is faithful over God’s house forever. Who also grew up in stature and in favor with God and man. He is our perfect high priest. And he is your anointed forever. Oh Jesus, thank you for dying the death I should have died, for living the life I should have lived. You are the only one who listened to the voice of your Father, but it was also the will of the Lord to put you to death, for my sake, a sinner who many times disregarded the voice of the Father. In Jesus, I am no longer a great sinner, but bearing the righteousness of Jesus that is great in your sight. You now looked at me as faithful and true and perfect.

I pray that in my priestly ministry as a pastor, may my heart find rest in the high priestly ministry of Jesus. That I may be faithful in bringing sinners to the mercy of Jesus, broken people to his healing power. That I may sincerely intercede for them, make myself available to them, and represent Jesus well before them. Replace the remaining tendency in my heart for self-indulgence with the sacrificial servant heart of the Lord Jesus. Do this, Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

 


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