Saturday, January 16, 2021

Epiphany 2


1 Samuel 3:1-10

Heeding God’s Call

1 Samuel opens not in the halls of power, but in the house of a man remembered only here. Elkanah is married to two women. Hannah, his favorite, is barren.

Hannah begs the LORD for a child. And during her prayer, she encounters the priest Eli. Eli tells Hannah that her prayer will be answered. Hannah has her long awaited child and does as she promised. She gives the child to the LORD. The boy, Samuel, remains with Eli at the holy place in Shiloh.

We affirm, just as Hannah does, that our children do not belong to us, but are given to us by God; and it is our responsibility to nurture that relationship, that connection so that it grows as the child does.

In the temple at Shiloh, the boy Samuel is serving the priest Eli. He sleeps near the Ark of the Covenant, a symbol of the LORD’s presence. One night Samuel is called.  Twice he mistakes the voice of God for Eli’s. Finally Eli instructs the lad to say “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”  Samuel obeys and God speaks to him of future happenings in Israel.

Do we have ears to hear today? Are we capable of heeding God’s call? Let’s ask ourselves a few questions…

Is the LORD’s clear voice rare these days? Vs. 1 In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

In the days of Eli and his sons, priests of the day, it was rare when the Word of God was heard. Why the silence? Was the LORD absent from His people? Maybe dead?  The reason for the rarity of the Word is not due to God but man’s condition. The sons of Eli were grossly corrupt.

The LORD cannot draw near to rebellious people. Only the pure in heart see God. To hear God’s Word persons must prepare themselves with repentance and faith. Today many experience the absence of God because they are a part of a secular society which ignores the reality of God in human affairs.

Do we have a sense of God’s presence? Vs. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

Like the altar in church, the ark was the symbol of the LORD’s presence in the temple. Samuel did not sleep only in church but in the sanctuary where the altar was. He slept close to God. If we want to experience God and hear His Word, we must put ourselves in the right place. The best place to hear God’s Word is where He is to be found.

Do we listen when God speaks? Vs.10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Because Jesus, our substitute, never practiced selective listening, he never ignored his Father’s will or decided that he knew better. Jesus not only made hearing his Father’s Word his highest priority (Luke 2:41-52), he obeyed every word, perfectly.

When His Father decided that the only way to save the human race was for the Son of God to become man, Jesus left his throne in heaven and took the very nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7). When His Father told him the salvation of sinners is only possible if he assumed the guilt of the sins of the world, Jesus sweated blood, Jesus begged for his Father to find another way, but he listened and obeyed (Luke 22:39-46).

When the LORD’s plan meant an illegal trial, mockery, and torture, Jesus endured it all in silence (Mark 14:61). And, when the Father’s wrath over our sin demanded that Jesus be nailed to a tree, suffer and give up his life, Jesus went, without complaint, like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).

And, in his grace, the LORD credits Jesus’ perfect listening skills and obedience to our account. He forgives our deafness and remembers our disobedience no more – all because Jesus endured the cold shoulder of the LORD in our place (Matthew 27:46).

For Jesus’ sake, the Father still speaks to us. He speaks to us day after day, year after year, so that even stubborn, selective listeners like us get the message. And when he speaks, he gets results.

Worship is a vital exercise of our faith; but it is not primarily about an emotional experience-it's about Christ coming to us in our sinfulness. Our response is simply to receive forgiveness and be free!

If you've ever felt that you're never good enough, well... you're right. Only Christ is "good enough," and every service at our church is a chance to receive Christ's forgiveness. If you've been waiting to come to church until you're good enough, please stop thinking that way! That's like saying you'll go to the doctor for your sickness after you've cured yourself!

We're all sinners who need forgiveness and restoration. Forgiveness is why Jesus came to earth, and it's the focal point of worship.

You will not leave a service at our church determined to "do more and try harder;" our hope is that you will, instead, be refreshed and renewed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it is this gospel which the LORD speaks into your ears, which penetrates your heart granting you peace with God and reconciliation toward your neighbor.

We see that in the case of Samuel. The fourth time the LORD called to him, he finally listened. And he kept listening even though the message God had for him was unpleasant and even though what God was calling him to do wasn’t easy.

The Lord was calling Samuel to announce his judgment and punishment on his mentor and friend, Eli, and his sons for their deafness and disobedience (1 Samuel 3:11-18). Without question, it would have been easier for Samuel to just roll over and stay in bed. Humanly speaking, it might have seemed prudent for Samuel to change or modify the LORD’s message to avoid offending and angering Eli. But through his Word the LORD gave Samuel faith to not only listen but to boldly obey.

The LORD in this case, reveals Himself to Samuel through speech. Where does the LORD God choose to reveal Himself today? In visions? In dreams? He still chooses to make Himself known in His Word, the sacred Scriptures. He speaks today in the reading and hearing of the Word.

It’s one thing for the LORD to speak. Do we hear and listen? To communicate God’s Word we also need to listen.

Speak Lord, your servant listens!

Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability – 76.4%
Reading Level –5.8


Illustration “the Lord calls Samuel” from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, 1794-1872, a distinguished German artist known especially for his book, The Book of Books in Pictures copyright © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.


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