1 Samuel 2.13-25 – Sin and Salvation
Posted: 8 January 2013 in 1 Samuel

And the priest’s custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself….. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest’s servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.

It may be recalled from the Law of Moses, that all of an animal’s fat was to be burnt as a sacrifice to God. But here is an account of the situation as it existed in Shiloh some centuries later, and the law God laid down for sacrifices to himself is clearly being treated with contempt. It should hardly come as a surprise that God sought to remove Hophni and Phineas from the priesthood. Later in 1 Samuel there is the story about the way in which King Saul similarly flouted God’s will. But in both cases God not only removes them from the role to which he had appointed them, but also brings about their destruction. We know from the New Testament that destruction does not merely mean annihilation, but eternal punishment. Warnings such as that given in Matthew 25.44-46 are given so that we can take them to heart – not so that we can explain them away, as is sometimes done today:

Then shall he [the Lord] answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The Bible does not think twice about describing all rebellion against God as wickedness. Probably all of us can think of friends and relations who are unbelievers, but who do not strike us as being especially wicked. Nevertheless, we are not the righteous judge who will judge all men, and he is indeed Lord of all creation whose word will stand forever.

I think we might remind ourselves of the sobering fact that, thanks to original sin, all of us are enemies of God, and deserve damnation, unless we are redeemed by Christ. On the face of it that would mean that nobody in Old Testament times could be saved, since they did not know Christ. But Jesus clearly did expect that the patriarchs, and presumably others from Old Testament times, would be saved. I imagine the conclusion to be drawn from that fact is that, although the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord occurred in time, and although explicit faith in him and his sacrifice is today required of the elect, Christ’s sacrifice is nevertheless efficacious for all those God wishes to save.

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