Contrary toÂ the lyrics in a popular worship song currently being invokedÂ in the church today,Â âThese are the days of Elijahâ, I believe a Â more accurate description of our timeÂ would rather Â be fromÂ 1 SamuelÂ 3, Â âThese are the daysÂ of Eli, the priest of Shilohâ.
It is important to understand theÂ trueÂ condition and diagnosis that we asÂ a church haveÂ enteredÂ into, Â and unfortunatelyÂ it is not a condition that warrantsÂ singing about ourÂ health and well-being. Scripturally, theÂ Â ârighteousnessÂ being restoredâÂ will actually come through judgement not favouritism. According to Godâs Word Â whatÂ reallyÂ lies ahead propheticallyÂ isÂ aÂ period ofÂ Â trouble, exile,Â and persecutionsÂ andÂ notÂ triumphalism. What we doÂ needÂ Â is to beÂ prepared spiritually and mentally. We need Â aÂ deepÂ sense of humility, and a determination to obey Godâs Word (indeed, as ElijahÂ did) Â so asÂ not to missÂ theÂ direction the Lord is taking us in.Â We must, among other things, not end up trying to protectÂ Â an establishedÂ Â leadership in so many cases in todayâs church when so much of this contemporary leadership Â is actuallyÂ under Godâs condemnation ( as John the Baptist and ElijahÂ warned Israel).
Notice that whatÂ Â Eli the chief priest did at Shiloh, soÂ the Pharisees similarlyÂ didÂ in Yeshuaâs time at Jerusalem. The Pharisees disparagedÂ those voicesÂ ofÂ the faithfullyÂ humble of the Lord ,Â whileÂ ironically being silent over the open hypocrisyÂ of theirÂ own sons.Â I believeÂ Â our ownÂ current âEliâ leadership is about to correspondingly be bypassed andÂ judged.Â Whatever limitedÂ vision it hasÂ Â will literallyÂ be darkened.Â 1Â Samuel 3 shows usÂ prophetically where the voice of the LordÂ will now be moving andÂ speaking. SimilarlyÂ YeshuaÂ warned in John 9 thatÂ Â the Phariseeâs unbelievingÂ sight was about to be dimmedÂ and the true humble worshippers of God are coming to the light.
TheÂ messianic expectations common to the leadership of Israel and among theÂ people of GodÂ in the time of YeshuaÂ were alsoÂ of a coming period ofÂ restorationÂ and prosperity that includedÂ a triumphal freedom from the world powers of the day and a re-establishment of the nation to a Solomonic type of glory . Close toÂ this ancient saga,Â the Â current widespreadÂ outlook prevalent in charismatic and Pentecostal worship songs today carries a misleading Â atmosphere founded on a misguided belief that Â the return of Yeshua will simply be Â aÂ âyearÂ of Jubileeâ. Â It is aÂ similarÂ hollow anticipation of a victorious and Â âall overcomingÂ empireâ.Â This bogusÂ ideal being trumpeted todayÂ regrettablyÂ is largely based on the âLatter Rainâ Â falseÂ triumphalismÂ teaching distorting Â Joel chapter 2,Â that emerged in the 1950′s (when it was rejected as heretical by mainstream Pentecostalism) but has slowly managed toÂ re-infiltrate the major Evangelical, Pentecostal and CharismaticÂ denominations today .
If we look at the historicalÂ periods before the coming of Israelâs king in Samuel and the coming of Yeshua in the Gospels,Â we see an almost diametrically opposite ambience, spiritually. Both were periods of quiet, with the Word of the Lord being rare both Â in Eliâs temple and with over four hundred years of silence in the late Persian to post-Hasmonean Â era that preceded the first coming of the Messiah with no prophet after Malachi until John the Baptist.
Both were times where the leadership by the clergy in the temple and nation was widely recognised in theÂ public arenaÂ Â as having become more ungodly because of itsÂ internal vicesÂ not more holy.
In both eras the actual worship of God was known to be performed Â in an atmosphere ofÂ greed, immoralityÂ and wickednessÂ orchestrated by corrupt clergy.Â The reality on the ground for theÂ people of GodÂ was that they were cast down and poverty -strickenÂ by outside oppressors.Â The Â faithful peopleÂ suffered an infertility of the land Â in the land of promise.
Also, as in the days of Eli and as in the days of Gospels,Â it has essentially Â become much the same in todayâsÂ House of God. So much of the senior leadership has confirmed reports of the scandals and greed within theÂ sanctuaries of the Lord, but do not wish to risk loss of their positions or power by Â dealing with it.
How should we to react to this dichotomyÂ biblically in an environment where too much of the House of God is falsely expecting a glorious future but will end up having âIchabodâ, (the glory departed) written on it?
The opening chaptersÂ of 1 Samuel gives us fore-types of those whom the Lord will use to correct the false worship and prepare the ground for Israelâs true King. Notice however,Â the ScripturesÂ do not justÂ merely highlight the iniquities of the nation and its clergy,Â but also instructsÂ ministriesÂ forÂ the redemptive process. Â It is not enough for us to just speak out and cast down,Â but we must also be involvedÂ in the building up, as it were, to Â âprepareÂ the highways to be straightenedâ.
FirstlyÂ we see Hannah lamenting, interceding and crying out to God in his temple for the reproach, shame and slander that has been afflicted upon her and the promises of God.Â Whilst the sons of Eli party on, she is found making scared vowsÂ to the Lord asking for deliverance.
Secondly the vows that she does makeÂ for the son are not merely for him alone toÂ be in the temple ministry, butÂ as aÂ Nazertite, to be a person completely surrenderedÂ over to the service of God in holiness.Â There isÂ a raising up of aÂ ministry that not only succeeds the current one, but exceeds in its devotion and example to the people of God. As Yeshua states in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is not enough for us to decry the faults and yet have the same lax standards in our own households. (Romans 2)
Lastly we see in 1 Samuel 2:27 that the warning given by the man of God and Samuel wereÂ Â in order to impart to the Lordâs people the forceful understanding, that He indeedÂ is Holy and will judge his ministers. Such judgment was not Â to be a random accident, but a foretold casting out of the temple of the corrupt leaders so true worship could be re-established. (John 2:13)
Eli, his house , the temple, and Shiloh were eventuallyÂ destroyed by the Philistines (Psalm 78:40, Jeremiah 7:4), as was Jerusalem by the Romans.Â Perhaps in this one tragic sense Â theÂ âDays of ElijahâÂ Â ironically foreshadowÂ this coming Â prophetic act.
For as it says in Malachi 5:5:
âBehold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.â