The Affliction of God's Habitation

God’s words will always prove true even when given a “bad review” by man. Yet there is power in the spoken word. Reports, reactive comments (more reports), and concluding comments (more reports) all prove the power of spoken words. Man’s words either reflect faith or doubt in what God has declared. When our words are as God’s, it reflects our faith in God’s oracles (1 Peter 4.11). There is an effect that will lead to eternal life for those who hear. Conversely, when we speak faithless and false words about God’s words, the adverse effect is that it will lead to eternal damnation for the hearer. It depends, of course, upon which words the hearer accepts.

God had made it clear that he was giving the Israelites the land of Canaan as a possession. God ordered the land to be spied. One of the two reports spoken to the people was evil, yet accepted as true. It led to death for those who believed it (Numbers 13.31-33; 14.36-37). This report was evil because it reflected the people’s lack oof faith in God to perform his oath to Abraham (Deuteronomy 9.5). Those who believed the report also reflected their lack of faith in God’s word. However, there was another story of a bad report made by the people of Israel in the days of Eli. The story is found in 1 Samuel 2.22-35. The circumstances were much different, yet faith in God was still absent.

Eli was the high priest at this time. His sons, although priests, were worthless. Even though they were “religious,” they despised the offering of Jehovah (v. 17). The abuses in regard to the sacrifice, coupled with the women who served at the tabernacle (v. 22) were brought to Eli. This report from the people was not good, but it was the truth. However, their complaint did not remedy the problem any more than Eli’s response did. Jehovah said of Eli, “I will judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons did bring a curse upon themselves, and he restrained them not” (1 Samuel 3.13). Jehovah punished Eli’s house justly (see 1 Samuel 2.34; 4.11).

God had made an oath to which he would be faithful to carry out. Therefore, he dwelt in the midst of his people, Israel. His very presence was purposed to be a blessing for his people. He had already blessed them in many ways. He was an ever-present aid in their time of need (Deuteronomy 4.7; Isaiah 65.24). He had blessed them with a law far in superiority to any other nation (Deuteronomy 4.8). Their very lives depended upon their acceptance of this law (Deuteronomy 6.24-25). But while this law was a blessing, it was not “The Blessing” God purposed for them when he made an oath to Abraham (Genesis 12.3b), no more than Eliezer was the intended heir from his loins, although he had been born in Abraham’s house (Genesis 15.2-4). The blessings of his seed becoming a great nation and their possession of Canaan were likewise with a view to a greater, yet future, blessing…Christ (Galatians 3.24). It was called a “latter end” blessing by Moses (Deuteronomy 8.16b).

Israel, in failing to believe God, cast this law aside (Nehemiah 9.26). Yet, God was in their midst. Why? Because God is true to his word, fulfilling his oath to bless his people in their “latter end.” In the interim, his presence is sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4.12). Notice what Eli was told in 1 Samuel 2.32: “And thou shalt behold the affliction of my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel.” The truth in connection with the report concerning the sinful behavior of Eli’s sons was and is true anytime God’s people sin. They will see the affliction of his dwelling while God does good for his people.

God, through his righteous deeds in the presence of his people, demonstrates his faithfulness to his own words. His discipline at the present is to bless his own in their “latter end.” That was his purpose from eternity (Ephesians 1.5). The Hebrew writer wrote of this "latter end” blessing as follows: “…Regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, nor faith when thou art reproved of him; for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth…for they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12.5-7,10-11).

Remember, “the Lord chasteneth” his children (i.e., “those whom he loveth) for their “profit.” Give him reverence. Be trained by it. You with thus be a channel of blessing.