And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli
that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or
offering forever. (1 Sam 3:14)
We know that Eli's two sons, though
priests of the Lord, were exceedingly wicked and deserved to die. However,
based on this verse, God appears to have been merciful and actually allowed
their iniquity, for a long time, to be atoned for by sacrifices and offerings.
God did not destroy them right away, though He desired to kill them. In fact,
God warned Eli about his sons twice—once through a man of God (2:27-36) and
another time through the boy Samuel (3:11-18).
spoke through Samuel, He included the word “forever,” implying that their
sacrifices and offerings would soon be of no effect. In other words, God would
no longer endure their sins. For while they sacrificed, they did not remove the
very iniquities from their lives.
since Jesus the High Priest sacrificed Himself for our sins once and for all
(Heb 7:26-27), the sacrifice of animals is no longer needed. Instead, today we
offer our prayers to God for forgiveness of our sins (Ps 141:2, Isa 56:7, Rev
5:8). So, what if we re-worded the above verse to apply to ourselves? And therefore I have sworn that your
iniquity shall not be atoned for by prayers forever. This means that though
God may be merciful and forgive our sins when we pray, perhaps this will not
last forever, especially if we do not remove the very same iniquities from our
fallen into any traps of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or the
pride of life? And do we find ourselves always repenting to God but unable to
change and remove these iniquities from our lives? If so, then let us remind
ourselves that we should make an honest determination to change and rely on God
for the strength and power to do so. Only then will our prayers be effective
and heard by God.
Questions for Reflection
we always repent to God for the same sins?
are some practical things we can do to show true repentance?
can we make our prayers effective and pleasing to God?