Nepotism can be a dangerous practice. When families allow misbehavior to go on without being challenged simple because the person is a relative. The favoritism and partiality toward family and friends can often allow gross oversight of heinous sinfulness that otherwise would not be tolerated.
Eli, the high priest, had two sorry sons. They are actually described as sons of Belial, meaning they were not servants of Jehovah, but rather servants of self. Hophni and Phinehas were not outright satanic worshippers, but they took every advantage to slight the people of God and advance themselves. Paul described such false preachers this way in Philippians 3:19 – “Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is their shame, who mind earthly things.”
Their desire was to gain and have no matter what. They are cited for some very wicked crimes. They stole the best of the meat, going outside the parameters set by Levitical Law. They also wanted the meat raw, and not cook; another violation of the Law. One of the most egregious acts they did was persuading women who had come to worship into sexual sin.
These men were about as wicked as they come. The people of Israel complained about their behavior, and even God Himself had a bad testimony about these sinful men. Eli finally confronted them, but the rebuke fell on deaf ears. Their behavior was out of control.
Eventually, God would judge Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas for allow such behavior to continue in the house of the Lord. I can only imagine how many people were hurt, and how many lives were wrecked along the way. Think with me the carnage that could have been avoided in Eli had done right. Some individual’s relationship with the Lord was likely completely altered because of these charlatans.
We live in a scary time. Not that things are much worse than they have been in the past, but they are much more reported on. Things that were hidden decades ago are rising to the surface, and great sin is being discovered among those who were supposed to spiritual leaders.
As I write this, there have been numerous examples in the last few years of pastors, youth pastors, and other spiritual leaders using their position of authority to take advantage of others sexually. This is an affront to God, and those who use position of spiritual leadership to coerce others into sexual misconduct will answer to God one day.
Those who perform the lowest acts of pedophilia ought to receive the judgment God declared in Matthew 18:6 – “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” A child who comes to church to grow in their relationship with the Lord, should be in the safest environment available to them.
The worst part of any sexual misconduct by spiritual leaders (or taking advantage of others in other ways) is when others attempt to hid or move the problem. Sweeping it under the rug, many leaders believe they are somehow doing a service to everyone involved. I believe the story of Eli’s sons helps shed some light on this tragedy. Eli unwillingness to deal with the problem, ultimately lead to God judging all of Israel. Not only were Eli and his sons killed, but a lot of other Israelites with them. Think about the number of people who quit worshipping and sacrificing because of these two wretches. Upon their death, Phinehas’ wife gave birth and named the child Ichabod because the glory of the Lord was departed.
May I implore you today, don’t try to cover up the sin of a spiritual leader. If they are your family or friend, it may make it difficult to do the right and Scriptural thing, but you must. Far too many spiritual leaders have “covered” for those preying on the church, and the problem kept repeating and repeating. It is time to do the right thing, be above board, and be honorable once again in all our dealings.
Each person who acts like Eli’s sons does more to harm the name of Christ, Church, and Christians than almost anything else. Stay pure yourself, and be always willing to identify sin and call it out. We must repudiate any selfish, self-willed acts perpetrated upon the church by a spiritual leader.
Daily Scripture Reading
1 Samuel 1 - 3
1 Samuel 3:19
“And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.”