The Glory Has Departed

Samuel is a young boy, yet he has been given to the service of the Lord at the house of the Lord in Shiloh. A man there who was in charge of the service to the Lord named Eli was unable to control the evil that his sons committed so a prophecy was given to Eli that his sons would die on the same day.

The Philistines were one of the nations that remained in the land of Canaan after the Israelites had entered into the Promised Land. They continued to fight against the Israelites, and in fact, in this time, were subjugating the Israelites under their control. They were now in power over the Israelites. At this time as Eli was leading the people spiritually, the Israelites were going out to fight against the Philistines. They lose one battle badly, and then subsequently bring the ark of the covenant, their representation of the God’s relationship with them, to the camp where the army was staying as they believed that it would be a strength to them and allow them to win the battles.

But God was not with the Israelites. The Israelites were far from God and not pursuing him. Instead, they committed evil, and even doing so directly in the house of the Lord. And so the Israelites were hoping for a “god” that would lead them against the Philistines, but it would be a false hope as the one, true God was no longer with them.

On the most fateful day that saw Eli’s sons, and even Eli himself, pass away, the Philistines defeated the Israelites, killing 30,000 of the Israelite soldiers. Eli’s daughter-in-law had a son that she named Ichabod before going on to pass away herself. She named him Ichabod, meaning, “The Glory has departed from Israel”.

She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

1 Samuel 4:21-22

God had left Israel. God had not been with them. He was allowing Israel to fall into the hands of the enemies of the Israelites, even allowing them to be subject to the Philistines. And so, upon the death of Eli and his sons, and upon the death of tens of thousands of Israelites, and finally, now also upon the capture of the ark of the covenant by the Philistines, it was finally acknowledged that God was no longer with them.

Today, we can draw connections to our relationship with God as well. We see that John says that he and the other disciples saw the glory of Jesus, the glory of the one and only Son of God. This is what we see when we are with God. We see his glory!

On the other hand, we also see that, when we sin, we fall short of the glory of God. We do not live in the light of his glory, but instead we live in the dim light of our own pride, the light of our sin. This is what happened with the Israelites, and what even continues to happen today. God cannot be where sin is present, so our first step in reestablising our relationship with him is to repent. We must turn away from our sin and return back to him. Only in this way will we see the light of the glory of God and know him once again.

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