Wednesday, January 6, 2010

No! Don't go back to bed! It wasn't Eli calling!

Oh my goodness, who did you tell me that told you that? Wait a minute... it might not be who you thought it was!

"The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
Again the LORD called, "Samuel!"
Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
"My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy, So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if He calls you say, 'Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'
So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"
Then Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."
And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something...""
(1 Samuel 3:1-11a.)

Hannah had been barren for years. The first chapter of 1st Samuel takes us with her to the temple where we see her weeping and praying to the Lord. We see her making a vow to God, telling Him that if He will only see her misery and remember her and give her a son, then she promises to give her son back to Him for all of his life. God answered her prayer. He gave her a son. And we see her fulfill her promise that she'd made in chapter 3. After Samuel was weaned, when he was still a little bitty boy, she took him to the temple to live. No doubt, before his mama ever left him there (even though he was still so incredibly young) she told him all that she could about the God that had blessed her with a son and of all that she knew of His wonders.

Samuel was raised and grew up under the tutelage of the priests. He would have had to have studied the Torah for all of the years of his life. He had heard the priests' teachings all the way back to his first remembrances. He learned the ways of God, His commandments, and all of the past stories that were told of Him. He participated in each feast day appointed. He helped. He served. He shared in it all. He was privy to the innermost workings of those that served the LORD. He was saturated in the things of our God.

This 3rd chapter begins by telling us that Samuel "ministered before the LORD under Eli." Ministered is defined as "contributed, served, waited on, attended to, worshipped."

He lived it, breathed it, ate it, talked it, walked it, served it, attended to it, contributed to it, waited on it, worshipped it... It's what he did. It's how he was brought up. It's all he knew. It was who he was.

It is bigger and more than us being raised in the church our whole lives. It was more than how some of us have gone to church every time the doors were opened from the day we were born: on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Monday night's visitation, Tuesday night's inner city, Friday night's mission meetings, Saturday night's devos, fellowship mixers, Vacation Bible Schools, and Summer Revivals. No, Samuel actually lived there in the temple. He ate there, slept there, played there, bathed there, served there, worshipped there, studied there; and then he did it all over again the very next day. Every day. All of his life. He didn't go home. It was his home. It was all that he had ever known.

He may have talked about God and been taught about God and had heard about God all of his life; and yet when the LORD called out his name..... Samuel didn't know it! Samuel didn't recognize Him. He didn't know His voice. He knew he'd been called. He thought it was Eli. He had no idea that it was God that was calling him!

Samuel ran to Eli when he heard his name in the midst of the night, and was basically sent back to his room by Eli with a, 'No, I did not call you. Go back to bed!'

He does it a second time...

... and then a third.

The first time we're told that Samuel "ran" [he ran swiftly, moved quickly, hurried] to Eli. The next two, he "went" [ he walked]. No doubt, his "run" was slowed to a "went" because of his wonder on the way.

The second time?

Same reply. "No! I did not call you!" Eli said, "Go back to bed, Samuel!"

I wonder if aggravation tinted Eli's second sending? I wonder if it tinted a little? or, a whole LOT? Was that second time said by a tired woken Eli in a more furious and aggravated tone than the first time was? Was it more like a, "Samuel, get back in that bed! I did not call you!" from a tired old man whose sleep had been interrupted two too many times in one night as he tried to pry open eyes that could barely see from the tired still left in them? Do you think that perhaps Eli might have been a bit irritated from being woken in the midst of the night by a mere boy that served in the temple? I wonder if it was heard in his voice? I wonder if it showed on his face? I wonder if it hurt poor Samuel's feelings as he walked away?

Samuel (sweet child that he was as he tried to oblige at his name being called) hears his name being called the third time. Oh my, how hard it must have been to wake the old man again! Yet, he does... for he knows that he really had heard his name being called this time too, as well as all the others! There's no mistaking it, he KNOWS that he has heard his name. It was so clear. Surely he wasn't imagining it? So, in spite of what may be another send-me-back-to-bed-visit, he goes back to Eli again.

After this third time we're told that Eli realized / perceived / discerned / understood / KNEW that Samuel had been called by the Lord. So, he basically tells Samuel as much and then tells him to go lay back down again and also told him what to say "IF" he heard his name called out again.

I wonder what Samuel must have been thinking that 3rd time that he walked that same path back to his room after he had gone to Eli those three times before in attempts to answer the call that had called him?

I wonder what Samuel must have been thinking as he pulled his covers up and tucked them around him?

I wonder if he didn't pull the covers completely over his head from a spooky fear?

No doubt, he was wide-eyed with wonder! I bet sleep couldn't be further from his mind. I can't help but wonder at what kind of wonders whirled all around in his mind that surely held his eyes opened wide? Did he wonder if God would call him again after he'd missed Him the first three times? Was he wanting Him to???... Scared that He wouldn't?... But also scared that He would??? I could wonder about what all that he might have wondered all night....., but for the sake of time I'll leave you to your own wonder.

Right now, my greatest wonder of the moment is this: Has the LORD called ME and I didn't recognize His voice? Has He called YOU, and you didn't either? Has He called you by name and you definitely heard it... you know that you did... yet you thought that the one that was calling you was an "Eli"? Yet in reality, NO, it was NOT Eli at all! It wasn't Eli that called you! Your teacher didn't call you! It wasn't your mom! The preacher didn't call! Your boss didn't! The voice of the guy on the radio didn't call you! It wasn't the education director at church that called and asked you to do that that was actually calling! The book that you read that pulled at your heart and made you yearn for more of an eternal thing and a spiritual something, didn't call you. That stirring inside, that knowing that knows, that feeling that feels... it isn't your own. It wasn't Eli that called! BUT? you thought............... So you went back to bed when he said that he didn't.

Have you gone back to bed to forget about it? You now feel so foolish and silly for thinking the thoughts that you thought, and for thinking that you had heard your name being called??? And you begin to guess that you didn't hear anything after all. You decide that you only thought that you did. Has the LORD called you by name?.... but you didn't know it was Him, because you do not yet know Him?.. because though you'd served Him and worshipped Him all of your life His Word had "not yet been revealed" to you? So you keep hearing a thing and jumping out of bed, and running to Eli who keeps sending you back. You bounce up and down because you KNOW that he called, you know you heard something... but Eli keeps telling you that it wasn't him and he keeps sending you back to your bed. You climb beneath your covers, and shut your eyes to the dark, but then there it goes again, you hear it (!)... you know someone's calling.....

Has God called your name? but you didn't know it was Him? You don't know that it's Him, because "you do not yet KNOW Him" (though you thought you did!)? Oh, of course, you know Him... you've "known" Him all of your life; you were brought up in the church since you were an infant; you've heard it, been taught it, talked it, walked it, served it, praised it, worshipped it...

In verse 7 we're told that "Samuel did not yet know the LORD; the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him."

Oh my, Samuel "did not know" the LORD? How did he not "know" Him yet he grew up and lived in the temple serving Him and worshipping Him all of his life? Can that be possible? Can it happen like that? He didn't know Him? For real? After all of that time? But!................ How could that be so? Surely Samuel thought that he did. Surely Samuel had been told all of his life who God was. Surely Samuel had told others! How could you say that he did not know?

Could that be us? Could that be me? Could that be you? Thinking we do, but we don't? "But I was raised...?!" you argue. And so was Samuel!

The Scripture says,"Samuel did not yet know the LORD"... and it was because: "The word of the LORD had not been revealed to him." 

Oh, I'm sure Samuel knew God's Word, but even with that truth it specifically says that the word had not been "revealed" to him. It had not yet come alive to him! To define it, it had not been: uncovered, disclosed, discovered, made known, shown! He had not yet HEARD God in it!!!! He had not SEEN Him there! He had not uncovered Him, discovered Him, found Him there! There's nothing like having a "word of the LORD" being "revealed" to you!!!! There's no kind of hearing like that kind of hearing! There's no kind of knowing like that kind of knowing!!!! There's no kind of showing like that kind of showing! There's no kind of seeing like that kind of seeing! There's no kind of discovering like that kind of discovering! There's no kind of revealing like that kind of revealing!

So Samuel finally realizes that indeed it is as he's thought it was, his name really is being called, and the one calling him is the LORD Himself! But do we look further to see why the LORD called Him? "The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening." And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something?"

"I am about to do something!" The Holy LORD God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has spoken? and He said, "I am about to do something!"

God called Samuel - because He was about to "do something!"

God called people in Scripture - because He was about to "do something!"

God still calls - when He's about to do something.

As He did then, He still does now.

Do you think, can you imagine, that He just might have "something" "to do" today? In our time, in our generation, in this day, in this age, at this moment, could you think that He still might have "something" to do? Any "something" to do at all? Or does He sit and twiddle His thumbs, and have nothing in this world to do but wait until His final Day of Judgment to come? Might He still have some things to do today? And if He has "something" to do, could it be that one of the somethings that He has to do just might be somewhere in the realm of your world? And, if He has something to do somewhere in the realm of your world, might He just be looking for "someone" to do it through (because for whatever reason He almost always uses people to do it).

Might He be calling your name? Did you hear it? Have you heard it in the past? You thought it was Eli, so you went back to bed; but, NO!, it WASN'T Eli calling! Some-one is needed some-where to do some-thing that God wants done! Could it be that He's calling your name... and you've heard it, but you weren't aware that it was Him calling?

So, what was it this time? What was the "something" that God told Samuel that He was "about to do"? Verse 11 continues, "And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle." The KJV says "Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle." Oh my, I love His wording! "Behold, I will do a thing"!!!!

Behold, indeed! For when He does "a thing," the world cannot help but to "behold" what He's done! "Behold" -- to just stop a moment and just "be" and "hold" the awe of the One Who's done it!

He was about to do a thing that would make: "the ears of every one that heareth it tingle." What "something" might God want to do that tingles all the ears of those around that hear of it now? What calls your name? What is your name? What has He called you for? Perhaps you need not crawl beneath your covers and keep your head laid in the dark???? Do you think, do you really, really, really, really, really think that God just might have "something" to do right now in our worlds????.... And do you think that He might want to do something that makes the ears of all those who hear of what He's done to tingle through you? Do you think? Could it be? Did He call your name? Do you think so? Did you hear it?

Oh my goodness, NO! If you've heard your name, don't go back to bed, it wasn't Eli calling!

I can guarantee you that God has some things to do. And I can guarantee you that He's looking for people to do it through. He called Abram as one man to birth a new nation and the multitudes through. He called Moses to deliver His people. And Gideon. Samuel. Samson. Saul. King David. Jonah. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John..... Peter, Paul.... And He's called YOU!

Back to Moses for a minute. He called Moses' name through a burning bush. What kind of "bush" has He used to call you?.. simply because He's got something to do!!

Let's not only hear our names when they're called, but recognize the One that is doing the calling. And then, may God be able to say of us as He had penned at the end of this chapter of Samuel:

"The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up,
and he let none of His words fall to the ground.
And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.
The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh,
and there He revealed Himself to Samuel through His word."

Wow, the Lord was with Samuel as he grew. Samuel didn't let any of God's words fall to the ground! Where did God reveal Himself to Samuel? Through what? "And there He revealed Himself to Samuel through His word." Want God to reveal Himself to you? Might I asked you, where you're looking?

Hey, has anybody called you for something lately? Do you think it was Eli or.................might it be God that wants you!?

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