|1:1||Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:|
|1:2||And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.|
|1:3||And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there.|
|1:4||And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:|
|1:5||But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.|
|1:6||And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb.|
|1:7||And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.|
|1:8||Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?|
[Introduction] Doing missionary work, I have come to discover that it is not hard to meet someone who is unsuccessful, suffering or disoriented in the church. There are many who go through the collapse of their business, marriage, or their health. What do you think is the true agony of this age? In most cases, people say that it can be the economy, diseases, or the aftermath of an ongoing war. However, today, I want to say that the true agony of this generation is upon those who have been called, but neglecting their mission. Therefore, I sincerely pray that may you all discover again and restore what you were called for today by comparing Hannah, Elkanah, Priest Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas.
1. Elkanah Who Lost the Calling of the Region
Elkanah and his wife Hannah lived in the time of “Judges”. The characteristic of this age was that there was extreme moral and spiritual corruption. We can see how corrupted this time was in two events. One of those events is in Judges Chapter 19. There was a particular family — Elkanah and Hannah, who appear in today’s passage. 1 Samuel 1:1 says, “There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite.” At first glance, it sounds like Elikanah is of a spiritual ancestry of faith, but in 1 Chronicles 6:22-23, we can see that he was a descendant of Kohath. But right after Elkanah’s family was introduced, we can see that Elkanah’s family had many difficulties. In 1 Samuel 1:2 it says that he had two wives, which is quite hard to understand. He was a Levite who is supposed to work for God, but he conformed to the world when he was not supposed to. God was strongly demanding them to show heavenliness and righteousness, but in reality, their lives were far from such elements. All the members of his family were experiencing hell. He had a calling but lost it. How could he become so obtuse in that? The answer is simple. It is because, his communication with God was blocked. Judges chapter 1:21 says, there was no word of "commandments". It was the era of being faintness of God's words. So people lived their life with their own opinion, and believed in God as their opinion. God’s laws started to disappear in Elkanah's life. God's words, mission was disappearing and the question of why God sent him to the Ephraim was disappearing. What is the root of this world's religion? It is comfort. One who lives a religious life pursuing comfort loses the power of life. I hope all of you can live the life of a missionary to make your family and region live.
2. Eli's Sons Who Lost the Mission of Era
Eli was a high priest in Judges, written in 1 Samuel. At that time, he was a spiritual leader. He had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Today's passage is a very heart aching scene, even when we read many times. The Bible's record of Hophni and Phinehas is negative. The Bible shows exposes their sins. 1 Samuel 2:12 says, “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD.” In the verse, the word “know” is Yadah (יָדָה) in Hebrew. It means to know God by experience. So, what is the best way to know God by experience? It is worship. 1 Samuel 2:17 says, “Thus the sin of young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of Lord with contempt.” The mission of a priest is to do the sacrifice. God's scary judgment to these two people who neglected their mission was to abandon. God never recognized them. If so, is this something to be terrified of disregarding God's sacrifice? The Bible describes it more concretely. 1 Samuel 2:29 says, “Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling? And honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?” This word is a curse to Eli's household. God said the sin of Eli’s two sons was that they scorned God’s sacrifice and offerings. In the Old Testament, sacrificial offering represents Christ who will come. If so, that Hophni and Phinehas treated God’s offering with contempt means that they scorned God’s sacrifice and offering, it ultimately means that they scorned Christ who will come and denied His holy blood. Hebrew 10:29 says, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the spirit of grace?” Our mission from God is what gives us spiritual identity and allows us to live the life of God’s children. If we have a mission, we do not become spoiled. If we have a mission, we do not become corrupt. Therefore I truly hope that you become the true missionary of this generation.
[Conclusion] Believing in Jesus means living this world differently. When Jesus’s spirit comes into my heart, we no longer belong to this world. So we ought to live a different life. When you live a different life, that is when you become respectable. Acts 5:13 says, “And of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them.” Although people did not follow Jesus, they complemented the believers. This is the life of the true missionaries. I hope that this history from 2,000 years ago would be restored in our families, in our neighborhood, workplace, and in our schools.