Revival—personal and global—includes an end to spiritual silence. The more that people hear and follow the voice of God, the more God’s kingdom rule extends. Samuel is a fine example of the simplicity of hearing God; his situation also explains why hearing can become dull. Samuel was born into a spiritually silent world; God seldom spoke.
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. (1 Sam. 3:1)
First Samuel chapter two gives the reason for the silence—a sinful and hypocritical religious establishment:
The high priest, Eli, had two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were the priests in charge of the day-to-day tabernacle services. Strangely, “they did not know the LORD.” (1 Sam. 2:12) What a tragedy that those responsible for facilitating relationship between the people and God did not know God. What a travesty that when they boiled the sacrifices they grabbed their biggest fork and fished the meaty chunks out of the cauldron for themselves. Also, “before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take boiled meat from you, only raw.’” (1 Sam. 2:15) That violated God’s commands regarding sacrifices. They abused their position by manipulation and intimidation. To top it all, they slept with the serving women (1 Sam. 2:13-14, 22). While Eli’s sons “brought a curse on themselves,” we’re told Eli “did not rebuke them” (1 Sam. 3:13). Eli allowed their behavior to continue; he acquiesced in the sins of his family. Not surprisingly, God didn’t have a lot to say to His people.
Sin separates people from God and damages communication with Him. Eli had ignored God’s instruction to confront his family’s sin. When we disobey God, it dulls our hearing. Ironically, Eli was also blind.
Samuel, through no fault of his own, lived in that strange world of empty religion. He ministered to God in the temple before Eli—but he did not know God! (v. 7) If our spiritual life is a ritual with no evidence of the reality of God then it is time to hit the refresh button and pursue relationship with God.
Relationships hinge on communication. Anyone who has experienced God speaking senses when communication is damaged and can take steps to mend the relationship.
Samuel knew nothing of hearing God’s voice; he needed God to break into his world to establish a relationship with him. That’s exactly what God did.
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