Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
The above account represents one of the saddest chapters in
the history of God’s people. Is it possible that this scenario is once again
playing out before us?
Let’s try and recapture the events surrounding the birth of Ichabod. Israel was again under siege of the Philistines and resorted to doing what always had worked in the past. What was their secret formula? They resorted to doing what many of us do today; they simply “presumed” upon the presence of God whenever in trouble or need. Why would such a casual regard for the sacred things of God be allowed? A close examination of the priest in charge will answer this question.
Eli was the high priest who had the responsibility of
representing the affairs of God to the people. Here are a few characteristics
of note regarding Eli:
1) He was 98 years old and cited as a man who had lost natural vision (1 Sam 3:2, 4:15).
2) Eli had no ability to hear God when Samuel was being called
(1 Sam 3:8-9)
3) Eli had 2 sons (Hophni and Phinehas) who corrupted the priestly office (1 Sam 2:12-22)
4) Eli failed in his priestly role in not removing his sons (1 Sam 3:13)
To summarize, Eli had no spiritual vision in understanding the work of God, nor did he have ability to hear and discern what God was speaking. In the midst of all of this we do see God preparing a young man (Samuel) who would lead the transition to a whole new dispensation in Israel; a relationship that will be characterized by a true priestly role. Samuel was a priest, prophet and judge. His ministry paved the way for a man (David) who would embody the ministry of both priest and king. Why did David have this privilege? Consider the declarations made in the following two verses; the first is to the corrupted priest Eli and the second towards the corrupted King named Saul.
Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful
priest who shall do according to what is in My heart
and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My
anointed forever (1 Sam 2:35).
But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you (1 Sam 13:14).
Can you see the common denominator that characterizes the true King/Priest? Is this not the manner of King/Priest that the Lord is
looking for in the last days (Rev 1:6, 5:10)? David embodied these two
declarations because he was a man after God’s own heart. So then, what
relevance does this have for our day?
Israel became very casual in their relationship with God.
There came a time when God said ENOUGH! The Lord was no longer going to allow His Holy Presence, which was characterized by the Ark of the Covenant, to be represented by a corrupted priesthood. What happened in that defining moment?
1) The Ark of the Covenant was captured (1 Sam 4:11)
2) The sons of Eli died (1 Sam 4:11)
3) Eli died (1 Sam 4:18)
4) Eli’s Daughter in law died in childbirth (1 Sam 4:20)
5) The Birth of Ichabod (1 Sam 4:21-22)
The following verse is what triggered the above message:
Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God,
that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was
broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel
forty years (1 Sam 4:18).
Christianity has grown exponentially since the time of the
Charismatic movement of the 1960’s and 70’s. What does it look like today and what are its fruits? Like Israel of old, are there similar taints of
entitlement and casualness in our approach towards God? If true, why is this so? Perhaps Eli is still amongst us when taking stock of the overall condition of the church and its associated priests.
The birth of Ichabod signifies a tectonic shift in how the church will look in going forward. Things can no longer be business as usual. Israel’s loss of the Presence of God needs to serve as a sobering reminder to all of us. At the same time, we need to appreciate what God is doing and align ourselves accordingly. The following is a brief summary of events that transpired after the birth of Ichabod.
1) The Ark was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 5:1)
2) The Ark (The presence of God) destroyed the god of the Philistines
(1 Sam 5:4)
3) God judged Philistine strongholds (1 Sam 5:11)
4) The Ark was being prepared for a new order of priest (2 Sam 6:17)
The birth of Ichabod, though a sobering reminder of the lost opportunity for Israel, presents to the church of our day the responsibility and privilege in humbling ourselves before a holy God. Perhaps we can glean some meaning of the current scourge of Covid-19 when reflecting on the events surrounding the birth of Ichabod as seen in the land of the Philistines in 1 Samuel 5. It did not take long for the Philistines to recognize the judgement coming forth as a result of the captured Ark. If seen in this context, we have potential insights and perspective as to how to posture ourselves in this defining moment now playing out before us. I feel there is a transition taking place; an emergence of a priesthood that will faithfully and capably steward the Presence of God as we move closer to His 2nd coming.
Jeremiah was also one who took special note of the events referred to above. He steered his audience to reflect as to what transpired at
Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth (Jer 26:6). See also Jer 7:1-7.
Jeremiah was warning the people of his day about taking the presence of the Lord for granted. His message is tailored-made for us today.
May the Lord help us to discern His times and Seasons.
The birth of Ichabod speaks to that which was lost. It also signals the message of a greater glory that will return; a glory that shines throughout the world in the midst of darkness (Isa 60:1-4) and a glory that far surpasses the days of Solomon and the early church (2 Chr 5:12-13, Acts 2). Are we now in that transition period? Will we respond in obedience and humility?
And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,
and I will fill this temple with glory,’
says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’
says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts (Hag 2:7-9).