Last night I attended a Bible study on 1 Samuel Chapter 4. This chapter covers two battles of Israel against the Philistines. Israel lost 4,000 troops in the first battle. In the second battle their leaders embarked on a foolish strategy that motivated their foes, resulting in Israel losing 30,000 troops . Not only was their troop loss more severe, but they foolishly sacrificed the sacred symbol that represented their national identity, their culture, their history and their faith by bringing their Arc of the Covenant into battle.
How and why did this happen to Israel? First, their leader , Eli, was in his 90’s and not in a physical or mental condition to lead. More significantly, he raised two sons who turned out to be “wicked men” and “full of iniquity.” God fulfilled his prophecy to Samuel and allowed Israel to lose the battles, the Arc and Eli’s sons which caused Eli’s death.
And that is pretty much where the lesson ended. No connection to our situation today was ever mentioned. The lesson remained detached in the times and culture of around 1150 BC, 3,250 years ago.
What could have been pointed out to make the lesson relevant to us today?
- The problem of an incapable leader relying on others.
- Subordinate leaders who had no regard for the nation’s history, culture, traditions or faith.
- A population who empowered these leaders to run the country and implement their foolish policies and poorly run wars.
- The incompetent leader (Eli) could easily be compared to President Obama.
- The “wicked men, full of iniquity” who had no regard for the history, culture, or faith of Israel could easily be related to the socialists, progressives, and anti-Christian secularists today who lead our country and universities without regard to our history, culture, and faith.
- We, today, are sacrificing our history, culture, and faith to fit into a new world order – everything that is sacred to us is being sacrificed.
Here is an example in the news: Obama at Prayer Breakfast: Jesus Would Want Us to Tax the Rich
Current events are rife with examples that could bring Bible lessons to life. But for a variety of reasons, the connection is not made.
Why not? Here are some speculative possibilities:
- Pastors don’t have the time to understand current events well enough to make the connection.
- Pastors don’t have an interest in current events.
- Church leadership believes that relating Scripture lessons to current events might be offensive to some.
- Church leadership believes that relating Scripture lessons to current events might cause dissention, loss of members, or loss of revenue.
I suspect these are the same reasons the people and leaders of Israel had that created their loss of faith, wickedness, evil, and the decline and their nation.
The bigger question for me personally is this: Why do I subject myself to these sermons and Bible studies that fail at relevance?