Removing Ichabod from the Church
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Sometimes I hear people say “I went to church before” or “I used to go to church but...” Many people have rejected God because they didn't care for the church experience – but what they really were rejecting is a church where there is no glory or presence of God to be found. There is nothing sadder than someone who is hurting or reaching out for God and when they go to church instead of finding God, they find "Ichabod" instead.
What is Ichabod? Let me explain....
There was a priest in Israel named Eli, that was in charge of the temple. One day a lady named Hannah came in to pray and to plead with the Lord for a child. She was barren and had made an agreement with the Lord: If He would give her a child, she would dedicate him to the service of the Lord for his entire life. Eli saw Hannah praying so passionately and assumed she was drunk. Hannah assured him, this was not the case but that she was grieved in her spirit. Eli blessed Hannah and sent her away assuring her that God would answer her prayer.
Eli had two adult sons Hophni and Phinehas, that had also become priests. When the people brought their offerings of bulls and rams to the tabernacle to present to the Lord for the atonement of their sins, Eli's sons
would go with a fork and take the very best of the meat for themselves. They would even take the fat with the meat and the people would beg them to at least let the fat be burned before the Lord for the atonement for their sins before taking it. The Mosaic law allowed that a portion of the offerings would go to the priests for their provision, but Eli's sons were not content with only a portion of the offerings, they wanted the best for themselves.
The bible goes on to say that this was a great sin before the Lord because the people began to despise the offering of the Lord because of these wicked priests.
The word of the Lord came through a prophet to Eli saying that because of this sin, all of Eli's male descendants would die young, as a curse on their lives forever. Also, he was told an enemy would come and take over the dwelling place of the Lord. As a sign to Eli that this word was indeed from the Lord, he was told that both of his sons would die in one day.
Later, through the prophet Samuel, Eli was told that because he didn't restrain his sons, there would never be an atonement for the sins of Eli's household by sacrifice or by offering – forever.
It was many years later, that the Philistines came against Israel in battle. Israel was defeated in battle against them and decided to fight against them again - but this time they would take with them the Ark of the Covenant from the Most Holy Place. They believed this would secure their victory against the Philistines.
The Philistines fought against them and Israel was defeated and every man ran away to his tent. There was a very great slaughter that day and 30,000 men died. The Philistines captured the ark of God, and the two sons of Eli - both Hophni and Phineas died that day, just as the Lord had foretold.
Eli was an old man at the time and had waited back at camp for his sons to return with the ark. He could hear the sound of a great commotion and wondered what was going on. When a man came and told him that both of his sons had died and the ark had been captured, Eli fell backward off a ledge because he was old and he was a very heavy man.
When Eli's pregnant daughter in law heard this news, she went into labor. At about the time of her death, she was told that she was giving birth to a son. She said,“Call his name Ichabod because the glory of the Lord has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured”.
When I read this story I cannot help but think of all the prosperity preachers of today. They go to great lengths to get people to give their offerings to the Lord, but in reality the offerings go to make their own flesh fat. To give to the Lord should be a blessing to the giver and the receivers, but the church
now is just like in the story of Eli... the people despised the offering of the Lord because of the ministers in the tabernacle. Now people say “preachers only want my money”. Some never answer the Lord's call of salvation because of the wickedness of the church that no one even tries to hide.
Today, Christians are are modern day Eli's. We see the manipulation used to entice the people to give more. But we are like Eli – we don't necessarily agree but we just sit and watch, and even the believers have begun to despise the offering of the Lord because of the conduct of some of the preachers and ministers.
Just as Eli was so fat from feeding his flesh with the offerings of the Lord that he fell backward and broke his neck – so our churches are fat with excess in every way. Excess of sin. Excess of the flesh. Excess of the world. Excess of entertainment. Although the bible says for us to only set our affections on the things that are above and not beneath, we are obese with our self adoration and our love has grown cold for anything or anyone that will not benefit us.
There are many ministers that could be called Hophni or Phinehas. They are hirelings, they do the work of the ministry only for the paycheck or what they can get out of it. There is no requirement of passion or dedication and most hirelings do not have the ability or the desire to seek God for instruction or direction in their ministries. In the words of my friend, it means more for them to "look" spiritual than to "be" spiritual. A hireling will not lay down his own life for the sheep and will not hesitate to abandon the sheep when the wolf attacks.
The Hophni and Phinehas's of today are content to not preach a message of salvation because they want to avoid an offense. The desire to be successful in the eyes of man, the desire for offerings, large buildings and large congregations and regard for status or position has far outweighed the desire to fast and pray for the salvation of men to be brought from darkness into light.
Although America has a church on every corner and satellites broadcast the (false) prosperity gospel of God from one end of the earth to the other, most of these last day churches are proud members of Eli's family. They are ready to go to war against the enemy believing the Lord is with them, but on the day of battle they find out too late that all they have left is their son Ichabod.... the glory of the Lord departed and they never even knew it.
I am really not a doomsday of person – but I find it really scary that the proclamation of the Lord over Eli, Hophni and Phinehas and all of their descendants (all those of their kind) was that their lives would be cut short and there would forever be no atonement of their sin. I genuinely pray that anyone who is in ministry that may have gone off track with the cares of the world would repent and come back to their first love of Jesus.
Lucky for us this was not the end of the story. Remember Hannah who had passionately prayed for a son in the temple?
God answered her prayer and gave her a son, she named Samuel. After he was weaned she took him to Eli to be given to the priesthood.
Samuel was raised to be a prophet in Israel. After Eli and his sons died, Samuel continued to be a legitimate voice of the Lord for the people. He was a prophet who lived only for God.
He didn't feed His fleshly desires or live a carnal life of excess and earthly pursuits. He fulfilled His ministry to completion.
He was the man who anointed king David to be king of Israel, proclaiming him to be a man after God's own heart.
Hannah had sincerely sought God to be the answer for her barrenness and yet, when He fulfilled that desire for her... she didn't even keep that child for herself, she gave her son Samuel right back to the Lord as an offering, just as we will give our crowns right back to the Lord after we recieve our rewards in heaven. How opposite of the generation of Elis who only want to take from God and take from the people to build their own kingdom and fulfill their own fleshly lusts!
The name Samuel means “asked of God; or heard by God”. God has heard the prayer of a multitude of Hannahs who have been desperate to see the glory of God return to the church and our nation. They have prayed that the hearts of men would once again be passionate for the Lord and we would no longer be called “Ichabod” because of the sins of the ministers.
Today's church leaders that are focused on their prized programs don't understand the desperation to see God's glory return to the church any more than Eli understood Hannah's desperation when he accused her of being drunk in the temple. It was said of Jesus, "Zeal for My Father's House has consumed Me." No wonder when He arrived in Jerusalem He quickly made a whip and drove the money changers out of the temple. And if we are to rid Ichabod from today's church, we must be just as zealous and passionate about returning to pure worship of the Lord ourselves.
Through the prayers of these desperate Hannahs, there is a prophetic “Samuel” being birthed in the church that will invite the presence of the Lord to bring life and healing to a multitude of people. The same way that it was in Samuel's heart for Israel to declare a godly king over Israel... this prophetic movement desires to see the Lord Jesus be declared our only Glorious King!
This prophetic army of Samuels will be able to hear and understand the instruction of the Lord and will be empowered from heaven to carry out His will! They won't live for themselves but for the glory, passion and intimacy of the Lord! These are the ones who will be eagerly waiting for the Jesus to return and will have their lamps filled with oil at the return of the bridegroom!
Let all who are thirsty for the Lord come have a drink of the
spiritual drink that is being poured out for this last days revival!
We will no longer be called “Ichabod” but call us “Samuel”
because the Lord has heard our prayers!
Teresa Kelton is the founder of Daughters of Zion, a women's ministry in Ellis County, Tx.
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