“Called out of Darkness to Speak” Mount Olive Lutheran Church Sermon January 14th 2024 – 1st Samuel 3:1-20 & 1st Corinthians 6:12-20
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday January 14th 2024: Season of Epiphany / 1 Samuel 3:1-20 “Called out of Darkness to Speak”
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.
And the LORD called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that He told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that He told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. “Don’t shoot the messenger,” have you ever been given something to say that you were afraid to say? That you had hesitation to speak of to the ones you were called to speak it to? Something where the very speaking of it may come with consequences? Sin, Death, the Devil and the World are among your chief adversaries and enemies and when one of more of these has the upper hand dominating society and culture the Christian may have anxiety about confronting them with the Word of God. But should you? What does God desire of you?
So as we begin let’s think about a key aspect of the account from our Old Testament reading from 1st Samuel. Often we are focused on young Samuel’s call in the night and his thinking at first that it was the High Priest Eli calling him but in the end it was actually the LORD who was calling Samuel by name; however what we often don’t focus on is what the LORD in the end actually says to young Samuel and Samuel’s initial misgivings to relay that message from the LORD to Eli. The LORD said to young Samuel “I am about to punish [the High Priest Eli’s] house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”
These sons of the High Priest Eli, named Hophni and Phinehas, were also Levitical priests like their father but they were scoundrels using their father Eli as a cloak to cause others to look past their misdeeds and sins. Hophni and Phinehas were thieves and sexual predators taking for themselves the best portions of sacrifices offered by the people that were intended for the LORD, and they also “lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” These women were intended to be virginal, chaste and pure and were not sent to the tent of meeting for Hophni and Phinehas to abuse. The Word of God describes all of this saying “the sin of [Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were] very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.” These men lived their lives as if the LORD did not exist, or at least as if He would not act to punish their sins. This is why upon hearing what the LORD promised to do, concerning Eli and his family, young “Samuel lay until morning … afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But [as we heard in the Old Testament reading] Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that [the LORD] told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that He told you.” So Samuel told [Eli] everything and hid nothing from him. And [Eli] said, “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
Young Samuel was not one of Eli’s sons, but he was placed in Eli’s care so his fear was likely tied up in the worry of reprisal, that Eli would be disappointed in him, that Eli would be mad at Samuel, that it may not go well for him, at best he may be sent away at worst he might be killed or punished harshly. This is basically a “don’t shoot the messenger,” situation. And the reason people say that—“don’t shoot the messenger”—is because a lot of messengers had been shot along the way. This is of course a dangerous business. In fact all through the Old Testament as you move forward to the time of the incarnation and the life of Christ Jesus the prophets who’d been sent by the LORD regularly faced persecution for the message they were sent to provide to the people, so much so that Jesus Himself looks out from the Mount of Olives and laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”
The work of the prophet is often to point out indifference towards the Word of God and the Law of God, to point out when people are living in open contempt of the LORD, to remind people that God will not be mocked without reprisal. In his letter to the Galatians Saint Paul warns the Christians of Galatia, “do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” ‘Well,” you think to yourself, “good thing I’m not a prophet then.” Do you remember back in the time of Moses when in the days after they were rescued from Egypt, how “Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD. And [Moses] gathered seventy men of the elders of the people and placed them around the tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to [Moses], and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. And as soon as the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied. But they did not continue doing it.
[The Book of Numbers continues saying] Now two men remained in the camp, one named Eldad, and the other named Medad, and the Spirit rested on them. They were among those registered, but they had not gone out to the tent, and so they prophesied in the camp. And a young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” And Joshua the son of Nun, the assistant of Moses from his youth, said, “My lord Moses, stop them.” But Moses said to [Joshua], “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”
On the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ Easter morning resurrection from the dead, ten days after His ascension to the right hand of the Father Saint Peter quotes the Old Testament book of Joel,
“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I [the LORD] will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out My Spirit.”
This same Saint Peter would later write, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Dear ones, please don’t shoot the messenger but I’m here to tell you that as Christians you are not off the hook when it comes to delivering God’s Word to others, you are not off the hook when it comes to pointing out indifference towards the Word of God and the Law of God, to point out when people are living in open contempt of the LORD, you are not off the hook from reminding people that God will not be mocked without reprisal. Now even as a Christian it might not be your responsibility to do this with everyone but if you’re a preacher, like me, or if you’re a mother or a father you are not forbidden to speak out because evil is not to go unpunished. The civil government is also given this responsibility. But as you know, just because someone has the responsibility to call out sin and warn those they are responsible for of the consequences of those sins doesn’t mean that they will always do so. Yes Governments, and preachers and fathers and mothers have all at times failed at this. Is this you? Does it get harder to stand up for the Word of God and the Law of God when Governments and preachers and fathers and mothers and even the World all stand against you? What does Isaiah say?
“Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!”
This may seem like a long way to go to get to our Epistle Reading today but one last thing, remember when I’d mentioned Saint Peter saying “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Peter continues saying “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” Here you see that the followers of Jesus are bound together, once they were not a people, but now they are God’s people, it doesn’t matter if you’re from the rich and powerful class or from the poor, if you’re from this ethnicity or that ethnicity, if you’re a man or a woman, if you’re elderly or a youth or a child you are now in Christ a people, His people called out of darkness into His marvelous Light. And this means you are not to live lives in conformity with what the World teaches as good and right but you are rather to live lives in conformity with what the Word of God teaches is good and right, you are not to live lives of open contempt of the LORD; but if you’re to live lives of open contempt it will be lives lived in open contempt of the World. So it is that Saint James teaches, “Do you not know that friendship with the World is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the World makes himself an enemy of God.”
Do you have someone in your life that you are responsible toward who needs to hear from you that “the body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body,” that they as Christians are called to “flee from sexual immorality” that they are not their own but that they were ‘bought with a price,” the body and blood of Christ given and shed for them at the cross, and that as such they are to glorify God in their body and not live for the fleeting and worldly lusts promoted by the World as somehow good when in truth they are grave evils which lead to damnation and death. If you were to be that prophetic voice would you be worried or afraid of what might result from saying those things? And if you’re one who has no such responsibilities do you wish someone would say these things to you so you would have reason to put off the darkness for the light of Christ?
The World was a dark place when Jesus, the Son of God, called Nathanael by name to follow Him; the World was a dark place when The LORD called Samuel to follow Him; and the World is a dark place today and yet the Lord still calls to you, Jesus calls you by your name to follow Him. And just as Jesus knew Nathanael before Nathanael knew the Lord, Jesus has known you before you have known Him. Trust in the Lord and think about Philip from our Gospel Reading: Philip who found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Joseph.” Regardless of your responsibilities in life, regardless of what you are called to say when it comes to the Law of God you are still able to call those sitting in darkness into the Light of Christ; to say, “We have found Him” to those who are lost and adrift in the darkness of the World.
Jesus always thought, said and did the right thing in the eyes of God and for this reason He was crucified, Dear ones, for this reason there is forgiveness in Christ Jesus for every time you failed to say what needed being said, and for all the times in thought word or deed you’ve been in caught up in the darkness of sexual immorality or living a life if contempt of the Law of God. This forgiveness comes from one source, from Christ Jesus, the one we celebrate in Epiphany as the Light revealed to the nations. But now, do not continue in such sins, once you’ve repented and been forgiven of them do better, walk in the Light of Christ. No matter what you age may be, if you’re in a sexual relationship outside of a God pleasing marriage get out of it, if it could result in a God pleasing marriage then “paint or get off the ladder,” don’t put it off just because the World turns a blind eye to fornication. Would you expect your preacher to say something different? If so repent of that too … and remember “don’t shoot the messenger,” dear ones take God’s Word to heart and conform to it, you are His people, we are therefore called to live as His people in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 1 Samuel 2:12-16
 1 Samuel 2:22
 1 Samuel 2:17
 Psalms 10 teaches that such a view is foolishness.
 Matthew 23:37
 Galatians 6:7
 Numbers 11:24–29
 Joel 2:28–29
 1 Peter 2:9
 Eighth Commandment, Large Catechism, Book of Concord, Readers Pocket Edition, Concordia Publishing House 2011, Page 547 .
 Isaiah 5:20–21
 1 Peter 2:10–11
 James 4:4
 1 Corinthians 6:12–20
 John 1:43–51
 Mark 10:6–9, Jesus teaches “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
Photo Credits: Main Photo a digital collage detail of an image of an anxious man coming into the light from freepik.