Worthless Priests and Worthy Priest

1 Samuel 2:12-36

We live in a world full of priests. The secular facade of these United States claims otherwise. But, no matter how hard man tries not to worship, he ends up doing just that. And if you are to worship your god, then you will need a priest to intercede. 

Consider question 25 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:

  • Q: How doth Christ execute the office of a priest?
  • A: Christ executeth the office of a priest, in his once offering up of himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God; and in making continual intercession for us (emphasis mine).

The false priests pattern themselves after the true priest. They satisfy false justice and reconcile you to a false god. That is precisely what Planned Parenthood is up to in their offices all across this nation.

The good news is that God cuts down worthless priests and raises up His worthy priest. He has been doing this from the beginning. He has done so once and for all in Christ’s death and resurrection. And He continues to do so today.

The Text – A Summary

We see God doing just that in 1 Samuel 2:12-36. This passage speaks of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, who were worthless priests in Israel. They did not offer sacrifices, but abused them. They knew not the Lord, but they sinfully knew the women who came to the tabernacle. Yet, amid this abomination, the text signals a ray of hope—”Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod” (1 Samuel 2:18). 

A man of God then comes to Eli with the Lord’s rebuke, asking him why he honored his sons above the Lord. This man of God prophesied that Eli’s sons would be struck down, both in the same day. But God would do more than simply strike down the worthless priests. The LORD also said through the prophet, “And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that will do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind” (1 Samuel 2:35).

Worthless Priests Cut Down

The good news of this passage runs in two directions. First is the good news that worthless priests are cut down. We need not fear false priests. But we do need to anticipate their destruction. We do not know precisely how God will cut down false priests, but we do know that He does so gloriously. In Samuel’s day, God determined to strike down Hophni and Phineas in a single day. And God did something similar to the haughty priests in Christ’s day.

Mark 15:10 tells us that even Pontius Pilate knew that the chief priests delivered up Christ out of envy. They wanted what belonged to God, like Hophni and Phineas. Jesus told of their demise when He said, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. . . And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:42, 44). The following verse says that the chief priests, having heard the parable, knew that He was speaking about them. 

Then, Christ’s Word came to pass. The very priests who rejected Christ—the sacrifice—were the ones to bind up and offer that sacrifice: “And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation. . . and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate” (Mark 15:1). Like Hophni and Phineas, they abused the sacrifice. And they were crushed by the cornerstone.

Worthy Priest Raised Up

I said above that the good news runs in two directions. Not only are worthless priests cut down, but the Worthy Priest is raised up. So it was in Samuel’s day, and so it was in Christ’s day. The envy of the chief priests drove them to bind Christ and offer Him up. They were trying to raise themselves up and put Christ down, but the reverse occurred. They went down, and Christ went up—”The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek'” (Psalm 110:4).

Indeed, Christ is the High Priest who has ascended above the heavens: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). Our Great High Priest has not entered into the figure of the true, but heaven itself, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). 

Here is the payoff: You need no other priest, Christian. They are all knockoffs. So do not offer any incense at their altars. They cannot save. And they are all doomed to go the way of Hophni and Phineas. Do, however, come and welcome to Jesus Christ. Come in faith to your High Priest who is in the heavens. Indeed, you are united to Him through faith and seated with Him there.

“But God, who is rich in mercy. . . hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4, 6).

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