1 Samuel 2:12–17, 1 Samuel 2:22–36, Matthew 10:16–23, Ephesians 6:10–20
Who or what are the dark powers that Paul talks about in Ephesians? Perhaps they are the family members that oppose believers. Perhaps they are the family members the “dress up” in righteous clothing and whose behavior is unrighteous.
Eli’s sons Phinehas and Hophni are the second set of “pastor’s” kids in the Scriptures (the first were Aaron’s sons) who went off the deep end. Their lack of respect for others’ sacrifices was bad just on an interpersonal level. It was a form of bullying. Was there a penalty? Yes, but that doesn’t really improve the results. How many people were scarred toward the priesthood? How many became reluctant attendees because of their behavior? This can only be thought of through conjecture. Just based on human behavior, it seems likely that the behavior of Eli’s sons caused a ripple effect of unseen damage. For cultural, societal, and religious reasons people would still go, for the cost of not going could result in ostracization.
What kind of opposition was Jesus expecting? Families kicking out believers. Families turning in believers. Family gatherings devolving into religious arguments and divisions. Even Jesus’ own family was divided until at least after his death.
The dark powers really are the sin of humankind. Yes, there are dark supernatural powers and influences. Sadly, however, humanity has enough darkness inside itself that outside influence is often not required to make a mess of things. Jealousy, envy, hatred are in many respect the true dark power of humanity. Along with pride, humanity will often do many things which appear to be contrary to the concept of humanity.
Within families, the excesses often seem to be magnified. While we often think about the awkward family reunion, sometimes we find it in other “families”, whether they be fraternal orders, unions, clubs, church, Homeowners Associations, or whatever. There are always powers that work to separate the ties that bind us together.
1) What have you experienced that tests the bonds of your relationships with others?
2) Do you have a tendency to look at yourself or at others first when there is a problem?
3) What is the strongest tendency you have that pushes others away from you? What is the strongest tendency you have that draws others to you?