Fathers and Sons

fathers-and-sonsThe sons of Eli were corrupt.  They did not know the Lord.  They were already adult men, but they never really had the benefit of a father who corrected them at a malleable age.  These men got what they wanted when they wanted it.  This multiplied sin in their lives.  This is what will happen in our homes apart from the grace and mercy of God.

The Character and Conduct of Evil Sons 

  1. They were corrupt (2 Samuel 2.12).  These two men were very wicked and evil men.  Yet they claimed to occupy themselves in the Lord’s work.  Paraphrasing one man, they were children of the devil in the tabernacle of God.  There is much corruption in both fathers and sons who attend churches today as well.
  2. They were covetous (2 Samuel 2.13-14).  These men thrust a three-pronged flesh-hook into the caldron of the Israelite worshipper.  They were base men who were concerned only with physical, temporal appetites.  Living for temporal satisfaction mens never being satisfied.
  3. They were coercive (2 Samuel 2.16).    They took food from the people by force.  The aggressive nature of men is simply intensifying today.  If they don’t get what they want, they bully families, classmates, and society into getting it for them.
  4. They were contemptible (2 Samuel 2.17, 22).  They caused men to abhor the offering of the Lord due to their sin.  They even abused women and had sexual relationships with them at the very door of the tabernacle of meeting.  They brought contempt upon the worship of the Lord.

The Character and Conduct of Evil Fathers 

Eli reproved his sons, but it was too little, too late.  It seems he had his own self-discipline issues.  The Bible speaks of him as being tremendously overweight at the time of his death.  You cannot raise godly men or execute properly spiritual leadership if you cannot be self-disciplined.  A responsive relationship with Christ is the single greatest need in spiritual leaders and fathers today.

The Consequences of Evil Conduct and Character

Eli despised God, so God brought dishonor upon his house and viewed him as contemptible.  We have read about the cloud before the storm in this prophecy given to Eli.

Eli’s judgment will be humiliating (2 Samuel 2.31).  Cutting off the arm communicates all authority and power being removed from his house.  It will be irreparable (2 Samuel 2.32).  It will be eternal (2 Samuel 2.32).

Fathers should meet their sons disobedience, disrespect, and destructive behavior with very firm and very loving discipline.  The welfare of our country doesn’t rest upon who is elected in November; it rests upon godly fathers raising godly children.  If we want our children to live long and prosperous lives, they must glorify God by demonstrating His righteousness to the world at large.

Eli and his two sons should teach us that even when men start off good, their lives can end very poorly.  There is great sorrow in such a life.  May God deliver us from such a fate.

Jesus’ Brother

James:  The Brother of Jesus

We are told in the opening verse of the letter that James is a bondservant of both God and the Lord Jesus Christ (James 1.1).  This James is not the brother of John, but the brother of the Lord Jesus.  He is a brother in the sense that both Jesus and James had the same mother named Mary, but not the same father named Joseph.  The Holy Spirit conceived within the womb of Mary the Lord Jesus.  So then, James is the half-brother of Jesus.

James and his brothers did not believe in Jesus according to John 7.5.  It is thought that James did not receive Christ as Savior until some point after Jesus’ resurrection.  1 Corinthians 15.7 says that after Jesus had risen from the dead, He was seen by James.

I grew up thinking that Mary remained a virgin her whole life.  I was taught that since Mary had no other children, Jesus did not have actual brothers or sisters.  The Bible teaches that Joseph did have an intimate relationship with Mary after the birth of Christ (Matthew 1.25).  Luke 2.7 says that Jesus was Mary’s firstborn Son.  There would be no need to say firstborn if others did not come after Him.  All this to say that James is the brother of Jesus.  But he was also the leader of the early church.

James:  The Leader of the Church

William Varner writes,

If a stranger arrived in Jerusalem or in Antioch between the years a.d. 40–62 and asked, “Who is the person in charge of this movement?” any knowledgeable Christian, including Peter or John or Paul, would have answered without hesitation, “James.” Moreover, he would not have needed to add “the brother of Jesus” because everyone would have known that there was only one person who would be instantly recognized by that single name without any additional description or qualifier.

Varner, W. (2012). James. (H. W. House, W. H. Harris III, & A. W. Pitts, Eds.) (p. 9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Acts, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians all reinforce the argument that James was the indisputable leader of the early church.  Acts 12 teaches that when Peter was released, he wanted James to know about it first (Acts 12.17).  Acts 15.19 tells us that James made the decision to not trouble the Gentiles to become Jews before they became Christians (Acts 15.19).  The early church looked to James for direction and wisdom.

If James led the early church, Peter and Paul did not.  So, why has James been marginalized by two main traditions of religious thought:  Catholicism and Protestantism?  Catholics prefer Peter because of their unbiblical view of apostolic succession through a line of popes who consider themselves to be vicars of Christ on earth.  The Catholic doctrine indicates that Peter was the first pope.  But the Protestants have problems as well.  They often elevate Paul as the early leader of the church.  Paul has become an unofficial pope of sorts from their perspective.  Yet Paul said of himself that he was the least of the apostles and the chief of sinners.  So, James is the brother of Jesus and the leader of the early church.

James to the Twelve Tribes

The Bible tells us that James wrote to Jewish people who were still scattered since the days when Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple of Jerusalem, burned down the city in 586 BC, and brought the remaining inhabitants back to Babylon under captivity.  The scattering spoken of in James must refer to the Babylonian captivity because it was probably written in between AD 45-48.  The scattering of the Jewish people during the Jewish War with Rome had not yet occurred.  James wrote to Jewish-Christian congregations which were established from Syria eastward.

James and Wisdom

The theme of this letter is well stated in James 3.13-18.  This passage urges us to follow heavenly wisdom rather than earthly wisdom.  This heavenly wisdom is God’s wisdom.  The choice between two ways is the Jewish approach to ethics.  If you think you can have it both ways, James 1.8 says you are double-minded or double-souled.  This makes you unstable in all your ways.  James 4.8 tells the double-minded or double-souled to draw near to God, cleanse their hands, and purify their hearts. Those who purify their hearts are those who determine one thing:  to follow heavenly wisdom.

The key to integrity is pursuing heavenly wisdom.  Those who pursue heavenly wisdom have commendable behavior.  Those who pursue earthy wisdom have condemnable behavior.  Our goal is to realize that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3.18).