The Sons of Belial Are Among Us
When Leaders Mislead and "Close" Becomes
In I Samuel 2 we read of Eli the priest and his
two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. According to the Scripture, the sons were wicked men who
"knew not the Lord" (I Sam 2:12), who displayed no awe or respect for the Lord
and who tampered with and showed contempt for the Lord's offering. Though religious (at
least by position), the sons usurped there priestly roles to take advantage of the people
(2:13-17) and to satisfy their own immoral lusts (2:22). The King James Version actually
identifies them as "sons of Belial" (2:12) - a horrible condemnation, which
associated them with the most evil of the Philistine deities synonymous with Satan
himself. They did then, what so many religious leaders have done throughout time - they
replaced God's standards, adopting instead manmade religion and unbiblical practices that
suited the fancy of their evil hearts. Though Eli's sons held position and power, they
sought to maintain and enforce only a form of the Law for their own selfish
purposes. It was religious deception and it stinks before a holy God.
As we see illustrated here, Jehovah's judgments
against leaders who show insubordination for His will and Word is both stunning and
decisive. God completely rejected Hophni and Phinehas and their works as an abomination in
His sight. And His ire was not only reserved for Eli's two misguided sons but for the old
priest himself. In fact, God's rebuke came not to the sons but instead to the father. The
dreadful prophetic proclamation that Eli's family would be forever cut off from serving in
the house of God and that all of his descendants would "die in the flower of their
age" (the prime of their lives) (2:33) was made not to the wayward sons but to Eli
himself. This vividly illustrates God's order and chain of command in both priestly
service and family affairs.
It would appear that he made the fatal mistake of
disregarding the responsibilities of priestly and family leadership. Eli knew about and
even benefited from the evil acts his sons were carrying out (2:29). We know that he was
also aware of their ongoing sexual immorality as well (2:22). Though he recognized the
error of his sons, he did virtually nothing to stop it. In fact, the only opposition that
Eli could muster was to merely question his sons on why they did "such things!"
(2:23-24) Though he recognized that his sons were perpetuating wickedness (2:23), Eli's
lack of any stern rebuke and the fact that he took no action to stop them from continuing
in their folly indicates his complete lack of family and priestly leadership. The outcome
was a summary rejection and condemnation of Eli and his whole house (3:11-14) bringing
about an end to the line of priests that had served God for over 350 years!
|Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. And the
priests' custom with the people was, that, when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's
servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his
hand; And he struck it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook
brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that
came thither. Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the
man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh
of thee, but raw. And if any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat
presently, and then take as much as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, Nay; but
thou shalt give it me now: and if not, I will take it by force. Wherefore the sin of the
young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
- I Samuel 2:12-17
Eli, his sons and those
entrusted to his care by God had lost their way. During the days of the Judges, there was
a void of leadership from the top down (i.e. no king) and "every man did what was
right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6, 21:25). Truth had faded, becoming religious
error and as it has since before Samuel's day, religion ALWAYS fails. Disobedience had
become commonplace. Being "close" had become acceptable. The priests had become
lazy, sloppy and misguided. So misguided that eventually Eli's sons earthly demise came
because they imagined that the mere presence of the Ark of God - without their hearts
being yielded to God - would protect them from the Philistines (I Sam 4:4-11). In their
perverted thinking, they perceived that religion without surrender to God would save them.
Instead, they and 30,000 Israeli foot soldiers paid the price with their lives. We see
this same sort of error continue today when people rely on the merits of church
membership, baptism, or good works instead of on the shed blood of Jesus Christ for
There is surely a message for us in the sad story
of Eli's family. When leadership strays from God's Word, becoming blind and repentantless,
it isn't long before the people being led accept counterfeits and error as normal. No
wonder that I Samuel 3:1 tells us that in those days the Word of God was
"precious" (rare) and there was "no open vision" (lack of Godly
spiritual direction). It should be noted that as long as we live here on earth there will
be constant cycles of spiritual victory and truth followed by a collapse of doctrine
ending in error. These times of victory and demise don't happen overnight. But they are
often facilitated by the failure of just one leader to boldly rise to the occasion and
stand against evil.
The Church, both leaders and laymen, are now
obviously exhibiting many of the same troubling characteristics as in Eli's day. It would
appear that great numbers are either ignorant or willingly complacent to follow a
religious pretense without regard to God's changeless, righteous standards. The rise of
ungodly leaders who claim theirs is "the only way" or that any way
is acceptable indicates how far removed the hearts of some of the people are from
God. Whether by cause or effect, when unrighteous leaders attain and then remain in power
it is largely due to the scriptural ignorance and/or the biblical apathy of the people
being led. The Scripture speaks directly to this in Jeremiah.
|Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and
cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.
- Jeremiah 48:10
In New Testament terms this means that not only
are leaders who mislead under a curse from God but those who watch in idle silence and do
nothing to deter those perpetrating error are cursed as well.
Today, the steady straying from and playing down
of absolute truth is exactly why the aberrant theologies of Liberalism, the Emerging
Church, Purpose Driven and other man-centered heresies and philosophies have gained such
footholds and are now being offered as "Christian." Many denominations, churches
and leaders may appear or sound as if they are authentic or
"Christian." But close isn't good enough. When being almost
accurate or kinda right becomes acceptable, destruction is soon to follow.
This is a timeless truth, whether applied to a home, a church or an entire denomination.
ARE YOU DOING?
|My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected
knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast
forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
- Hosea 4:6
Hosea's warnings and the awful outcome experienced
by Eli's clan are but two of the many examples that could be noted in God's word. Each of
us is probably aware of a family suffering under the same prideful curse of Eli. It was
common in the days of the Judges and there appears to be many parallels with us now. Don't
we all know of a home whose leader has allowed his family to depend on religion, on the
blessings or experiences of the past or on but a form of godliness? In so many cases, it
appears that "close" has become good enough. How many families have forsaken
prayer, Bible study and Christian service yet claim they are trusting God to supply their
needs? How many have allowed the world to dictate the depth of their walk with the Lord?
It would appear that nearly any excuse is now fashionable when ignoring the need to take
one's family to church. Now, besides the well worn excuses of being too tired or needing a
holiday, sports of all sorts and even TV schedules have joined the notion that
"Sunday is the only morning we can sleep in" as top reasons to justify staying
home from church. With this haphazard attitude being prevalent and people just seemingly
looking for reasons to skip services what is it saying to our children and teens - let
alone the unsaved around us? Is it any wonder that so many churches seem to have
completely surrendered to Satan and have given up holding Sunday evening services,
Bible studies or mid-week gatherings? Do those who treat church attendance, Bible study
and prayer as optional not recognize that though we arrogantly claim to have wonderful
relationships with Jesus are lives may actually be under a curse - the same curse that
finally brought Eli down?
The chilling truth is that just as Eli's sons
thought that a little religion was all they needed as long as it served their own selfish
purposes, God only knows how many families are depending on their own religious
misconceptions instead of on His perfect will and standards. Hophni and Phinehas formed
their own religion much as in the same way that the idolater Micah had done (Judges 17).
Micah's false sense of security emanated from his perverted theology when he stated
"Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest."
(i.e. his lucky religious icon or belief) (Judges 17:13)
ALL IS NOT
Many lives were adversely affected by the
misguided "ministries" of Eli and his two sons. Yet, in the midst of error, God
raised up Samuel, calling him, anointing him and empowering him as a powerful prophet and
leader for the people of God! Now, just as in those troubling Old Testament days, God is
waking people up and the shaking is often disconcerting but tremendously needed. Fathers
are arising from their spiritual apathy. Mothers are joining them in vowing to turn their
families back to God. In the midst of this, God is raising up new prophetic, anointed
leaders who will stand with the truth and openly reject religious heresy and foolish,
misguided leadership. Praise the Lord!
But let's never forget that God has not changed.
The warnings of the past are clear. Unless the leaders of our homes and churches return to
a complete and total abiding in and respect for God's Word we can expect today's
Evangelicals to follow those of yesterday who now find themselves steeped in the deceptive
errors of Liberalism. It's either we reject the spineless silence of the spirit of Eli or
we'll soon have to deal with the deadly folly of Hophni and Phinehas.
- Eric Barger
PLIGHT OF THE MODERN
After reading your statements regarding the plight of the modern message of
evangelicalism, I must stand and give a loud and boisterous "amen"! Especially
where the Purpose Driven paradigm is concerned, and it's rising to almost "holy
grail" status in the American church. The true gospel of Jesus Christ has been so
slowly and subtly altered to pander to the times and culture, that many well meaning and
knowledgeable Believers have been duped into welcoming error. May all of us who have the
privilege of standing behind pulpits, or sharing the love of Christ on a park bench, never
forget that if you leave sin and repentance out of the message it is no longer the message
of Christ, and it has no power to save.
Pastor S. Allen Sipe - Missouri
THE POPE'S UNCANNY COMMENTS
I have been visiting your site for the past three months and I am
currently receiving your e-mail updates. I truly enjoy reading them and I have yet to find
myself in disagreement with your statements. You seem to cut through all of the
"stuff" and get to the point in a clear manner.
I found the article by Lee Grady not surprising having come out of the
Catholic church. It was really only a matter of time before this Pope showed his true
colors and, indeed, the true colors of the church in general. The statement that the
Catholic church is the only way to salvation is how they have kept alive for these many
years, through intimidation, and they will continue to do so until the end. Mr. Grady
pointed out that this statement lands them in the category of a cult. I submit to you that
the Catholic church has been a cult for a very long time and have used their power for
more evil than good. As you are no doubt well aware the church views many things
differently than most protestant and evangelical churches do such as the status of the
mother Mary. I left the church long ago as I was in disagreement even in my ignorance of
the truth! I currently am a member of a Bible church which teaches
exclusively from the Bible and I have been a member in Baptist churches over the years as
well (we moved alot early on). I guess in closing I am a little surprised that this
particular comment raised flags with regard to "the church"
as they have viewed themselves in this light for a very long time. I would urge any
Catholic to attend a Bible believing church for just one month and then compare the two
and let the Holy Spirit speak to their hearts. They would not be Catholic for long if they
Mark - Michigan
Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree with you 100% that if people who have embraced
Catholicism and other cultic groups would simply study the Bible alone and seek many of
them would flee from false doctrines.
I am very glad you fled the Catholic Church and found freedom in the REAL Jesus...Praise
Though I think the things I said in our July
24 Ministry Email Newsletter were pretty clear, allow me to
clarify that I was in no way surprised by the Pope's comments about the RC Church being
the ONLY way. My surprise was in the fact that a Christian leader in Lee Grady's position
spoke out against Catholicism as he did, and besides Catholicism, even named the Church of
Christ denomination and the so-called "oneness" or "Jesus only"
Pentecostals as cultic groups. Far too many Pentecostals and Charismatics have become
friendly with Catholicism and other questionable, even cultic groups and Grady's boldness
was to me, thrilling.
I love Catholics, Mormons, witches...whoever. And I want them to be saved and believe that
we need to do all we can to reach them for Jesus - but NEVER at the cost of doctrinal
Perhaps the most important thing that I wrote in the July 24 email was this.
"The Pope's statements do also serve as a reminder of where the lines must be
drawn. Before we Evangelicals ignorantly try and find common ground with heretical groups,
be they Roman Catholic, pseudo-Protestant or just plain cultic, we must first examine the
absolute unchangeable doctrines that define authentic Christianity and the heretical views
that others hold which will forever divide them from true orthodoxy. In short, its not
always what we agree on that matters, its what we can never agree on that must be
Again, thanks for writing Mark.
God Bless you!
The criticism of Carlton Pearson is founded in the fear that current
televangelists may have to suffer a loss from the huge sums of money they currently elicit
from the weak, old, feeble and fearful. What is more, it is to be hoped that Pearson's
message will change the world toward peace, which is more than can be said for the
emotional and mental terrorism that is spread by the Fundamentalist right, which, among
many other negative items, has led to a an American Administration that many consider to
be the most destructive in history. In the end, the world will not survive unless we
become all-inclusive. Only the imprisoned mind - the brainwashed - the ones who have
committed intellectual suicide, will oppose Carlton Pearson's "Gospel of
Henry - Canada
You are is a perfect example of a
"drive by emailer" who wishes to simply take a potshot and not leave a valid
email address so I could at least dialog with you.
Our ministry is not now and has
never been prone to defend any televangelist. This doesn't mean that I don't appreciate
some who are on the air but I'm probably more liable to hold my nose concerning so much
that I see on religious television today. Why would I criticize anyone in order to pad the
pockets of a televangelist?
My criticism of Carlton Pearson and
other Inclusionists is completely based on their mishandling of the Scriptures. It would
be great if Pearson was right, but it is actually intellectual suicide to reject the
absolute truth of the Bible, replacing it with the perverted thoughts of a man who has
turned out to be nothing more than a false prophet.
Calling Fundamentalists (i.e. Bible
believers) terrorists and somehow equating that our inerrantist view of Scripture had
anything to do with electing President Bush is as kooky and down right preposterous as
anything anybody on the extreme left has ever said!
Part of one statement you wrote was
entirely correct however. In the end, the world is not going to survive. God has already
announced the events of the end days in His Word. It is in fact the most fatal flaw of
man's thinking that we can somehow save the world. This is the open door which the coming
Man of Sin, the Antichrist will enter through and in the process bring about mandating the
exact religion that you are now lobbying for - Universal Inclusion.
Eric's Note: I once greatly appreciated the preaching and zeal of Carlton
Pearson. It is painful to see a man, who it would appear once had a grip on the truth, go
so far astray.
Several years ago I had an impromptu
debate with Mike Williams, the man who is credited with influencing Pearson concerning
Inclusionism. Williams, who operates a ministry called "Gospel Revolution" and
has preached at Pearson's church, once sought deliverance from homosexuality. Perhaps this
explains why, after attempting and then failing to find freedom from that lifestyle, he
has adopted the heresy which states that all men are already saved whether
they know it or not and that they have no part to play in the decision such as repentance
During the debate, which took place
during a Q&A session at the end of one of Williams' meetings in a North Carolina hotel
ballroom, he admitted to me and to all those present that he does not believe the New
Testament is "inspired" text. I then asked him several times why then he
continually cited New Testament passages in an effort to validate his teaching. No clear
response was ever given to my question. I also repeatedly asked Williams to explain
Revelation 22:12-16 in which Jesus Christ clearly states that "dogs" (i.e.
"a man of impure mind, an impudent man") as well as sorcerers, whoremongers,
murderers, idolaters and liars are excluded from the Kingdom of God. Williams' answer was
that I should buy his tape series.
For more on the "Gospel of
Inclusion" click here.
HELLO, BROTHER BARGER,
I ALWAYS ENJOY YOUR EMAILS. THE LAST ONE ABOUT THE POPE WAS A REAL EYE OPENER.
I ALSO WANTED TO KNOW YOUR FEELINGS ON ANOTHER SUBJECT. WHY ARE
MINISTERS SO SCARED TO PREACH ABOUT HELL? JESUS HIMSELF SPOKE MORE ON HELL THAN
ON ANY OTHER SUBJECT. AND WHY IS THAT? BECAUSE THAT IS THE REASON WHY HE CAME TO EARTH IN
HUMAN FORM, SO THAT WE COULD BE SAVED FROM HELL.
GOD BLESS YOU, AND MAY YOUR MINISTRY CONTINUE FOR YEARS TO COME.
MARK - Internet
You are quite correct about Jesus' teaching on Hell. In short, the reason why so many
ministers and even entire denominations shun preaching about Hell is because in an effort
to be "positive" and to attract people to their churches some erroneously
believe that we must change the true message of the gospel. This has and continues to
result in the damnation of countless souls as the alleged "Church" lies to the
unsuspecting, telling them but half truths. I have a message on DVD on this and also a short article online. Its called "The MOST Dangerous Cult."
Though we certainly do not have to preach about Hell in every sentence or attempt to
manipulate people by fear. How will the world know what lies in store for those who reject
Jesus unless we clearly enunciate what the Bible states? Of course, Hell and other so
called "negative" themes are being ignored today because of the numbers of
preachers who simply do not believe the Bible or who are more interested in their
attendance figures, their financial rewards or their own self-aggrandizement.
There are many scriptural warnings concerning this, in particular those by Paul to Timothy
(II Tim 3:1-7, 4:1-8). Just as predicted centuries ago in II Thessalonians 2:3 we are
watching this great "falling away" happen right before our very eyes.
Truly, we are in the end of days. But that's not negative - at least not for truly
redeemed Christians - for our Jesus is coming soon!
Keep fighting the good fight Mark and keep warning people that though God is indeed an
awesome God of love, He is also a God of eternal justice.
Please feel free to
share anything from our newsletter or website with whomever the Lord directs you to.
Thanks for you continued prayers and support.
God Bless you!
Visit Eric Barger and Take A Stand! Ministries at:
www.ericbarger.com - Now in our
24th year of "TAKING A STAND!"
Below is the email information submitted on Jul-3-2007 18:55 EST at
02Street: 10 000 feet below
username: satansbaby@*********.com (Eric's Note: we edited the email address because it was
comments: I stumbled across your articles by chance and was sickened by the biggetry
that you preach. i dont really want to waste my time going on i just thought that i would
send this letting you know, not every is fooled...
Don't stop preaching the uncompromised word of the one, true and living
Jonathan - Idaho
Warnings for a
"The great confusion that exists in the
divergent positions of the Emergent Church results from their challenging the final
authority of the Scriptures. When you no longer have a final authority, then everyone's
ideas become as valid as the next person's, and it cannot help but end in total confusion
There are those who say that Emergent
movement has some good points, but so does a porcupine. You are better off if you don't
get too close!
So, let us not turn to our own understanding,
but rather return to our own first love; and teach that the Bible is indeed the true word
of God; and teach it in its entirety; nothing less and nothing more."
- Official Position of Calvary
Chapel Outreach Fellowships
For the time will come when they will not
endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers,
having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be
turned unto fables.
- I Timothy 4:3-4
That this is a rebellious people, lying
children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers,
See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak
unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the
path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
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