The Glory Has Departed from Israel
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 7 August 2004
"Now ... Phinehas' wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, "Do not fear, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured"" (1 Sam.4:19-22, NKJV).
When I was a young man I got a grant from my College at Oxford to continue research on the Historical Atlas I was writing and paid a visit to Vienna. Vienna, if you have ever visited it or seen it in pictures, is a magnificent imperial city with wonderful architecture. It is saturated with Austrian culture. The Schönbrunn Palace reminds one of the glory of the Habsburg dynasty, and the vast colonnaded parliament building with Greek statues on the palisades, draws ones mind back to the time when Austria stretched from Switzerland to the Ukraine, and from Germany to Turkey. In 1918, though, when Austria-Hungary, together with the other central powers, was defeated by the Allies, her glory departed from her. The once magnifient polyglot empire was carved up, leaving the sprawling imperial Vienna the capital of a tiny, rump state with no power at all. In one day the glory of Austria disappeared and it never returned.
The same thing has happened to many nations. Great imperial cities like London, Berlin and Paris no longer preside over great empires either. They too have had their day. They too have lost their glory.
The nation of Israel, however, was not like other countries. Modern nations may refer to their countries as 'God's own country' but the truth of the matter is that the only country that God has ever owned for Himself is the tiny strip of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel was a country personally set up by Yahweh Himself, with laws and traditions designed to reveal to the world the model state. Israel was not created by man - it was created by God. And the symbol of His presence as Sovereign Ruler of that Kingdom was the Ark of the Covenant.
Picture, if you will, a light bulb. The glory of the light bulb is the light it emits when electricity passes through it. Take a car. The glory of a car is its movement which is caused by the burning of petrol in an internal combustion engine. You can go to a museum and see old bulbs and cars which don't work anymore and admire the craftsmanship, but once their glory has gone out of them, they are no earthly use any more. Vienna may still be a beautiful city but the glory of the Habsburg Empire has gone forever - most of its grand buildings of power are now redundant and are mere museum show pieces.
It is admittedly fun to go through museums and look at the past. I have always enjoyed history and museums. The past, however, is dead, and no matter how much you may want to go back to it, you can't. Today you will find a small number of Austrians longing for the return of the Habsburg Empire. Societies and interest groups still promote it, and have been doing so ever since 1918. People have dedicated their lives to restoring what is forever gone, throwing their lives away in the process.
In our passage this morning we are looking at a time in history when the young nation of Israel believed the glory of God was with them because they still possessed the symbol of that glory from the past, the Ark of the Covenant. They were living in an illusion. Wandering around the streets of Vienna you might be tempted to believe that you were in the capital of a great world power but it would be an illusion. The outer grandeur in no way matches the political reality. In this your eye would be deceiving you.
Our passage of scripture recalls a time when the Israelites went to battle with the Ark of the Covenant against their traditional enemies and were defeated. The Ark, the most holy symbol of the Covenant between Yahweh and Israel, was captured. The unthinkable happened and the people were dismayed. Simultaneously, several things happened. The sons of the High Priest, Eli, with whom the young prophet Samuel lived in the Tabernacle at Shiloh, were killed in that battle. The shock of their death killed their father, Eli. And then, as a prophetic symbol for the whole nation, the wife of the late Phinehas, one of the two slain sons, gave birth to a son and, if we are to understand the text correctly, seems to have died shortly afterwards. In the distress of her soul, having not only lost her husband, her brother-in-law, and father-in-law, but also the symbol of Israelite legitimacy, the Ark of the Covenant, she named her child Ichabod, which means, 'The glory has departed [from Israel]'.
The symbols of greatness of a nation can remain long after that greatness has departed. People call themselves Christians long after the glory of the Spirit of Christ has departed from them. Such one might call 'Ichabod believers'. In going around Vienna for the first time my eye may have briefly deceived me into believing that the old glory of that imperial city was still there but when I caught myself I was forced to remember that this was, in many respects, a dead city. This was no longer the city where Mozart and Strauss lived and created wonderful music even though their monuments are to be found. I still have a photograph of Mozart's which I took. Instead, the city is full of demonic sounds from rock and other forms of devilish music. New masters inhabit the city, lords of darkness who have no connection whatsoever to the grand past of the city. I had to keep reminding myself of that.
It is a terrible thing when the glory of Israel departs. Why did it depart from Israel at this time? The reasons are plainly stated in Scripture: because the sons of the High Priest Eli perverted the ordinances of Yahweh and turned the Tabernacle into a pagan brothel. Worse, in many respects, because he could have done something about it, Eli turned a blind eye. He lacked strength and moral courage. He didn't want to rock the boat - upset his sons. He didn't want to lose them. So he compromised. He pretended as though nothing was going on even though he strongly disapproved of sacred prostitution. He knew his Torah but he did nothing to correct a pernicious sin, thinking, one supposes, that in time his boys would see sense and their disposition to sin would suddenly go away. King David was to later make the same mistake.
The responsibility for what ultimately happened was Eli's because he was in a position to correct the sinful behaviour if his sons. We need not suppose that what Eli's sons did was restricted to Shiloh. People have a tendency to imitate their elders. Many of the women who went to Shiloh knew they would be used as harlots, and the men knew it do. Doubtless inspired by Phinehas and his brother, I am sure they did the same thing when they went home. Since Eli did nothing to oppose it, they must have supposed that he condoned this immoral behaviour. And you know that the carnal nature is always looking for an excuse to sin! What is truly amazing is that Samuel was not influenced by all of this - as I said last week, this was a special man of God not easily waylaid by the weaknesses of others. Like Joseph of Egypt, his spiritual record was impeccable.
The glory of Israel departed because its head, Eli, did nothing to stamp out sin. He may have been popular with the carnal men and women of the nation, as Absalom was because he flattered peoples' vanity, but Yahweh was enraged at him: his casual indifference to the truth and to his responsibility to enforce it on the covenant nation - remember the whole nation had agreed to obey Yahweh's Laws under Moses and Joshua - resulted in terrible suffering for everyone, and not just the family of Eli.
Today exactly the same thing is happening in Christendom. The leaders of the churches have decided to loosen the laws of Yahweh. Indeed, many of them are proclaiming that believers are under a 'higher law' which is made manifest by the dictates of their hearts. They are saying: "We don't need any written law, because the law is written on our hearts!" Or, "the Law has been done away with, now we follow the Spirit." Which sounds all very grand and plausible until you look closely and carefully and see that these people are living lives little different from that of the sons of Eli.
I experienced this principle at work first hand in my last place of employment. As you know, I used to be a teacher. Our first principal at our school was a disciplinarian. We, as teachers, knew that if we caught a child breaking the school rules that we could send the child to her and she would administer swift punishment. The result was that the children thought twice about being naughty and there was order and harmony in the school. But subsequent heads took a more 'modernist' approach. Pupils sent by us to the principal were never disciplined properly so they carried on breaking the rules again right afterwards. When the teachers caught them they just laughed because they knew nothing would happen to them. Discipline in the school went progressively downhill, respect for teachers disappeared, and the morale of the staff plummeted. It was not a happy place to be in except for those pupils hell-bent on doing whatever they wanted.
The 'glory' soon departed from that school. I have not been a part of it now for many years but each time I return I discover that morale is still low. The teachers have adapted but it is no longer the happy place it used to be.
Now had you been at that battle in which Israel lost the Ark I expect you would have found at the beginning an army brimming with self-confidence, enthusiasm, excitement and hope. I am sure the 'atmosphere' there would have led you to believe that 'glory' of some sort was there. But as we know, that army was already doomed. The people were living in sin and the leaders were not only doing nothing about it but contributing to it as well. I am sure the atmosphere was 'electric', just like in a football match final. However - and this is the critical point - the energy present was not spiritual - it was psychic. The glory of Yahweh had already departed - the defeat of the army and loss of the Ark was the visible witness that this was so.
Go into any large charismatic meeting where there is lots of music and praise and you will sense an excitement and perhaps even elation. The people there really believe the glory of Yahweh is present. It isn't, because it's psychic. How do we know? Well, unless you are truly tuned to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and can discern, you only have to check out to see whether the people are Torah-obedient or lawless. It was lawlessness - disregard for Torah - which caused the glory of Israel to depart then, and it is lawlessness - disregard for Torah today - which causes the glory of Christ to depart from modern assemblies of believers. Being an Israelite or a Christian isn't enough. Using the language of religion isn't enough - for if the glory of Yahweh has departed from you, you are in serious trouble. And how can you know it has? Well, you may not know it at the beginning but at the end it will spell defeat and alienation from God.
A woman came to me for counsel about a year ago. She had always felt close to Yahweh. And then, suddenly, for no apparent reason, that holy presence was gone. She was besides herself with distress. She couldn't think what she had done and came to me for counsel. You see, she had lived a lawless life, pretty much doing as she pleased, and the day of grace suddenly expired. Not that she was 'bad' or anything like that - she had simply chosen to define the Gospel the way she wanted it. She chose to be Torahless. And that day of grace for Torahlessness is now running out.
There is near absolute confusion in Christendom today because Yahweh is finally bringing believers to account for their Torahlessness. And when the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) - the glory of Yahweh - departs from believers they either fall away into atheism or turn to psychic power. They may not know they are doing this (usually they don't) but this is what happens.
Everyone one of you here has used psychic power at one time or another, some more than others. You may have come under the influence of those who use it on you. Most, if not all, of you have probably experienced that too. Extreme examples of the use psychic power would be Hitler who seemed even to mesmerise his enemies. Or cult leaders like Jim Jones who led his followers to drink cyanide in an act of mass suicide in South America. Today, in the charismatic movement, you can see its leaders using psychic power and the art of mental suggestion to get people to fall down in a swoon, roll on the floor, laugh uncontrollably, hiss and snarl, and all kinds of unspiritual things. This is all psychic, with substantial aid from demons.
So does anyone here think that they have not used psychic energy? I guarantee all of you have. I guarantee you all have when you have not followed the Ruach (Spirit). Have you ever intimidated someone? That's psychic force. Have you ever played mind games? That's psychic power too. What about manipulating other people? That's psychic power. Have you every deliberately made someone cry? Again, psychic control. Have you ever stared someone down so that they can't look you in the face any more? More psychic power. And when you do that, it is, as one author put it, like a child playing with the toes of a sleeping evil giant.
Psychic power flows when we exert our own will apart from the will of God. The moment you act within the will of God, you tap into righteous power, which is the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). Do not be impressed by people who are strong-willed unless that will has yielded itself to the sovereignty of Yahweh because if it isn't, they will soon be tapping into the psychic and into the realm of Satan. I guarantee it. I know it for a fact. And once you start tapping into the psyche in the exercise of your own independent will, the glory of Yahweh will progressively depart from you until it departs altogether. At that point they receive the surname Ichabod. That has happened to many Christians who don't notice how Satan surreptitiously sneaks in the back door as you unconsciously escort Yahweh out. The vast bulk of Christendom has been tricked in this way, and all because they were not surrendered to Yahweh's will in Torah. The psyche, brethren and sisters, is the domain of lawlessness and the Lawless One, Lucifer.
Nobody - I repeat nobody - and that includes Christians - are immune from the seduction of this inner power. It is resident within man but is not for his personal use. That is why Satan repeatedly tries to tap into it. The whole function of the occult is to tap into it and to make it serve Satan. The fact of the matter is that the moment we are outside the will of Yahweh we are in mortal danger.
Once psychic power grips you, its drive is to control others. The psyche is connected to the carnal nature which is an enemy of God. That is why we are commanded to take it to the cross and give ourselves and our will to Yahweh so that the Ruach (Spirit) can flow through us. The true Ruach (Spirit) does not manipulate as the psyche does. The psyche wants personal disciples or followers. The psyche wants to rule others. And when two people ruled by psyche meet, there is a contest until the more powerful psyche subjugates the weaker one. Most of the computer games and films are precisely about this - battles between psyches. Psyche can, moreover, be deceptively clothed to make it appear 'good'. In the Star Wars films, you may remember how the Jeddi knights use mind control to manipulate the minds of evil people for good - that's still psychic abuse and it's ungodly. But it appeals to the carnal mind - the fleshy nature just loves the idea of controlling others, even for a supposedly 'righteous' cause. But I assure you it is evil whatever motive you may have, because it is lawless: it is mind control outside the sovereignty of Yahweh. And charismatic ministers are doing this all the time - by using the power of suggestion, they employ a form of mind control to get the people doing and believing whatever they want. And it makes then drunk with power. Why do you think these people accumulate vast wealth and spend it on themselves contrary to the Torah laws of stewardship? It is because they are not under the control of God - they are operating in psyche even if some of them may deceive themselves, and their followers, into believing they are in the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). And others - the ones at the top - are for the most part secret Satanists and know exactly what they are doing ... taking people away from the salvation of Yah'shua (Jesus) by getting them to trust in an impure, mortal psychic force.
The psychic power of man is supposed to be under strict control, like nuclear power. People are not responsible enough to use it yet. Satan knows this and exploits the carnal lust of man for power over others. Men and women who have successfully managed to access this psychic energy in themselves have always caused destruction and loss of life through its abuse. No-one - I repeat - no-one is capable of using it wisely and righteously in their own will. And that is why our own will must be completely subjected to that of the Most High. That is why we must fight until we have overcome, and the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is flowing freely, without hindrance from contrary loyalties, through our souls.
Psychic energy does not save us. When we die, we cannot take it with us because it is in the flesh. It's power is illusory because it is only temporary. It is the power that seduces pagans but leaves them, finally, destitute. The psyche does not renew you - it may give you a temporary 'power surge' - but it burns you out. The power and use of the psyche is based on wrong patterns of thinking, deception, denial of the truth, self-agendas and lawlessness. Satan uses it to counterfeit the salvation experience by giving the one deceived a temporary fireworks display like an insight into the future. However, he also sends false insights and by that means leads you astray. Your choice - our choice - is to either surrender to the psyche and to Satan, who controls it, or to the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) and thus to Yahweh. How can you tell them apart? Very simply: the Ruach (Spirit) leads you to Torah-obedience and the psyche to lawlessness and the exaltation of self.
Many people operate in both realms so the psyche and Ruach (Spirit) seesaw back and forth in their lives depending on which they are focussed. This spiritual instability in scripture is called 'double-mindedness' and is a latent form of schizophrenia. The solution is making a choice for Yahweh by binding your mind to Yah'shua (Jesus) and your will to Yahweh. You cannot have one foot in the Gospel and another in psychic power.
The difference between the two is that the Ruach (Spirit) is stable and single-minded. Of course, you can be single-minded in the psyche as Hitler was - he really believed in himself, in destiny, in fate. But we all know his end. His was a case of the ultimate use of psyche. His is an example of what Satanism actually is - the use and manipulation of psychic power.
Does Yahweh use our psyche through the Ruach (Spirit)? When it is fully harnessed to His will, yes, He does. Our mind and will is not supposed to be passive. It is supposed to make a choice for Yahweh and His Law and to remain loyal to both. We become useful servants of the Most High when we yield our psyche to Him in all things, obtaining the mind Christ by learning to think and act as He does. That mind is very, very different from the psychic mind - indeed, it is diametrically opposite. The psychic mind feeds off the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil whereas the spiritual mind feeds off the Tree of Life. And what is the source of that life? Yah'shua (Jesus), who is the Way (the path of Torah), the Truth (the ultimate reality of Torah) and the Life (the living incarnation of Torah).
The glory has departed out of Christendom which is why it has been defeated again and again. But not all of it. There are still many who walk in the Ruach (Spirit) as opposed to the psyche and who obey Torah. These are the true end-time disciples who will not be deceived by the psychically- and demonically-inspired lies that are all around us like an ocean. The original Israel was a tiny island in the midst of the sea of the nations. So are we today. But size does not matter. What matters is that we are safe, secure, alive in the truth, and productive .
I do not expect that this will be a popular message - the last thing any Christian wants to hear is that he has been walking in psyche and not Ruach (Spirit) and that demons are steering him when he believes he is being led by the Ruach (Spirit). But these are really far too serious questions to be ignored - salvation is at stake. Apart from the test that you are obeying Torah there are other things you can do too and that is as follows: (1) Bind your will to Yahweh; (2) Bind your mind to Christ, and (3) Bind your emotions to the Ruach (Spirit). Then saturate yourself with daily Scripture reading so that you bathe in Truth. Do this all the time and you will soon know what is truth and what is not. Amen.
This page was created on 28 September 2004
Last updated on 28 September 2004
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