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1 Samuel 3:1-20 1
1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.

Background

In the prior chapter,  Samuel was just a young priest, a role because he was a Levite by birth. In chapter 3, Samuel is a young prophet, who by an extraordinary manner, finds God revealing Himself to him and through Samuel, reviving, if not starting a  prophecy in Israel.

  1. God’s first manifestation of Himself in an extraordinary manner to Samuel (v. 1-10).
  2. The message God sent to Eli (v. 11-14).
  3. The faithful delivery of that message to Eli, and Samuel’s  submission to the righteousness of God in it (v. 15-18).
  4. The establishment of Samuel to be a prophet in Israel (v. 19-21).

The call of Divine grace from God will always be made effective. God will repeat His call until it is so, until we come to the call. Eli, perceiving that it was the voice of God that Samuel heard, instructed him what to say. Though it was a disgrace to Eli, for God’s call to be directed to Samuel instead of Eli, Eli responded unselfishly with instructions on how to receive God’s call.  Our message here is that while we may be older, each of us has the responsibility to help those who are younger, who are growing in the knowledge of God to do so.

Eli knew the sin in his  own heart as often  we are conscious of ourselves! Those who do not restrain the sins of others, when it is in their power to do it, make themselves partakers of the guilt, and will be charged by God as if we joined in . In his remarkable answer, Eli acknowledging that God had a right to do as He saw fit. The meekness, patience, and humility contained in Eli’s words, show that he was truly repentant; he accepted the punishment of his sin.

God will graciously repeat His visits to those who receive them and increase their wisdom and grace. Early faith will be the greatest honor of young people. Those who honor God, God will honor.  Young children are capable of understanding religion. Samuel is a proof that their waiting upon the Lord will be pleasing to God.

Items for Discussion

  • How would you recognize a call from God?
  • Why do you think it is easier to listen to God when you are young?
  • What are the best tools and methods for helping our youth recognize God’s calling to them?
  • In our society today, what are the threats against our youth that interfere with their “listening?”

 

John 1:45-51
45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe[a] because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Background

Here we find Philip who was very excited because he had found the Messiah. But Nathanael was surprised that Jesus was from Nazareth. Nathanael was from Cana, a town near to Nazareth. We do not really know why Nathanael was not impressed with the city of Nazareth. People often assign a level of importance to a person based on where they live.

Philip did not try to argue with Nathanael, but instead, invited Nathanael to see Jesus for himself. We can learn from this. We cannot persuade people to become Christians. We can argue with them about religion. But it is better just to tell the good news about Jesus. We can tell people what Jesus has done on our behalf personally. We can tell them that we know Jesus as our friend. We can invite them to believe in Jesus.

Jesus had never met Nathanael but knew about him. He knew Nathanael’s character and attitudes. Jesus knows everything about us, too. He knows the good things and the bad things about us. We cannot hide anything from Jesus. It is amazing that even though our true character, flaws and all are known to our Savior, He loves us, still wants us to be His friends and to follow Him.

Why the story about a fig tree? Fig trees have many leaves, so they provide much shade. People often sat under a fig tree during the heat of the day. There, they would think about God and the Scriptures. This was a common custom. Probably, Nathanael was doing this before Philip found him. Nathanael was surprised that Jesus knew this. It convinced Nathanael that Jesus was God’s Son and Israel’s king.

In verse 51 we have what may be a reference to Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:12). In this dream, Jacob saw a ladder that reached from earth to heaven. God’s angels were going up and down on this ladder. Jesus is reminding us that He is like this ladder, because He connects people to God. He opened the way to God. He did this by means of His death. What Jesus is not telling us is that angels would actually climb on Him. Jesus meant that we can speak to God only by means of Himself. Jesus is the only real connection between heaven and earth because sin has ruined our relationship with God.

Items for Discussion

  • Apologetics, the practice of discussing one’s faith often becomes contentious. What personal methods and ideas have you found that people should avoid?
  • Have you found an effective way to share your faith with others? Please share.
  • Where or what are your “fig trees,” the places you reflect upon God and His Word?
  • If you had to pick a few components of an effective statement of faith, what would you include?
  • What impresses you most about this encounter between Nathanael and Jesus?

Discussion Challenge

  • How can we become more effective ambassadors for Christ?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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