In Jeremiah 1, the Lord declared to the prophet Jeremiah that He is continuously watching to see that His word is fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:12). We are entering a vital season in the leadership dynamics of the global Body of Christ, as the Lord looks to raise up leaders that will genuinely fulfil His word and lead His Body into the fullness of the maturity to which He has called her (Ephesians 4:11-13).
The prophet Samuel is a key prophetic representation of all this, as a transitional leader who restored the Word of the Lord to Israel at a time when it was rare, and as someone in whose life the Lord’s word always came to pass (1 Sam 3:1, 19). Today I want to share some keys with you that will enable you to understand the dynamics of this coming season and position yourself for the life-changing anointing that He is about to pour out.
Our key Scripture reading is 1 Samuel 2-3.
The changing of the guard
In this chapter, the young Samuel is serving in the house of God in Shiloh under Eli the priest. At the time, the administration of the priesthood under Eli’s leadership had already fallen into a deep decadence and disrepute. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were known as scoundrels with no regard for the Lord, and for treating the Lord’s offering with contempt (1 Sam 2:13,17). They also slept with the women serving in the tabernacle and refused to change despite Eli’s rebukes (vv. 22-25). From Aaron’s time until now, the priesthood was always supposed to pass from father to son, but the Lord was determined that Hophni and Phinehas would not inherit the priesthood because of the extent of their sin and disrespect. A prophetic word came against Eli and his family, decreeing that their priesthood would be cut off, and that a faithful priesthood would be raised up in their place (vv.27-36).
Meanwhile, the young Samuel was serving God faithfully and diligently, and growing in favour with God. When he reached a certain age, the Lord called him one night while he was lying down. Samuel ran to Eli thinking that it was him calling, but Eli told him it was not so. The Lord called again, and Samuel ran to Eli again. This time, however, when Eli speaks to Samuel to tell him that he has not called him, he first addresses him as “my son” (1 Sam 3:7) before telling him to lie down again. When the Lord calls Samuel for the third time, Eli finally discerns that it is the Lord calling Samuel and instructs him on what to do. Samuel hears and responds to the voice of God and begins his journey as a prophet who restores godly leadership to Israel and order to the house of God in Shiloh.
The relationship between Eli and Samuel, and Eli’s recognition of Samuel as a son here is a key to all of this. Although Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were disqualified from inheriting the priesthood, Eli had found another son in Samuel, one who was fit for the priesthood and whom God was pleased to call and anoint. The priesthood could therefore pass from Eli to Samuel. Through service and relationship, Samuel became the landing strip for the will of God when the old way of doing things had failed.
There are places in the Body of Christ today where the old way of doing things has failed. There are environments in which the fear and reverence of God has given way to a culture of self-service, and places where the resources of the Body have fallen into the hands of entitled people who have embedded themselves into the structure of the Church and yet feel they have a right to do whatever they please without repercussions or consequences. The prophetic declaration of this hour is that this is all coming to an end as the Lord is watching over His Church to see His word fulfilled!
The clarion cry from Heaven therefore is for today’s leaders to raise up those that are true sons and daughters, who can inherit the purposes of God and become the landing strips for His will, so that what is old and no longer works can be cut off and removed. If you are a leader, this means implementing true discipleship and not just gathering crowds. A mere crowd cannot inherit the purposes of God, but a true son or daughter can. It is through these ones that the Lord will bring about a refreshing and restoration to His house and Body, and a preservation for future generations of the good that has come before. Like Eli, as you identify the true sons and daughters, you will be able discern what the Lord is doing in their lives and lead them well.
Authentic alignment to Heaven
Through what took place, the priesthood transitioned from Eli’s house and leadership to Samuel’s. The need for the transition was simply to restore authenticity to the office. Eli’s house was no longer an authentic witness to the voice and purposes of Heaven on earth and so the nation lacked spiritual leadership and authority, so much so that the Ark of the Covenant was captured and taken away by the Philistines in battle (1 Sam 4:11).
This severe and dramatic loss on the battlefield was a manifestation of something that had begun a long time earlier, in Eli’s family’s running of the house of God. Losing the Ark of the Covenant was a public sign regarding the spiritual condition of the nation, but the original damage had already been done behind the scenes as Eli’s sons treated the sacrificial offerings with contempt and defiled themselves and the servants of the temple.
Samuel, growing up in the temple with a pure heart and eyes would have seen all of this, and we can tell from Scripture that it made a powerful impression on him. Eli’s failures were his lessons. He knew that the welfare of the nation, and its spiritual strength and authority, came from the acts of obedience by its leaders and through honouring the things of God. Similarly, he knew that failing to obey the commands of the Lord, and failing to observe the proper protocols around the priestly offerings to God, were roads to destruction. Therefore, in Samuel 13, when Saul had rashly made a burnt offering to God with his own hands, Samuel immediately rebuked him saying “you have done a foolish thing” (v. 13) and counselled him that his kingdom would not last. Samuel had already seen what happened to Eli and his family when they misappropriated the sacrifices of God, and saw that the same thing would now happen to Saul and his family.
Samuel also knew that spiritual authority comes with serving God, and not with self-service or self-interest. He had seen for himself how allowing the things of God to become subject to the manipulations of entitled people had led to the downfall of the nation. When it was time to anoint David therefore (1 Sam 16), Samuel acted decisively despite the politics of the surrounding environment. When God led him to David, who would be a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14), Samuel anointed him knowing that this is what Israel needed for its future – a person concerned first with God’s thoughts and feelings. It was precisely this ability to hear and respond to God’s thoughts and feelings that had been missing in Eli’s house. Samuel’s ministry, in contrast, had begun with him saying ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’ (1 Sam 3:9). When a leader can hears God’s voice and responds to it with a servant heart, they are able to identify what has been ignored, overlooked or tolerated and address it, so that what remains in place is an authentic witness of Heaven’s purposes.
In this season, God’s call is for all His people to return to a focus on being authentic witnesses for Heaven. In recent times, there has a lot of noise in the atmosphere, as the true voice of the Lord has been mixed in and made to contend with personal agendas and interests of various kinds. However, just as God raised up Samuel and restored a true prophetic voice to Israel when it was sorely needed, so will we see in the days ahead an appearing of an authentic form of the prophetic that many have longed for.
Along with this will come tremendous breakthough. When true prophetic permission for change comes from God, so do the resources that are needed to bring it about. We are coming into a new season of the prophetic permissions of the Lord. Real, authentic shifting words are about to land. Your part is to become His landing strip. So, prepare your hearts, open your ears, and devote yourself afresh to serving Him and Him alone, because it’s all about to happen!
Building together towards real maturity
There will be those who feel like or even recognise that their ministries were at some point overtaken by some of the same issues and mistakes that caused Eli’s house to fail. Yet, they will see what is taking place in the new season as sons and daughters are being raised up and the house of God is restored, and will want to align afresh with what God is doing.
Despite the failures and inadequacies of the past, because of the blood of Jesus and His redemptive plan, there is always hope. As Job says in Job 14:7-9, “there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.”
The fresh flow of the Spirit of God will be like the scent of water to these ones, and they will seek to align with the new guard. Yet wisdom is needed on both sides for this to work.
When Joshua rose to power and it was clear that their old system was failed and gone, the Gibeonites decided to do what they could to align with Joshua, and approached him to make a treaty (Joshua 9:3-6). However, in order to persuade Joshua to make the treaty with them, they pretended to have travelled from a distant land, and disguised themselves with worn-out sacks and wineskins, old patched clothes and shoes, and rations of dry and mouldy bread. They put themselves across as having come much further than they really did. The temptation for those who were long ago right in the midst of what God was doing, but now want to align with those leading in the new season, will be to pretend that they are more matured and seasoned than they really are in order to get themselves a better bargaining positioning in the alignment.
Joshua’s people tried the stale bread for themselves to test it but did not inquire of the Lord about the Gibeonites and so were deceived by them and granted them the treaty (Joshua 9:14-15). However, when Joshua found out what the Gibeonites had done, he appointed them permanently to duties as woodcutters and water carriers in service to Israel.
For those that God has raised up to lead in the new season, there must be a new level of wisdom and discernment as to what alignments to make with who and how, and to be aware that there are those that might not be fully transparent about their journeys because of what they hope to get from aligning. Be sensitive and don’t take everything you hear at face value, or rush ahead and make agreements without inquiring of the Lord. Although you may be told stories of times past to convince you, remember that it is fresh, daily bread that the Lord gives us for our journey and not yesteryears’ bread. Look for the present fruits in the lives of those that you align with.
For those who see the hope of life being restored to their ministries by aligning with the new, put away the old wineskins and patched garments. Jesus counselled that old wineskins cannot be filled with new wine without being ruined, and that patches from old garments do not match the new (Luke 5:36-38). This means having a willingness to think in new ways and adapt to what God is doing now, rather than carrying an intention to take things back to an old way of operating that God has moved away from. If you want to make it work, come in with the intention to build, to serve and to enhance what is happening now, rather than to contend for a memory.
If things are done right, and the relationships are built well, the golden oil will settle and there will be a blending of strengths. There is a place for everyone, but true discipleship, the authentic voice of Heaven, and a willingness to build together must be the defining characteristics of the pattern.
Great things are about to happen, and a fresh anointing is about to be poured out! Prepare your heart and take your position!
Rev Betty King