by Carter Conlon

1 Samuel 2:27–36: And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh’s house? And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel? Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people? Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever. And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. And it shall come to pass, that every one that i left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests’ offices, that I may eat a piece of bread. This is a message for all who find themselves in a time of discouragement. By the close of this word, however, I believe you will be rejoicing in the Lord.

Now in times past, the people of God had taken the testimony he determined they should have of him and turned it into a false religion. When that happened, that generation was dealt with by God. God has a pattern of dealing with his people in his Word and it does not change from generation to generation. We read in the book of Samuel that the religious condition of Eli’s day had produced immoral and self-seeking sons. Eli was a type of backslidden priesthood. He was a priest in Israel who had lost his authority and with it the people’s respect because he could not correct his sons. The previous scripture verses tell us that Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were flagrantly promiscuous and randomly fornicated with women while in the service of God. Furthermore, they were no longer content to live by faith. Instead of being satisfied with regular meat offerings as provided by the Lord, they demanded the choicest cuts. This resulted in abhorrence for the Lord’s offering by the people. Before we completely castigate this priesthood and say how immoral and religiously corrupt it was, let us remember that in the Book of Revelation we, too, are called kings and priests unto the Lord. The question we are then forced to ask ourselves in this hour is: “How am I representing Christ before my generation?” It’s easy to criticize those who have gone before us while failing to realize that we, in part, might be following in their very footsteps. Undoubtedly numerous warnings had come to Eli and his sons that had gone unheeded. Then one day a man of God appeared. This is the way God does it; he finds a vessel on whom he can place an anointing. This anointed man was fearless in bringing stern warnings of impending judgment, saying God would no longer tolerate those who refused to listen to his warnings. Ironically, 1 Samuel 2:25 tells us that the sons of Eli couldn’t hear godly instruction anymore. And the reason they couldn’t hear was because God had determined to slay them. Their reckless misrepresentation of his life and character had robbed those people seeking knowledge of who he was. Their disregard of this sacred trust sparked the flash point of God’s judgment. He was literally going to remove them out of the picture.

Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house (1 Samuel 2:31). This judgment of God speaks of the loss of wisdom and of a people who rise and lose respect for those who have gone before them. There would not be an old man in the house, no grandfather, no father of the faith. Young, inexperienced men, perhaps in their late twenties or early thirties, led largely by their ambition and fleshly lusts and desires for success, are leading the house of God. Look around today and you will see the system that is under the justice of God. They cast away the old as if they were no longer of any value to the house of God. I thank the Lord that in this house of Times Square Church, we have and have had men of maturity and experience such as Pastor David Wilkerson, Ben Crandall and the late Pastor Jack West who have all spoken words of life, encouragement, and direction to this body of believers. The scriptures speak of this a second time: And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever (1 Samuel 2:32). God said, “Eli, you are going to see an enemy come in and take away all the wealth that I would have given you: the knowledge of God, the life of God, the treasure of God.” Eli lived to see this when the Philistine army came in. And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain (I Samuel 4:11). The shock of it all caused Eli to fall backward off his seat, break his neck and die (v. 18). It’s not as if the Word wasn’t there with him; it was, but he could not hear it clearly anymore. Perhaps it was because Eli had become comfortable in his priesthood, and then overnight everything he cherished was suddenly taken away, including his own life. This warning of God continues unto all future generations. In verse 33: …shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age. Young men full of ambition will rise in this type of ministry just mentioned, and remove the true vision of God from before your eyes. They see you as possible donors for their cause and not as precious members of the body of Christ. But as these young men begin to look like the new rising stars in the church of Jesus Christ, they will suddenly fall. God will not let them go beyond a certain point since they do not truly represent him. Technically speaking, a man should be at his zenith as he grows older. What an incredible judgment of God.

And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever (1 Samuel 2:35). The judgment of God is not complete until a ministry with his heart and mind is raised up again. It’s just as he does with us. When you come to Christ, the Holy Spirit takes the old away, and brings in the new. This is the pattern of God: he begins to remove your old way of thinking and he gives you a new mind; he takes away your old selfish heart and gives you a heart that has his love in it; he removes confusion of mind and then sets a clear pathway before you; he takes the old away, and brings in the new. So judgment is not fully complete until God establishes the new order. This has been God’s pattern all throughout history.

In the midst of the backslidden priesthood, God had reserved a woman with a barren womb for himself. This was his plan right from the beginning. This woman came with her husband yearly to the temple to offer a sacrifice and the scripture says, … for he loved Hannah: but the Lord had shut up her womb (1 Samuel 1:5). It is important to note that Hannah’s closed womb was not caused by a medical problem. It wasn’t the devil. God shut her womb. He had destined this woman to bring life at a certain point in history. He forewarned Eli of his judgment and had a plan to raise up a faithful priest (1 Samuel 2:35). And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she [her adversary] provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat (1 Samuel 1:7). Despite the railing of her adversary, the lack of “fruit” from her womb had put a cry within Hannah; part of her life had not been satisfied. So she faithfully came to the house of God in Shiloh to seek the Lord. We should be encouraged by this example. She remained undistracted by the party crowd led by Hophni and Phinehas and made fervent, heart-wrenching intercession to God that bewildered backslidden Eli. You must remember it was God who kept this woman barren, from the life that she wanted—until she uttered something that God wanted to hear: …she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah’s vow to God came at great personal cost; giving up the chiefest cry of her heart, the life God would give to her—she vowed to return it to him.

Prophetically speaking, some of you reading this have been kept from receiving what you want until, like Hannah, you say something God wants to hear; something that will touch his heart, something that is of great personal sacrifice. Perhaps you have been touched by God and will be called to give what you have even in places where it is not appreciated. But God says, “I am waiting for this cry.” He knows there is a spiritual void in many of you, and that an increasing desperation has come into your heart. Now he is waiting for the cry to come from you, “Lord, touch me; God, if you raise me up I will bring it all back for you to use.” She had longed for this child, and it was the deepest cry of her heart. Hannah knew of the great personal sacrifice she would have to make. She knew she would have to bring this little boy back and give him into this place that did not appreciate the anointing of God anymore.

This is not the only time that God had used a barren womb to accomplish his purposes.  After Adam’s fall and the degeneration of subsequent generations, God used Sarah’s barren womb. And it was through this lineage that the Messiah was brought forth into the world. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised (Hebrews 11:11). Through Sarah’s life we learn to wait for the promise of God. If God makes a promise to you, he will fulfill it. On another occasion God found a woman called Elisabeth, who also had a barren womb. After a period of 400 years of silence between the Old Testament and the New Testament, God used Elisabeth’s womb, barren and past the age of child-bearing, to bring forth John the Baptist—a voice to announce the coming of God’s Messiah. When Mary arrived at Elisabeth’s home, the babe inside Elisabeth’s womb leaped (Luke 1:41) and Elisabeth began to sing and glorify God. Mary joined the chorus and declared the goodness of God. Even Zacharias eventually burst into song! Oh, it’s amazing when you see it—the song that comes from a once barren womb now made fruitful! The rejoicing that hit Zacharias! This child was to be a voice that would announce the coming of the Most High (Luke 1:67–79)!

Jesus said, …wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me (Acts 1:4). There is a time and season that God has foreordained that the Holy Spirit should come. You cannot rush the promise of God. You cannot make it happen. It does not come out of the minds of men, nor from the ingenuity of human strength, but rather, it is something that God does through his sovereignty. However, before he does it, he has to have a people that are set apart for himself and who are willing to wait for him to bring about the answer. In Acts 2:1, the scripture says, …they were all with one accord in one place. They were there for a very specific reason because Jesus had told them to …wait for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4). There were 120 of them in the upper room crying out like Hannah and Sarah for God to fill the emptiness within them and to empower them to stand in their generation. They were in one accord with God and his purposes. Suddenly, the sound of a rushing mighty wind came and God filled them: And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them (Acts 2:3). And they burst out of their barrenness and fear and stepped through the doors of this upper room into the marketplace where there were still angry people in the midst of the crowd. Yet on that day 3000 souls bent their knee to God. And the deepest desire of God’s heart and of their heart was fulfilled.

Why is there a church such as Times Square Church in our generation? I believe with all my heart that it is because the Lord wants to fill this house and every house where the true gospel of Christ is being preached. He wants to fill men and women who gather together with his Spirit and send them into the marketplace with the power of God, and alive with the mind of God. The new life that has burst within you has not come from human effort. No! You have been touched by the Spirit of God and are stepping out of obscurity. Your life, your voice, your song, your eyes, your hands are a clear declaration that there is a Christ who rose from the dead and who sits at the right hand of Almighty God! The scripture says that …he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God (Luke 1:15–16). Again Jesus declares, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). God says, “When you have the cry for God in your heart, when you walk together in one accord, and when you are willing to be set apart for my purposes, then I am going to come to you, and I will fill and empower you to be witnesses for me.” God has a plan and purpose for this generation and desires that none should perish.

And she [Hannah] said, ‘Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.’ So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 1:18). The name Samuel means “asked of God.” Hannah went to an altar and received a word from God and the scripture says, She was no more sad (1 Samuel 1:18). Can you imagine the entire world around her asking, “Oh, Hannah, are you sure this is a good thing? Are you sure you want to give your child up to Eli who could not even raise his own sons in the fear of God?” But Hannah persisted. This was what she had cried out to God for. This was why she had borne a child. And Samuel, Hannah’s son whom she had yielded to God, walked closely with God. And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19). Think of what happened to Eli’s house where a false representation of God had found root and had flourished; he died and so did his sons. A false religion will always ultimately produce death. But now look at the song that’s coming out of this vessel, Hannah, who was once barren and bereft of children. Can you imagine the rejoicing in her home as she returns thanks unto the Lord? Look again at her anointed song of praise. And Hannah prayed, and said,My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed (1 Samuel 2:1–3). God took the barren womb of a woman who cried out in desperation to him and at an appointed time, created new life within her. Like Hannah, you too can have a song of praise. God will bring new life in every barren heart  of those who call out to him because he wants to have a testimony in the earth. You will be that testimony. Hallelujah!

Carter Conlon
April 23, 2006
©2006 Times Square Church