All were asleep in the Temple. The prophet who had come to chastise Eli, who had troubled his slumber and reminded him of the chaos his family had become, had departed. He had mildly chastened his offspring, eaten well, and now the great priest was asleep.
The Word was rare in those days, as was the truth, and men had not heard a substantive sermon in many years. The visions, the prophecies, the revelations were sporadic at best, and the lamp of God flickered weakly. Eli's eyes grew dim, there was no king in Israel, and everyone did as they pleased; there was no order, there was no law. The ark of the covenant was close to being taken captive, the people close to being conquered, but this would all happen tomorrow; today they slumbered.
If the great priest allowed himself such a deep and restful sleep, why then would young Samuel be awake and watchful? Yes, Samuel slept also, dreaming of the childhood he'd never had, because he had spent his entire life in the Temple. He had never kicked a ball with the enthusiasm of youth, didn't know what the movies were, never touched a computer keypad, or ridden shotgun in his father's car. The only path he knew was the one that led from the sacrifice to the altar. His younger years had not been regaled with stories of talking bears and princesses, but of a people who were enslaved, a Red Sea, a desert and a victory.
Still, all these were merely stories, were they not? Could we once more hope to feel His presence, to hear His voice, to know His will? Perhaps, but for now there was only sleep. All slumbered, the spirit, the soul, the flesh and reason itself. The whole of the Temple was nothing more than a hotel, filled to capacity with tired and vision less men.
Then he heard the voice! Young Samuel did not recognize the voice, because when one slumbers, the spiritual snoring is louder than the Voice. Confusion is birthed when reason slumbers, becoming a monster that troubles not only earth but the heavens. Young Samuel rushes to Eli's bed, and wiping the sleep from his eyes, Eli realizes a surprise inspection had just taken place, and the guards, the watchmen, and the sentinels had been found asleep.
We are reliving the drama of spiritual slumber, wherein there is no vision, but a waking nightmare, a season where no one goes forth with the Gospel, but rather with their own ideology, the services are stale, the methods stereotypical, the eyes dim, the music confusing, the sick returning to their homes just as they arrived, and those searching for truth unable to find it anywhere.
The few voices crying out 'repent' until their vocal chords give out are dismissed a fools, lunatics, products of a bygone era unwilling to conform to the new gospel, because the slumber is too comfortable, all consuming, and the reality that is quickly eroding the dreams of riches and prosperity, can be put off, if only for one more day.
If the guards, sentinels, and watchmen slumber, how can we expect the sheep to be vigilant? If those that have been entrusted with the upkeep, and care of the Temple only use it to fill their stomachs, and bank accounts, and see such a heavy responsibility only as a means of achieving financial independence, what can we ask of those who merely grace the steps of said Temple intermittently?
If salvation were collective, truly, all would be lost, but just as there was one who heard the voice of God, just as there was one, who was willing to stand in the gap, we are called as individuals to know the voice of our Father, to do His will, and obey His voice. Those who slumber will continue to do so, but this does not give us the right, or excuse us of the individual accountability we have toward God to be watchful, and ready.
Perhaps some of us need to be shocked into wakefulness, while others, energized to continue being vigilant, but the one commonality we all share, is that we need to listen for the Voice, that we not miss it in the tumult and chaos that is this present life, and that we recognize the true dangers of spiritual slumber.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.