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Book 1: The Sonship Message of the Judges: Chapter 16: Eli and Samuel

There is no biblical statement telling us that Samson ever went to Shiloh to worship God at the tabernacle. Eli and his sons ministered there, and Samuel as well, who had been dedicated to God at an early age. No doubt they all knew each other well, and for this reason, I wrote My Father’s Tear and Power of the Flame in a way that portrayed the friendship between Samson and Samuel, and I also showed that Samson disliked Eli’s sons and thus ceased to attend the feasts during his time as a Judge in Israel.

The Philistine captivity essentially defined the entire ministry of Eli, for his ministry lasted 40 years, and he died just as the 40-year captivity was ending. Both Samuel and Samson were born around the beginning of the same captivity. Samson was probably about 20 when he was elected Judge, and he died 20 years later in the temple of Dagon just before the captivity ended.

The 40-Year Types and Antitypes

The 40-year Philistine captivity itself was a type and shadow of the Church during the 40 Jubilees of Church history. Samson’s story shows us that the Church under Pentecost would be unable to throw off the yoke of the beast nations.

That captivity was thus similar to Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness under Moses, where “the Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38, KJV) is shown to be a time of rebellion against God and against His laws. That time ends only with the coming of Joshua the Ephraimite, who represents Yeshua-Jesus in His second coming.

Again, the 40-Jubilee cycle of Saul’s reign reveals the political side of the rebellious Church, even as the 40-year time of Eli’s high priesthood portrays the priestly side of the rebellious Church.

Each of these 40-year cycles gives us insights, in different ways, to later Church history. The root cause of the problem was their refusal to hear God’s voice at Mount Horeb. Their refusal to hear God’s voice at Mount Horeb resulted in weak faith—too weak for them to face the giants in the Promised Land. So Heb. 3:19 says,

19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief [apistian, “lack of faith”].

This set the pattern for the Church in later years, for not only was the Church under Moses given an extended time in the wilderness, but so also the Church under Pentecost had to endure an extended period of time in its own wilderness.

The problem began as soon as men began to reject the baptism of fire, and it progressed as men began to assume that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was only given to first-century believers. Some teach that when John died in 100 A.D. that the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased. Such teachers are known as Cessationists.

The church ruled as Saul, not as David. Samuel said that Saul was guilty of “insubordination” (1 Sam. 15:23). The Hebrew word is patsar, “to be stubborn.” Though it is a different Hebrew word from that which is used in the law of stubborn sons (Deut. 21:18, 20), the meaning is the same. The point is that a stubborn son may be disinherited if and when he proves himself to be unworthy.

Saul was a stubborn son, and so his family lost the right to rule when God replaced him with David. So also, in Church history, the Roman popes have been insubordinate to Christ, thinking that the throne was theirs to rule according to their own will. Hence, they have been replaced by the overcomers (“David”), whom God has called and trained. Most have lived and died throughout the years, but they will be raised in the First Resurrection to rule with Christ in the Tabernacles Age to come.

The High Priesthood of Eli

Like Saul, Eli was in rebellion against God by refusing to correct or remove his corrupt sons. But whereas Saul pictured the Church’s political role as king of the Kingdom, Eli was a priest and therefore represented the Church in its priestly role. As a result, Eli’s line was ultimately replaced by Zadok in the early years of Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 2:27, 35), just as Saul was replaced by David.

Zadok was a type of Melkizedek, and his appointment prophesied of the change of priesthood that was to occur later. Heb. 7:9-12 says,

9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. 11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

The author of Hebrews shows that the Levitical priesthood was flawed and inadequate, and so it had to give way to an older order of priests whose head was Melchizedek, rather than Aaron. So also Eli, who was of Levi (and specifically of Phinehas) was replaced by Zadok. This replacement, however, only prophesied of a greater fulfillment yet to come, for even Zadok was of the line of Aaron, though not of Phinehas. The Zadok line ended with the Hasmonean dynasty of king-priests when Antigonus was put to death by Herod in 34 B.C.

When the last of the Hasmonean kings had passed, Jesus was sent to replace not only Zadok specifically but also the entire Aaronic priesthood of Levi. Jesus then became the true High Priest of the Order of Melchizedek.

The Church started out quite well, but soon reverted back to Old Covenant thinking and rebelled against the laws of God. As the corruption in the Church grew more prevalent, it proved itself once again to be unworthy of the priesthood. For this reason, God has raised up a “David” company to replace the Saul-Church.

In more recent years the Roman church has been clearly shown to be following in the footsteps of Eli. The popes have refused to depose their rebellious sons (pedophile priests) unless forced to do so by public opinion or by court order.

The man of God told Eli that because he had refused to hear the word of the Lord in regard to his rebellious sons (1 Sam. 2:29), God was going to replace him. In 1 Sam. 3:11-13, the child Samuel was told more about God’s threat to Eli,

11 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves, and he did not rebuke them.”

This prophecy was fulfilled only gradually. It took some years before Samuel grew to maturity. Finally, Eli and his sons died on the same day, but even then his grandson Ahitub succeeded him as the high priest, and when he died, his son Ahijah wore the ephod (1 Sam. 14:3). Ahimelech was next in line, and finally his son Abiathar succeeded him (1 Sam. 22:20). Abiathar was the last of Eli’s line to hold the high priesthood. He was replaced by Zadok, who was from a different family of priests.

Even then, Solomon only replaced that particular family of Levi and Aaron. It would be a thousand years later when Jesus, who was of the Melchizedek Order, replaced Aaron and Levi altogether.

The Church was supposed to follow the pattern of Melchizedek, and indeed, it did so in a small way. The priests were no longer of a particular lineage. However, as time passed, they reverted to Old Covenant methods of worship, complete with priestly robes, incense, physical temples, and (unfortunately) the traditions of men. Having disqualified themselves, they too have been replaced by overcomers.

The Revenge of the Philistines

Samson died in the temple of Dagon after toppling the main pillars holding up the roof (Judges 16:29, 30). That final act as a Judge angered the Philistines, who then mustered an army to take revenge upon the Israelites as a whole. Most people miss this fact, because the narrative ends in Judges 16:31 with the death and burial of Samson.

The last five chapters in the book of Judges seem to be misplaced, chronologically speaking, because it gives a story of a much earlier time shortly after Israel had entered the land of Canaan. The story actually continues in 1 Samuel, where the Philistines march in battle against the Israelites. No reason is given explicitly, but when we see this as a continuation from Samson’s final act in destroying the temple of Dagon, their motive is not hard to see. 1 Sam. 4:1 says,

1 Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped beside Ebenezer while the Philistines camped in Aphek.

The initial battle saw about 4,000 Israelites killed (1 Sam. 4:2). The second battle was more significant, and 30,000 Israelites were killed, including the two sons of Eli (1 Sam. 4:10, 11). The Ark was captured and brought to the temple of Dagon in Ashdod (1 Sam. 5:1).

When word came to Eli in Shiloh, he fell backward from his perch and broke his neck (1 Sam. 4:18). Tradition says that it was actually Saul who was the runner bringing the bad news to Eli. Scripture tells us only that the man was a Benjamite (1 Sam. 4:12). We know, of course, that Saul was of the tribe of Benjamin.

The point is that Samson’s final act of judgment upon the Philistine temple ultimately resulted in the destruction of the tabernacle at Shiloh and the death of Eli and his sons (Psalm 78:60-64). This destruction fulfilled part of the prophecy spoken to Eli by the mystery man of God many years earlier in 1 Sam. 2:27-36.

The Revenge of the Ark

In the big picture, this history lesson shows us the role of the Ark at the end of the period of the Judges, for it is the Ark that ultimately sets Israel free from their Philistine captivity. The Philistines took the Ark at the time of the feast of Tabernacles, and they returned it seven months later (1 Sam. 6:1) at the time of Pentecost, while men were harvesting wheat (1 Sam. 6:13).

The presence of the Ark in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod had overthrown their god (1 Sam. 5:3, 4), and the people were smitten with “tumors” (1 Sam. 5:6). The KJV correctly reads, “emerods” (hemorrhoids). Why would God do such a thing?

Philistine religion was based upon a male god (Dagon) and a female god (Atargatis). Dagon was a fish god (merman), while Atargatis was a fish goddess (mermaid). As a married couple, these gods portrayed a bad marriage, wherein each competed with the other for power and influence.

In the courtyard of the temple of Atargatis, worshipped in the Philistine city of Askelon, there was a pond holding sacred fish. It was said that if anyone stole one of them, he would be afflicted with hemorrhoids. Thus, when God smote the Philistines with hemorrhoids for stealing the sacred Ark, they understood that God was judging them for stealing sacred vessels. That was how God induced them to give the Ark back to the Israelites.

When the Ark was returned on a cart, the oxen took it to Beth-shemesh, (“House of the Rising Sun”) a small community on the ridge overlooking the valley and the road to Timnah and Ashdod. Shemesh means “the sun,” and it is also the root of Samson’s name.

The Ark had been taken about the time of the Feast of Tabernacles and was returned seven months later (1 Sam. 6:1), while the people were harvesting their wheat at Pentecost. The wheat harvesters at Shemesh were not qualified to open the Ark, and when they did so, they were struck down (electrocuted). This all plays into the message in the sequence of the Judges’ names, as we saw earlier.

The actual end of the Philistine captivity came shortly after the Ark was returned to Israel. Once the Ark was returned to Israel, Samuel led Israel into battle against the Philistines and defeated them (1 Sam. 7:10, 11).

Samuel was the one that God had anointed as the “faithful priest” (1 Sam. 2:35) to replace Eli. He served as a prophetic type of the overcomers at the time of the end, and his victory fully ended the Philistine captivity. That victory also prophesied of the end of the captivity of the Church in our own time today.