He raised his head to look despite the agony that engulfed his body. His vision had not failed him, although his eyes had sunk deep within their sockets. He saw before him a large throng in great lamentation. His hearing had not failed him, either.
The large crowd was a great Congregation in a great land, but their lamentation was not for him. They wailed incessantly about the great troubles that had befallen them, and they cried for help. He could tell from their wailing that they had forgotten the instructions that they didn’t have to remember because the instructions had been written down. However, they could not read because their eyes were covered with blinders like large pieces of wood.
This great Congregation reminded him of the generation of Eli because he saw the spirit of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, among them. He also saw the spirit of Joel and Abijah, the sons of Samuel, among this Congregation. However, it wasn’t the generation of Eli because this Congregation was much larger and in a land far away.
He listened more intently to the lamentation. The Congregation then reminded him of the generation of Samuel because it was not clear if they were seeking help from God or government. Has this great Congregation forgotten the curse the people of Israel brought upon themselves when they wanted to be like other nations and have a king?
This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:11-18 NASB)
He remembered how the Lord went into the land of the Philistines, like David before Goliath, in the days of Samuel. His hand was heavy upon the Philistines for they had attacked the people of Israel, and He smote them until they returned the Ark of the Covenant with a guilt offering. The people of Israel then returned to the Lord with all their heart and gathered at Mizpah. The Philistines attacked a second time, but they were repelled easily because the Lord confused them. Despite all this, Israel then wanted a human king in order to be like other nations. The Lord said to Samuel, “[T]hey have rejected Me from being king over them” (1 Samuel 8:7 NASB), but the Lord still told Samuel to warn the people about human government.
He looked upon this great Congregation in amazement and wondered, “They cannot decide whether to seek help from God or government, but then wonder why God doesn’t answer?” He became more mystified when he noticed that the Lord had blessed this great Congregation, also. The great land they occupy is a haven where they are free to worship the Lord as they choose. It is a law of the land that government must not interfere with religion. When he listened closer to the words of this Congregation, he realized that they want to break this law in order to receive favor from the government; they want to break the blessing! He also saw pandering politicians seeking the Congregation’s favor because it is so large.
He craned his neck a bit in an attempt to learn more for this was an astonishing thing. The great land had fallen upon extremely troubled times and the people of the great Congregation fear the loss of their worldly riches which provide them with many comforts. The Congregation fears the troubled times are due to their Lord’s displeasure. However, the Congregation does not think the Lord’s displeasure has anything to do with the condition of their hearts; they point fingers of judgment at people outside of the Congregation that also live in this land. “They always blame someone else,” he thinks.
His vision refocuses and he sees a large fleet of buses beyond the crowd. He is certain there are enough buses to carry everyone in the great Congregation away on the broad five lane super-highway beyond. However, nobody enters the narrow gate at the bottom of his hill. Nobody will climb the narrow, winding, and rugged path to inquire of him or his health. This is too difficult.
He watched as the great Congregation started to board the buses. He can now see that they are as empty husks that carry no light within; their hearts are selfish, dark, and hateful. He says, ”forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” His head then fell forward, chin to chest.