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1 Kings 2:26-27 • The Infallible Timing of Prophecy

“Then to Abiathar the priest the king said, ‘Go to Anathoth to your own field, for you deserve to die; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and because you were afflicted in everything with which my father was afflicted.’ So Solomon dismissed Abiathar from being priest to the Lord, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord, which He had spoken concerning the house of Eli in Shiloh.”
    —1 Kings 2:26-27 (NASB)

We clearly see that Solomon’s actions are guided by God to fulfill what God said would happen to Eli’s family, that they would cease serving as high priest forever. The book of 1 Samuel begins in the shadow of Eli and his corrupt sons abusing and misusing their office to the point that God reveals to Samuel His planned judgment, stating at that time “I am about to do a thing in Israel“. :”(1 Samuel 3:10-14)”: We learn within just a few chapters of this prediction that Eli and two of his sons die, but there’s a span of 20-30 YEARS covered by those chapters from the time that God reveals what He’s going to do before He does it.

If we didn’t pay close attention to the fact that Abiathar has been both the high priest and the surviving son of Eli, we might think everything was completed way back then, or that somehow there was an exemption. But by the time we read this concluding remark in 1 Kings 2:27, Samuel has died after living a very long life, Saul came into power for 20 years and has since died, David was anointed king and reigned for 40 years beginning well into adulthood and since died, and Solomon has just recently ascended as king. It’s been better than 100 years since God’s declaration that He is “about to do a thing” before that thing is brought to its ultimate conclusion. There’s a lesson here concerning the schedule according to which God fulfills prophecy that we need to pause and fully absorb.

The most obvious is that if you or I said we were “about” to do something, it would be something that was going to happen the very day, possibly the very hour, that we spoke. But because God is eternal, what is “immediate” or “soon” or “about” to happen can take 100 years to complete because in the context of eternity, that IS the very “day” or “hour” from which He originally spoke. We have to resist the urge to clock God according to our own stopwatch or calendar and make the attempt to understand His.

The sequence of events is telling as it began with the death of the 3 most corrupt members of the family, but ended those many decades later with the last member who was NOT corrupt like them, who’d actually been on the right side of things most of his life. Abiathar seems to be one of those rare individuals who learned the right lesson from the example of God’s judgment on his father and brothers and rejected the path that led to their destruction. It’s critical that we grasp what is being taught here, especially that God’s judgment is a vehicle to call others to repentance, and Abiathar is a positive example of that, whereas his father and brothers took no heed during the 20+ years God provided between the warning and carrying it out on them. It also shows that God judges the individual and that Abiathar was treated differently because, as an individual, he acted differently than his father and brothers. We also need to fully realize that God’s judgment was completed by employing different methods to achieve it. What He worked on Eli and sons was not that which He worked on Eli’s last son, yet the end result was the same and absolutely fulfilled God’s Word on the matter.

The lesson for us is that God will do in these End Times all that He has stated He will do, but according to HIS will and HIS ways and HIS timing. This is why in Christ’s own teaching of the details of the End Times, He repeatedly uses the phrase “when you see”. We will recognize the fulfillment of each and every thing, but it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to time it and predict its precise coming hour. So unlikely that Christ Himself stated,

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”
    —Matthew 24:36 (NASB)

The only time anyone’s been able to successfully assign the precise day and hour of the fulfillment of a prophecy of God has been from the comfort and distance of hindsight; WHILE it took place only those whose hearts were already prepared and committed to God were able to recognize its taking place. It’s not a test of knowledge, but faith.