“And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.” I Samuel 4:21, 22
This was a devastating day for Israel. It was a time of great spiritual decline. The priesthood, as far as the sons of Eli were concerned, was corrupt. The Philistines defeated Israel, killing thirty thousand of their men. In addition to this, the two sons of Eli were killed and the Philistines captured the ark of God. When Eli heard this news, he fell from his seat, broke his neck, and died. When his daughter-in-law heard of these events, she went into labor and died giving birth to a son. The child was named “Ichabod,” which means, “the glory is departed from Israel.” The ark of God was gone. What a sad testimony. The glory of God was gone. Without God’s presence, things could hardly be worse.
This account from the Scripture reminds us that God can remove His glory from a place and from a people. One has to wonder how many churches there are in our world where God no longer visits. Like the Laodicean congregation, Jesus is on the outside seeking entrance. This is the way it was with Samson. He went out, assuming that God was with him, only to discover that the Lord had departed from him. Paul wrote to Timothy that in the last days it would be common to find those with “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5).
God wants to empower His churches. To the church at Ephesus, Paul said, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 3:21). He wants to manifest His power and glory in His churches. We are thankful that we can never lose our eternal salvation, but we can lose His power. We can lose His glory. What caused Israel to lose the glory in the days of Eli? It was their compromise and disobedience. Sin was not repented of. God will not give His glory to a sinful people.
The reason we see so little of God’s powerful presence manifested is because there is too much sin and worldliness, and too little hunger for righteousness and holiness. We need His power and blessing. We ought to set our hearts to seeking Him wholly and begging Him for His power and glory to shine forth in our dark world.