Mathews: Stick a fork in it

Published 6:18 am Monday, November 13, 2023

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By Rev. TA Mathews

Last week, the window on the driver’s side of my vehicle stopped rolling down. Since the window is still under warranty, I called my dealer but couldn’t get an appointment. They were backed up for over a week.

No matter. It started working again. I was so happy!

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Do you know what’s worse than a window that won’t roll down? A window that won’t roll up. Mine stopped working again, and the window was down.

Then it started to rain.

There I was, driving around town with the storm blowing in like an oncoming hurricane. A library worker realized my plight, quickly took the door apart, and slid my window up. I was so happy!

“But it needs something to hold it,” he said.

I looked around and spotted a metal fork. I have no idea why a metal fork was in my car, but it was. And still is, faithfully holding up my window.

Nice guy. Happy ending.

There’s a fork story in Scripture. An obscure passage—obviously. Stay with me, it conveys one of the most important messages in the Bible.

In roughly 1,000 B.C., there were two young priests in Israel, Hophni and Phinehas. It was the practice that when meat was offered to God, the priest would receive a portion. The meat was boiled, and then a fork was stuck into the pot and whatever came up went to the priest. Here’s the passage:

“And this was the custom of the priests with the people: when anyone was offering a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come while the meat was cooking, with a three-pronged fork in his hand.  And he would thrust it into the … pot; everything that the fork brought up, the priest would take for himself.” (I Samuel 2:13-14)

But Hophni and Phinehas liked roasted meat and instructed their servant to get the meat before it was boiled. Here’s the passage:

“…the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give the priest meat for roasting, as he will not take cooked meat from you, only raw.’ And if the man (objected) … (the servant) would say, ‘…give it to me now; and if not, I am taking it by force!’” (I Samuel 2:15-16)

This was no small matter to God. Scripture says, “And so the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord disrespectfully.” (I Samuel 2:17)

Moreover, Hophni and Phinehas’ evil deeds were known to their father, Eli. And God severely chastised the old priest for failing to correct his sons. Here’s the passage:

“…a man of God came to Eli and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: “Did I not indeed reveal Myself to the house of your father …  Did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests … Why are you showing contempt for My sacrifice and My offering … and why are you honoring your sons above Me”… now the Lord declares … “those who honor Me I will honor … I will raise up … a faithful priest who will do according to what is in My heart and My soul…”’” (1 Samuel 2:27-35)

That priest was Samuel, a treasure to God. Samuel would go on to anoint the first king of Israel. And then it would break Samuel’s heart to leave King Saul, when the king would not obey God. (1 Samuel 15: 1-23)

Obedience is so important to the Lord. Yet we live in a world where many either don’t know the commands of God, or they do and willfully disrespect them.

It’s a tough time to guide a child or even a young adult. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, understand that you must do it. Stress the importance of holy choices. Make sure your children and grandchildren learn to walk upright in the sight of God.

In fact, you may look back and know that you needed such guidance as a young person. You may recall your greatest mistake and know it was from not following God. Mine was.

If such a mistake has stopped you from moving forward, certain you’ll fail God again, ask yourself: “What has life taught me? Would I choose today to do it the Lord’s way?”

If so, move forward. Try again.

Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments … and the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father…” (John 14:15-21)

When you want something that God forbids, remember the two young priests who loved roasted meat and lost everything. If God says, “Only boiled meat,” live and die by His words. Stick a fork in that pot. Listen to Him.

Obey the Lord your God.