Four years ago, I heard these words ‘The Samuel Initiative’ vividly in a dream. I’ve never heard anything like that and had no idea what that meant. Wanting to dig deeper into its significance, I began to study the book of 1 Samuel.
The nation of Israel had a priesthood that had lost its vision and was corrupt. They had a form of godliness but denied its power. God was desirous of birthing something new amidst a barrenness. The story of Hannah who birthed Samuel was God’s solution to spiritual and societal compromise in the land.
Israel had undergone repeated cycles of backsliding and deliverance generation after generation. Eli, the spiritual leader of that day, had not disciplined his own two sons. As a result, Israel had become a barren wasteland due to the abominations committed at the entrance to the house of the Lord. It was a time of unfaithfulness and falling away.
A man named Elkanah would travel from the backwater of Ramathaim-Zophim each year during the appointed feasts of the Lord. He’d bring both wives to offer sacrifices to the Lord in the presence of faithless priests who had defiled the house of the Lord.
God set His eyes on this family from a region that had little significance. When the Lord is ready to do something new, He begins in places and with people that the rest of the culture deem insignificant.
Penninah, being productive, saw herself as significant and despised Hannah. However, Penninah had not birthed someone who could break the barrenness that truly mattered – the spiritual one over the land.
She’s the type of believer who appeared productive, going through the motions of religiosity, but totally blind to the spiritual dearth in her own life and in the land.
Penninah did not realise that God was using her provocations to prepare Hannah, a representative of those who, though barren, were being prepared for the fulfillment of promise.
As I pondered these Scriptures, I realised how the Spirit of God actually broods over the areas of our lives where we seem to be barren, preparing us to yield new birth.
Though Hannah was a righteous woman, the Lord closed her womb, a condition viewed as a judgment for sin in those days! The barrenness prepared Hannah to birth the prophet Samuel and surrender him to God’s purposes.
In 1 Samuel 2:21, we read that the Lord opened Hannah’s womb the moment the boy Samuel settled in his call of ministering to the Lord in the temple. It seemed clear to me that the season of barrenness was specifically to bring forth a priesthood who would minister unto the Lord.
Let’s backtrack to 1 Samuel 2:12 – ‘Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.’ The next verses detail the corrupt ways of Eli’s sons. 1 Samuel 2:18 then provided a stark contrast – ‘But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.’
The Scriptures paint a picture of a boy ministering to the Lord in His Presence against the backdrop of a corrupt priesthood. It seems as if the Lord was declaring, “This is what I want! This is the solution to the spiritual corruption and compromise of the age, a people who will minister unto Me!”
Subsequently, the next two chapters reveal that, as Samuel ministered to the Lord in the temple, he learned to hear the voice of God. As Samuel grew in the Presence of God, hearing His voice, he became a prophetic voice to the nation.
At the beginning of 1 Samuel 3, we read that the Word of the Lord was rare in Israel with no widespread revelation. At the end of this chapter and the next, the Bible records that ‘Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord. Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.’
The nation of Israel went from a place of no widespread revelation to one where the Word of the Lord came to all Israel because, in between, there was a Samuel who grew up in the Presence of God ministering unto Him.
God looks at the heart. External drives, unredeemed ambition, and productivity in the eyes of man do not impress Him. Rather, God’s eyes scan the land for someone to be an instrument of change in a day of decline.
A Samuel company of people who will minister to the Lord and hear His voice, is God’s initiative to bring the nation to a place of revival.