SAMUEL   6'1m*f RT: Samuel hears the voice of God, judgement

(RT == Readers' Theater: requires little or no memorization,
little or no rehearsal. An indefinite number of reporters are
salted throughout the audience.)

ELI -- (enters wearing tunic and sandals, crosses to podium)
Good Morning. My name is Eli. I am the chief priest of the
tabernacle here in Shiloh. The reason I called this press
conference is to announce that, after a long silence, the Lord
God has chosen a new prophet to be his spokesman to the people
of Israel. His name is Samuel Son of Elkanah.

REPORTER -- Can you tell us about this new prophet?

ELI -- Yes. He is eight years old and....

REPORTER -- ...Excuse me. Did you say the new prophet is only
eight years old?

ELI -- Yes.

REPORTER -- Isn't that a little unusual?

ELI -- Well, yes, it is a bit unusual. But remember, if God can
send a message through Balaam's donkey, he can certainly send a
message through a young boy.

REPORTER -- Isn't Samuel the one who is called the miracle baby?

ELI -- Yes. His mother was childless. She came here to the
tabernacle at Shiloh to ask the Lord to allow her to have
children. And she promised that if God gave her a miracle baby,
she would dedicate him to service to God. Samuel has been living
here with me since he was weened.

REPORTER -- Why do you suppose that God chose a new prophet
after such a long silence?

ELI -- Obviously, God has something important to tell us.

REPORTER -- So, has God spoken to Samuel yet?

ELI -- Yes. God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice.

REPORTER -- Was Samuel awe struck by the experience?

ELI -- No, just the opposite. He didn't know it was God's voice.
Samuel thought it was I who was calling him. When God spoke to
Samuel the first few times, Samuel came into my bedroom and
asked me if I was calling him. I told him that it wasn't I who
called him.

REPORTER -- How did Samuel learned that it was God speaking?

ELI -- I finally figured out that it was God speaking. I told
Samuel to go back to his bedroom and wait for the Lord to call
him again. And when God did call, I told Samuel to say, "Speak,
LORD, for your servant is listening."

REPORTER -- You are the high priest over all Israel. Why do you
think God didn't choose YOU as his spokesman to Israel?

ELI -- Because his message was AGAINST ME.

REPORTER -- You personally?

ELI -- Yes.

REPORTER -- What did God have against you?

ELI -- Well, it's no secret that my two sons have been a bad
example for the other temple priests. They have mishandled the
sacrifices and have been sexually immoral.

REPORTER -- What does THEIR misbehavior have to do with YOU?

ELI -- I am the chief priest. It is my duty to correct the
behavior of the priests working under me. Unfortunately, I have
let my sons take advantage of their relationship with me. So,
their problem is now MY problem.

REPORTER -- So, did Samuel prophesy against you?

ELI -- Yes. Samuel told me that God will judge me and my sons.

REPORTER -- What does that mean?

ELI -- It means we will die. And God's glory will depart from
the tabernacle here at Shiloh for a time.

REPORTER -- You don't seem terribly upset by the news.

ELI -- I am neither surprised nor upset. It's what we deserve.
I'm just sorry that the nation of Israel must suffer the loss of
God's glory because of what my sons and I have done.

REPORTER -- So, it looks like the only reason God chose a new
prophet was to predict your punishment.

ELI -- That's exactly the way God works. God doesn't hand out
widespread punishment without giving warning in advance. If you
see a catastrophy that wasn't predicted by a prophet of God, you
can safely assume that it was not a judgement of God.

REPORTER -- Are you saying that fires, plagues, storms and
earthquakes are NOT judgements from God?

ELI -- Fires, plagues, storms and earthquakes are a natural part
of life on earth since the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden.
You have no right to interpret those as punishments from God
unless God tells you to do so through one of his prophets.

REPORTER -- Eli, do you think an ordinary man can develop the
skills necessary to hear the voice of God for himself?

ELI -- I have two answers to that. No and absolutely not.

REPORTER -- So, you're saying that if I concentrate hard enough
and remove all distractions, I won't be able to hear the voice
of God?

ELI -- Not unless God has selected you to be his next prophet.

REPORTER -- What about PERSONAL revelation?

ELI -- Listen, God created the entire universe without help from
you. He doesn't need any help from you to hear his voice. He had
to wake Samuel out of a sound sleep three times. So you don't
have to worry about making your mind ready to hear his voice. If
God wants you to hear his voice, you will hear his voice.

REPORTER -- So, there's no way an ordinary man can prepare
himself to hear God's voice?

ELI -- Let me put it as simply as I can. If God speaks to you
directly, you are a prophet of God. But God chooses his
prophets. They don't choose him. And if you claim to hear the
voice of God, but your prediction does not come true, the law
requires that you be stoned to death. Who in their right mind
would choose to risk death for the possibility of personal
revelation when you already have all the information you need in
the Holy Scriptures.

Speaking of death, I must now prepare for my own death. I must
put my life in order and say my goodbyes. Please excuse me.

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