He shall not leave any of it until the morning - Because in such a hot country it was apt to putrefy, and as it was considered to be holy, it would have been very improper to expose that to putrefaction which had been consecrated to the Divine Being. Mr. Harmer supposes that the law here refers rather to the custom of drying flesh which had been devoted to religious purposes, which is practiced among the Mohammedans to the present time. This, he thinks, might have given rise to the prohibition, as the sacred flesh thus preserved might have been abused to superstitious purposes. Therefore God says, Leviticus 7:18, "If any of the flesh of the sacrifice - be eaten at all on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it; it is an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity." That is, on Mr. Harmer's hypothesis, This sacred flesh shall avail nothing to him that eats it after the first or second day on which it is offered; however consecrated before, it shall not be considered sacred after that time. See Harmer's Obs., vol. i., p. 394, edit. 1808.
Though wholly unfit for the office, they were placed as priests in the sanctuary to minister before God. The Lord had given the most specific directions in regard to offering sacrifices; but these wicked men carried their disregard of authority into the service of God, and did not give attention to the law of the offerings, which were to be made in the most solemn manner. The sacrifices, pointing forward to the death of Christ, were designed to preserve in the hearts of the people faith in the Redeemer to come; hence it was of the greatest importance that the Lord's directions concerning them should be strictly heeded. The peace offerings were especially an expression of thanksgiving to God. In these offerings the fat alone was to be burned upon the altar; a certain specified portion was reserved for the priests, but the greater part was returned to the offerer, to be eaten by him and his friends in a sacrificial feast. Thus all hearts were to be directed, in gratitude and faith, to the great Sacrifice that was to take away the sin of the world. PP 576.1
The sons of Eli, instead of realizing the solemnity of this symbolic service, only thought how they could make it a means of self-indulgence. Not content with the part of the peace offerings allotted them, they demanded an additional portion; and the great number of these sacrifices presented at the annual feasts gave the priests an opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. They not only demanded more than their right, but refused to wait even until the fat had been burned as an offering to God. They persisted in claiming whatever portion pleased them, and, if denied, threatened to take it by violence. PP 576.2
This irreverence on the part of the priests soon robbed the service of its holy and solemn significance, and the people “abhorred the offering of the Lord.” The great antitypical sacrifice to which they were to look forward was no longer recognized. “Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord.” PP 576.3
These unfaithful priests also transgressed God's law and dishonored their sacred office by their vile and degrading practices; yet they continued to pollute by their presence the tabernacle of God. Many of the people, filled with indignation at the corrupt course of Hophni and Phinehas, ceased to come up to the appointed place of worship. Thus the service which God had ordained was despised and neglected because associated with the sins of wicked men, while those whose hearts were inclined to evil were emboldened in sin. Ungodliness, profligacy, and even idolatry prevailed to a fearful extent. PP 576.4Read in context »