CLAIM: Originally, God promised to work through the priestly line of Aaron—Eli’s ancestor (Ex. 29:9; Num. 25:13). However, this passage appears to be stating that God is breaking a promise that he formerly made. God promises to kill Eli’s sons: Hophni and Phinehas (v.34). How does this harmonize with the fact that God cannot break a promise or lie to us (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2)?
RESPONSE: God was cutting off Eli’s sons, who were priests, because they were greedy and taking the best parts of the sacrifices for themselves (vv.13-17). This was a partial discipline of Aaron’s priestly line—not a completecutting off of the line (v.33). Abiathar was spared to continue on in Eli’s line. That is, while individuals could be removed from God’s line for sin or unbelief, the line itself was permanently promised. When Abiathar was removed from priesthood (1 Kings 2:27, 35), Zadok took over after him (2 Sam. 8:17; 15:24-29; 1 Kings 2:35). Finally, Jesus fulfilled this line—being in the order of Melchizedek (Zadok).