The Prophet Samuel established colleges to educate Israel formally in God’s way of life. Many Bible authorities refer to Samuel as the father of prophecy. In many ways he institutionalized prophecy, especially the prophecy about the scepter promise and the throne of David.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel are part of the former prophets. (Samuel authored the material up to his death in 1 Samuel 25. The work was probably finished by Nathan and Gad and maybe others, just like we are finishing the Elijah work after Mr. Armstrong’s death.) 1 and 2 Samuel focus on the scepter promise and David’s throne. That is the throne Christ is going to sit on and that we will share as kings and priests—and this glorious future is recorded in Samuel! These are prophetic books, and they have a lot to teach us today.
Israel endured 450 dark years of history under the judges when everybody was doing what was right in his own eyes. That was a disastrous time for Israel—and it is exactly where we are in the United States, Britain and the Jewish nation today. We call it “freedom.”
But then Samuel came on the scene. This was a real turning point in Israel’s history. He laid a foundation—a foundation we have been building on ever since—for David’s throne. Samuel laid the foundation for Elijah, and Elijah laid it for us. That is a blueprint that will continue on and on.
Samuel raised up three colleges, and prepared the way for the great King David. God used Samuel to teach Israel powerful lessons and to train the “sons of the prophets.” Samuel taught those students there that they had an important message from God to deliver! That is the only way they could build the college and make it as permanent as possible: They had to publicize a message to the world!
Understand: The time when Samuel was teaching was a difficult period for Israel. King Saul was going astray from God. It wasn’t always easy to do the Work of God. During much of that period, Saul was chasing David and trying to kill him. Samuel knew all about that, and he met with the young man. God had used Samuel to anoint David as Saul’s replacement 17 years before he was actually crowned.
1 Samuel 7:16 describes how Samuel traveled a circuit of three cities, judging Israel: Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpeh. Those were the three locations of the colleges he founded, where he taught people to forsake doing what was right in their own eyes and to obey God. He then returned to Ramah, where he lived, “and there he built an altar unto the Lord” (verse 17). Samuel was a different kind of college teacher. He built an altar to God right there at his home. He put God first.
Oppression in Israel
In the King James Version, the book of Ruth follows Judges, but that obscures the connection between Judges and Samuel. (Ruth occurred during the time of the judges. That book is not part of the former prophets.) Translators came along and, in their vanity and ignorance, decided to reorganize the books of the Bible—and confuse everybody, including themselves. Satan is always working to confuse and deceive people.
The first word of the book of 1 Samuel should be “and,” which indicates that 1 Samuel was a continuation of those terrible times of the judges where everybody did what was right in his own eyes. Like their descendants today, Israel was so steeped in sin they didn’t even reach the logical conclusion: Hey, we’ve had 450 years of this misery—maybe we ought to try something different!
This all happened about 1140 b.c. “[And] there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim …. And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children” (1 Samuel 1:1-2).
Elkanah had two wives; that’s not a perfect family. But I suppose if you look at it practically, not spiritually, after all the oppression and wars and Israelite men who had been killed, they probably didn’t have many men, and there probably weren’t too many choices for the ladies to even get married. It was a terrible, terrible time, and God let them go through all
of that suffering to learn the hard
way that their way would not work.
“And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there” (verse 3). Here, just before He raised up Samuel’s colleges, God contrasts two families—that of Eli, the head priest of Israel, and that of Samuel.
An Exceptional Mother
Hannah was in this family. She had a natural yearning for children, but God shut her womb (verses 5-6). He wanted something really special out of Hannah, so He tried her in a way He knew would trouble her greatly. He was planning to raise up colleges and to revive sin-sick Israel. And He was starting that feat with Hannah!
God was going to use Samuel to revive national Israel. That’s a lot of responsibility. You have to know that God is going to try and test you before He gives you such a job. Today we have to revive spiritual Israel.
Probably any one of us in our human “righteousness” would say, Oh, she wants a child so badly, just give it to her! But God said no. He made her wait until she really went to Him with all her being.
“And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (verse 11).
This is the origin of those three colleges! Hannah promised that Samuel would go under a Nazarite vow, and that she would totally dedicate him to God.
So God gave Hannah a son.
Hannah took her vow to God seriously. She told her husband that once she brought their son to God’s house, Samuel would “appear before the Lord, and there abide for ever” (verse 22). Hannah didn’t just give Samuel to God for a few years—she gave him to God permanently. And look at the results!
Hannah recognized Israel’s profound spiritual poverty. The people were oppressed, they had no spiritual understanding, and all they had to look to was Eli and his rebellious sons. She was determined to do things differently. She knew the nation needed to be revived. She began to understand what God was doing with her, why this was all happening. She knew God wanted a different mindset for Israel!
Unless we have a different way of thinking in God’s Church and in God’s college today, we aren’t going to grow. We won’t get the Work done unless we change our thinking from what’s going on in the Laodicean churches, who talk about God but produce no real fruits of any consequence.
Samuel had a good father, but he had an exceptional mom. She really wanted a child, and she really dedicated him to God in a way that few others have. What a mom! (Her husband was limited because he had another wife and children to care for. Men who have an interest in multiple women need to remember this example.)
Keep in mind, this is all building toward the foundational colleges in Israel. This is where they really began: with Hannah and her dedication to God.
A Prophecy of Christ’s Return!
When Hannah understood what God was doing, she prayed a remarkable prayer. “And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:1-2). There is no Rock like God! There’s nothing like God! There is no church like God’s Church—no college like God’s college.
“Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength” (verses 3-4). The Jews still read this chapter on the Day of Trumpets; it does have a Trumpets message in it.
Verse 5 is a fascinating prophecy: “They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.” The word seven refers to the seven Church eras that lead up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, pictured on the Feast of Trumpets. Hannah talked about the seven eras described in Zechariah 3 and 4, and in Revelation 2 and 3! This lady had vision! Hannah understood her Bible, and God gave this special revelation to her.
Remember, the book of Samuel is one of the former prophets, which are mainly for this end time!
This prophecy has to do with family. Except for those seven children in Hannah’s prophecy, everyone else is barren. They may go off and start offshoot churches, and they may think they’re giving you everything you need, but they’re barren! They are bearing nothing! They’re dying! Only God’s true Church is not barren.
It’s amazing that this lady had such an overview of history and prophecy! The seven Church eras and the Feast of Trumpets are a countdown to Christ’s return and Hannah knew it would happen that way. God revealed so much to her. What a mother Samuel had!
Samuel’s Family Education
Acts 3:19-24 say that Samuel foretold the times of refreshing that Jesus Christ will initiate at His return. Where did he get that knowledge? He learned it from his mother!
prophecy, and she understood God. She taught her son about the seven eras leading up to the New Testament Church and how Christ was going to return. Samuel was quite a visionary because of all the prophecy and truth his mom taught him. It’s amazing what one person can do by just yielding to God.
What an education Samuel received from his mom! She taught him prophecy—revelation from God—which was something Israel had not had, as they should have, for a long time! Everybody was doing his own thing, and there was no revelation in Israel until Samuel came along (1 Samuel 3:1).
Hannah was tried and tested. She went through a lot of affliction waiting for that son. God made her wait until she was just bearing down all she could. But look at the wonderful results! When Samuel came, Hannah was ready for him.
In the World Tomorrow, we will have to be ready just as Hannah was. This is all a prophecy for today—especially the end time, when Mr. Armstrong raised up three colleges based on what Samuel did. We are doing the same thing.
God’s Work is accomplishing mighty things. Some of our youth may feel too young to make much of a contribution. But tradition says that Samuel was 13 years old when God first appeared to him! So God doesn’t just work through adults. What about you, young people and teenagers? What would you do if He appeared to you today? What can God do through you, if you obey Him? What kind of understanding will He give to you?
These are extremely urgent times, and young people have to understand this. Young people could consider that a serious burden, but what about Samuel? God really educated this young teenager. God is doing some wonderful work through the students at Imperial Academy and Herbert W. Armstrong College today. These schools are starkly different from those in the world—and we all need to understand that even better than we do. What kind of understanding can He give young people who attend a college that institutionalizes His way of life?
When I look back at my time at Ambassador College, I realize in so many ways that God was working to educate me. God is doing everything He can to educate every single one of us. He knows you so well, and He loves you so much! He wants you to produce as Hannah did. He wants you to be like Samuel! You can look back on your life and see how loving God is in the midst of your trials. You didn’t want those trials—but they produced something good, and that is the outcome God is looking for.
Hannah dedicated Samuel to God, and that young man accomplished marvelous things. What’s going to happen if you dedicate yourself to God? Wonderful, magnificent things will happen in your life! It’s all a matter of whether or not you dedicate yourself to God.
Called to Be Leaders
Hannah’s prophecy continues, “The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them” (1 Samuel 2:7-8).
We came from the dunghill, as it were. We are the lowly of the world. But God has made us kings and priests in embryo!
What does a king and a priest do? He leads. Samuel was taught to lead. He helped prepare David, a great man of God.
We can’t use the excuse that we’re just not interested in leadership. God says, I want you to dedicate yourself to me, and I’m going to make you a king and a priest, and I’m going to set the whole WORLD on your shoulders! That is no fantasy—it’s the truth of the Bible!
We are called to be leaders, not followers!
The Laodiceans are following, but they’re not following God. They were following a man, and continue to do so.
What does it mean for the world to be put on our shoulders? We really are here to build a new civilization. The one we’re living in is about to explode! And to lead that new civilization, we need to develop our minds and our character. God is going to give us the opportunity to help Christ teach every human being who has ever lived!
Here is what we really have to struggle to learn. Hannah, like most women, yearned for a family, a desire God created in her. But that is only a type of the Bride of Christ. Christ wants His Bride to yearn
to have a family that includes everyone who has ever lived!
It’s not natural for us to want to take care of the whole world as our family. It’s not natural for us to want God to set the whole world upon our shoulders. We are the lowly of the world, and we think, Who am I to have that responsibility?
It isn’t natural, but God says that His Bride must think that way. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). The Father gave His Son for the world! What God is calling us to do is loaded with inspiration! We really have to work to get that in our minds! We have to think differently than we’ve thought before.
“He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). We naturally think that we prevail by exerting more human strength. That’s what the Laodiceans are doing: muddling around in the wilderness of religious confusion, trying to work things out with human abilities. But here is the reality: “By strength shall no man prevail.”
Following God is not about human talent or human strength. What God wants from us most of all is not our great abilities or special talents—although those play a part. He wants you to hunger and thirst for His righteousness! He wants you to look to Him, and build His mind and His character! We will have all the power we can possibly handle if we do that! And it all begins with family, or learning about family.
“The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed” (verse 10). This is talking about Christ and David here—the throne of David, the scepter promise. You find that truth throughout this book, and Hannah played a key role in that.
This is the critical background that led to the establishment of God’s colleges!
The Lamp of Elohim
Look at the terrible state of affairs in Israel when Samuel was growing up. “And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision” (1 Samuel 3:1). There was no revelation. God wouldn’t reveal truth to Eli, because of his family failures. The priest just let his sons do what they wanted, as if he couldn’t do anything about it. After 450 years of judges, the system was to just let the people do what they wanted to do—you could call it a democratic system.
Then Eli witnessed Samuel, this impressive young man, do the good that his own sons would not do. He watched Samuel condemn his own sons and his own fatherhood.
“And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was …” (1 Samuel 3:2-3). The lamp was going out. The same thing happened in the Worldwide Church of God after Mr. Armstrong died. The open vision, the new revelation to add and build on to what Mr. Armstrong taught, faded away.
The “lamp of God” has deep meaning. It actually should be “the lamp of Elohim”—referring to the God Family! This is the lamp of the God Family! If we focus on the God Family, the lamp is going to burn brightly!
We need to make the lamp bright, and that’s where you come in. God is challenging you to help us make the Work grow. He is challenging His people. He is challenging the students at His academy, and at His college today. That’s why Mr. Armstrong built the college in the first place: The Work had to grow.
When we talk about Samuel’s colleges, God has to reveal to us the big point of how it all happened. In order to understand Samuel’s colleges, we first have to understand the family that he came from. God had a big job for Samuel, and this young man had a strong family to prepare him for it.
Herbert W. Armstrong also came from a strong family and had a strong marriage. He taught us that the foundation of a college is Malachi 4:5-6. He taught that if you don’t turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, you’re not going to raise up anything. There are various ways we can learn that, but the main way is through physical families.
We have very little time left, and the most exciting part of our Work is yet to be done, in an amazingly short amount of time. God is opening doors for His Work to prepare for Jesus Christ’s return to this Earth! We are preparing for that event, physically and spiritually, in every way we possibly can!
Develop that yearning to be a part of the God Family that will govern the World Tomorrow! Let God build within you a deep desire to help Christ rule the world!