Empty Vessel Theology Looms Large in the Modern Church
Ichabod in Hebrew l-kavod (אִיכָבוֹד) means ‘without honor’; alluding to 1 Samuel 4:21, where Eli’s nameless daughter-in-law names her child Ichabod, saying ‘The glory is departed from Israel.
It was hard times in Israel when the wicked priests Phineas and his brother Hophni and their father Eli all died at Shiloh. (1 Samuel (4:21-22). Scholars debate the true meaning of the name of this loathsome child who symbolizes the 20 years of the absence of God’s presence from the tabernacle of worship for the people of God.
According to biblical commentator Donald Spence Jones, “the meaning of the term I-chabod is much disputed, owing to the doubt which hangs over the first syllable, “I”, followed by “chabod”. It is usually taken to mean a simple negative: “not”: chabod signifying “glory”, I-chabod thus represents “not glory”, i.e., there is no glory.
Others render the “I” syllable as a rhetorical question, “Where?”, “Where is the glory?”, the answer, of course, being, “It is nowhere”. But it is also possible to read the syllable “I” as an exclamation of bitter sorrow, “Alas!”: the name then could be translated, “Alas! the glory”
But the problem for then and now was and is that the presence or the (host) of the Lord was the missing element of the worship. In those days it resided in the wooden box overladen with gold, but today the host resides within us. For them it was placed by the priests, for us, it is fed to the believer by the same. Dancing won’t bring it back, Speaking in tongues won’t bring it back. Pleading the blood won’t bring it back. The presence then and now was to be carried on the sanctified shoulders of the priests. The ones who lost it (priests) must be the ones to bring it back. Every other method is a borrowed cart that will end in someone dying because only the priests are authorized to handle holy things.