1 Samuel 4:18 – And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died…
Eli didn’t end his life as Moses did, on top of the mountain with God. Instead he fell backward to his death.
First of all he neglected the fire (1 Sam. 3:3). The fire in the lamp was “to burn always” (Ex. 27:20) because it was the only light inside the tabernacle. Without it you couldn’t see the shewbread, which represented the word of God. This fire was fueled by olive oil which is a type of the Holy Spirit. Your fire will burn down if you neglect it. You must continually feed the fire if you want it to stay constant and you must stir it up and add to it so it will grow and shine brighter.
When Samuel revealed to Eli the judgments the Lord pronounced, Eli willingly listened and woefully accepted the truth, but he wretchedly tolerated his own indifference. He didn’t do anything about what he heard. He just listened. God doesn’t give us warnings through preaching so we can be fatalistic, Calvinistic, or pessimistic! He rebukes us so we will get right. You will fall backward if you only sit and listen. You had better act on what you hear. Quit tolerating your sin and repent of it!
Finally we see that Eli magnified God’s symbols above God Himself. It didn’t bother him what the Lord thought about him personally. What bothered him was that the ark was stolen. He placed charms above conformity, tradition over truth, and replaced his relationship with religion. Many Christians will get mad because someone didn’t eat their casserole but never weep over their own sins.
You better be careful. Eli’s backsliding ended. He didn’t have a second and third chance to get right. When he fell he died.