1 Samuel 3.1-4
The following sad phrases describe the spiritual condition of Israel just moments preceding the calling of a great man of God Samuel. "The Word of The Lord was rare", "There was no open vision", "The man of God's eyes waxed dim so he could not see" & "the Lamp of God went out"
Oh the tragic state of affairs in Israel those days. Eli the priest had grown old and obese and his children the apparent heirs of the service in the temple had grown worldly, careless and neglectful of the lamp of God. Where the revelation and proclamation of the Word becomes rare so goes the vision. "Open" in the Hebrew means "breaking forth, on all sides, multiplication and growth". The steward of the Flame, Eli, no longer could keep the Flame burning in the Tabernacle. No Word, no Vision, no Flame. It always follows that pattern.
Yet that is the moment the Divine Summons is heralded into the tender ears and heart of a youth, Samuel. The most unlikely prophet. But that is how God has often called prophets & men of God, in their youth. Jeremiah, David, Josiah, Samuel and others. It is in the famine of the word and vision, where the flame burns low and the testimony of God grows silent that God kindles a flame in the hearts of the tender eared. The young, the unqualified, the ungifted, the easily passed over, those that are unrecognized by this world. Those are often the ones that people miss when they talk about who God is going to use for His Kingdom.
When the Flame grows weak and dim and is quenched by the cares of this life, the frailty of human weakness, and the revelry of sinful flesh; it was extinguished in the hearts of those mandated to keep it lit.
The Flame was never to be allowed to go out to but to bring the designated oil to cause the the lamp to burn always. (Exo 27:20) "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."
It is inevitable that we will be faced with similar circumstances where the Lamp flickers and almost goes out. Yet how we react is most critical. Many believers, leaders, servants, missionaries, will try to compensate for the loss of burning. They will try to produce fire by the sparks of their self-made fire. But that over-compensation always leads to sorrow, regret and burn out Isaiah 50.11.
As Keepers of the Flame we are to never attempt to keep it burning, strive to cause the flame to grow or ignite by some new program, effort or campaign but rather we are only to do one thing: bring the pure oil from the beaten, crushed, and mashed olive. This oil was pure because of what it suffered, the beating, crushing. What causes the fire to burn? The right oil.
It is only that anointing oil of the Holy Spirit that falls fresh on tender hearing hearts, hearts broken by God, prepared in consecration, and dedicated to the Lord's service. Only then can the Word of The Lord be heralded into the heart-ears of a new prophet as Samuel, and a vision break forth onto the people of God. Then the Flame burns strong and there is an undeniable testimony of God in the camp.