About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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Chapter 13

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The Birth Of Samson (ch. 13:1 - 24)


We now come to one of the most famous men in the Old Testament, due to the story line of his life.  If anyone remembers anything they heard in a Sunday school class, they would probably remember Samson.  As I've said before, many churches have "Sundayschoolized" Biblical history.  By that I mean we have over simplified historical events to be next to just a story, or, even fairy tale like.  We've simplified these historical events and taught them in similar ways to which we'd read a fairy tale.  By so doing, we've taken away the power of the Scripture. I know why we teach these historical events as we do.  It's to help children understand.  I see two problems.  One is that I believe children understand more than we think they do and so we simplify these events too much.  Second is that many Christians don't graduate from their Sunday school understanding as they reach adulthood.  This causes them to be Biblically illiterate, resulting in poor understanding of the ways of  the Lord and a lack a maturity in their lives as Christians.


Samson ruled as a judge from about 1070 to about 1050 B.C..  This overlapped the time of Samuel.  Samson operated in the tribe of Dan.


This chapter concerns Samson, the tribe of Dan, Israel, and the Philistines.  The Philistines were the most advanced society in the area at the time and were very attractive for Israelis.  For this reason most Israelis didn't view the Philistines as enemies, but clearly, the Lord did.  Many Israelis looked u to and copied their way of life. 


In Judges 13:1 we see the same old thing happening.  Israel does evil in the eyes of the Lord and in turn He hands Israel over to the Philistines.  One thing we don't see in verse 1 as we've seen before is that Israel does not repent this time.


A man named Manoah and his wife who could not have children is introduced in verse 2.  When a couple, like this couple, in the Old Testament could not have children, it was always said that the wife could not conceive.  That being said, there probably many times that the wife could not conceive because the husband was not able to provide sperm for conception.  Yes, she could not conceive, but not in every case would it be the wife's problem.


In verses 3 to 5 we note that Manoah's wife met up with the angel of the Lord one day, who, most Bible scholars always say is "pre-incarnate Jesus".  The angel of the Lord says that she will conceive and that the boy born to her must be a Nazirite.  A Nazirite was either a man or a woman who took a special vow in the services of the Lord.  Most of the time it was for one specific purpose and was temporary.  Numbers 6 states the terms by which Nazirites must live.  They must not drink wine or any kind of drink from grapes.  They must not cut their hair during the span of the Nazirite vow.  They must also not touch dead bodies. 


We need to note here that Manoah's wife was not taking a Nazirite vow, even though she was to live as if she were while the baby was within her.  This means that the baby born to her would be a Nazirite from conception, not just from birth.  This also helps build our theology on the unborn child.  This tells us that in God's eyes, the life begins at conception, not birth, or not part way through pregnancy.


In verses 6 and 7 we see Manoah's wife returning to her husband and she told him what had happened.  She said she saw "a man of God" that appeared angelic.  It is clear that she was a bit confused.  Was he a man or was he an angel.  We do know that angel's appear as men all the way through the Bible, but there appearance obviously have some kind of angelic tent to them. 


The woman did not ask where the man of God came from, neither did she ask his name.  The use of the word "name" here is important.  Hebrew names were more than a means to identify someone.  It spoke of what that person was.  The same is true with names of places, names of cities and towns.  So, when this woman said that she didn't ask for the man of God's name, what she was saying was that she didn't ask "who this person was', not just a name that he was called by. 


In verse 8 we see that immediately Manoah was concerned about his son to be.  If he were to be a Nazirite then that meant he would be special and that meant that he needed to be raised in a special way.  Therefore, he prayed to the Lord that this man of God would return and explain these things to him. 


In verses 9 through 13 we see the woman again working in a field and while she was working the man of God returned to her in answer to Manoah's prayer.  She ran back to tell her husband and so Manoah came and asked the angel of the Lord what would be the life's work of their most special son.  I believe this was more than just being inquisitive.  Some Bible teachers even suggest that Manoah has a lack of faith.  I see Manoah's request as being very sincere.  He just needed to know these things in order to raise the boy properly with understanding of who he would turn into be.


In verses 13 and 14 the angel of the Lord responds by saying the same thing He told his wife.


In verse 15 Manoah asks the angel of the Lord to stay while he prepares a young goat.  This was typical Hebrew and eastern custom in those days.  When a special visitor comes, you offer to prepare a special meal for him, and this is what Manoah was now doing.


Verse 16 tells us that the angel of the Lord preferred not to eat a meal.  Instead He asked Manoah to prepare a burnt offering for him.  This must have given Manoah a clue to who he was talking with because the text says that he did not know it was the angel of the Lord that he was talking to.  The introduction of a burnt offering to the Lord into this conversation would have given him this clue. 


There is something to consider here concerning this burnt offering.  The Law of Moses stated the exact places where burnt offerings could take place.  You just couldn't have one anywhere.  So, the angel of the Lord in this instance is actually breaking the Law of Moses.  This reminds me of what Jesus said when He told the Pharisees that "man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man".  It is God's choice to break His own Law if He so chooses.  We do need to understand that God is not a law-breaker.  His purposes are always good and at times it seems that what He does, even though it might break His own Law, is for the purpose of accomplishing His will.


Verse 17 states that Manoah asked the angel of the Lord for His name.  As I said earlier, a name in Hebrew and in all old civilization was more than just a word to identify someone.  A name was characteristic of who that person was.  So, you could say that Manoah wasn't just asking, "what is your name"?  He was asking, "who are you"?  Manoah wanted to know if this man was indeed some kind of angel.  By the name he was called was secondary.


Verse 18 is awesome.  The angel of the Lord returned Manoah's question with a question.  He asked, "why do you want to know my name.  It is beyond knowing".  This tells us that the one speaking here is God Himself in the form of an angelic man.  God is beyond knowing, and that is why He sent Jesus into the world.  All we need to know about God is seen in Jesus.   This makes me think of the doctrine of the Trinity that took church leaders a few hundred years to develop.  I do believe in the Trinity, but I also believe that it might well be a very simplistic view of God, a view that might be more humanistic than godly.


You might see an alternative rendering for the words "beyond knowing".  Some translations use the word "wonderful", which in my thinking is not the best rendering.  We think "wonderful" in terms of "a wonderful time we had", or, "a wonderful car".  What the Hebrew word really means in terms of "wonderful" is, "beyond wondering".  That is, "we can wonder about God all we want but whatever we wonder about God falls shorts of who He really is". 


In verses 19 through 21 we see that Manoah put together the offering for the Lord.  As the smoke from the offering rose from the sky, the angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire ascended into Heaven.


Note in verse 19 the words "and the Lord did an amazing thing".  These words apply to "the angel of the Lord" in this passage.  So, clearly, the angel of the Lord is in fact the Lord, or in Hebrew, the angel of the Lord is Yahweh.   This is why we know this is not just any old angel.  This is why we say that most of the time in the Old Testament, when we see the term "angel of the Lord", we apply that to pre-incarnate Jesus, or, in my thinking,  "Jesus is Yahweh in human flesh".   As Yahweh is to the Old Covenant, so Jesus is to the New Covenant.


In verse 22 we see that Manoah was convinced that they "were doomed to die" because they had seen God.  God is Elohim, the Almighty Creator God.   They did not die because they did not see God as He really is.  They saw a representation of God.  They saw God in angelic form.  Manoah is right when he says that no one can see God and live, but again, He did not see God as He really is.  I'm not convinced that any of us will ever see God, even through eternity.  We will see Jesus, and as the first few verses of the book of Hebrews says, "Jesus is the exact representation of God".


In verse 23 Manoah's wife introduces some sound logic into the conversation by saying that they would not die or else there would be no reason for the Lord to accept their offering and tell them all the things He told them. It seems that this unnamed woman had a better understanding than her husband concerning these things.


This chapter ends in verses 24 and 25 with the birth of Samson, the promised one.  The text states that the "Spirit of the Lord began to stir within him".  When the Spirit of the Lord stirs in anyone, it is for a reason.  It is to accomplish God's will in one way or another. 


Concerning the Spirit of the Lord stirring within us.  I've been around Pentecostal and Charismatic circles long enough to know that we sometimes abuse the stirring of the Lord.  We seek the stirring of the Lord to experience Him, to feel good, much like a drug addict who takes drugs.  The Holy Spirit is not a drug.  He stirs people in order to perform specific tasks for Jesus.  You see this throughout the New Testament, especially the book of Acts.  If we do not take the stirring of the Spirit to do God's will we'll soon lose Him in our midst.  I think this has happened in many Pentecostal and Charismatic church groups.  That which was once real, that is, the moving of the Holy Spirit, is no longer, and in many cases has been replaced by pure emotionalism. 



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