Sunday, September 24, 2006

Judges 13
The Consecration of Samson

13:2 Samson The Nazirite

2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 3 And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. 4 Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, 5 for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. I did not ask him where he was from, and he did not tell me his name, 7 but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’”

After the 40 years of oppression by the unconquered Philistines, God again raised up a judge and deliverer, Samson. This passage shows us God chose Samson for this role, not only before he was born, but before he was conceived. God has a plan he works on constantly to accomplish his will. He is always ahead of us in what he knows, what he plans and how he works. The Lord told Jeremiah this in chapter 1 verse 5. He said “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” This message was conveyed by the “angel of the Lord” again, as was the message to Gideon.

Paul also spoke of himself this way. In Galatians 1:15 says “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles…”.

The Israelites could not see God working for their deliverance. They could only see the Philistines and their suffering. But God was working nonetheless. It is the same in our lives. We may not see God at work, but he is.

In this case, God went to a woman who could not have children to bring the promised deliverer. We have seen this several times. Isaac, the child of promise, was born to barren Sarah. Samuel was given to Hannah, who was barren before that time. John the Baptist was born to a barren Elizabeth (see Luke 1:7).

God not only gave this special son to a barren woman, he claimed him as a Nazirite, who would abide by the Nazirite vow. He was so special, he would be a Nazirite even in the womb, for his mother was instructed not to drink or violate the dietary laws.

The Nazirite vow is set out in Numbers 6. Read Numbers 6:1-7. You can see this passage contemplates a temporary vow, but Samson was set aside for a permanent vow. In verse 5, the angel said the would be a Nazirite to God from the womb. This also appears to the be the case with Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1:11). The term “Nazirite” comes from the Hebrew word “nazir”, which means consecrated or separated. The Nazirite was not allowed to drink wine or strong drink, cut his hair or touch a corpse. In fact, the Nazirite cannot have anything to do with the grape at all: no vinegar and go grapes or raisins allowed. They are, in effect, Southern Baptists.

John the Baptist seems also to have been a Nazirite from the womb, according to Luke 1:15 and 7:33, and Paul took a temporary Nazirite vow to pacify the Jews in Acts 21.

Trivial fact: Rastafarians also take the Nazirite vow.

13:8-14 Manoah Seeks Further Instruction

8 Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born.” 9 And God listened to the voice of Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field. But Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.” 11 And Manoah arose and went after his wife and came to the man and said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to this woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 And Manoah said, “Now when your words come true, what is to be the child's manner of life, and what is his mission?” 13 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful. 14 She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. All that I commanded her let her observe.”

Although Manoah received the message from his wife, he asked God to give him further instructions. To his credit, he waned to be sure he knew how to raise this special child. God answered that prayer, and the angel of god came again, and again appeared to the woman alone. The angel appeared as a man, as he had with Gideon.

Manoah made a great statement of faith. He said in verse 12, “…when you words come true…”. He did not question this prophetic statement at all, he just wanted to make sure he did the right thing. The angel gave no new instructions, however, he just repeated the things he had told Manoah’s wife.

Manoah also asked to know the mission God had for Samuel, as Nazirites often took the vow to fulfill a specific mission. However, God did not share the future with Manoah.

13:15-23 Manoah Worships

15 Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “Please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you.” 16 And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, “If you detain me, I will not eat of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the Lord.” (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) 17 And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?” 18 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. 20 And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 The angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the Lord. 22 And Manoah said to his wife, “We shall surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.”

As Gideon had done, Manoah wanted to prepare a gift of food. The angel declined to eat, but instructed Manoah to prepare burnt offering. Manoah did so, along with a grain offering, and offered it on a rock, also as Gideon had done. This is interesting, as the Lord had given instructions through Moses that offerings were to be make at the Tabernacle. The Lord accepted the offering, as the offering was consumed by fire, and the angel ascended to heaven with the flame. This is again similar to the experience of Gideon.

Manoah did not realize until the offering was accepted, that this was the Lord, and he asked the name of the man. The man would not give his name, but indicated it was wonderful. Later, of course, Isaiah would attach that name to the promised Messiah, in Isaiah 9:6 as “Wonderful Counselor”. Here, the angel proves he is the Lord by doing something wonderful, after proclaiming that to be a quality of his name, in consuming the offering and ascending to heaven.

At that point, Manoah and his wife realized this was the Lord, and they fell to the ground and worshipped. The writer here called the Lord the “one who works wonders”.

Manoah panicked when he realized he had seen the Lord, for no one can see God and live. See Exodus 33:20. He did not understand he had seen the pre-incarnate Christ, in human form, and, therefore, would not die. His wife took a more practical take, saying the Lord could not mean to kill us if he accepted the offering and announced the birth of a child. Manoah’s wife comes across as the more perceptive and wise person in this account.

13:24-25 Samson is Born

24 And the woman bore a son and called his name Samson. And the young man grew, and the Lord blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

So, Samson was indeed born to the formerly barren woman. He lived under the blessing of the Lord as he grew up. Then, the Spirit began to work in him. It is the Spirit that provides the power for men and women to accomplish great things for God.
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