Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bangkok has canceled public celebrations of New Year's Eve after a bombing. Anyone want to bet on who is responsible for the bombings?

New Year's Eve

The Little Woman and I are set for NYE. We are very popular. We didn't get invited to any parties. No problem. She fixed escargot and some other wonderful things and we are settled in for a Pretender marathon, having received the second season on DVD for Christmas.

I'm sure there will be a trip to Starbucks, as always. We are both happy to be together and have a quiet evening at home.

Be careful out there.
It's rather stunning to see the difference in the deaths of Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein. One was executed, the other died in ripe old age. One died in ignominy, the other in honor. One is hated, one is respected.

What comes next? The Bible says it is appointed for man to die, and then the judgment. Saddam must now make a real accounting for what he has done.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Insofar as the church is conformed to the world, and the
two communities appear to the onlooker to be merely two
versions of the same thing, the church is contradicting its
true identity. No comment could be more hurtful to the
Christian than the words, 'But you are no different from
anybody else. --From "The Message of the Sermon on the Mount" (The Bible
Speaks Today series: Leicester and Downers Grove: IVP,
1978), p. 17.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram carried an article this week about a survey that shows some 90 percent of Americans believe in angels. That must set guys like Richard Dawkins off in a tail spin. It just shows that men and women are spiritual beings at some level. They instinctively look for the spiritual side of life, and angels are part of that. Many feel they have encountered an angel. My wife does, for example.

The forces seeking to stamp Christianity out of American life were in full power in 2006. The media attacked from every angle, including books, movies, documentary tv shows and magazine articles. Prominent atheists were featured in many formats. Fundamentalist Evolutionists shouted from every forum. The end result? Ninety percent of Americans believe in angels.

Maybe the enemy should be quiet. Apathy might be a better tool.

Yes, by the way, I believe angels exist, the creation of God, serving him as he directs.
Gerald Ford, former president, has died.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I hope you enjoyed Christmas. It's over. I took the last kid to the airport at 5:30 this morning. The other two were out before Christmas Day was over. Wow. My head is spinning.

We celebrated on Christmas Eve this year so the Seminary Daughter could attend Christmas with her in-laws. We had a good time. All 3 daughters were here plus the new son-in-law. My brother and his family came, as well as my mother and her husband. We had a great meal and millions of presents. All in all, a good time.

The Seminary Daughter did really well in the marriage thing. Not only is the son-in-law fun to have around, his parents own a book store and gave me 4 books for Christmas. Be still my heart.

Took off early this morning to return to their new home in Seminary Town. The Baby went with them to visit for a few days. She'll return just in time to catch a plane for another trip, this time to a conference.

The Oldest called me from the Big Apple by mid-morning to tell me she had arrived safely and that it was warmer there than here in Cowtown. That seems unfair, somehow. The good news is it creates a wonderful excuse to lounge around in sweats all day. So, I am.

The Little Woman had to work last night, so she is sleeping. I've been watching Pretender on DVDs, having received the second season for a present. The Baby let me borrow her lap top, but I'm not sure how long the batter will last, and I cannot find the part of the power cord that goes from the charger to the wall. I feel so incomplete.

I may have to look in her room again for it. I'm afraid, though. Last time I fell and was buried under a semester's worth of dirty clothes and was barely able to climb out.

Well, more later. I'm going to investigate this "new blogger" thing. Maybe it is one that does not disappear for days and keep you from blogging.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

There must be something in the water this Christmas. The news sounds like a cheesy movie that you would only see on Saturday afternoon high up on the cable dial. Donald Trump is giving Miss Something a second chance after she appeared to lose her crown for drinking and taking drugs. Now Miss Nevada wants another chance after having naughty pictures of herself posted on the Internet. Somewhere I missed that part that looking good in a bikini meant you had stellar morals. But The Donald epitomizes the American love of second chances, so its off to rehab for all. Rehab is great. You go someplace nice and let the heat die down, then come back and claim to be a new person, except that Downey guy that kept getting arrested. Maybe Britney needs rehab. If she went away for a few months, maybe people would forget about the lack of underwear and baby juggling. She really shouldn't stand next to Paris Hilton, though. It makes her look really fat.

Meanwhile, in Britain the queen is on a quest to knight all the old rock stars around. Maybe she is afraid the next generation won't have the same talent. Bono is now Sir Bono, I guess, and joins Elton John and Paul McCartney as knights of the round table. Meanwhile, some guy is running around killing prostitutes. I don't think he'll get knighted, and probably can't even sing.

In Iran, the Mad Man at the top is losing political support at home, but continues to spew threats and radical Shiite Muslim dogma at the U.S. and most of the world. A court in America has held Iran responsible for an attack that killed Americans and the U.N. Security Council actually managed to act, imposing sanctions with even the support of Russia and China, who usually vote no when the U.S. votes yes just because they can.

I'm thinking President Bush sent Rick Warren to Russia and China on a diplomatic mission, since he did so well in Syria. We'll never know unless pictures surface on the Web showing Warren walking around China with guys in those green suits talking about how Christians are safe and free to worship. That's why we put them in these special buildings with bars on the windows, so know one can get in and hurt them.

Just in time for Christmas feasting, folks in the Northeast are recovering from E Coli poisoning at the taco joints. The culprit seems to be vegetables from California, just like the last time. I know they like things natural in California, but someone tell them to quit pooping in the food.

Maybe that's what's in the water.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


It's not because there is snow. It's 70 degrees outside. No, it's because the kids are filtering into the house. The Baby arrived today with a boy in tow. Soon the other 2 will be here and the house will be full again.

Thank you Lord.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Ben Witherington points out that most Evangelicals celebrate the pagan New Year, that handed to us by the Romans. They do not celebrate the traditional Christian New Year, Advent. In SBC life, I'm sure that is a throw back to the denomination's avoidance of all things "high church", especially Catholic.

Some folks buy the Advent calendars now, but that is mostly to give little gifts to the kids and to build excitement for Christmas, one of the Catholic things we are willing to keep. However, the beginning of Advent is to look forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

It's a shame, but most of us Baptists are so ignorant of history we don't know what is sacred and what is secular. In the desire to avoid high church practices, we have thrown out the baby with the bath and embraced secular culture, then complaining when society doesn't treat it as religious. Read Ben's post.

Friday, December 08, 2006


Vatican archaeologists say the have found the tomb of the apostle Paul. It is a sarcophagus (stone tomb) under a basilica in Rome. Tradition has it that a church was first build on the site where Paul was buried. A second church was built by Theodosius in the fourth century. It supposedly was built so that the sarcophagus was visible. That church burned in 1823. The current church was then build, but covered the tomb. Tradition also has it that the altar was built over the tomb. Tradition, of course, means Roman Catholic tradition.

I guess the only problem at the moment, as far as verication, is that they have only dated the tomb to 390 A.D, a few centuries away from Paul's death. However, that would be consistent with the idea that the Emperor Theodosius was responsible for preserving the remains. The question is, how did E.T. know they were Paul's remains?

Vatican archaeologists previously excavated at St. Peter´s Basilica, looking for Peter's tomb. This was in 1939. They found the tomb in 1941. Thirty-five years later, they claimed to have authenticated the remains as those of Peter. I don't know how they did that. But, it could be a while before the Roman church is willing to attest to Paul's remains.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Here is an interesting article on Biblical dating. Thanks to Denny Burk for the link.

I realize the term "Biblical Dating" is odd, as no one dated in the Bible. But, applying Biblical principles to dating is a good idea, unless of course you want to let your parents pick your mate.

Good news to Lindsey and Drew: you did it right according to this guy.
The pastor preached a good sermon today on Immanuel: God With Us. There are many passages that speak of God being with us in trials and struggles, but it was a great word of encouragement that God does not abandon believers to their struggles of any sort, not just persecution. He is involved and he cares about our struggles at work and at home.

It is so easy to panic when disaster or difficulty appear. I am pretty good about asking God for help in difficulties. Where I would like to get is where my initial reaction to a difficulty is to calmly turn it over to the Lord and trust him to help me. Sometimes my head is saying "trust and relax", while my stomach is still tying itself up in knots.

Maybe my trials are for this very purpose: God raising my trust level and my faith in his ability and desire to take care of me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

2 Corinthians 3

3:1-3 The Corinthians: Paul’s Commendation

1Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

When preachers or prophets came to a new town, they would bring letters of commendation to the church, so the church would know it was alright to let them speak to the body. However, you can work the system with letters of commendation, getting them only from your friends. There is also some thought that Paul might have been criticized for talking to much about his past exploits.

Paul told them he did not need letters, for they Corinthians were his commendation. They are the result of his ministry, so the validity of this preaching speaks for itself in the lives of those to whom he has ministered. In 1 Corinthians 9:2, he called them the “seal of my apostleship in the Lord”.

Paul also foreshadows his discussion of the new covenant, when he says the words were not written on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. The old covenant was written on stone tablets, given by God to Moses. But the new covenant is not a matter of keeping laws, even those written in stone. Instead, it is about faith in Christ who as a matter of grace changes our hearts.

Paul is probably alluding to a couple of Old Testament passages in which God promised to do this. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God promised a new covenant and declared that he would write his law on the hearts of his people. Also, in Ezekiel 36:26-27 he promised the same thing. Since the Corinthians have experienced this change of heart through the preaching of Paul, they are living testimonies to the validity of his ministry and message.

3:4-6 Paul’s Competence, Part 2

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. 5Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Paul finally gets to the real point of his competence. He said it did not come from his own ability. He said he did not claim anything for himself in verse 5. Rather, God has made him competent as a minister. Paul always attributed his ministry to grace. In Ephesians 3:7, he said he became a servant of the gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to him through the working of God’s power.

Paul then gives us a transition. He says he is, in fact, a minister of the new covenant. The new covenant is the next topic he will write about. He contrasts it with the old covenant, as one of Spirit rather than of letter, and of life rather than death. Paul is going to continue with a comparison of the old and new covenants and the superiority of the new covenant.

3:7-11 The Glory of the New Covenant

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

Verse 7 is speaking of the old covenant given at Sinai through Moses. It defined the relationship between God and his people. He would be their God, and they would be his people. Look at Exodus 19:3-8. Then, in Exodus 20:1 through 23:19, God set forth his commandments, they things Israel were to obey as God’s covenant people. At least the 10 Commandments, as we know them, were engraved on stone tablets.

Then, go to Exodus 24:6, as you will See Moses offer sacrifices and sprinkle blood on the altar and on the people, saying in verse 8, “this is the blood of the covenant”.

The new covenant defines the new relationship between God and his people. How did the new covenant come about? It came through the death of Christ and his resurrection. In Matthew 26:28, Jesus said “this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:12-14, 28 and 10:10.

The old covenant came with glory. Having the benefit of the new covenant, we tend to downplay the old covenant, and indeed the new covenant is much better. But, the old covenant was still special. God actually came and spoke with Moses and gave him all the commandments. They were unique to the Israelites as those God chose from all of the people of the world, not because of their merit, but because of his grace extended to them.

After Moses had been in the presence of the glory of God, his face would shine. Exodus 34:30 says the Israelites were afraid to come near him. Then the glory would begin to fade. Moses began to wear a veil to hide his face. That is what verse 7 in today’s text refers to.

Paul says that, although the old covenant came with glory, it was a glory that faded. The new covenant, however, will be even more glorious. It is a surpassing glory and a glory that lasts. The glory of the new covenant and the salvation it brings are both eternal. The old covenant could not bring salvation. No one could be saved through works. In fact, the law condemns us. It set forth God’s standards, but did not give people the power to obey. The new ministry brings righteousness to us through the work of Christ.

Remember the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15? The question was whether the Gentile believers would be required to obey the law of Moses. The Jews were proud of the law. It made them God’s special people and it was hard to give that up, even if they could not live up to it. But, Peter said in verse 10 “why do you try to test god by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?”

The new covenant also brings the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Whereas the glory of the old covenant faded over time, the Spirit is with us at all times. Whereas the old covenant delivered no power to obey, the Spirit enables us to love God’s standards and keep them. He writes God’s laws on our hearts.

3:12-18 The Clarity of the Gospel

12Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul begins this passage by basing his argument on the fact that we have “such a hope”. What does he mean? He is referring to the last passage that spoke of how much more glorious the new covenant is than the old. He said it was a covenant that brings righteousness and a covenant that lasts. When we receive Christ, we get the benefit of his righteousness. Romans 3:22 says “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” This righteousness lasts forever, as does our salvation. Our pastor preached last week about the permanence of our salvation and gave us many verses that spoke of it. 1 Peter 1:3 says “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heave for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”

So, we have this great hope, hope of eternal life in Christ. Paul said, because we have this great hope we are very bold. One version says “we use plainness of speech”. Paul was very bold, wasn’t he? He preached both to Jews and Greeks. He clearly and forcefully proclaimed that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament, the son of God, the only way of salvation. He did not compromise his message, he did not hold back, even in the face of opposition.

God has given us a clear message of salvation, of the way to him. We must repent of our sin and believe in Jesus. Ministers must preach it plainly. Lay people must present it plainly. Verse 13 says Moses wore a veil to conceal the radiance of his face, but we are not to conceal the glory of God in Christ.

In this passage, Paul uses the veil of Moses as a symbol in two different ways. First, the veil symbolizes the obscurity of the old covenant. As Moses’ face was veiled, so the message of the old covenant was veiled or obscured with symbols, types and foreshadowings. In Ephesians 3:5, Paul said the mystery of Christ was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 13:11 “…the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you….”

Second, the veil symbolizes the spiritual blindness of the Jews that kept them from understanding the meaning of the institutions of the old covenant. Remember how often Jesus referred to the Jews, and especially the Pharisees, as blind. When, as recorded in Matthew 13, the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parables, he said the Jews did not see, hear or understand. In them was fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 6, that they would be hearing but never understanding, seeing but never perceiving, because their hearts had become calloused. We have a great privilege to live in the era of greater revelation.

Verse 14 says their minds were made dull. They did not understand what Moses taught. Verse 15 says they still do not understand the law unless they turn to Christ. In the gospels, you constantly see Jesus confronting the Jews over the real meaning of the law. They settled for external ritual without grasping the real meaning and intention. For example, in Matthew 12, the Pharisees confronted Jesus over the Sabbath, when his disciples ate heads of grain in the field. The Pharisees concentrated on their man made rules concerning things you cannot do on the Sabbath. Jesus told them the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Only in Christ is the veil taken away. Since the Jews rejected Christ, the veil is not removed. Only when they turn to Christ is the veil removed.

You see that veil coming off slowly even for the disciples. In Luke 24:25, Jesus said to the men on the road to Emmaus “how foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Paul often went to the synagogue and preached Christ from the Old Testament and was run out of town for it.

Verse 17 says the Lord is the Spirit. I think this is a sort of Trinitarian statement. The Holy Spirit is presented as the source of life and truth, but in this passage, Christ is portrayed that way. That can be so because they are one, not one person, but one substance, just as Jesus said he and the Father were one. We have the Holy Spirit because of the work of Christ. They are united in purpose.

Where the Spirit is there is freedom. When we have been saved by faith in Christ, and indwelt with the Holy Spirit, we have freedom from the bondage of the law, from condemnation, from the dominion of sin and from corruption.

The last statement of this chapter is a glorious affirmation of our life in Christ. We who have Christ and the Holy Spirit have had the veil removed. We are not spiritually blind, we can see clearly.

In verse 18, the word “reflect” in the NIV may not be correct. The footnote in the NIV and NASB says “contemplate”. The ESV says “beholding the glory”. The context seems to indicate, not that we reflect God’s glory, but that, since the veil has been removed, we behold God’s glory without a veil. We see Christ’s glory through his Word and his Spirit, but only in heaven will we behold his glory directly. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells us we still see as in a mirror, but then face to face. Mirrors in that time were not clear as they are today, and the image was less perfect.

Verse 18 also says we are also being transformed into his likeness. We will become more and more like him. 1 John 3:2 says we will be like him because we will see him as he is.

Take advantage of the glory of the new covenant. Know Christ fully and make him known.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's not every day you get to see the temperature drop 30 degrees in two hours. I went into Wednesday night supper and prayer meeting at 75 degrees and came out at 47 degrees.

It's also not often you get a thunderstorm in the last days of November, but I'm sitting here listening to thunder and watching lightning flash. It is rainy pretty hard.

Of course, sleet is expected later, and tomorrow. Driving to and from work will be tricky.

Then, Friday, it will warm up and we will go on our merry way.

Pretty amazing really. The earth is a complex place. Before turning in, I read a bit in Ecclesiates. The last verse I read said "Stand in awe of God". Good advice, that. I think it will make me sleep better.
There is a James Taylor tribute playing on public television. Taylor looks like a middle aged accountant. He is bald, wearing a dark suit, white shirt, and a George Bush blue tie. It is so weird. You really need to close your eyes and just listen. He still sounds like the old J.T.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christians are mainstream in NYC! There have been 2, count them, 2 Christian singers. First, Sandy Patty (the Baby says: OLD SCHOOL!) and now Natalie Grant.

I wonder if this has any relationship to the creepy clowns?
The music for the parade seems to be all pre-recorded. The Baby noted that none of the guitars were plugged in. Renee Fleming, opera star, was riding the float and doing America the Beautiful. She didn't quite get her mouth open for the last high note, however, and just gave us a big smile. Sort of Ashley Simpson with class.


No, this is not a post about the Democrats taking over the House and Senate. Rather, the Baby and I are watching the Macy's Parade. That is, we are watching scattered moments of the parade in between long stretches of commercials.

Anyway, we were looking at the clowns and trying to decide why they have them in parades and circuses. I mean, have you looked at a clown up close? They are creepy! They wear garish make up with exaggerated features and strange clothes. Most little kids are scared of them. The Baby says she is still scared of them and she is 19.

If you have ever taken a child to the circus, you probably experienced this. You know, look Junior, talk to the clown. Junior: Waaaaaaaaa! The clown moves on to terrorize and traumatize another kid.

I wonder if, when you go to clown school, they tell you the Great Clown secret, that clowning is really about fear and not comedy, and the joke is really on the crowds, while the clowns laugh it up to themselves behind their grotesque masks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006




The word “grief” (“sorrow” in NASB) creates a transition from the last section. Paul had said he did not want to grieve the Corinthians by making another painful visit to them. In this passage, he said someone had grieved them by falling into sin. (Older commentaries took this as a reference to the man who was sexually immoral in 1 Corinthians 5:1, but the new commentators seem to feel it was another, unrecorded event, that happened between Paul’s visits to Corinth.)

Paul said the punishment inflicted by the majority was sufficient. He does not say what the punishment was, but we can infer it was significant, as it was both effective and the cause of some sorrow to the person involved. It may have been an exclusion from the fellowship.

Whatever the punishment was, Paul said it was now time to stop punishing and to forgive and comfort the offender. That is a point for us to remember. We don’t do much formal church discipline these days. But, we are not to punish someone forever. The goal is repentance. Galatians 6:1 says we are to restore the one caught in a trespass. Paul said the church needed to reaffirm their love for him. This may have meant a public act of reinstatement into the fellowship, or may just mean that the church members individually were to take steps to reaffirm their love for this person.

As to himself, Paul said he wrote the previous letter, calling for this discipline, in order to see if the church would be obedient in this difficult matter. However, if the offender has repented, and the congregation has forgiven him, they do not need to worry about Paul, because he forgave the person to, for the sake of the church. In verse 11, he said the reason for this is so Satan cannot outwit them. Harshness or the lack of forgiveness in a fellowship can destroy it, and the person who is the target of it. I remember an event in a small church I attended as a young teenager, when a man got a divorce and the church basically shunned the whole family, including the children. The teenage son of the man was deeply hurt and it drove him from the church. Satan can work through our spitefulness to destroy a fellowship and a fellow believer.

Note that Paul said, in verse 10, that he acted “in the sight of Christ”. We should act in these matters as if we are in Christ’s presence. Church discipline is a difficult matter with great consequence for the fellowship and the individuals, whether you discipline or you do not. It is not to be done without a lot of prayer and humility.

2:12-13 The Travelogue

Verse 12 connects to the thought of verses 1-4, where Paul was explaining why he did not come to them and telling where he did go. He had said in verse 1 he did not return to Corinth because he did not want to cause further grief to them. Instead, he went up the coast to Troas to preach. God had opened a door for him there, meaning he had made the people receptive to Paul’s preaching, but Paul had no peace of mind. The reason for his lack of peace was that he did not find Titus in Troas. Paul had thought Titus might be there on the return trip from taking Paul’s letter to Corinth and Paul was anxious to know how it was received, if the church would obey, or if the church would be lost to rebellion. Paul cared deeply about the churches he planted.

Since Paul had no peace of mind, he went to Macedonia, presumably looking for Titus, who would be returning from Corinth via Macedonia to Troas.

Now the next thing you would expect in this passage is a narrative of Paul’s reunion with Titus and the news he received, but instead, Paul breaks off this narrative and launches into a long digression that goes all the way into Chapter 7. This digression will emphasize how God’s grace is sufficient for every situation in our lives. Paul applied it specifically to his missionary work, but it the same principle applies to us.


Paul first says God leads us in triumphant procession in Christ. I think this is an allusion to the parade for the returning victorious Roman armies, who paraded through the streets of Rome showing off the spoils of victory. God leads the church in victory won through the work of Christ. Christians go fight battles, taking the gospel where it is not preached and fighting spiritual warfare. We participate in the victory in Christ.

Paul used this same allusion in Colossians 2:15. There he showed Christ as the victor over all spiritual opposition. [Read this.] Satan and his demons are defeated and Christ made a public spectacle of them through his work on the cross, just as the Romans made a public spectacle of their defeated enemies.

The other thing the Romans did in their victory parades was to burn spices in the street to make it smell good. Paul used this picture as part of his point also.

Believers are the fragrance of the knowledge of God. As the Romans smelled spices in the street, the thought of the victorious general and army and the glory of Rome. Similarly, when people encounter believers, as opposed to smelling them, they should be brought to think of God and the message of the Gospel. Certainly, when you encountered Paul, or thought of him, you immediately thought of the gospel, for he was constantly preaching it and suffering for it. As we go, we should spread the knowledge of God just as a fragrance spreads through a room. A modern image would be the scented candle. The television commercials for it use animation to illustrate the scent spreading from the candle all through the room to be experienced by everyone in the room. Verse 14 says God, through us, spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ.

“Knowledge” does not mean just the intellectual awareness of Christ, but receiving and serving him.

Verse 15 says we, believers, are the aroma of Christ both to those who are being saved and those who are perishing. We know that some will believe the gospel and some will not. But we do not know who will believe, so we witness or preach to everyone.

Verse 16 says to those who are perishing, we are the smell of death. They reject Christ and are subject to death as the wages of their sin. To those who are being saved, however, it is the fragrance of life. A modern analogy might be when a woman gets in an elevator wearing expensive perfume. It spreads through the elevator and is smelled both by those who like perfume and those who don’t. Those who like it breathe it in and appreciate it. Those who don’t, sneeze and are aggravated. Paul used a similar theme in 1 Corinthians 1:18. [Read this.] Peter did too, in 1 Peter 2:6-8. [Read this.]

Next Paul asked a very pointed question: who is equal to such a task? Well, your first thought is “no one”, because you realize what an awesome responsibility it is to be the fragrance of Christ. But, that is not the answer Paul gives.


Paul’s immediate answer is that he is equal to the task, compared to others who preach for profit. (This is ironic in view of a recent claim by a pastor who sells his sermons on the internet and claims to have made $1.7M last year from them.) Paul’s point is that some false prophets (intentional pun) did preach for the money and, so, were not equal to the task of being the fragrance of Christ. In contrast, Paul said he spoke in Christ and with sincerity. He took seriously the fact that he was sent by God to speak of Christ, and we would always do that only for the spread of the gospel and the glory of God. He has already told us in chapter 1 verse 12 that he conducted himself with holiness and sincerity from God.

In the NIV, the word “sincerity” only appears 6 times, and three of them are in 2 Corinthians. It was important for Paul that his motives are pure and that the churches knew it.

If you do not preach the gospel from pure motives, you will corrupt or pervert the message. If you preach for profit or fame, you will tailor your message to the desires of your audience, not wanting to offend or convict, but to please. Paul contrasted himself to this type of preacher in 1 Thessalonians 2:2-7. Paul also said the day would come when those were the only ones people would want to listen to. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4, he said “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

3:1-3 The Corinthians: Paul’s Commendation

When preachers or prophets came to a new town, they would bring letters of commendation to the church, so the church would know it was alright to let them speak to the body. However, you can work the system with letters of commendation, getting them only from your friends. Paul told them he did not need letters, for they Corinthians were his commendation. They are the result of his ministry, so the validity of this preaching speaks for itself in the lives of those to whom he has ministered.


Paul finally gets to the real point of his competence. He said it did not come from his own ability. He said he did not claim anything for himself in verse 5. Rather, God has made him competent as a minister. He is, in fact, a minister of the new covenant. He contrasts it with the old covenant, as one of Spirit rather than of letter, and of life rather than death.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I got an email today offering to sell me "Christian Ringtones".

Oh please.

The Preamble to the Texas Constitution: We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"The people who sneer at what is called Calvinism, might as well sneer at Mont Blanc. We are not bound in the least to defend all of Calvin's opinions or actions, but I do not see how any one who really understands the Greek of the Apostle Paul or the Latin of Calvin or Turretin can fail to see that these latter did but interpret and formulate substantially what the former teaches." John Broadus

Yes, the street in front of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is named after him. He was the second president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He baptized Lottie Moon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


While your kids were getting treats on Halloween, you may have been getting tricks if you are a supporter of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The Executive Board met on Halloween to receive a report on an investigation of the misuse of church starting funds between 1999 and 2005 in the Rio Grande Valley.

Here are some of the sickening results. Up to 98 percent of the 258 church starts reported by three pastors no longer exist, if they ever existed. Some definitely never existed. How much of your tithes are we talking? More than $1.3 million in start-up funding plus monthly financial support to those 258 churches.

The report also specifically states that BGCT leaders failed to appropriately investigate thoroughly charges despite the fact that staff members knew about irregularities in the program. As it turns out, three was even an FBI investigation in 2000-2001 regarding allegations of fraud, but BGCT leaders still failed to investigate. Church staffs in Baptist life are well known to cover for their fellows and hush up improprieties. It appears that it extends to denominational life as well. This is borne out by another disturbing part of the report. Try this statement: “It became clear during the investigation that some of the information provided by the BGCT was unreliable. Some of the documents, such as new-church monthly reports, were found to be fabricated.” It sounds like a political party scandal doesn't it? First the wrongdoing, then the cover up. Thank goodness the Executive Board went with an independent investigation.

Evangelicalism continues to take it on the chin, as one scandal after another diminishes the reputation of the church. Those who pretend to lead too often deceive. Those who are called to serve, serve themselves.
This is a lesson evangelicals ought to know from church history. Whenever the church has focused on evangelism and preaching the gospel, her influence has increased. When she has sought power by political, cultural, or military activism, she has damaged or spoiled her testimony. John MacArthur

I thought this would be a good reminder for this night. It appears Republicans are taking a beating. That is not too unusual in mid-term, especially of the last term, but a good deal they have brought on themselves with bad behavior.

Nonetheless, God is sovereign and will continue to work his will and his pleasure. The church in America will continue on if she does what she is supposed to do. No, I don't mean vote Republican. I mean preach the gospel.
Psalm 90:8 (NIV)
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

Here is my take on the Ted Haggard mess. My mom used to say "your sins will find you out". Truly, very little stays secret in the life of a Christian, or a purported Christian. God continually brings sin to life, both for the maturity of the individual and the protection of the church.

Thank God he exposed Ted Haggard's sin. While leading a church of thousands of members, he was living a secretly sinful life that he himself calls dark. He bought drugs. This kind of man cannot lead a church. Some will say the timing was bad, brought about by political enemies. I think that shows God doesn't care as much for the elections as he does for the purity of the church. God will also use a vehicle for his purposes that is not a pure one, such as a homosexual massage therapist that sells drugs. He used Assyria to humble Israel.

Some of his friends are now working on his repentance and restoration. That is good. However, the first question they must answer, without assumption, is: should this man be in the ministry at all. Before trying to figure out how he can be restored, the first question should be answered. How does a man lead a congregation and speak to Americans all over the country about moral and spiritual issues, while having a duplicitous nature? Did he ever have a heart for the gospel, or did he seek fame and glory?

Do we all sin? Sure. That doesn't excuse this pastor. Can he be forgiven? Sure. But it doesn't mean he should pastor.

The continued moral failures of the clergy in America is a bitter pill to swallow for laymen who are looking for guidance and encouragement. They are also reasons the name of God is blasphemed among the non-believers, to paraphrase the Old Testament.

As a final matter, every time this happens, we should all take the time to examine our hearts and pray that God would reveal to us any hidden sins and weaknesses, knowing that Pastor Haggard's heart and ours come from the same spiritual DNA.

We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night
to visit violence on those that would do us harm." - George Orwell

Monday, November 06, 2006

Although much has been said about religious people staying home or supporting the Democrats to protest the Republican Party's management over the last 2 years, it appears that, as the time for actual decision approaches, they are heading back to the Republican Party.

The recent Pew poll shows this. The poll found that Demcrats have lost 14 points among Protestants, traveling downward from a 5 point lead to a 9 point trail. Among non-Hispanic Catholics, they have lost an eight-point lead and now trail by 5 points.

See The Captains Quarters for a detailed analysis.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

2 Corinthians 1

1:1-2 Greeting

1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia: 2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the second letter included in the New Testament from Paul to the church in Corinth. Paul went to Corinth on his second missionary journey, as is recorded in Acts 18. He spent about 18 months there. After leaving, he heard about immorality in the church and wrote a letter to confront that. That letter was lost. He refers to it in 1 Corinthians 5:9.

While Paul was ministering in Ephesus, he heard of further trouble in the Corinthian church, this time in the form of divisions among the members. The Corinthians also wrote Paul a letter asking for him to address certain issues. Paul wrote the letter we know as 1 Corinthians in response.

Paul sent Timothy to Corinth and stayed in Ephesus. However, he heard bad news, possible from Timothy, including the arrival of false prophets who were attacking his character, so he went to Corinth. He refers to this as the “painful visit” in 2 Corinthians 2:1.

The visit did not go well. Paul returned to Ephesus and wrote the letter he mentions in 2 Corinthians 2:4. He sent that letter to Corinth with Titus.

Paul then left Ephesus because of the riot started by Demetrius, as recorded in Acts 19:23-20:1. Upon leaving Ephesus, he went to find Titus and get news of the response of the Corinthians. When he found Titus, he learned that the Corinthians has repented of their rebellions against him. He wrote them again, and that letter is what we know as 2 Corinthians. The letter was probably written about A.D. 55.

In 55 A. D., Nero had been the emperor of Rome for about a year. He was about 18 years old. The Pax Romana was at its height. Paul’s travels are all within the Roman empire.

Paul is with Timothy as he writes. He mentions immediately that he is an apostle and that he is that by the will of God. The Corinthians had at time rebelled against his authority, false prophets had attacked him. But, he claims apostleship and the authority to go with it. An apostle (Greek: apostolos) is one who is sent. Acts 9 records the calling of Paul. The Lord told Ananias in Acts 9:15, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

In Galatians 1:15, Paul said “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…”

1:3-7 The God of All Comfort

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

Paul first lifts up praise to God, and that is always a good thing to do first. He calls God the “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”, meaning he is the God of redemption. He loved us and sent his son to redeem us. He deserves our praise and our gratitude. In Romans 15:6, Paul said we should with one voice glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul also calls him the Father of compassion. One of the traits of God’s character is compassion. Psalm 116:5 says “The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Jesus modeled the compassion of the Father. Matthew 9:36 says “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 14:14 says “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 15:32 says “Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering. When things are going badly for you, you can call out to the Lord and know that he cares about that. He is not removed from your suffering. He sympathizes, he grieves, and he wants to help you. Don’t hesitate to talk to God about your troubles.

Our Heavenly Father is also the God of all comfort. He does this in two ways. First, he often delivers us from evil. Second, he gives us comfort of the mind and emotions, peace of mind, if you will. In Romans 15:13, Paul prayed: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul says here that God comforts us in all our troubles. Whatever your troubles are, he is there to bring comfort to you. Psalm 23:4 says “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” His guidance and his provision are there to bring us comfort. The sovereign God of all things wants to give you comfort.

Anxiety is rampant in our society. We have a lot to worry about. But, God wants us to trust him and to receive peace of mind from him.

That comfort is a matter of giving as well as receiving. We are comforted not only for our own sake, but to extend that comfort to others. We receive comfort from the Lord and pass it on to others.

Although Paul used the plural “us”, you get the feeling he is talking largely about himself. He had a lot of trouble, and he received comfort from the Lord. The sufferings of Christ had been passed on to Paul.

Jesus suffered. He predicted it to the disciples. In Matthew 16:21, From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. In Matthew 17:12, he said But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." He suffered in his trial and crucifixion.

You could say Paul was called to suffer. Jesus told Ananias in Acts 9:16, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name." Paul himself said “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24. Paul listed those sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11: 24-28: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” Paul experienced the sufferings of Christ. In Romans 8:17, he said we share in his suffering so that we may share in his glory.

I don’t know if you have every said this, but in Philippians 3:10, Paul said “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings….”

Peter tells us, in 1 Peter 4:13, “…rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

But as Paul suffered the sufferings of Christ, he received comfort through Christ. He passed this on to others, including the Corinthians.

1: 8-11 Paul’s Hardships

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our[a] behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.

Paul suffered severe hardships. He was under great pressure. It was way beyond his own ability to endure. He thought he might die. But he realized that his suffering happened to teach him something. It taught him not to rely on himself, but on God. He was beyond his ability to endure, but God was not beyond his ability to deliver. Indeed God did deliver him and be believed God would continue to do so.

Still, even with his great faith in God, Paul asked for their prayers to help him find deliverance. Paul knew that God would work in answer to prayer, and he sought their help.

We should pray for our missionaries and our pastors, that God would deliver them from evil and protect them.

Katharine Jefferts-Schori is the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. She is going to be a "doozy". I suggest that those Episcopalians who are Christians pull out immediately.

KJS began with a bang, declaring "If we insist that we know the one way to God, we've put God in a very small box." This tells us 3 things about KJS. First, she does not believe the Bible is the word of God. Second, she doesn't understand God. Third, she does not mind letting the whole world know it.

The Bible clearly records Jesus' own words on this matter. John 14:6 records him saying "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." It can't be any plainer than that.

God is sovereign. We do not put him in a box. He decided how he wanted to reconcile human beings to himself. He chose to do it through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus. KJS actually tries to put God in a box by saying she can speak for him and interpret how he wants to do things rather than listen to Him speak for himself.

Now that your church has elected this person, and she has publicly declared her beliefs to be in direct opposition to the Bible and historical, orthodox Christian belief, it seems that believing Episcopalians will have no choice but to withdraw form the American church and seek shelter elsewhere. Several dioceses have already requested this of the Archbiship of Canterbury.

1 John 1:18 says "Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been annointed by the Holy One and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but becaue you know it, and because no lie of of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the son has the father."

Saturday, October 28, 2006


"Eagle? I thought you said BEAGLE."

"We're all out of red, so I used pink."

"There are 2 O's in Bob, right?"

"Gosh, I hate it when I get the hiccups."

"The flag's all done and, you know, the folds of fat make a nice waving effect."

It Takes Years to Learn These Truths

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill
and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race
has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word
would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never
want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to
take it too seriously.

7. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is
always one individual who perceives a solution and is
willing to take command. Very often, that individual is

8. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and

9. Never lick a steak knife.

10. Take out the fortune before you eat the cookie.

11. The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.

12. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear
and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings

13. You should never say anything to a woman that even
remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you
can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

14. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless
of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic
background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that
we are above average drivers.

15. The main accomplishment of almost all organized
protests is to annoy people who are not in them.

16. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter is
not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention.
It never fails.)

17. Your friends love you anyway.

18. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a
lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that a Dallas Cowboys assistant coach, Todd Haley, the receiver’s coach, has filed a suit against a McDonald's restaurant. He claims there was a rat in the salad his wife and nanny got a McDonald’s and took home to eat. Not surprisingly, the women have had trouble keeping their food down since then.

The newspaper, of course, called the franchise owner for a statement. This brings me to the reason for this post. While I recognize it is hard to have something good to say in some situations, sometimes people say really dumb things. My momma used to say “if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” That is a good rule to use in bad situations, including litigation.

However, Mr. Lobato, the franchise owner, either didn’t have my mom’s wisdom to rely on, or forgot the rules. He started off with "We haven't seen the litigation, so we can't respond to the claims". That is perfect and a good place to stop. However, he didn’t stop.

Lobato continued with "Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our customers. We maintain the strictest quality standards."

Ok, let’s review. There is a roof rat in the salad. A roof rat is about a foot long with a tail that is also about a foot long. It is also scaly looking, which may account for the inability of the women to keep their food down even now. So, that is about two feet of rat in a salad bowl that is less than a foot in diameter. Whatever quality standards McDonald’s has, no one noticed the rat in the little salad bowl while they were putting in lettuce and carrots? What kind of quality standard is that? I smell a rat.

I’m going to send Mr. Lobato my mom’s phone number and tell him he should write down all her little sayings and abide by them. He’ll thank me, at least after he recovers from being cross examined by the plaintiff’s attorneys on his quality standards

Sunday, October 22, 2006

JUDGES 17 & 18

17:1-5 Micah Creates A Cult

1 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2 said to his mother, "The eleven hundred shekels [a] of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it." Then his mother said, "The LORD bless you, my son!" 3 When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, "I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you." 4 So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels [b] of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah's house. 5 Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some idols and installed one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

The end of the story of Samson appears to be the end of the story of the judges. However, the book contains two more stories that serve as sort of appendices to describe what life was like during the period and how some bad things happened. The first story shows idol worship coming into Israel. Although these stories come after the stories about the judges, that does not mean they are about events that came after the time of the judges. In fact, it appears they may have occurred soon after the time of Joshua. This first story may be included to explain how idol worship came to exist in Israel or, particularly in the tribe of Dan.

Micah was a thief and, possibly, a pagan. He stole silver from his own mother, but returned it for some reason, maybe because he was afraid of her curse. In gratitude, she consecrated the silver to the Lord, but by having an idol made to give to her son. I don’t know if the idol was to represent the Lord or a pagan god. Some think that it was a golden calf, representing the Lord, as the Israelites had made under Aaron. Jeroboam later built golden calves for the people to worship and set them in this general area, according to 1 Kings 12:28. I

It shows that we can do things in the name of the Lord that do not honor him. The Lord gave strict instructions about making idols, but she makes one anyway under the guise of consecrating the silver to the Lord. Read Exodus 20:4-6. It is repeated in Deuteronomy 5:8-10.

Michah was already a cult leader. He already had idols and a shrine. He made an ephod, as Gideon would do, and began to have worship at his house. The priests ordained by God wore an ephod, made by God’s own specifications. You can read about the Ephod in Exodus 28-29 and 39. Most cults take things from the worship of God and incorporate them or pervert them for their own use. Micah then decided he needed a priest of his own, so he installed his son.

Micah violated God’s law by making idols, by conducted worship at his house rather than the tabernacle, and by setting up a priesthood other than that of Aaron’s descendants.

Verse 6 tells us there was not much law or order, because there was no king. Everyone did as he saw fit. They seemed to be ignorant of the law, or were in rebellion against it. This adds to our assumption that part of the reason for writing the book of Judges was to tout the superiority of the Davidic kingdom over the reign of the Judges.

17:7-13 Micah Steals a Levite

7 A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, 8 left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way [c] he came to Micah's house in the hill country of Ephraim. 9 Micah asked him, "Where are you from?"
"I'm a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah," he said, "and I'm looking for a place to stay."
10 Then Micah said to him, "Live with me and be my father and priest, and I'll give you ten shekels [d] of silver a year, your clothes and your food." 11 So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man was to him like one of his sons. 12 Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. 13 And Micah said, "Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest."

Micah then found himself a Levite at large. For some reason, the young man had left his town and was looking for somewhere to live. Micah hired him to be his priest. Then, he invoked the name of the LORD for his good fortune, even though he was worshipping idols. He knew the Levites were consecrated to the Lord, so he figured it a blessing to have one of his own.

18:1-2 The Danites Invade Ephraim

1 In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. 2 So the Danites sent five warriors from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all their clans. They told them, "Go, explore the land." The men entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night.

The writer reminds us again that Israel had no king. The Danites got off the reservation, so to speak, and left the territory allotted to the tribe of Dan, seeking land in Ephraim. Judges 1:34 tells us the Amorites had run them out of their valley and into the hills and kept them from moving back down. Presumably, a king would have kept this from happing. The tribe of Dan had been awarded land going all the way to the sea, but had been unable to dislodge the Philistines, so they went looking elsewhere for land.

18:3-13 The Scouting Party

3 When they were near Micah's house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, "Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?" 4 He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, "He has hired me and I am his priest." 5 Then they said to him, "Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful." 6 The priest answered them, "Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD's approval." 7 So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, unsuspecting and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else. 8 When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, "How did you find things?" 9 They answered, "Come on, let's attack them! We have seen that the land is very good. Aren't you going to do something? Don't hesitate to go there and take it over. 10 When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever." 11 Then six hundred men from the clan of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. 12 On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan [c] to this day. 13 From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah's house.

The scouting party knew the Levite, and, since he was acting as a priest, asked him to inquire of the Lord for them. He conveyed the Lord’s approval, although we aren’t told if he really consulted the Lord or if the Lord really approved. So the scouting part continued on and found Sidonians living in Laish. Laish was a city in the far north. They decided the Sidonians were vulnerable to attack, so they went and reported this to the whole clan. They then returned to attack, stopping again where the Levite lived.

Note also that the Danites violated God’s prescription on how to conquer the land. They were to destroy the seven Canaanite nations mentioned in Deuteronomy 7:1. To the others, they were first supposed to offer peace, according to Deuteronomy 20:10-18. They did not do this.

17:14-31 Dan Begins To Worship Idols

14 Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their brothers, "Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, other household gods, a carved image and a cast idol? Now you know what to do." 15 So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah's place and greeted him. 16 The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance to the gate. 17 The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance to the gate.

18 When these men went into Micah's house and took the carved image, the ephod, the other household gods and the cast idol, the priest said to them, "What are you doing?"

19 They answered him, "Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn't it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man's household?" 20 Then the priest was glad. He took the ephod, the other household gods and the carved image and went along with the people. 21 Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left.

22 When they had gone some distance from Micah's house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. 23 As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, "What's the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?"

24 He replied, "You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, 'What's the matter with you?' "

25 The Danites answered, "Don't argue with us, or some hot-tempered men will attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives." 26 So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home.

27 Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a peaceful and unsuspecting people. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. 28 There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob.
The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. 29 They named it Dan after their forefather Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. 30 There the Danites set up for themselves the idols, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, [d] and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. 31 They continued to use the idols Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh.

The Danites returned to Micah’s house and stole his cult from him, the priest, the idols, the ephod and the other household gods. They would not only steal a town, but a religion for themselves. They were too strong for Micah and his friends to fight, so Micah had to give it up. It makes you wonder if he went back and stole the rest of his mother’s silver to make new idols.

The Danites renamed the city and set up the idol worship. The Levites names must have been Jonathan, for the set him up as the priest. He is called a son of Moses and Gershom, meaning he is a Levite from that branch of the tribe.

So, the Danites took over land that was not in their territory, thus disobeying the ordered allotments of the Lord, as accomplished by Joshua. They were already in disobedience by not conquering their territory, and must have fallen quickly from obeying and worshipping the Lord, as he had not given them the power to conquer the Amorites in their land.

They continued their disobedience in worship, setting up their own place of worship in competition to the tabernacle in Shiloh. Then, they added idol worship and a false priesthood. Eventually, the Philistines would over run Shiloh, steal the ark, and hold Israel in a type of captivity, as they oppressed them.

We have churches in the world today that call themselves Christian, yet deny the deity of Christ, or other fundamentals of the faith, such as the resurrection. We have churches that call themselves Christian, yet focus on wealth rather than worship, success rather than sacrifice and service. So, we are not immune to the same sins as Israel in the time of the judges. We must know God’s word and follow it faithfully, so that we can worship him in truth.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Joan Rivers evidently does not believe in free speech, but does believe in the death penalty. Responding to Mel Gibson's drunken, anti-Semitic tirade during his arrest, she said Mel Gibson deserves death for his remarks. It is ironic that most of us want the freedom to say whatever we want, but want to impose harsh penalties on those who actually do it.

Monday, October 16, 2006


15:1-8 Samson Defeats the Philistines

15:1 After some days, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a young goat. And he said, “I will go in to my wife in the chamber.” But her father would not allow him to go in. 2 And her father said, “I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead.” 3 And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.” 4 So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. 6 Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. 7 And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.” 8 And he struck them hip and thigh with a great blow, and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

Samson did not give up on his wife. Although he left her when the wedding feast went sour, after she told the Philistines the answer to his riddle and he killed 30 people. So, he went to visit her, evidently hoping for a conjugal visit. He took a goat as a present. Ironically, that is what Judah gave Tamar as payment for sex, when he met her on the road to Timnah, where Samson’s wife lived.

However, his father in law had given her to his best man, figuring that Samson would not be back after the last incident. He offered the next sister in line as a wife instead, but Samson was angry and set about to get revenge.

Since it was harvest time, the fields were very dry, and Samson managed to burn them, the grain that had already been harvested and the olive trees. It was a devastating loss for the Philistines. They would have been better to have lost the 30 sets of clothes.

The revenge continued as the Philistines burned Samson’s wife and father in law to death. This is ironic, as they had threatened to do this to her to get he to betray Samson with the riddle. She did betray him, but she ends up burned to death anyway. Then, Samson retaliated by striking them down. Then he left to hide in Etam. This cleft in the rock might have been a natural fortress. That would indicate he expected a counter attack by the Philistines.

15:9-13 The Arrest of Samson

9 Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a raid on Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.” 11 Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” 12 And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” 13 They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

The Philistines did in fact attack in Judah. When the Judahites asked the reason for the attack, they were told the Philistines came to capture Samson. Since the Philistines were the superior power, the Judahites did not want a battle. So, instead, they went to capture Samson. They had great respect for his strength, evidenced by their taking 3,000 men to capture him.

Samson agreed to extradition, getting a commitment that the Judahites would only bind him and deliver him, not kill him.

So, the Judahites arrested their judge and leader and turned him over to a foreign people who were oppressing them, so they would not suffer any for being indentified with him. Later, the Judahites would arrest and turn over their savior and judge to the Romans, who were oppressing them, because they deemed it better for one man to die for the nation, than for all to suffer.

15:14-17 The Spirit of the Lord Comes

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 16 And Samson said,

“With the jawbone of a donkey,
heaps upon heaps,
with the jawbone of a donkey
have I struck down a thousand men.”

17 As soon as he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand. And that place was called Ramath-lehi (“the hill of the jawbone”).

Again the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson, giving him supernatural strength. Again, that strength was used to battle the Philistines, and Samson killed 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey. The Israelites were so impressed they named the hill after the jawbone. It was a fulfillment of the word of the Lord in Joshua 23:10 that one man of Israel would put to flight a thousand men of the enemy when they fought in the power of the Lord.

15:18-20 Water From the Lord

18 And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the Lord and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkore; [2] it is at Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

After this great battle, Samson actually called on the Lord. He gave God credit for the victory, calling it his salvation, but complained of thirst. The Lord brought forth water from the earth or the rock there. In Exodus 17:1-7, God brought water from a rock for the complaining Israelites. Sometimes God has mercy on us even when we are complaining.

Samson went on to judge Israel for 20 years. He did not get in the generation, or 40 years, of many of the judges. Interestingly, in most of the stories, the telling of the length of their tenure is the last word of the judge, but not here. Here there is an epilogue, telling of his downfall.

"Americans give people a second chance. And if you learn something and prove you've learned something, maybe even more so. Now, I don't know what I'm going to do yet. We'll make that decision down the road." John Kerry

I think he'd make a good candidate. He is already referring to himself in the first person plural, the "royal we". Most politicians seem to suffer from multiple personality disorder. They not only refer to themselves as multiple, they have a different personality for every occasion. Bill Clinton was the zen master of multiple personality manipulation. Kerry is a poor substitute, but earned his nick name of "flip flop" for a reason. He is not as deft as Clinton and got caught more. I don't he can learn better in that arena. It is just a gift he does not have.

Or should I say we?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What scientists think the world would be like if humans disappeared. Warning to my evangelical friends: this is not a Biblical Worldview.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"While I am not a five-point Calvinist, I salute the great impact that Calvin made on the world. With Calvin’s high view of the sovereignty of God, his great commitment to word-for-word inerrancy of Scripture, his understanding of the total depravity of man, and his unashamed support for the blood atonement of Jesus Christ; Calvin’s anointed scholarship produced men who went around the world teaching the Reformed view of theology that has become the foundation of Presbyterianism and traditional evangelical Christianity. Jerry Falwell, 2001.

Hat Tip: Calvinist Gadfly.
See Kim Jong Il ride the bomb like Slim Pickens here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


14:1-3 Slave To Desire

14:1 Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”

Timnah was a town allotted to the tribe of Dan, according to Joshua 19:43. Samson was of the tribe of Dan. The border of the land of Judah ran through through it, and it was close to Philistine land. It appears that Philistines were inhabiting Timnah at the time, for Samson saw a Philistine woman there that he liked. It was on the road to Timnah that Judah met his former daughter in law, with whom he had sex, thinking she was a prostitute, according to Genesis 38.

Samson was a man of many flaws. God used him, but he was not a Godly man. Here we see that he wanted to marry a Philistine woman. Israelites were not supposed to intermarry. In Deuteronomy 7:1-4, Moses warned the Israelites not to intermarry with the pagans around them. This is a principle for God’s people that is carried into the New Testament. In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul said “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” But Samson was attracted to her. 1 John 2:15 says “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Samson’s father and mother urged him to marry an Israelite woman, but Samson was arrogant and stubborn and insisted on this own way. He did not honor his father and mother, as the Bible commands.

14:4 God Is Working

4 His father and mother did not know that it was from the Lord, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

The writer interjects the historical narrative here with an explanation. Any Jewish person reading this story would know that Samson was violating God’s commands, yet is supposed to be used by God. So, the writer explained that God used Samson’s sin and willfulness to accomplish His will. God is not limited by our motives or goodness or even our obedience. He works to accomplish his will, even when he uses a non-believer, or a believer living a sinful life. Daniel 4:35 says: "[God] does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, 'What are you doing?'"

14:5-7 If I’m Lion, I’m Dyin’

5 Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson's eyes.

This is the first story of Samson’s mighty strength. He killed and dismembered a lion with his bare hands. He evidently had this strength because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.

I found 23 places in the Old Testament where the Spirit of the Lord acted, most often coming on a judge, a king or a prophet, to accomplish God’s work. The Spirit brought supernatural strength, or wisdom, or a word from the Lord or the ability to lead.

What does the Holy Spirit do today? In John 16, Jesus said this about the work of the Spirit: “7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

So, we have a helper in the Holy Spirit. He has his own work to do, bringing conviction to the world. But, he also guides us into truth. He does this in the context of bringing glory to Christ. In the Old Testament, the Spirit came to accomplish the will of God, to the glory of God. In our time, the Spirit comes to accomplish the work of God, Father and Son, and to bring glory to them, as he works in us. He does not perform tricks, just as Jesus refused to do, and brings his power to accomplish his purpose, not just for our entertainment.

14:8-9 Breaking The Vow

8 After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

Samson not only broke the Jewish law, it appears that he also violated his Nazirite vow. Numbers 6 told us a Nazirite was not to touch any dead body, but he touched the carcass of the lion. Leviticus 5 indicates that any Jewish person might become unclean by touching a dead animal carcass. That is probably why Samson did not tell his parents where the honey came from. They would likely have refused to eat it.

14:10-14 The Riddle Game

10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them,

“Out of the eater came something to eat.
Out of the strong came something sweet.”

And in three days they could not solve the riddle.

Samson showed his arrogance by taunting the guests at this feast. There is no reasonable way they could solve the riddle, as only Samson knew about the honey in the carcass of the lion. It is like Bilbo Baggins’ riddle to Gollum in The Hobbit. (What’s in my pocket?) But, it gave him a chance to show off and to gamble. They, of course, could not solve the riddle. So, they turned to deceit.

It is also possible that Samson broke his Nazirite vow for the second time, as a feast normally included the drinking of wine.

14:15-18 From Wine to Whine

15 On the fourth [1] day they said to Samson's wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson's wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,

“What is sweeter than honey?
What is stronger than a lion?”

And he said to them,

“If you had not plowed with my heifer,
you would not have found out my riddle.”

The Philistines co-opted Samson’s wife, who was also a Philistine, to find out the answer. She whined until she got the answer, then told the Philistines. Samson would have agreed with Proverbs 27:15, which says “A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.” They solved the riddle, but Samson was smart enough to know where they got the answer, and he was not happy about it. This caused his first big confrontation with the Philistines.

14:19-20 The Spirit’s Power

19 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

For the second time, the Spirit of the Lord came on Samson. Again, he gave Samson great strength. Samson killed 30 Philistine men in Ashkelon for his revenge. Verse 19 says he had “hot anger”. He paid the Philistines the price of the wager, but in the blood of their countrymen. Then he went back home.

The Spirit worked even though Samson was not acting in a Godly fashion. Yet, God had something to accomplish, and he empowered Samson to accomplish it. We will see later that Samson pays for hi

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Instapundit writes of a church without God. Here is the money quote:

We're already part-way there. My daughter took one of her karate belt-tests at a megachurch whose denomination was indiscernible -- even its Christian nature appeared only thinly, as the cross in the sanctuary was inconspicuous and the only one present. But it had a cafe with free wi-fi, and extended child care.

It's hard not to fear for the soul of Protestantism.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Well, it is done. The wedding is over. The Newlyweds are on their honeymoon. We've taken down and put away the decorations, returned the tuxedos and brought home lots of gifts. There were about 50 gifts brought to the wedding or the reception. Probably 10 more have come to the house Monday and Tuesday. People are so generous.

Thanks to all who made this wedding a beautiful and God-honoring event. To the many church friends who helped us with a myriad of tasks, thank you and God bless. I do not think I have every felt more embraced by the church family than during this event.

Most of all, thanks to God for answering the 10 million prayers I prayed for a Christian husband for my little girl. Only a year ago, she cried in despair that she would meet someone who would love her. I told her she would, for a loving Heavenly Father would surely answer the prayers of a loving earthly father.

He has.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Today is the big day. We haven't been to bed yet for Friday, however. The Little Woman and I just got back from a trip to Walmart for ribbon to put on the baskets carried by the flower girls.

The Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner went well. We capped it off with a slide show The Engaged One made on her computer, showing her and her groom growing up.

We have to be at the church in 11 hours for pictures. Tomorrow will be a quick one.

I guess I'll go practice saying "her mother and I do" a few times before going to bed.

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.