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Judges 12:1-15

 

“And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire. 2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands. 3 And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand:  wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? 4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim:  and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. 5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites:  and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite?  If he said, Nay; 6 Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth:  and he said Sibboleth:  for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan:  and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand. 7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years.  Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead. 8  And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel. 9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad,  and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons.  And he judged Israel seven years. 10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried in Bethlehem. 11 And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel ten years. 12 And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun. 13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel. 14 And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts:  and he judged Israel eight years. 15 And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.”

 

 

[Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED637]

 

Introduction: Foolishness Of Threatening A Military Leader Who Has Just Won A War

 

“Judges chapter 12, we are at the end of the record of Jephthah, this interesting judge that was raised up out of Gilead who had a remarkable victory against the children of Ammon, a powerful group, called to the aid of those in Reuben, Gad, and the half the tribe of Manasseh, Jephthah standing up to be a leader.  At the end of that we heard the strange story of his daughter, of course, and then chapter 12 says “And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us  to go with thee?  we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.” (verse 1) ‘Why did you leave us out?’  Now this tribe’s got a bad attitude, you might know a tribe like that [oh yes, I do].  There’s tribes here in this church, some tribes just have a bad attitude.  You remember back in chapter 8, verse 1, after Gideon had defeated the Midianites and Amalekites, and it says “The men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou went to fight with the Midianites?  And they did chide with him sharply.”  And then he kind of calmed them down, they came to give Gideon a hard time.  So they evidently think they can do this whenever they want.  Jephthah had called them to the battle evidently, they refused to come, and now he’s had this great victory, and they’re insecure, or they’re envious [for the booty, spoils maybe], or they’re jealous because they are the prominent tribe in the midst in the north of the country.  [Also, if they knew the Torah, the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh were promised to become, one a great nation, and the other, Ephraim, a whole company of nations.  The birthright blessings of great physical wealth were prophetically bestowed on the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh by Jacob on this deathbed.  So evidently they felt they were something special, and it showed in Ephraim’s attitude, cf. Genesis 48.]  Ephraim, the largest and should be the most powerful tribe, and they are jealous or envious that anybody else would dare to win a battle without them, and they’re used to being tough guys.  You know, tough guys, always sooner or later run into the tougher guy.  He’s out there somewhere, he’s just waiting for a tough guy to beat up.  So even the toughest guys that we know, they always run into the tougher guy somewhere down the line.  And this guy’s not Gideon, Gideon kind of makes peace with them, sweet-talks, calms them down.  Jephthah’s not in a good mood, he’s tired, the battle hasn’t been over that long, and he’s just grieving over his daughter and what has happened, and he’s not in the mood.  And these guys come now with envy.  Now Galatians chapter 5 tells us that envy is part of the acts of the flesh, that puts it by the way in a very interesting context.  We might think one thing of envy, but Paul says that ‘the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings and murders.’  It’s interesting, he puts envy right next to murder, and they say here ‘Who do you think you are, going forth and having this victory without us, we’re gonna burn your house on top of you,’ that’s envy and murder, right next to each other there.  And I think we just need to be careful, jealousy is part of our fallen nature, and all of us can be prone to that.  And maybe perhaps sometimes there are reasons that we might be jealous.  And I think it’s good to be jealous over the Word of God, I think it’s good to be jealous over the glory of God, there’s some things that we can be jealous about, and I think that’s a moral response.  But then there’s that selfish jealousy, and this is an envy that’s born of insecurity, certainly the wrong motivation, and they say ‘We’re gonna burn your house upon with you with fire, how dare you have a victory and not invite us to the dance.’  “And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.” (verse 2)  ‘You wouldn’t step out in faith, and now you’re jealous because I did?  I called you to the battle, you refused to come.’  “And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand:  wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?” (verse 3)  ‘You be mad at him, he’s the One who gave the victory.’  That’s why Jephthah’s in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 32, it was against evidently great odds that he did this.  And Ephraim, the largest tribe, would not go with him.  So he says ‘I put my life in my own hands when I saw you wouldn’t join the battle,’ “and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand:  wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?  Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim:  and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.” (verse 4)  Now they weren’t fugitives, God had allowed Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh to stay on that side of the Jordan River, it was God’s permission, that’s why they were there, it was God’s hand.  They’re complaining against God’s will, they weren’t fugitives there at all, that’s wrong.  “And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites:” So they have victory now against the Ephraimites, who thought they were tough guys, and I can imagine when they threatened Jephthah, who became the leader of the tribes and Gileadites on the other side, everybody still must have been worked up from battle, they must have put their hands on their swords and said ‘Jephthah, nobody’s gonna touch you,’ you know, I’m sure this all arose pretty quickly with the foolishness of this threat.  “And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites:” they went down along the Jordan River to get any of the Ephraimites who were going to try to flee back to the west side of the Jordan, “and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite?  If he said, Nay; then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth:  and he said Sibboleth:  for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.” (verses 5-6)  ‘Let me go over, that the men of Gilead said unto him, Are you and Ephraimite?  And he said ‘No, I’m not an Ephraimite, I was never gonna burn your house upon you with fire,’ ‘a couple verses before this you were pretty tough, you were bragging, and now you’re saying, no, no, I’m not an Ephraimite.’  “then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth:  and he said Sibboleth:  for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.”  Now Shibboleth is a word that means “stream” and they’re trying to get over the stream.  So anybody that was coming, trying to get over the stream, they would say ‘Well why don’t you say stream for me then, Shibboleth, and they would say sthibboleth, boom! there was a dead man.’  So people in California, you know my wife’s from there, I say “say water” “waaater,” you know, they can’t say water, ‘Well that’s not how you say it, we say waaater.  Well we were saying it hundreds of years before anybody was settled in California, so don’t tell us how to say water.’  [laughter]  This goes on all the time at my house, she’s learning.  “for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.” (verse 6b)  Civil war is always the bloodiest, it’s always the worst, the worst in the church, but I mean in regards to a civil war on one piece of territory without oceans between, without, it’s always the worst, it’s always the bloodiest.  It’s hard for us to imagine, 42,000 died it says.  [Our Civil War, over 600,000 died, in a little over five short years.]  “And Jephthah judged Israel six years.  Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.” (verse 7)  We’re not even told where, no particular burying place.  His daughter, we’re not told, left now lonely, without her father, from what we saw, the love of her life, she’s barren, no child.  A tragic end in so many ways.  This guy comes on the scene, because his mother’s a harlot, they always wanted him out of the territory, out of the house, he’s welcomed into no home, and when he dies, there’s no record of where he goes, he leaves no son, no name, interesting.  And then we’re going to have these several judges set in contrast now, interesting.    

 

After Jephthah, Three Judges In Quick Succession

 

Verse 8, “And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.” Now Ibzan the Bethlehemite, ah Joshua chapter 19 tells us this describing the area of Zebulun, it says, naming the cities, “And Kattath, and Nahallal, and Shimron, and Idalah, and Bethlehem:  twelve cities with their villages.  This is the inheritance of the children of Zebulun according to their families, these cities with their villages.” (verses 15-16)  So there was a Bethlehem, you don’t want to confuse it with the one in the south, up in the north in the area of Zebulun, all three of these judges, we look at very quickly, are northern judges.  So it says “And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.” that’s Joshua 19, verses 15-16 gives us that reference.  Notice this, “And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons.  And he judged Israel seven years.  Then died Ibzan and was buried in Bethlehem.” (verses 9-10) Sixty kids, what is wrong with this guy?  “thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad,” I guess he did, “and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons.” from all different areas and tribes, “And he judged Israel seven years.  Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.” (verses 9-10)  “And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.  And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.” (verses 11-12) we know where he was buried.  “And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.  And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.” (verses 13-14) and King James has “nephews,” those are grandsons, thirty grandsons, 70 all together, sons and grandsons.  And by the way, most people walk, that was a sign and so often even royalty would ride on a burro, so they rode on 70 burros.  “and he judged Israel eight years.  And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.” (verse 14c-15)  which is a question for us, evidently they had at one point, the Amalekites, had a strongpoint in the area there.  Now, just interesting as we look at this, look, Ibzan and Elon and Abdon, we know where they were born, where they were from, we look at a family, at least two of them, great families, great progenitors, kids and grandkids, an incredible family.  And we’re told where each of them were buried, the place.  It’s in stark contrast to Jephthah, and look, isn’t it interesting, these three given to us in fast succession, we’re told of their origin, we’re told of their families, we’re told of their children, their grandchildren, we’re told where they’re buried.  We’re not told anything else about them, we have no idea what they did.  And yet there’s this man Jephthah, who is one of the nobles in the Book of Judges, we have no real origin, except a tragedy, he has an only daughter who dedicates herself to the LORD and never has children, and he dies and he’s buried one of the cities of Gilead, we don’t know where.  God gives us a chapter and a half on Jephthah, and has much to tell us, and heaven’s record, there’s much about this man.  And some of us, we know, look, whatever disadvantages you had, in your home, in your upbringing, however dysfunctional it may have been, however sad your home is now, or how it seems to be wanting, or the aloneness that you might spend the end of your life in, God sees things a vastly different way.  And you have to know that you are in the center of his attention every day.  He may be writing chapters about your life.  And then those that you look at around you that you might envy, you may wish ‘Man, I wish,’ not at all having any of the success that Jephthah had.  So, I encourage you to take note of those things. 

 

Judges 13:1-25

 

“And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years. 2 And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. 3 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not:   but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. 4 Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: 5 for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head:  for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible:  but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: 7 but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing:  for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. 8 Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. 9 And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. 11 And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?  And he said, I am. 12 And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass.  How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? 13 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. 14 She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing:  all that I commanded her let her observe. 15 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. 16 And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread:  and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD.  For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the LORD. 17 And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is  thy name, that we may do thee honour? 18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? 19 So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD:  and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar.  And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. 21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife.  Then Manoah knew that he was an [the] angel of the LORD. 22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God. 23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these. 24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson:  and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”

 

Introduction

[Audio version:  https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED637]

 

“Chapter 13 now, we come to the beginning of the record of Samson.  Samson  is the most notable of the judges, everybody knows about Samson.  You don’t know too many people named Samson, I had one friend I worked with years ago in the Navy Yard whose name was Samson.  You don’t know too many Samson’s, do you?  And yet as a kid, before I was saved, before I knew the Bible, you kind of knew Samson, you know, he was like Hercules, Steve Reeves, Samson.  You almost wished they had somebody beside Victor Mature to play the part.  He’s the most notable because of his acts, not so much his spiritual acts, but his acts of just brute strength.  He stands apart from all of the other judges, in that his birth is foretold, none of the other judges had their birth foretold.  He’s a Nazarite from the womb, none of the other judges, unto his death, have that role.  He’s a man, and there’s going to be lessons for us to learn as we go throughout, but here comes this guy on the scene, he has incredible authority, he never works with an army.  He never works with a band of other men, he has no friends.  He has incredible authority and no accountability.  And it’s a failing in his life.  He never talks to a priest, he never talks to a prophet, he never talks to a Captain of a host, you never see him with anybody.  He has incredible authority, no accountability.  Accountability is important in all of our lives, particularly in the days that we’re struggling in, to be transparent, to walk in the Light then, so important.  He has consecration without communion, his life is consecrated, even his mother’s going to be told not to drink wine, not to be unclean [or eat unclean food, cf. Leviticus 11].  She herself takes the Nazarite vow before he’s conceived, so not only from birth, but  from conception his life is set aside.  He’s consecrated in a remarkable way.  Only John the Baptist and Jeremiah are foretold the way he is.  He has consecration without communion, his life is set aside to the purpose of God, he accomplishes great things, we don’t find him praying, we find him complaining once to God.  He never builds an altar, he never worships, never sings, never sacrifices, never prays.  We don’t see accountability or communion until the very end of his life, when he asks a little boy to lead him, it’s the first time he’s accountable.  And when he says ‘LORD, give me my strength one more time.’ What a tragedy.  Because this is a man, this is a man who could have had a legacy that would have been unimaginable.  This is a man that could have been incredible in the scope of what he accomplished, and he was by the way, to a degree.  You have to understand now too, certain things are taking place, when Samson is coming on the scene, Eli is already the priest at Shiloh [the high priest], the Tabernacle.  Ruth, the story of Ruth has already taken place at least a hundred years before this.  So there are all kinds of things working in the background.  The Philistines are the major enemies here, and they are a perennial enemy, and Samson’s mother is told ‘this child will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.’  Samuel and David will finish the job.  He will begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.  And he will face them down singlehandedly.  We don’t know what he looked like.  We assume that he looked like Arnold, but I don’t know if that’s true, because Delila keeps saying Duh, this is a no-brainer, look at those labs, look at those biceps.’  He could have ‘Tell me the secret of your strength,’ she doesn’t look at him and say looked like Peewee Herman, we don’t know.  That would have glorified God all the more.  I  don’t think so, by the way, I don’t think God would do that to anybody he loved, but [laughter].  You know my point, I’m not picking on Peewee.  But we don’t know if he had, if he walked in looking like a monster, like a pro-wrestler, we don’t know that.  But he comes on the scene when the Philistines are torturing the children of Israel.  It seems that his public ministry will begin in the 14th and 15th chapters, after the Battle of Aphek, when the Ark is carried away, Eli’s sons have lost the Ark in the Battle of Aphek, has been carried away to the five cities of the Philistines, God just doesn’t let it stay there, Samson begins to torment them.  And we get some sense of what a man he was, how phenomenal he was in his strength, because there’s no record that Goliath ever came out to challenge him, or Goliath’s father, and the giants were still in Gath.  We have no record, they wouldn’t even come out to face him.  But when he’s gone they come out to face the whole army of Israel.  Samson takes the gates of the city and carries them away, Goliath could have never pulled that off.  So just an incredible, incredible individual, a terrible failure, he’s stronger than any man, and he’s weaker than women, we see.  He is a picture of Israel in many ways, consecrated, failing, and in the end, seeking God again, having tremendous strength, that will be the history of Israel also.  So, an interesting picture.  Let’s get into this, next week we’ll really step into the story of the man. 

 

Samson’s Godly Parents And Their Supernatural Encounter With God

 

It says, “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.” (verse 1)  that’s the last time we read that in the Book of Judges, “did evil in the sight of the LORD.”  Philistine means “stranger” or “wanderer.”  Again, the Romans when they drove the Jews out of  Israel [the kingdom of Judah], destroyed Jerusalem, they changed the name of the land to Palestine, because it means Philistine, they knew it would be an insult, and the Philistines were a perennial enemy of the Jews [he says “Jews,” but at this time Israel was made up of 12 tribes each having their own territory within the borders of the Promised Land of Israel.  This is a constantly repeated error of most Christians, even though they know the truth of the matter, calling the Jews Israel.  The Jews, Judah, made up only one tribe in the greater nation of Israel, as we’ve seen throughout Joshua and Judges.  To see what happened to all these tribes, and how ten of them split off after Solomon died, to become known as the House of Israel, and to their south the House of Judah dwelt, made up of half Benjamin, Simeon, Judah and much of Levi, the Levites not being numbered with any of the tribes in inheritance of land, log onto and read through this series on Old Testament history at:  https://unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html].  Of course when you go to Israel today, you have a Jewish tour guide taking you on a tour of Roman ruins, which is God’s sense of humour, a little irony in that.  But here the Philistines come to the fore.  They were different from the Canaanites, they weren’t divided, they weren’t spread out through the land, they had five cities, Gaza, we see it on the news today, and Ashkelon, being two of the cities that were maritime cities that were on the coast, and then Gath and Ashdod and Ekron, the three other cities.  They were very rich agriculturally, they were very advanced in regards to armour and swords.  The most in-depth description of armour we have anywhere in the Bible is the description of Goliath’s suit of mail and his armour and all, that description outdoes anything given to us in the Scripture, the Philistines were very advanced.  [Comment: their territory, Gaza especially, but the five cities being close to each other were also close to the border of the Egyptians, who owned the Sinai Peninsula, so they would have had to be strong to endure Egyptian armies crossing into their territory quite often to war with the Mitanni and Hittites to the north of Israel, to “inspire” these Egyptian armies to pass around their five cities without molesting them.  Makes sense.]  So, a warlike people, they kept to their five cities, so they had a place, a stronghold, they’re unlike the Canaanites, and they become a perennial enemy of the children of Israel.  And God gives the children of Israel, who did evil, again into the hands of the Philistines, they’re subjected forty years, and it says, “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.” (verse 2) now Dan means judge, interesting.  [Comment:  and of the 10 northern tribes of Israel that were conquered by Assyria and deported in 721BC, disappearing historically from view, Dan is the only tribe who can be readily identified as to where this tribe went and ended up as two nations, elsewhere in the world.  Dan always had a habit of naming himself wherever he went as a tribe, maintaining the name of Dan.  You have the Danes, in Denmark (which the Danes pronounce “Danmark), and you have Ireland, whose founding tribe in Gaelic is Tuatha de Danaan, which translates to Tribe of Dan.  Danites are not Jewish, try telling a Sword-Dane in the 800s AD or an Irishman he’s a Jew 😊]  Manoah means “to rest,” or “resting.  “and his wife” and we’re never told her name, interesting, Josephus tells us that she was extremely beautiful, the Hebrew tradition in his days says she was incredibly beautiful, Jewish woman [there he goes again, with the Jewish thing, come on Joe, she’s a Danite].  “whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.” and of course that was considered a sign of God’s disfavour in that day.  As we move into the record, we realize it was by God’s sovereignty that she was barren.  She was not intended by God to remain barren, she had a purpose.  But there are seasons in our lives when we may be barren, when we may be unfruitful, and that, under the hand and direction of God for some greater thing that he has.  We are told in John 15 to abide in the vine, and the husbandman, it says, cares for us, and he prunes, it says, the branches.  Sometimes God the Father will prune out of our lives those things that were fruitful last year or the year before or for the last five years, so that in the long run, there may be greater bearing, greater fruit that grows.  But there’s that season then where nothing’s happening because he’s trimmed the branch back, and this woman is barren.  She wasn’t barren because she wanted to be barren.  No doubt she had prayed, her and her husband had prayed, we’re going to find they were very godly, they had prayed no doubt for years, and she was barren.  Manoah could have divorced her on the grounds of that barrenness, but he stayed with her, he’s a godly man, and she is barren, she did not bear children.  We don’t know her name.  And it says this, “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not:  but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.” (verse 3)  Now she has to be shocked, because initially she thinks this is a stranger, a prophet or something, and they think it’s a prophet because whoever this person was, appears, walks up to her, and reveals the deepest brokenness and burden of her heart.  Just imagine if you had something terrible going on in your life, it wasn’t everybody else’s business, you really don’t want to talk to people about it, you’re bearing that alone, and somebody you’ve never seen walks up to you and says ‘Hey, this is going on in your life, this is what’s going on, and God’s going to end that.’  No doubt she was shocked.  She must have stood still, initially, and just looked at this person.  He says, “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:  for, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head:  for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb:  and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” (verses 4-5)  So this very strange situation.  Now we can tell by the way they respond, we know Numbers 6 told us about the Nazarite vow, they knew the Book of Numbers evidently, they knew what the Nazarite vow was, they had a familiarity with the Scripture, this is a godly couple in the midst of an environment, a culture where God is telling us they’re doing evil in the sight of the LORD.  We have no evidence that anybody else among the Danites were like them.  And God is saying ‘Don’t touch any wine, don’t touch [or eat] anything unclean, you’re going to conceive a child, he’s going to be a Nazarite from his birth.’  And in Luke chapter 1, verse 15 we hear a similar thing about John the Baptist, he’s the only other one, as it were.  And no doubt she’s shocked, as she hears this.  He’s going to begin to deliver Israel, he’s going to begin a good work, Samuel will continue that, and then David.  It’s a great challenge for us, sometimes we don’t get to do, maybe we just get to begin something sometimes, we see someone else that’s going to take it to a greater success than us.  There has to be something that we yield to in God’s sovereignty, in his wisdom.  You know, we got a bunch of great young guys on the staff, I hope they see more success than we ever saw, I hope they see the whole city gathered in, for the cause of Christ, I hope they see things we never dreamed of seeing.  David, he with all of his heart wanted to build the Temple, and God told him because he was a man of blood he couldn’t build it, so he pre-fab’d it.  He had everything waiting for Solomon, all the gold, all the silver, all the timber, all the stone, everything.  It was called Solomon’s Temple, it really was David’s Temple, Solomon just put it together.  David was content, ‘If I can’t do it, I’ll make sure whoever does do it has opportunity to do it and has the opportunity to it to God’s glory.’  So, interesting, he’s going to begin to deliver Israel.  Now I wonder, if he hadn’t compromised, he may have been able to deliver Israel all by himself.  [Now here's the argument between divine knowledge of the future, on a personal level, and human choice, something we won’t have an answer for in reality until we can ask Jesus at the Wedding of the Lamb in Revelation 19:6-10.]  Interesting he will “begin to deliver Israel.”  “Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible:  but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:” (verse 6)  And Manoah must be saying ‘What!  A guy walked up to you, told you that you were barren, that you had not had child, and that you’re going to conceive and bare a son, and you were stunned by this guy, his appearance, and you just ran home to tell me and forgot to ask him where he’s from, what his name is?  How are you going to find him to talk to him?’  “but he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing:  for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.” (verse 7) and unlike the normal Nazarite vow, which had a limit to it, a time limit to it, sometimes forty days, sometimes a person determined how long a Nazarite vow would be, but it certainly wasn’t from conception or from birth to death.  So very peculiar here, very interesting, and very much unlike the godless culture around Manoah and his wife, that is for certain.  It says, “Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” (verse 8) it’s an amazing response now, he takes his wife’s word, their relationship is close enough, you can tell how genuine she is, this person has made that much of an impression on her, thinks he’s possibly a prophet.  He entreated the LORD.  ‘Let him come, and let us know in detail what we should do.’  And by the way, this should be the prayer of every parent, ‘even from conception, what shall we do unto the child that shall be born?  LORD, this kid is yours, this kid’s on loan.  LORD, give us wisdom, give us direction, in a world that will not be passive but aggressive to take everything we want to instill in this child’s life, LORD, give us wisdom to raise this child in this world,’ should be a part of every parent’s prayer, undoubtedly.  “And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field:  but Manoah her husband was not with her.  And the woman made haste,” she said to the angel ‘Don’t move! Stay right there, don’t move.’ “and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.  And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?  And he said, I am.” (verses 9-11)  she went ahead of him, I know that, you know that feeling guys?  When you’re wife’s excited about something, you go after her, don’t you, cause she’s out in front of you.  He said “I am.” I wonder if there’s something hidden in that.  [not sure, the “am” is in italics, which means it’s not in the Hebrew, so it’s technically not the Tetragrammaton.]  “And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass.  How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” (verse 12) Look, godly parents.  We’re going to see the advantages that this young man Samson has, godly parents are no guarantee that a kid’s not going to go out and find out what everything is all about on his own.  You know, sometimes it’s a shame because, you know, what we do believe is if those things are invested, the kid’s gonna come back.  We have a whole service of them out there somewhere.  First time a nuke goes off, they’ll all be back, we’ll have four services immediately.  That’ll be wonderful.  They’re not gonna become Buddhists, they’re not going to become Hari Krishna’s when it happens, they’re all gonna go ‘Oh Jesus, Jesus, I’m serious now Jesus!’ and they’re going to come back to church and see if we’re still there, and we’re going to say ‘Welcome home!’ and it will be great to see them.  But just because godly parents do their best, the guarantee is not there that you’re not going to have ‘One of those little Sammy’s’ that’s going to go out and test the waters.  You can see by the response how godly they are, “Now let thy words come to pass.  How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?” (verse 12) the Hebrew seems to indicate ‘How are we supposed to order ourselves relative to this child that is going to deliver Israel, and what kind of works will be in him?’ it’s a very interesting phraseology.  “And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.” (verse 13)  My Word abides, the Word of God doesn’t change, “She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing:  all that I commanded her let her observe.” (verse 14) and he told her, this boy’s going to be a Nazarite, he’s not allowed to put a razor to his head, not allowed to cut his hair for his entire life.  He’s not allowed to drink wine or get near a dead body.  You know, you hear the requirements for the Nazarite in Numbers 6, Samson gets near a lot of dead bodies, of course not many of them are dead when he shows up, but by the time he’s done they are.  So, this guy will transgress some of these things in a remarkable way, but the angel says ‘What I’ve said, it doesn’t change.’ 

 

Manoah Finds Out Who He’s Been Talking To

 

“And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.” (verse 15)  ‘Let us prepare some hospitality, dinner, let us get some things ready for you.’  “And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread:  and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD.  For Manoah knew not that he was the angel of the LORD.” (verse 16)  ‘Now if you want to offer,’ a burnt offering is always a freewill offering, ‘if you want to do that, the only way you can do that is you have to offer it unto the LORD,’ he says.  “for Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.” “the” King James says “an” but he was the angel of the LORD.”  “And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is  thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?” (verse 17) still thinking he’s a man, doesn’t know he’s the angel of the LORD.  ‘Where do you live, what’s your name, so that when this kid is born, someday we can thank you, let you know, we can follow up, send you a photo.’  “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?” (verse 18) “wonderful,” the word for “secret” is “incomprehensible.”  ‘Why do you ask after my name, seeing it is wonderful?’  We have it here in Isaiah, the same word, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” ‘his name shall be called Wonderful.’  ‘How is it that you ask after my name, seeing that it is Wonderful?’  it’s filled with awe and wonder.  You know, sometimes, and the answer from God, he doesn’t give to us.  That can stumble us, there are times when we move forward in faith, Isaiah 55 says ‘His ways are above our ways, past finding out.’  In John chapter 16, I think verse 12, Jesus said to the disciples ‘I have many things to say unto you, but you’re not ready to comprehend them now, you can’t bear them now.’  There are things sometimes in our lives where God will say to us ‘later,’ he won’t say to us right away.  Interesting here, ‘What’s your name?’  ‘How is it that you ask that, seeing my name is Incomprehensible, it’s Wonderful?’  “So Manoah took a kid with a meat [grain] offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD:  and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.” (verse 19) now the only place they were supposed to offer sacrifice, somebody’s going to ask me after the service, is at Shiloh at the Tabernacle, but when the angel of the LORD comes and tells you to offer one here, you’re ok.  ok?  “wonderously” is the same word King James used as “secret” in verse 18.  ‘Manoah and his wife looked on, stood there with their mouths hanging open,’ the reason? “For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar.  And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.” (verse 20)  Here was this person, standing in front of them, they perceived to be, maybe a prophet, a man of God, and he says ‘no, I won’t take anything from you, but you can offer a burnt offering to the LORD,’ and as he offers, he must have showed him a rock suitable to offer as an offering on, and as the flame began to come up, this personage stepped into the flame and disappeared, went up with the offering, everything was gone from off the rock, and it says Manoah and his wife, they looked at each other, they went down.  Then we’re going to hear, chapter 14, verse 1, Samson went down, it’s a completely different thing.  He went down for years.  They went down on their faces, it says.  “But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife.  Then Manoah knew that he was an” King James says “an” it’s “the,” it’s a definite article, he was “the” angel of the LORD.”  “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (verses 21-22) so he’s very aware, when he says “the” angel of the LORD, you and I think of an angel, to an Old Testament believer, “the” angel of the LORD is not an angel, “the angel of the LORD was an appearance, a physical manifestation of God, we believe that’s a theophany, an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ.  God the Father is a spirit, the Son is the one whose come, and we believe that in several places in the Old Testament [I believe in a lot of places in the Old Testament] Jesus Christ [Yahweh] appears, the Captain of the LORD’s host, where Joshua is at Jericho, at Gilgal, sees this man with a drawn sword, ‘Are you for us or against us?’ ‘Neither, but I’m come forth as the Captain of the LORD’s host, take the shoes off of your feet, the place where you’re standing is holy ground,’ an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ [everywhere it says LORD in the King James Bible in the Old Testament, that is YHVH, Yahweh, the One who became Yeshua haMeschiach, Jesus Christ], no doubt to Gideon, it is “the angel of the LORD” who again went up, and left Gideon saying ‘I’m going to die, I’ve seen God.’   And here, listen, in the midst of a culture that’s turned from God, in the midst of a time when there is wickedness and immorality and idolatry everywhere, God is not bound, he is not bound.  There is no Red Sea that can stand in his way, there’s no giant that can withhold his army, and he steps into the scene here, and he finds in the midst of this culture a godly husband and a godly wife, that he has kept barren by design, and now it is time for them to bare, though it will be according to God’s precepts, according to his design.  And he manifests himself, and then as he leaves he does it in such a way that they know “we have seen God.”  Now I think that was the exclamation mark on this whole process, because they’re going to be very seriously raising this little boy after this experience.  And I wonder how many times they communicated to him what had happened.  And what does a little kid do with that?  you tell a little kid ‘God came to us.  You’re mom and I, we didn’t have any kids, and God came, told us you were going to be born.  Told us to look out for you.’  ‘Why can’t I drink wine!’ ‘Because God told us, you can’t drink wine.’ ‘Why can’t I cut my hair!?’ ‘Because God told us you’re not supposed to cut your hair.  Don’t you remember?’  Just imagine, the dynamics of all of this.  He said ‘We’re gonna die! We’ve seen God.’  I’m glad his wife was there, we don’t know her name, she’s a little calmer than he is.  “But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat [grain] offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.” (verse 23)  ‘So why would he make us promises and say you’re gonna have a baby if he wanted to kill us?  Manoah, get a grip.’ it’s not like something that happens every day, so it’s not like something you’ve got to practice, ‘Oh ya, right, if this ever happens again, I’ll keep that in mind.’  And from that verse to verse 24, nine months go by.  God always does things like that.

 

Samson Is Born, The Child Grew & The Spirit Of The LORD Begins To Move Him

 

“And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson:  and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.” (verse 24)  From birth to manhood is verse 24 to 25, nine months between verses 23 and 24, and years in two verses, God’s moving right along here, “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson:  and the LORD blessed him.” (verse 24), Samson, you dig through all of the Concordances, some say it means “little son,” some say it means “son,” some say it means “to be bright,” Josephus says the ancient rabbis translate it as “strong.”  We don’t know, we don’t have a Samson in the Bible before this, we’re not told that the angel told them to name the kid Samson, maybe they just said “he’s a bright spot in our lives, this is like sunshine coming into our lives,” or whatever, so they named him Samson.  Little did they know all the connotations that would be attached to that name.  They named him Samson, “and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.” Now that’s the only time in the Book of Judges it says “and the LORD blessed him.”  It doesn’t say that of Gideon, it doesn’t say it of Jephthah, it doesn’t say that of Barak or Othniel, the only one of the judges it says specifically that the LORD blessed is Samson.  Now wait, here’s the interesting thing, God knew who he was, back in verse 5 his mother was told, ‘He’s going to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines.’  God knew who he was, God looked at this little kid, born, becoming a child, growing, and God blessed him.  God knew he was going to go down to Timnath to marry a Philistine woman, God knew he was going to kill everybody at the wedding party, God knew he was going to get drunk and sleep with harlots and carry away the gates of the city, the Philistine city, God knew the mistake he was going to make with Dalila.  And God blessed him.  God didn’t look at him and say ‘Let’s start over.’  Isn’t it interesting, I don’t know what to do with that sometimes, I’m not saying it because, it’s interesting because God blessed this kid, blessed this young man.  By the way, the advantages, there’s a calling on his life, from the time he’s little, we’re going to see he recognizes that in verse 25, his parents reenforce that, he’s raised under godly parents, many people in this room wished that had happened in their lives.  He’s under God’s blessing, the Holy Spirit, we’re going to find out, is on his life, and yet, by his own choice, his life is filled with tragedy.  He also makes a choice in all of this.  Listen, godly parents, calling on his life, God’s blessing on his life, the Holy Spirit involved with his life, and yet he makes a choice that leads his life to tragedy.  So there is a reproof in this for all of us, there’s a lesson.  He’s in the Book of Hebrews in chapter 11, the Hall of Faith, no doubt he did great things, and mighty things.  It tells us I think in chapter 16 verse 24, when the Philistines have him blind, they’re making fun of him, because they said ‘He destroyed our entire country.’  He did many things we don’t hear about, that are not recorded.  But God does put certain things in front of us that he wants us to see, and he wants us to learn a lesson, and no doubt he would spare us of the heartache and the grief that comes with making some of those kinds of decisions.  “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson, the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.” (verse  24)  How interesting for it to tell us that, “And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (verse 25)  “began to move him” now that’s an interesting phrase, it means to be beaten, to be troubled, to agitate, to bang on like a drum, the Spirit of the LORD began to thump this kid.  He lives by Zorah and Eshtaol, and he lives where the ground is higher and he can see into Philistine territory, he grows up seeing marauding parties of the Philistines, and as he’s growing, the Spirit of God once in awhile is pounding on him, and he’s getting agitated, he’s looking at the Philistines.  He's thinking about, as he becomes a young man, 13, 14, 15, he looks like a lion by then, I’m sure.  All of his other friends are saying ‘Samson, cut your hair!’   At some point he begins to own it, and I believe he was muscular to a degree, certainly his peers would look at him and he began to have a fearlessness about him, he had a mane, you know.  His mother, if Josephus was right, was a beautiful woman, this was quite an individual, quite an individual.  And it tells us that the Spirit began to move him, as he’s looking at the tyranny of the Philistines, and he’s looking at what’s happening around him, moving him so quickly to manhood, putting him here before our hearts.  God sometimes may stir you and I, years before we ever understand  everything he wants to do with us.  You may be sitting here this evening, and God may have something for you five years from now, twenty years from now, and he may pound on you once in a while, the Holy Spirit just making an impression upon you.  You might just resonate, have that sense of calling, and you get excited, then a few days later it seems to have cooled, and you think about it, and you pray about it, and then once in awhile it stirs again.  You trust God if he’s doing that in your life.  He understands the timing, he understands the timing.  When he is 14 years old, it says the Spirit began to move him “at times,” not all the time, “in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol” as the Spirit is moving him, 13, 14 years old.  When he’s 14 years old, Samuel has been born at Shiloh, the Tabernacle, and Samuel is dedicated as a baby [after he had been weaned, so Samuel could be anywhere from 2 to 4, Hebrews were nursing their boy babies a lot longer than their girl babies, so Samuel is a toddler by the time he was dedicated to Temple service], Samson is 14 years old.  Now doubt Hannah had heard of this woman married to Manoah, in the area of the Philistine country, that had brought forth a young boy and had dedicated his life to God.  No doubt Hannah thought of that, and she pleaded  with the LORD and said, ‘LORD, if you’ll give me a son, I will dedicate his life to you.’  And now we see this young man come on the scene, born, predicted and born, blessed of God, the Spirit now beginning to move him and stir him, in the camp between Zorah and Eshtaol.  And by the way it’s interesting, Zorah has the idea of a hornets nest or beehive, when you look at the towns right around there, one of them means “Lioness,” one of them means “foxes,” one of them means “beehive” or “hornets nest,” and as you follow the guy’s life you’re going to see him involved with the carcass of a lion, see him involved with a beehive, you’re going to see him involved with tying the tails of the jackals or the foxes together, very just interesting what is set up all around this kid, an object lesson, as he begins to grow.  So God’s hand there, I encourage you to read ahead.  If you look in the next verse, “And Samson went down”  we’ll follow him now for a few verses in that direction.  “Samson went down,” it’s prophetic, you know, he’s a young man, old enough to marry at that point in time, he’s not gonna listen to his parents counsel, which is godly counsel, the Spirit of God is moving in his life, God’s blessing’s on his life, and he still turns, and he says to his mom and dad, ‘I saw a woman, get her for me.’  What do you say to a kid that tears down trees, he wants an apple, it’s way up, pulls the whole tree over, and he says to his mom and dad ‘I saw a woman, in Timnath in the Philistine country, go get her, I want her.’  ‘It’s time for you to move out, son.  You need to get out on your own.  You ever think about professional sports?’  Anyhow, read ahead, we come to this last, he’s the last of the judges.  We have details after that, in the remaining chapters, of the condition that gives us a backdrop of what was happening in Israel in those days.  Some of them are actually dated chronologically before the life of Samson, but we have an interesting description of the condition of those days.  But Samson now, he’s a contemporary of Eli, he’s a contemporary of little Samuel, remember the whole story of Ruth has already taken place, so maybe at some point as we move into this we’ll put up the overhead, and you can see where the battle of Aphek was, you can see what’s happening with Kirjath-jearim where the Ark finally ends up there, and you can see how close this ministry, this judgeship, this warriorship of Samson is to all of those things that will be happening when we get to 1st Samuel, and you’ll understand how they correlate and it’s important.  So, read ahead, you guys, look out for tonight, envy and jealousy, acts of the flesh, don’t let it get ontop of you [women too, I know a couple in that category], Jephthah, remember, we don’t know his beginning, we don’t know his ending, we have chapters about this man, whereas you have these others put before us with beginning, with ending, with 70 kids, you don’t need to envy anyone else because God is watching your life.  Maybe right now you’re in a season of unfruitfulness, that can be God’s hand as much as a season of fruitfulness.  But if he’s speaking to you, he’s blessing you, he’s put you in a great environment, remember, you still can choose, you can still make choices that bollocks those things up.  If you’re in those situations, and I think we are in so many ways, God has blessed us in America, if you’re sitting here tonight, you have tremendous freedom to worship publicly, to study his Word, to grow, to look around and say ‘Lord, what do you want me to do, what do you have for me to do Lord?’  What great opportunity, and there’s also the option of making decisions that interfere, damage all of that.  In the end, God gets his own way, that’s the long way around the barn, that’s the hard way to do things.  Amen?  Read ahead, there’s some great stuff...next week we’ll start to read chapter 14 and really get into the life of Samson, some great lessons…[transcript of two connective expository sermons on Judges 12:1-15 and Judges 13:1-25, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

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[Audio version: https://resources.ccphilly.org/detail.asp?TopicID=&Teaching=WED637]



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