Judges ~ Chapter Thirteen
Read: Judges 13:1-25
"And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
"Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children,
but you shall conceive and bear a son.
Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink,
and not to eat anything unclean.
For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son.
And no razor shall come upon his head,
for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb;
and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."
The last of the judges is introduced during one of the longest periods of Israel's oppression. For forty years God's people were subject to Philistine domination after they had again done "evil in the sight of the LORD" (v. 1). Born during this period, Samson, was truly a man of the times. He exemplified the nation of Israel, having been set apart to the Lord from birth, but foolishly pursuing idolatrous relationships, which led to his downfall. Samson's birth was announced by divine intervention, just as had been the case with Sarah, the mother of Isaac (Genesis 11:30; 21:1-5), Rebekah, the mother of Jacob (Genesis 25:21), Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:2, 20), and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:7, 13-17). Their barrenness provided fertile ground for the Lord to accomplish a great miracle in each of their lives and for the nation of Israel. "And the Angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son...and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" (Judges 13:3, 5). When the Lord is about to do something "wonderful" in the world (v. 18), He sends an Angel to make a divine birth announcement (Luke 2:13, 14)! "Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:30-33). The Angel who appeared to Manoah and his wife to announce the birth of Samson was no mere angel, He was the Lord Himself. The Angel of the Lord told them that this child was to be especially devoted to the Lord for his whole life. Samson was to live as a Nazirite from birth and throughout the rest of his life. Unlike the traditional Nazirite vow, which was voluntary and temporary, Samson was born into a life of service. Unfortunately, he would eventually break every stipulation - having his hair cut off, drinking, wine (at his wedding), and associating with the dead. Sadly, his failure was also announced prior to his birth. "...and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines" (v. 5b). Samson was to become the champion of Israel. He was set apart from birth to be the hero of God's chosen people. His life was to be entirely consecrated to the Lord. In every way, from what he put into his body to what he put on his body, he was meant to stand out among men as one set apart to be the servant of God. Tragically, his outer strength would be no match for his inner weakness, and his downfall would be his own foolishness. Beloved, we have been set apart to the Lord from birth - our spiritual birth (John 3:3). Even before we were born again, the Lord has purposed to make us heroes of the faith. He has told us from the beginning how we are to live, and we must be careful not to stray from His divine stipulations, precepts, and commandments, so we can remain clothed in His power from within and "be strong, and carry out great exploits" for the kingdom of God (Daniel 11:32). "But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15, 16). May we not weaken our witness by partaking of the sinful pleasures which the carnal man desires, and so bring dishonor to our King and disaster to others. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted" (Proverbs 31:4, 5). Let us pray for deeper consecration, as we walk in wisdom, being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-21); for we have been made kings and priests to the Lord (Revelation 1:6) and have been set apart to proclaim His praises and radiate His light in this dark and sinful world (1 Peter 2:9). "Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).
"Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
"Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
'When either a man or woman consecrates an offering to take the vow of a Nazirite,
to separate himself to the LORD, he shall separate himself from wine and similar drink;
he shall drink neither vinegar made from wine nor vinegar made from similar drink;
neither shall he drink any grape juice, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins...
All the days of his separation shall be holy to the LORD."
"It happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar -
the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar!
When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.
When the Angel of the LORD appeared no more to Manoah and his wife,
then Manoah kenw that He was the Angel of the LORD.
And Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God!"
But his wife said to him, "If the LORD had desired to kill us,
He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands,
nor would He have shown us all these things,
nor would He have told us such things as these at this time."
In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, Manoah and his wife set themselves apart. They were devoted to the Lord and the Lord visited them and gave them the good news of the deliverance He was working on behalf of His people. "A Man of God came to me, and His countenance was like the countenance of the Angel of God, very awesome; but I did not ask Him where He was from, and He did not tell me His name" (Judges 13:6). The Angel of the LORD instructed Manoah's wife to also follow the stipulations of the Nazirite vow while she was carrying Samson, so that she would not defile the baby by what she ate and drank. In response to the blessed visitation and the "wonderful" announcement, Manoah and his wife prepared a meal for their divine Guest, Who instructed them to present it as an offering to the LORD (v. 16). "So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it upon the rock to the LORD. And He did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on - it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar - the Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground" (vv. 19, 20). They realized that they had seen and talked with God, and Manoah feared for their lives, just as Gideon had years earlier. "Alas, O Lord GOD! For I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face" (Judges 6:22). These dedicated servants of the Lord responded in the proper way when they stood in the presence of God. To calm Manoah's fears, his wife wisely declared that the Lord had come in peace; just as Gideon also had when he built an altar to the Lord (6:24). She correctly perceived that if the Lord had intended to kill them, then He never would have brought them such a wonderful announcement, nor received their sacrifices, nor provided such precious promises. Their offering was consumed upon the rock, and the Angel ascended in the flame. What they had brought Him was acceptable, only because He made it so. In response, they melted to the ground in fear. We must come to the complete end of ourselves and our own abilities to be used of God. It was barrenness that prepared many of these devoted servants to be the channels of God's greatest blessings to mankind, and so we must also be made to feel our barrenness and our emptiness in order for God to use us (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). But while He is pressing, polishing, purifying, and purging us of the world, self, and sin, we must not be fearful of death nor in our deepest pain and sorrow desire death, for the Lord is accomplishing a "wonderful" work in and through our lives, if we will let Him. The Lord has given us every precious promise in His Word for us to lay hold of that we may live. May we feast upon every Word, lay hold of every blessings, and obey every command, that we may continue to grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:52). "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24).
"Do all things without complaining and disputing,
that you may become blameless and harmless,
children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life,
so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain."