I read Judges 13 this morning and it kinda felt like I had never read it before. It was like maybe little elves (spiritual elves, of course) came and added it to my Bible overnight. (C’mon…it could happen.) It is a whole chapter – 25 verses – describing the encounter(s) of Samson’s parents with the angel of the LORD.
The account happens during yet another downward cycle of Israel in their rebellion and disobedience to God, they are being run over by the Philistines (again), but God is preparing to help them (again), despite their repeated rejection of Him. (again). Don’t let the cycle of Judges blow past you either – our God is faithful – he works his plan. We are like Israel – disobedient, prideful, doing what is right in our own eyes – and yet he offers us grace and redemption.
Like Abram/Sarai, Elizabeth/Zechariah, and Mary/Joseph the/an angel of the LORD appears and declares that a child will be born. The angel of the LORD (if you ask Mark Driscoll, anytime we see “the” angel of the LORD it’s a Christophany – an appearance of Jesus himself) appears to Manoah, the father of Samson to announce this and give them instruction, the angel leaves. Manoah, wanting more information prays to God and asks that the angel return to teach them how to fulfill this mission and the angel returns. After a little instruction (oddly enough to the mother, not about Samson), the offer of a snack, and a little burnt offering the angel leaves. Time goes by, Samson is born…end of chapter. So what do we see?
- God working his plan of redemption – I said it above but it bears repeating. God’s plan cannot be stopped, he is working his plan to bring about redemption for all nations in Israel, a stubborn and rebellious people. (Hmm…sounds familiar) Ultimately, this will be revealed to be thru Jesus.
- Look at the diligence of Manoah – he asks God to have the angel return so that he can learn more in order to follow instructions exactly
- Look at the faith of Manoah – note v12 and v17 “When your words come true…” not “If…” Do we have that kind of faith?
- Look at the self-control and dedication required of Samson and his mother – Samson is to take a Narzirite vow – a temporary vow dedicating oneself to God involving several provisions, one of them being no alcohol. This verse isn’t teaching it’s wrong to drink alcohol (though being drunk is clearly a sin), but rather look at the conditioning of the soul and spirit for a life devoted to God. God teaches big things through self-discipline with a spirit to honor Him. Have you ever fasted? Try it…you’ll see amazing things about your heart revealed…
Lastly, look at the reverence of Manoah – much like Isaiah, Manoah says that they are definitely dead because they saw God. (If you ask me, I think this was an appearance of Jesus, as they refer to the angel as “God” and well…contrary to what the Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell ya…Jesus IS God and that’s clear in many places in Scripture.) We are human, sinful, selfish, rebellious…like Israel in the OT – God is perfect, 100% sinless and holy, sovereign, full of mercy and grace. Thus we cannot approach God in our sinful state – our sin prevents us from doing so. What’s the hope? Nothing. Apart from Jesus Christ that is – that thru faith in who Jesus was (God in the flesh) and what he did (lived the perfect life we could not and died as our substitutionary sacrifice and giving us HIS righteousness) we can be restored to God.
Whether or not this is actually Jesus appearing to Samson’s Mom and Dad is yet to be confirmed – but there is no denying that there are shadows of our need for a Savior because of our sinfulness, and God’s holiness in Judges. The plan of God moves forward and redemption is available to us still today in Him alone.