Judges: Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. He gave them over to the Philistines who oppressed them forty years. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife, who was barren. He told her she would have a baby and he would begin to save Israel from the Philistines. He gave her instructions on how to raise her son as a Nazirite. She told Manoah.
Manoah prayed to have the Angel of the Lord come back and teach them how to raise the boy. The Angel appeared to his wife again and she went to get Manoah. He came and asked how to raise the boy and the Angel said to do all he told his wife but repeated it for Manoah.
Manoah wanted to prepare a goat for the Angel but he said to prepare a burnt offering instead. Manoah asked for his name but he didn’t give his name because it was wonderful. They put the offering on a rock and flames came up from it. The Angel rose in the flame.
Manoah was afraid because he thought they would die because they had seen God. His wife told him they would be okay because he had accepted their sacrifice. She had a boy and she named him Samson.
Samson grew up and wanted to marry a Philistine woman in Timnah. His parents tried to dissuade him but he insisted so they arranged the marriage. They didn’t know the Lord was going to use it against the Philistines. When they went to Timnah, a lion attacked Samson but Samson killed it with his bare hands.
When Samson went to the wedding, he looked at the lion carcass and found a beehive in it dripping with honey. He ate some of the honey. During the wedding feast, he gave a riddle to the Philistines about the lion and the honey. If they could answer it within seven days of the feast, he would give them thirty changes of clothes otherwise they would have to give him thirty.
For three days, they couldn’t answer it so on the fourth day they threatened his wife to get the answer or they would burn her father’s house. She got the answer from Samson and they answered him the evening of the seventh day. He knew they got the answer from his wife. The Spirit came on him so he went to Ashkelon and killed thirty men giving the spoil to the men of Timnah.
Psalm: The Psalmist cries to the Lord to hear him in his days of distress. He wants the Lord to answer him quickly. He is physically afflicted with some illness affecting his whole body and kills his appetite. He feels as though he is all alone and that God’s anger has caused his misery. He is withering away.
But he proclaims that God is sovereign forever and he will have pity on Zion. Nations will fear the Lord because he builds up Zion and listens to the prayers of the afflicted. He wants future generations to know God looks down and sets prisoners free. Future generations will then praise the Lord. They will gather in Zion and worship.
Even though the Psalmist is losing strength in his midlife and his life is shortened, God lives forever and the future generations will dwell secure and be established by the Lord.
Proverbs: Simpletons and fools are a lot alike because the simple will believe anything and the fool recklessly charges ahead base on whatever he hears. Wise and prudent people think it over and don’t get trapped in evil.
John: The day after the Jewish leaders questioned John the Baptist, he saw Jesus and called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He baptized Jesus to reveal him to Israel and when he did, he saw the Spirit come upon Jesus.
The next day, he told two of his disciples that Jesus was the Lamb of God, as Jesus walked by. The two followed Jesus and he invited them to follow him home. Andrew was one of the two. Andrew was Simon Peter’s brother and he brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus renamed Simon Cephas, which means Peter.
The next day, Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip. Philip found Nathanael and told him they had found the one that Moses wrote about and it is Jesus of Nazareth. Nathanael was skeptical that anything good could come from Nazareth but went with Philip. Jesus said that there was no deceit in Nathanael when he approached Jesus. Nathanael was impressed and asked how Jesus knew him. Jesus said he had seen Nathanael under the fig tree. Nathanael then stated that Jesus was the Son of God, the king of Israel. Jesus asked if that is all it took for him to believe and that he would see greater things than this with heaven opened and the angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
What Stood Out
Judges: “And the angel of the Lord said to Manoah, ‘Of all that I said to the woman let her be careful’” (Judg 13:13).
Psalm: “But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations” (Ps 102:12).
Proverbs: “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps” (Prov 14:15).
John: “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’” (John 1:29)!
Judges: I’m always struck by the cultural difference between ancient Israel and God’s disregard for it when the Angel of the Lord announced Samson’s birth. With few exceptions in the Bible, men are the ones who think God should only be talking to them. The Angel of the Lord told Manoah’s wife exactly what was going to happen and how to raise her son. That should have been the end of the story. However, Manoah wants to hear this for himself. He must have thought that God wouldn’t talk directly to a woman or she couldn’t possibly understand God. So he must double check the story. The Angel comes back and tells Manoah he has already told his wife what to do. However, God is gracious and repeats it for the thickheaded husband. At the end, after the Angel rises in the flames and Manoah realizes he has seen God, he is afraid he will die. However, his wife displays wisdom and teaches him.
Paul said that in Christ, there is neither male nor female but we are all one (Gal 3:28). While we obey official teaching structure in the church (1 Tim 2:12), this doesn’t mean that women don’t hear from God and are often more spiritually astute than many men. We guys should consider this especially in our interactions with our wives, daughters, and mothers.
Psalm: The Psalmist doesn’t ask why in this Psalm. Though he says God has caused his afflictions out of his anger, he doesn’t appear to be blaming God as some of the other Psalmist do. He is naturally concerned for his own health but he is more concerned for future generations. He has a solid theology of God’s eternality and sovereignty. This gives him the assurance that there will always be people around who will be God’s servants. He wants them to know God’s deliverance.
When we are faced with illness or other circumstances that looks like our lives will be cut short, we need to remember that this life isn’t all there is. God is eternal and he is sovereign. If we can show our faith in the Lord during difficult times like this, then we will be a testimony to future generations. We know that if we are called home sooner than we expect, God will still be taking care of our families when we are gone. They should know we will be with the Lord and if they know him, we’ll all meet again.
Proverbs: The simple believe everything. But this is not meant in a good way, if it did then we would see more people accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. The problem is that these simple people believe the world instead of God. They believe everything contrary to what God says. Take reincarnation as an example. I think there are more people in the world who believe it is true than there are Christians. There are about 7.5 billion people on the earth. There are ten quintillion insects on the earth (1018 that is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000). This is just insects and there are many more other animals. So the odds of being reincarnated as something higher are very dismal, it is 1/109. With reincarnation the belief is that a person or animal that has done well will be reincarnated to a higher life form. With the ratio of humans to insects, you have to be pretty simple to believe that those odds are in your favor that you will increase rather than decrease or stay the same.
God turned the world’s wisdom upside down and he calls it foolishness. They don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection because it isn’t scientific and they think they are wise. When we line our thoughts up with God’s we will be wise and see Jesus as our only chance for life after death.
John: Yesterday, we saw that Jesus is God and he is eternal. Today, we see the second part of John’s thesis for his Gospel, the purpose for Jesus’ incarnation. If we miss this very important statement, then we are in big trouble. Our eternity depends on this being the truth. Being described as the Lamb of God, lets us know that Jesus is the one who will be sacrificed for our sins. There is no other way the penalty for our sins can be erased. We can’t do anything to earn our own salvation. Just as a lamb had to be killed in the sacrificial system, so Jesus fulfills that requirement once for all. There is no more sacrificial system because Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for sin. The Lamb of God had to be perfect to do this so we see that Jesus, being God, has God’s attribute of holiness.
Jesus also demonstrates God’s attribute of omniscience in his short conversation with Nathanael. He knows Nathanael’s character and saw him before Philip called him. It is impressive that Nathanael expresses his belief that Jesus is the Son of God and king of Israel so quickly. However, as it is with many people who profess faith in Jesus, they may do so without an understanding of what they are doing. Nathanael and the rest of the disciples are going to take three more years before their faith is solidified and even so, one will fall away.
One of the first things that a new Christian needs to understand is that Jesus takes away our sins. Yes, there is more, but that is one of the essentials revealed in today’s reading. We can’t minimize either Jesus’ sacrifice or our sins.
I need to be careful about what I hear and believe. I would like to believe all the good things I read in the newspaper but there are many things there that are only the world’s propaganda. I need to be wise and think things through.