Tuesday, 19th January 2021
From Judges 1 to 13, we saw the Israelites sinned then cried out to God again and again, God continued to answer them and when they turned back to seek God, God saved them. But in Chapter 13, we saw something interesting here. When the previous judge, Abdon, died, Israelite continued to sin.
The Philistines were also foreigners to Canaan, but this time, they took over the people of Israelite for 40 years. Canaan is the land God promised to Israelite, but now they are being oppressed and controlled by the Philistines. The meaning of Philistines is ‘homeless’, they came from outside of Canaan, and by their own strength they took over some cities in the west. Israelite took the land by the power of God, but because of their unbelief, God handed them over to these foreigners, who did not rely on God and fought in their own strength.
Section One: V1-7 To Rest and To Set Apart
The Israelite were compromised with the culture of being oppressed by the Philistines. When we move to New Zealand, a lot of us still lived in the old lifestyle as how we lived back in our hometown, and therefore we built up the mindset of foreigners, who fight for the rights and work hard for the living. In the same way, God led the Israelite into Canaan to possess the land, but here in Judges 13, the Israelite still had the foreigner mindset. They tried to live by their own strength.
The Angel of God appeared before the wife of Manoah, and she told her husband her encounter with ‘a Man of God’. After 40 years the Israelite forgot about God, when they faced troubles, they used their own strength to fight instead of seeking God. We are also the same when we face challenges and difficulties, we will use our own strength to try solving it. Our target is only to take care of ourselves, take care of our own families, we all have the mindset of foreigners.
The meaning of the name ‘Manoah’ is ‘to rest’, in the time when everyone worked hard for themselves, God chose the man, whose name is ‘to rest’. Why God did not do anything when the Israelite cried out? We need to know that God is preparing, He is always waiting for someone, who can bring changes to the world. God is giving people an opportunity to turn back and this time before the people seek God, God already chose the Judge for them. God came to this family and raised up the last Judge of Israel.
In the Garden of Eden, the devil talked first to Eve then Eve talked to Adam. Here God talked to the wife first then the wife went home and told her husband. When God give people a gift, He also gives the conditions. He asked the wife of Manoah to not drink any wine, so she can be set apart from the people of Canaan. God gave them a son to be a Nazirite. Nazirites are not Levites nor Priests, they are willing to give their lives to God and serve Him with their lives.
Why do we come close to God? Only to get what we cannot get by our own hands.
Section Two: V8-23 To Seek and To See
Manoah and his wife did not recognize it was the Angel of God, who was talking to them. If they were true followers of God, then they would not offer to prepare the young goat for the Angel of God to eat. The Angel of God rejected their offer and taught them it was supposed to be offered to God, not for people to enjoy. The people of Israelite confused offering to God with Canaan’s the culture of worshipping idol. People of this world are walking further away from God; we no longer understand what the truth is. Therefore, it’s very important to study the Word of God in our morning devotion, so we can learn the culture of Jesus.
The Angel of God taught them the truth, when someone walks away from the truth of God, we also need to teach them and guide them to the right path. Then Manoah asked for the name of the Angel of God, who answered, “my name is wonderful”, therefore, when they give offering, God did a wonderful thing to show them He’s the true God.
Manoah knew they were uncleaned and sinned against God, he thought they would die after seeing the wonders of God. But his wife was smart, and she recognized that if God wanted them dead, He would not give them all these revelation and teaching. What is our situation right now? Can we see God’s work in our lives?
Section Three: V24-25 To Offer
After we rest, set apart, seek, and see, if we don’t offer then everything happened beforehand would be in vain. Why did the wife name their child instead of the husband? It seemed that the husband was absent a lot during this encounter with the Angel of God. The meaning of Samson is ‘Child of the Sun’, which was one of the gods Canaanite worshipped.
As husbands, have we protected our family, our wives, and children? As shepherds, God has given us sheep to look after but are we with them when they need us? Are we giving them teaching and instructions from the Word of God?
Don’t let us become the absent father, the absent husband, the absent leader, when God gives us the spiritual family, we need to offer ourselves and to treasure it. We need to focus, to humble ourselves, to seek to find God. We should also ask God to cut off and break the mindset of foreigners in us, so we can live out freedom and enable God’s presence to be always with us!
We saw that the conditions of the Israelites back then were just like our Christians in New Zealand. We are in this land with the mentality of a settler. Our hearts are too confused. Although God is there, we forget to rely on God when in oppression but rely on our own efforts to survive. Lord, we come to you and ask for Your help, give us a chance to change, let us strengthen our faith once again. We admit that we often confuse the truth of God with the world. Help us see You with our eyes, talk to You, and experience You. In the name of Jesus Christ, we ask the Lord to help us get rid of the mindset of immigrants, draw a clear line between this identity and the culture of this world, raise children in the truth, and shepherd the sheep around us. Help us from this generation to no longer be suppressed, but to transform and become a blessing.
25，琐拉, 他们居住的地方；以实陶, “很丑”；在这两地之间，耶和华的灵才感动参孙。