~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Judges 13:1-14:20 ~ John 1:29-51
Psalm 102:1-28 ~ Proverbs 14:15-16
Old Testament - Today we begin reading 4 chapters about Samson, the last of the judges. You'll notice that the author of Judges often compares the story of Samson's birth and life with the story of Israel. Samson was a Nazirite, which meant he could drink no alcohol, could not cut his hair, and could have no contact with the dead. I found it interesting that Samson's mother was commanded by the angel in Judges 13 today to not drink any alcohol during her pregnancy. Obviously this is important for health reasons, but also it seems it is important because Samson was a Nazirite - whose life began in his mother's womb. More info on Nazirite's is at this link and at this link.
Judges chapter 13 verses 19 & 20 are awesome to consider - "Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to the LORD. And as Manoah and his wife watched, the LORD did an amazing thing. As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the LORD ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground."
Interesting story today about Samson & the lion! Pretty gross that he ate the honey made in the lion's carcass on the way to his wedding! :) You'll note in our readings of Samson that he is drawn to Philistine women, which was against God's law and the Philistine's were Israel's enemies then. Hence, his parents did not approve of the marriage early in chapter 14. Okay - back to the lion, and verses 5 & 6 - "As Samson and his parents were going down to Timnah, a young lion attacked Samson near the vineyards of Timnah. At that moment the Spirit of the LORD powerfully took control of him, and he ripped the lion's jaws apart with his bare hands. He did it as easily as if it were a young goat. But he didn't tell his father or mother about it."
New Testament - I absolutely love John chapter 1 verse 29 - "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Do you believe Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?
Verses 45 & 46 I find so truthful, along with Nathanael's reply being amusing - but mostly Nathanael's reply demonstrates how very humble of a background Jesus came from - "Philip went off to look for Nathanael and told him, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth." "Nazareth!" exclaimed Nathanael. "Can anything good come from there?" Are we ever like Nathanael - having preconceived notions about places or things or maybe even Jesus? Can we leave our preconceived notions about things behind us and move forward in the spirit of truth, particularly when it comes to Jesus and who he is?
Bible.org's commentary on John chapter 1 titled "The Witness of John" is at this link and commentary titled "The First Disciples" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 102 can most definitely be a comfort for us during a time of sorrow. I love the reminder about God in verse 27 - "But you are always the same; your years never end." God does not change. He is perfectly consistent. We are oftentimes inconsistent. But, our inconsistencies do not change God's consistency. He is always the same - yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. God is the one sure thing in life that you can count on - forever.
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 14 verse 16 is a bit convicting for me - "The wise are cautious and avoid danger; fools plunge ahead with great confidence." As I look at my life I think that I often plunge ahead with great confidence... and recently I was called out on this - wisely I think. I do see the wisdom of being cautious and avoiding danger. But, I also think that we shouldn't avoid some risks of failure - particularly when it comes to God's Kingdom work... but... I do see that it is foolish to plunge ahead only with great confidence. We should only move forward with God. How about you? Are you cautious and do you avoid danger? (maybe too cautious sometimes?) Or, do you plunge ahead with great confidence? With too much confidence? Is this foolish?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!
We’ve already read about Israel’s increasing apostasy (the slow abandonment of faith) that led to attacks from both the Ammonites and the Philistines, then another Ammonite oppression, and now a second Philistine oppression in the south (so long and great this time as to even threaten the very existence of Israel as a separate people) with the story of Samson closing the chapter in history of Israel during the period of the judges. When we think of Samson, we think of physical strength and spiritual weakness (despite a godly rearing). One of his first blunders was to crave a woman from an enemy nation (Philistine) against the advice of his parents (parental permission sounds ludicrous today, huh?). Tricked, a furious Samson ends up leaving the marriage feast on a 23-mile journey to obtain the clothing through murder to pay off his foolish wager. Samson’s angry departure surely confused his bride’s parents who marry her off to another. Samson’s story is one of self-indulgence and poor choices for companionship. Samson’s casual attitudes towards spiritual things was again demonstrated by his casual scooping of honey from the lion carcass when all Nararites were forbidden to even “go near” a dead body (Num. 6:6).
The Daily Bible Study explains that Nazarite (pronounced naw-zeer, meaning separated or consecrated) was used to indicate someone who was separated from the general population and consecrated to God. Although Samson is the first Nazirite specifically mentioned in the Bible, there are general references made at the time of Moses. The Nazirite vow included no products of grape, uncut hair (after shaving it all off), and no contact with the dead “until the time is completed for which he separates himself to the Lord.” While Samson died still living his vow (as did John the Baptist), most cases were usually only for 1-3 months (as Paul does in Acts 18:18 and 21:22-26). A Nazirene, though, should not be confused with a Nazarene, which was a sect of Jews practicing a Messianic form of Karaite Judaism as given in the Torah (Paul is referred as a ringleader of the Nazarene Jews in Acts 24:5). Some believe that all the first Apostles and Christ had already taken the Nazirite vow (and that Paul was taking it later after becoming an Apostle) as well as did all male followers of the time. Mike comments that Samson as a Nazirite could not cut his hair and this could also explain why Christ and his peers are likewise commonly depicted as having long hair while the normal Jew was (before and after) commanded to keep short hair (as per Ezekiel 44:20 and I Corinthians 11:14).
“The angel of the Lord” here is yet again a divine self-manifestation of God that speaks as God, identifies Himself with God, and claims to exercise the prerogatives of God (see 16:7-14; 21:17-21; 22:11-18; 31:11, 13; Ex. 3:2; Judg. 2:1-4; 5:23; 6:11-24; 13:3-22; 2 Sam. 24:16; Zech. 1:12; 3:1; 12:8). The angel of the Lord first appears in Genesis 16:7. If this was actually God, why is He called an angel (root meaning of messenger)? Many OT passages state that this angel is God (for example, Hagar in Gen 16:13 and Jacob in Gen 48:15-16) and in Exodus 3:2-6, the phrase “the angel of the Lord” is used interchangeably with “the Lord,” which claims outright, “I am the God of your father…” The real clincher, though, is Exodus 23:20-23 when the Israelites were warned to obey his angel “since my Name is in him.” This angel has the power to give life (Gen 16:10), to see and know all (Gen 16:13; Ex 3:7), forgive sin (Ex 23:21), and perform miracles such as keeping a burning bush from being consumed (Ex 3:2), smiting Egypt with plagues (Ex 3:20), calling forth fire on rock to consume the meal set for Him (Judges 6:21), and now ascending the flame of the alter (Judg 13:20). Jewish literature says the fight with Jacob was with an angel of Esau named Samael (who is today worshiped by many Gnostics as a misguided “blind god” in Satanic fashion as a professed enemy of Yahweh), others, like Jerome, suggest it was only an episode of earnest prayer, some today suggest it only a classic myth of gods fighting heroes, although Hosea 12:4 clearly describes the antagonist as an angel. The final support for all of this being the pre-incarnate appearance of the second person of the Trinity is that the Angel of the Lord ceases to appear after the incarnation.
John’s Gospel gives us the Names that prove Christ is the Messiah. Yesterday, we read that He is the Word, the Light, the Son of God, and the Christ. Today, we read that He is also the Lamb of God, King of Israel, and the Son of Man. The title of Son of Man comes from Daniel 7:13-14 and every Jew knew it described God. Christ also alludes to “Jacobs ladder” from Genesis 28:10-17 as He is God’s ladder between earth and heaven, revealing God to men and taking men to God. When he says in 1:35 “two of his disciples” he is likely referring to Andrew (as per 1:40) and to himself since he painstakingly endeavors to conceal his own name. And they heard Him and understood their master’s meaning to follow. While it was suggested by Proverbs today to be cautious, delays can also be dangerous and, in this case, even fatal. If you would wish to also follow Jesus, you will not find him amongst worldly affairs or pleasures, but in His temple, treasures of wisdom and knowledge enriching others, wherever two or three are gathered in His name, and in the humble spirit.
When Nathanael asks if any good thing could come from Nazareth, he is likely implying that he expected to hear Bethlehem to be the birth-place of the messiah. Philip says to come and see. While so many suggest that a Christian faith is a blind faith, no history has ever published so many external (as well as internal) proofs of authenticity as the “good book” has. John took every opportunity that offered to lead people to Christ. The strongest and most prevailing argument with an awakened soul to follow Christ, is, that it is he only who takes away sin. Nathanael represented the godly Israelite who responded at the very first evidence that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Observe the objection Nathanael made. All who desire to profit by the word of God, must beware of prejudices against places, or denominations of men. The best way to remove false notions of religion, is to make trial of it. “Only simpletons believe everything they are told!”
Messiah is the Hebrew that in Greek is translated as Christ, both meaning the Anointed One. In the OT, three people were anointed, the prophet, priest, and king while Jesus is the fulfillment of all three. Note that the Passover “Lamb of God,” (Ex 12:3) is combined with the scapegoat of the Day of Atonement (Lev 5:16) bearing Israel’s sin typologically—a reference to universal atonement. While John was superseded by Jesus (“He was before me”), why did John say he did not know Him as Mary and Elizabeth were relatives (Luke 1:36)? While nothing is known concerning any childhood contacts, John did not know Jesus was the coming One until He was revealed by the Father. John had been told by God that the sign of the dove would mark the person as the One who would baptize by that same Holy Spirit. Cleansing by water is one thing, but the cleansing produced by the Spirit is of another whole order. 50 days after Passover at Pentecost (the only Jewish holiday on a Sunday), the baptism with the Holy Spirit birthed the church age.
What is meant in the last line of angles ascending and descending on the Son of Man? It is obvious (only to those reading the King James Version with its he and ye) that Jesus is changing his audience from just Nathanael to at least the whole group of four disciples. John is probably making more than just reference to Jesus as the stairway to heaven from Genesis 28:12 since he says “you shall see heaven open,” suggesting the descent of the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism as well as the divine presence in the upcoming miracles of Christ (to which they each responded with commitment). John will pick up this theme again in 14:12 when he indicates that the presence of the Spirit in the believer will make him or her into even more of a window into heaven.
Two features of the millennial kingdom stand out in Psalms 102: that Jerusalem will be restored and that the entire world will worship the Lord. Though we are frail, in pain, lonely, tired, and rejected, yet Jesus lives, and thus all is secure, for he hath said, Because I live ye shall live also.
Posted by: Footsteps of God | May 01, 2005 at 12:47 AM