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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.

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