JUDGES 16:1 – 18:31 and LUKE 10:1–42
This is the sad familiar account of Samson’s dalliance with Delilah. Though Samson had an incredible anointing of strength working within His life at appointed times we see absolute weakness in his morality. This helps us to understand one of the distinctions between the gifts of the Spirit and the Fruits of the Spirit. A gift can come upon a vessel to fulfil an appointed task whereas the fruit is evidenced by a consistent integral manner of life. In Samson we see such a distinct contrast; on the one hand we see incredible demonstrable strength in bringing judgment upon the enemies of God while at the same time being brought to his knees in absolute inner weakness.
What are some of the lessons that we can glean from Samson? He serves as a type of Christ as a deliverer and instrument of judgement upon the enemies. He demonstrates that mortal man can be endued with extraordinary supernatural power which is something the latter day church needs to enter into especially when coming up against spiritual strongholds and principalities. We see in his death another picture of the 2nd coming of Christ. Still, we see in Samson an inferior vessel that had not experienced the fruits of circumcision in his inner life. He did not possess the New Covenant reality; something the latter day church needs to appropriate. We also see in Samson a picture of what is about to take place when the priest and prophet Samuel comes on the scene. Just like Samson, Israel as a nation is going to take for granted the presence of God once too often. Like Samson, Israel as a nation is going to lose the presence of God to the Philistines. Like Samson, Israel as a nation will eventually be brought under the captivity of an alien nation. Like Samson and Israel the church of the last days must not make this same mistake. Samson took the vow of a Nazarite but he did not live according to his vow. The vow of a Nazarite is a call to holiness; the call to a consecrated and separated life. What was really the primary problem with Samson?
He was a man given to appetites which was primarily seen in the area of immorality. We also saw earlier that he was one who would not listen to the instruction of his parents (14:3) even though the matter was of the Lord. Chapter 16 begins with an encounter with a harlot. Soon thereafter the Gazites plotted against him.
In verse 3 we see Samson taking the gates of the city and carrying them about 20 miles up the mountain of Hebron. Here we see a picture of the resurrection power of Christ. After this supernatural demonstration of strength we Samson becoming more casual with this anointing gift. Samson falls in love with another woman by the name of Delilah who was one who certainly did not have Samson’s interests at heart. The Philistines had easy accessibility to her and they offered her a price to exact the source of his strength. By now, it seems that Samson was comfortable that God would deliver him out of any situation seeing that the anointing would come upon him when needed.
The key to undermining Samson was to get at the source of his anointing. This is what Satan is after from each of our lives. He looks for areas of vulnerability that he can seek to exploit against us. Al Capone, the famous Chicago gangster would often make this statement; every man has his price. In his mind there was something in every man that could be exploited which will result in him being compromised. Why do you think so many politicians today are not able to take principled stands on issues of ethics? (This is certainly true in the USA) In the case of Samson the anointing was rooted in his uncut hair due to the vow he made as a Nazarite. It was the word that came to Manoah and his wife before he was born. The time came when Samson presumed upon God once too often. In his casualness he revealed his heart and secret to the anointing. This is a strong warning for the latter day church. The church of the last days will be used of God in ways never seen before. God will raise up Samson’s who will do mighty exploits against spiritual strongholds but it will have to be with those who have inward character and integrity. Samson lacked these things but his failure in this area is for our instruction. We cannot assume that God will always fight for us if we choose to live a contrary life. The lesson we see here and will soon see with Israel is that we can never ever take the presence of the Lord for granted. Samson was given the privilege of exercising one final feat of strength and destruction to the enemy. His eyes were blinded but he was able to destroy more Philistines in his death than what he was able to do in life.
This account is not chronological to the previous chapters and it is difficult trying to pinpoint an exact timeframe. There is evidence of strong idolatry at this time but this proves to be an interesting case. It appears that this man Micah sought to make his own prototype of the tabernacle which would have presumably been at Shiloh. We see evidence of the fear of the Lord in Micah in hearing how his mother had dedicated a sum of money to the Lord. He restored it to her and sought to set up a similarly based tabernacle going as far as appointing one of his sons to be the priest (vs 5).
In verses 7-13 we see a man who came out of Bethlehem-Judah who happened to be a Levite. This man was looking for a place to dwell and Micah saw him as one who could be a father and a priest (vs 10). He offered him wages and the man was pleased to accept Micah’s offer and dwelt with him. Micah was pleased in having this arrangement. Though Micah had no divine mandate for such an arrangement he seemed sincere in his intentions, especially when he found a Levite who could officiate as a priest. He more than likely felt that this was God’s sanction and approval. There was tremendous mixture evident and ignorance not to mention a true mandate from God for establishing this model of tabernacle worship. How will this play out in the end? Will there be conclusions we can draw from this example?
This chapter opens by making the statement that there was no king in the land. This is an expression that is being seen more readily as if pointing to the role and need of a true king. There are those of the tribe of Dan who have not yet settled into their inheritance. It is probably due to neglect and not pressing in as did the other tribes. They recognized the priest who is now functioning under Micah (vs 3). They ask guidance of the priest and are expressing no concern to his role as a priest or the substitute model of the tabernacle at Shiloh. The fact that they express no concern goes to show the level of idolatry that existed in the land at that time. It does not speak well of the Danites. They also express no concern to the use of the teraphim as opposed to the Urim and Thummim which is what a Levite priest would use. The representatives of the Danites then went to the land of the Zidonians and they saw it as a prime piece of land to settle in. They quickly returned to their brethren and informed that it would be an easy place to overtake and secure.
The people of Dan saw the instruments of Micah’s sanctuary as worthy of being taken for themselves. They were also able to entice the priest to come along with them. There was a great mixture in the way the Danites went about their religious practices. They imitated the real articles of the tabernacle as well as the procession and ways in which the camp would travel. There was a bit of understanding of the methods of the true tabernacle but they were very much out of order in the way they went about it. We will see something similar when Jeroboam comes to reign. He will pitch an altar at Bethel and will appoint base men to be priests. All of the kings of the northern tribe of Israel will never depart from the sins of Jeroboam. There is considerable symbolism and ritual in many of today’s religions. The external rites of worship can never serve as the true remedy for man’s condition. What Micah had started, the Danites now take up in greater measure. They took the items from Micah in addition to the priest who was serving him. Micah and several from his place go off after the robbers. They soon see however that they are outnumbered and realize they would be no match for them and think the better of a confrontation.
The Danites took the things of Micah along with his priest to the inhabitants of a place called Laish which was a quiet and serene habitation. They slaughtered the inhabitants and set the city on fire (vs 27). They changed the name of Laish to Dan. This dwelling place is a fulfilment of prophesy given to their tribe (Deu 33:22). Laish signifies a lion and it was a place infested with them. This land was also prophesied of in Josh 19:47. It is amazing to see such accurate words coming to pass many years later. The name “Leshem” (which is another name for Laish) is the name of the precious stone in the high priest’s breastplate. Any guess as to whose name was engraved on that stone? That’s right, the name of Dan.
In reading through this chapter I get the sense that we are seeing a picture or a model of the calling of the last day church. The Lord is commissioning His disciples to precede Him in their going forth to different cities etc. He goes on to say that the harvest is rich but that there are very few or “puny” labourers. In other words the workers are not up to the magnitude of the tasks before them. Why is this? Jesus gives some hints in His descriptions as to what the workers will need to prepare for.
First, they are being sent forth as lambs before wolves (vs 3). This is taking on a whole new meaning in today’s culturally charged environment. In some countries we are seeing horrendous persecutions towards people of Christian faith. In the past year we are seeing this trend spreading to many other places. Are the workers for Christ going to be up to the task? Will there be a willingness to confront such anti-Christian forces as we are sent forth in reaching people for Christ?
Secondly, the Lord says that they are to take nothing for their journey. They are not to rely on a bank account or possessions but to trust in the Lord’s ability to meet their needs (vs 4). Too often we hear of potential church workers laying down many conditions before committing to a mission or church related endeavour. People look to serve the Lord within a certain “comfort zone” arena. When we seek to serve the Lord on our terms it limits God in His ability to fulfil the great commission through us.
The first 16 verses of Luke 10 is a picture and model of how the last day church should be functioning prior to the 2nd coming of Christ. We are called to bring the good news of the kingdom to the needy places and we are called to heal the sick and demonstrate the power of the kingdom wherever God leads us. The message and power displayed must be of a magnitude that causes cities and nations to make a choice. A weak and ill equipped labourer will not have the needed witness to bring forth such a decision. As we have seen in some of our Old Testament commentaries it is time for the church to become the head and no longer take a back seat to the cultural impulses of the day (Deu 28:13). We cannot presume such a role it must be God who prompts us and goes before us. It must be on His terms. It is time for the church to arise and to assume its rightful role as THE standard bearer. It must provide a strong enough witness to bring cities, nations and people to a choice. They will either receive and embrace the message like the people of Nineveh did in the days of Jonah’s preaching or they will refuse. God will judge according to their response. May God help us to provide that witness by both Word and power in addition to a life that faithfully serves the Lord.
In verses 23-24 the Lord speaks privately to His disciples and makes known to them that what they are seeing and hearing are precious truths that kings and prophets desired to see. There was so much taking place that it would be impossible for them to even scratch the surface of what they were witnessing. This sequence of events would be in the context of the 7 kingdom parables that Jesus related in Mathew 13. The parables represented a progressive revelation of the kingdom of God. The Bible makes clear that the kingdom will open up to those who have a hunger and pursuit after the things of God. God conceals a thing but the honor of kings is to search out a matter (Pro 25:2). The pearl of great price is obtained by those who seek after the goodly pearls (Math 13:45-46). We have mentioned on other occasions the truths concerning the golden pot of manna which was placed within the Ark of the Covenant. It has the connotation of the hidden things of God.
Psa 78:24 And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven.
Psa 78:25 Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full.
God has provided more than enough evidence throughout His Word to equip and inform as to what is about to take place in these last days. Do we have the hunger for Him, His Word and His ways? Are we willing to step out into the unknown by faith in order to see the works of God become manifest (Psa 107:23-24)? Luke 10 in many ways is a precursor to where the church is at today. Are we ready?