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When The Weak Become Strong: Samson - Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 21, 2015 6:00 am

When The Weak Become Strong: Samson - Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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Summit Church at all of our campuses, it's my privilege to be able to welcome back four good friends of mine, Kurt and Janike Holiday and their kids, Ruthanne and Joshua. This family has the distinction of being the longest serving full-time missionaries sent out by the Summit Church. They have served in Johannesburg, South Africa and the surrounding areas for 15 years now. That's how long they've been there. Stop, stop, stop, stop.

You totally blew what I was going to do here. I was going to say, around here we treat our church planters, specifically our international church planters, like the heroes that we are. So why don't you stand to your feet at all of our campuses and let's welcome back Kurt and Janike and their children.

You guys remain standing at all campuses just for a minute. I first got to know Kurt in 1996 when I came here and he hired me as an intern in the student ministry, I say hired in air quotes because there was no money involved at all. But he gave me my first taste of ministry here at the church that would become the Summit Church. Already at that point in his life, God was doing something extraordinary for missions and he was one of the first ones, if not the first one, to really infect that vision into this church and make it part of its DNA. So nobody was surprised 15 years ago when God called them to go to South Africa and when he went he took a piece of the heart of the Summit Church with them and has led us in this mission vision ever since. They've served now there in South Africa. The first thing he did when he was there was he was in sports evangelism, coaching baseball teams and teaching that throughout the region of South Africa. Now, most of his time is spent training church planters in urban centers for eight different countries in South Africa.

It's like you heard him say in that video. They believe, and I think this is well founded, that if you change Johannesburg, South Africa, you will change the world. So I want you to join me in just a minute. We're going to pray for them. They have asked specifically that we pray for spirit-filled wisdom to know how to reach that country, that they'll be able to follow the Spirit of God, what he is doing in Africa. They're not there to invite the Spirit of God into it.

They're there because the Spirit of God has already gone before them and they need to be able to follow him. And then secondly, to pray for wisdom and navigating the racial divisions there that are present in South Africa. You guys know that from our part of the world, that is something very real and pressing to us too, specifically with the tragic events of this past week.

But one of the things we both know is that one of the best answers to a racially divided society are thriving, loving, healthy, multicultural gospel churches. And so we are praying that God will make them a sign of the peace of the kingdom. And so these are our people and they represent us.

They're going to be back for several weeks this summer and then they'll be going back over to South Africa. They represent us in a place where not all of us can be. And so because they are our people, I want to symbolically depict that by you stretching out your hand as if you were laying your hands on them.

And so you do that at all of our campuses. You stretch out your hand. I'm going to voice a prayer, but you pray with me as we pray over them. Father, thank you. Thank you, God, for a legacy of the nations that Kurt and his family were some of the first to step up and believe Psalm 2 eight, that if we ask of you, you'll give us the nations as our inheritance. And Father, that's what we pray for is the fulfillment of that in their lives and to the churches that they plant. God, as they as they identify church leaders, as they win people to Christ and raise up church leaders, I pray that you would give them exceedingly abundantly above all that they've even known to ask or think that the nations of Africa would begin to worship and love Jesus as a result, God, of their presence there.

Spirit of God, do through them what they cannot do for themselves. We ask that God believing as their church together. And we ask this in Jesus name and all God's people at all of our campuses said together. Amen. Amen. Why don't you put your hands together one more time and thank them. Love you, man. Thank you, guys.

You may you may be seated at all of our campuses. Welcome Summit Church. We have a Bible and invite you to take it now now and open it to Judges Chapter 13. Judges Chapter 13. As we move through our series here in the book of Judges, we come to one of the most interesting stories in the Bible. Maybe one of the most well known stories in the Bible, and that is the story of Samson.

Now, when I say the word Samson, what do you think of? About 40 years ago, psychologists developed these things called word association games. The idea was they could identify your subconscious thought patterns by figuring out what word came to your mind quickest when another word was said. They don't use them much anymore, but they would say things like heart. And if you said passion, that would indicate one thing about you.

If you said broken, that would indicate another. The word you came up with was always violent, then that meant that you probably had a violent streak in you. Or when I say owl, if the first word that comes to mind is Capone or Bundy or Moller, that will show kind of where you think most of the time. If I but if I say owl and your first thought is Cajal, then that indicates maybe you have a problem.

So at all of our campuses right now, we're going to do this, I just want to experiment with this a little bit. I want you to turn to your neighbor, doesn't matter which one, right or left, whichever one looks nicer. Turn to your neighbor and I want you to say the first word that comes, don't filter it, don't cuss, but don't filter what comes. Just say the first word that comes to your mind when I say, I'll put the word on the screen, when I say the word night. Night.

Say it. All campuses. All right, so I heard, I think I heard day, I think I heard relax, I think I heard lonely.

Somebody down here said of the round table, different kind of night. How about this one, how about the word all campuses, say your neighbor, church. I honestly don't even want to know what you said when I said that one. How about this one, biceps, biceps.

I'm pretty sure I heard somebody say Hank Murphy, so there we go. How about this one, what word or image comes to mind when I say Samson, Samson. I heard strong, I heard long hair, I heard Delilah, somebody down there said that. For me, whenever I hear the word Samson, this is the first picture that always comes to mind there. So that's my gift to you.

Happy Father's Day. You can't ever unsee that. That's always going to be in your mind. We usually think of strength or kind of this massive bodybuilder when we think about Samson. But you know, there's a question as to whether Samson was well built at all, because he was not supposed to be a picture of the ultimate male. He was supposed to be a picture of what God could do in his people through the power of his spirit. So the real Samson probably didn't look jacked.

He was probably built more like the actual Chris Gaynor than the picture that I showed you. Samson's story comes toward the end of the book of Judges. In fact, Samson is going to be the last judge specifically talked about in Judges. And we're going to get a lot more material on Samson than we do any of the other judges.

You're going to get three whole chapters worth. And that is because Samson's life sums up the entire message of Judges and then points us beyond Judges. He kind of shuts the book down and then points us beyond it. He is going to give you a picture of what God's salvation in his people looks like. You've been all through this journey now, and now we're going to change the tempo, and you're going to see a better picture as God brings together all these themes of how he is going to save us. You see, by this point in the book of Judges, chapter 13, we can conclude that Israel's cycle of disobedience is permanent.

Have you picked up on this cycle? Here's how it goes every time. You've got them walking with God. That's what we call fellowship. But then they forget who God is, and so their heart is seduced after other gods, and they go into idolatry. And God allows them to be enslaved by the gods that they're worshipping. And that stage, enslavement, leads them to bitterness, and they cry out in repentance to God.

And God raises up a deliverer, a judge, who delivers them and restores them back to fellowship. But then they forget, and they repeat the cycle again and again and again. And maybe for the first several chapters of Judges, we think, well, soon they'll learn their lesson.

But they never do. It just goes over and over. And by this point in the book of Judges, we are ready to despair. We are ready to throw up our hands and give up on Israel, when suddenly, in chapter 13, the narrative structure of Judges changes. And we get this really in-depth story that, as I'm going to show you, is loaded with symbolism. You're going to see and hear a picture of how God saves. Watch this, chapter 13.

Here we go. And the people of Israel, again, did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. And so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for 40 years. Now, 40 is the longest amount of time that they've been enslaved.

And 40 in the Bible represents judgment and completion. So this is like ultimate judgment. And the Philistines are the ultimate judgers. They are bad people.

I mean, really bad. First, they're extremely sophisticated. We often use the word Philistine today in common parlance to mean somebody who is uncultured. But the actual Philistines were anything but uncultured. Their weaponry, their architecture, and their culture were far beyond any other civilization on earth at the time. They were, for example, the first ones to work with iron and to make iron weapons. They were the first ones to employ battle formations in war. Their art, their pottery, and their architecture were way advanced beyond Israel.

The Philistines were building multi-story buildings and bridges across rivers at a time when Israel was basically just hanging out with the sheep. Second, they were really depraved. They had built their entire civilization on piracy and conquest. Almost all the wealth that they obtained, they obtained by stealing. They were in every way a militarized society. Their parties were epic for their debauchery. They pioneered this thing called the Miztah.

The Miztah, a word that literally means a week-long drinking feast. You thought that UNC Chapel Hill students invented that, but they did not. The Philistines invented that. They were also big into pork, which of course the Israelites saw was unclean, but the Philistines filled the countryside with pig farms.

They invented the hot dog. They were unspeakably cruel. They were unspeakably cruel when they captured a town. They would mutilate or remove body parts from the men they captured while they were alive, and they would torture them and then impale them.

Buccaneering, beer, bacon, and barbarism. That's how you can remember the Philistines. They represent the enemies of God at their strongest for 40 years. The number of completion, the ultimate enemy, the ultimate judgment.

Numerically, culturally, economically, and militarily, they are superior to Israel in every way. Verse 2. Now there was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah, and his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now, stop. I'm going to give you five-ish observations about your salvation from those first two verses that lay out the whole part of salvation right there in those details.

You ready? Here's the first one. What's missing between verses 1 and 2? What's missing between verses 1 and 2?

Let me put it up here for you. Here you've got a description of their enslavement and their judgment. Verse 2 is where God begins to raise up the judge.

What's missing between 1 and 2? There is no cry for repentance. You see, by this point in the book of Judges, God is no longer waiting on them to seek Him because He knows if He waits for that, it's never going to happen. By this point, if they're going to be delivered, it's not because they seek Him, but because He seeks them.

Check this out. This is the first time a judge is promised before birth. You see, with every other judge, God raised up somebody who was already alive. But now it's as if God is saying to them that the Savior they need is not somebody from among them that He is going to just make stronger in order to really save them, He's going to have to start from scratch. So this is the first judge that gets promised before he's born. Third, this promise is given to a barren woman.

She is nearing old age and she has no kids. I've explained to you before that barrenness in those days was the sign of ultimate devastation for a woman. Now, in our day it's difficult, of course, also, but back then it was devastating because all of their hope for the future was bound up in their kids. Their society was agrarian, which meant that the more sons you had, the more workers you had for the farm, and thus the more income you could generate for your family. This was also a day, remember, before 401Ks and Social Security, so the more children you have, the more likely you are to be taken care of in your old age.

For the nation itself, economic and military health was directly correspondent to how many children were born. So women would have lots of babies, and if they could have lots of babies, they were thought of as national heroes. But women who could not have children were seen as essentially useless. Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says this, barrenness in ancient texts symbolized hopelessness, for without children there was no foreseeable future for yourself, for your family, or for your people. Now, of course, we today don't think like this.

We put our hope for the future in where we graduated from, what kind of job we have, how much money we have in the 401K. But think of it from this woman's perspective. She's got no security, she's got no hope, she's got no future, she's got no prospects. Here's a fourth detail. We're never told her name. Which is odd when you think about how many other details are in this story.

I mean, just think of the first two verses. You know the dad's name, you know the dad's dad's name, you know the tribe they're from. Why would the woman not get a name? She's never referred to by her name, it's always just the woman. Is it that the narrator just doesn't know her name?

I would say that's not likely based on how much else he knows. It is as if he is intentionally not using her name to show that she is obscure. She's nameless. And in just a minute, you're going to get some clues that she is not a God-seeking woman at all. She's not righteous, she's not exemplary. Here is the lesson about salvation, and it is so important. God brings his salvation to a people who are not crying out in repentance, who have no talents or gifts or righteousness to distinguish them from other people, and a people with no hope and no future and no prospects in themselves. It's as I've often told you, God does not love the lovely. God makes lovely those he loves. He does not save the strong, he makes strong those he saves. He does not choose the righteous, because there are no righteous.

He makes righteous those that he chooses. Which is good news for you because no matter who you are or what you've done or what circumstance you find yourself in or how weak you feel or what mistakes you feel like you've made, there is hope for you. But see, that hope is not going to be found by you turning over a new leaf.

It's not going to be found in you, to use the metaphor, becoming pregnant in your old age and escaping your barrenness. That good news is going to be found by you receiving God's choice of you, which is given as a gift and dependent on his power, not your own. It is one of the most humbling and the sweetest truths to me in all the Bible. God set his affection on me just because. There was no reason. Deuteronomy chapter 7, look at this.

This is where God first explains it to Israel. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all the peoples. It wasn't because you were awesome. It wasn't because you were better.

It wasn't because you were sophisticated or you were more cultured or even more righteous, because none of those things were true. Why did the Lord choose you and love you? Verse 8, it is because the Lord loves you.

You see the circular statement there? Why do I love you? Just because I love you. Love doesn't need a reason.

Love has its own reason. I often explain a version of this to my kids. Sometimes at night when I'm putting them down to bed, I'll stop at the door, it's a little routine, they know the routine, and I'll stop and I'll say, does Daddy love you? And they'll say, yes he does. And I'll say, why does Daddy love you? And I'll say, is it because you're beautiful?

And again, they're trained. They'll say, no. And one of them will almost always say, but we are beautiful. And I will say, yes you are. But is that why Daddy loves you? No. Is it because you're smart? No. But we are smart.

Yes, you are smart. And I'll go through two or three characteristics and I'll say, does Daddy love you for any of these reasons? And they'll say, no. I'll say, why does Daddy love you? And they'll say, because he is our Daddy. Because we are his daughters. You see, there's a sense in which my love is given to my kids, not based on who they are or what they accomplish. My love is just given to them just because. It's the way that a father loves a child. It doesn't need an explanation.

It's not dependent on them earning something. In fact, when I see them struggle, it makes me love them more. And to know that the Heavenly Father looks at his people and says, I love you just because.

It's not because of this or because of that. You see, the reason that's comforting to me is I know that if God did not choose me when I was righteous, he's not going to leave me when I struggle. Because there's a lot of times, and I go throughout my life, I have a tendency to look up at God and I say, God, are you going to discard me?

Are you going to give up on me? And God says, I didn't choose you because you were doing okay. I chose you when you were at your lowest, so I'm not going to let you go when you struggle. I realize now after 26 years of walking with Jesus, that I'm not holding onto him nearly as tightly as he is holding onto me. And the reason that I have made it and the reason that I will make it is not because of the strength of my grip on him.

It's because of his grip on me, and he will never let go, not ever. That's what you see in verses one through three. Here's verse four. Therefore be careful, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean. By the way, here's how we know she's not righteous. She shouldn't need to be told that. She shouldn't be eating anything unclean anyway.

She's not living as a righteous Israelite. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor will ever come upon his head, for the child will be a Nazarite to God from the womb. Let me talk about the Nazarite vow for a moment. The Nazarite vow was really intense.

Think of it like an intense fast. And essentially three major rules. Number one, you could never cut your hair, any hair in your body, for any reason. Number two, you could not drink anything literally from the vine, alcoholic or otherwise, which meant no Cabernet, no Coronas, no Stellas, no Miller Lite, not even two buck chucks from Trader Joe's.

None of that. All that was off limits. Even Welch's unfermented grape juice would have been off limits, which means that's all they had to drink. So you had to drink milk or water. That was all you could touch.

Number three, you could not touch any dead bodies of any kind. Usually people would only commit to the Nazarite vow for a short period of time, like an intense fast, because it was so life consuming. Samson does it from his birth, from the day that he's born.

He never cuts any of his hair, which means that he would look something like a mix between Duck Dynasty meets ZZ Top. But it's all designed to show you that this savior that God is going to send is absolutely distinct from the world. Watch this, verse five. And he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines. Begin is the most important word in the whole Samson story. Begin.

That's an odd word, right? He begins it, who's going to finish it? Which is really weird when you consider the fact that he's the last judge talked about in Judges. So we've got the beginning of a salvation by a judge who has nobody that comes after him, and then the book of Judges ends, and we are left asking the question, well, if he began it, who's going to complete it? And now you're reading the Bible the right way. Because now you're seeing that this thing that he began is not going to be completed in the book of Judges. It's not going to be completed into the New Testament. That's the way the Bible intends for you to read it.

Let's keep going. Verse six, and I'll just summarize what happens here. This angel, after he appears to Manoah's wife, Manoah, his wife goes back and tells Manoah, Manoah, the unbeliever, he's like, well, you've been hitting the strong drink a little too much. And Manoah said, well, why don't we ask the angel if this is really legit and you weren't hallucinating, why don't we ask the angel to come back? And so the angel comes back to Manoah's wife, and Manoah's wife runs and gets Manoah. And one of the first things that Manoah says to the angel, verse 15, please let us detain you and prepare a young goat for you. In other words, let's eat together, but the angel of God will not do it, because eating in those days was a sign of fellowship and peace, and there is no peace between God and Israel, so I'm not going to eat with you. So verse 12, Manoah begins to pepper the angel with questions when your words come true. What is to be the child's manner of life, and what is going to be his mission?

Verse 17, what is your name? So that when your words come true, we may honor you. What's he wanting to know? He's wanting to know details. Isn't that what we always want to know?

How's this going to work out, and why this, and what's going to happen over here? Finally, this is so important, verse 18, the angel of the Lord interrupts him and says, why do you ask my name? Seeing it is wonderful. Wonderful is a word in the Old Testament that is used almost exclusively for God.

It means divine. Let me point something out here, because this is so common. Whenever God reveals himself to people, how Manoah responds and how God responds is so typical that I will tell you that if you don't get this principle, you will not make it in the life of faith. We always want details. And God perceives that our asking of the details is so we can figure out whether or not his plan is trustworthy and good. And so God interrupts and says, I'm not going to show you the details. The question is, do you trust my character? Why do you ask my name, seeing it as wonderful?

Is that enough for you? Manoah wants to know more about what to do. God says, wait a minute, this is who I am. Listen, if you require answers to the why and the what questions to believe, you're never going to make it, because the Bible just doesn't give it. If you require detailed explanations, God, why did this happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? What's going to happen in the future? What's going to happen in my life?

Why is the world like this? If you require that before you can trust God and feel at peace, you're not going to make it. And the reason I know that is because this has been my struggle of faith for my Christian life.

I've always been the kind of guy who feels like he needs to know the why and the what. And I'm always asking God, God, why I don't get this? And I'm asking God for explanation so that I can believe that he's good. And God said, you're not getting explanation, you get revelation. And the question is, do you believe I'm good because my name is wonderful?

You see, this happened actually to me very recently. I had all these questions. I was like, God, I don't understand this and what's going to happen here? And God, why aren't you doing this? And God, I asked for this and you didn't give it. And God, this just doesn't make sense. And I was reading this thing by a scientist who asked the question, listen to this. You're like, how does this apply?

Just hang on. The scientist asked the question, how much power would it take to generate the matter that was necessary to create the food required to feed the 5,000 people? All right, now, okay, it's a nerd question, but just hang with me. Jesus on the hillside fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, which means he generated a bunch of food out of nothing.

Right? Well, matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. Therefore, there was a lot of energy that had to go into producing that matter. So the scientist is asking how much energy would it require to make that new matter?

So using, he estimated a half pound of food for each person, eight ounces of food. And so he says using eight ounces of food per person, using the equation E equals MC squared, energy equals mass times constant speed of light squared. He goes, here's how much energy it would have taken to produce that new matter.

Listen to this. It would take, he said, using that equation, it would take all the electrical power on earth working at 100% output 100% of the time for four straight years to create the energy to create that meal. Jesus did that without breaking a sweat. The sun consumes 600 millions tons of matter per second.

It generates enough energy in one second to supply all U.S. energy needs for 13 billion years in one second. God spoke the sun into existence. God said, let there be light.

And there was light. Here's my question. Am I really in a place to question the ways of such a God? I demand explanation and God says, look at creation and you tell me about my wonderful name and then you start asking me questions like you don't really understand, like you're capable of understanding what I'm doing right now. Or I think about God's compassion for me demonstrated at the cross. And God's like, really, you're gonna look at the cross and look at what I did to save you. Not only did I forgive you and give you a second chance, I actually paid the price for your rebellion and you're gonna require some other explanation to see if I'm good.

This is my name, it is wonderful. And the question for you is, is that enough for you or are you gonna require explanation because I'm not gonna give it, I'm gonna give you revelation. There are many of you that are in a struggle of faith right now. And what God gives you is a revelation of his beautiful name. Look at what he created, look at his majesty, look at his power, look at his holiness, look at the cross. And you decide, is that enough for you?

Can you follow him because of his wonderful name? Verse 19. So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the Lord, the one who works wonders.

The night and dinner together, he's offering a sacrifice which is more appropriate. Verse 20, when the flame went out toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar and Manoah and his wife fell with their faces on the ground. And then Manoah said to his wife, which is kind of humorous when you think about it, face down in the dirt, Manoah kind of says, we shall surely die for we have seen God.

And his wife said to him, if the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering at our hands or shown us all these things or announced such things to these as these. Now since I've trashed Samson's mom up until now, let me point out something absolutely amazing about her. She responds in a way that puts her among the greatest women of faith in the Bible. She says simply, I trust him, he's obviously good, and I am ready to obey all that he has said. That was a better response than Sarah, the wife of Abraham, gave when she was told a similar thing. She laughed. That was better than Elizabeth, the priest, Zechariah's wife, responded when she was told something similar.

They doubted and Zechariah was struck dumb for nine months. There's only one or two other women that responded the same way and one of them was named Mary, who when she heard about her impossible verse said, well, let it be to me according to your word. I will believe all that you have promised and I will do all that you have said. There is only one response that pleases God. There's only one response that he requires.

There's really only one response you can ever give to him. God, I believe all that you have said and God, I will do all that you say because God is not coming to you requiring you to do something for him. He's wanting to do something for you and through you, which means the only answer is yes, Lord.

Now I have a question for you is this. Have you ever said that to him? Just a total unconditional absolute yes. He's not waiting for you to accomplish things. He just wants you to lay it down and surrender. Yes, Lord is the only response he requires.

It's the only one that pleases him. It's really the only one you can give. The great substitute for that is religion. You see, religion is built on negotiation.

God, here's what I'll do. I'm gonna go to church this many times and I'm gonna give you this amount of money and I'm gonna be this good and I expect you to do this in return. But it's like I told you last week, Jesus does not negotiate.

Why? Because he owns it all already, including you, and you can only be in one of two postures with Jesus' faith and surrender or rebellion. When it comes to Jesus' claims of lordship, there's only one or two postures you can be in. Jesus does not come as a moral influence like C.S.

Lewis said. He doesn't come to try to make bad people become better people. He comes to rebels and demands they lay down their arms. It's like I've told you, he doesn't come as an influence in your life to help you.

He comes to take over. I've told you before by the old bumper sticker, God is my co-pilot, which is terrible theology. And if you have that on your car, during the offering, slip out, go take it off so people don't judge you. I've told you, if God is your co-pilot, somebody's in the wrong seat. Because God doesn't come to hang out in your car and help you navigate through traffic and then change the flat tire when it goes flat. He loves you. He will do that stuff. But when Jesus comes to you, he says, hey, you stole my car.

Get out. You're like, but this car is my life. He's like, yep, I made it. And you get out and you get in the backseat and you say, where are we going? That's what it means to follow Jesus.

Who would have known that Carrie Underwood got it right? Jesus take the wheel is essentially the prayer of the Christian life. Because there's really only one or two postures that are appropriate when it comes to the lordship of Jesus. You're either in religious negotiation or you're in total surrender. And I've told you that if you're not in total surrender, it's kind of like, you know, if I were to tell my wife, hey, you know, Father's Day, I just want you to know, I'm 96% faithful to you. What does that mean?

I mean, you're like, oh, it's an A. Ooh, you're not gonna, no, it means maybe, it could mean that out of 100 women I know, I got, you know, relationships with only four of them. That's wholly unfaithful because when it comes to a wife, you either are, you know, marriage, you either are or you aren't. When it comes to the lordship of Jesus, you're either surrendered or you are not. Religion is the great counterfeit to true faith and surrender and busyness and religion keeps a lot of people deceived into thinking they're right with God when they are not. We got people in churches all over America this morning saying, well, I go to church a lot, I give a good amount, I try not to break too many of the commandments. You have either said to Jesus, I believe all that you said and I will follow all that you say and I'm ready to follow you with my whole life or you have not. Religion negotiates, faith surrenders.

Which category are you in? Have you ever said absolutely unconditional, yes, Lord, I receive and I will follow, verse 24. So the woman bore a son and called his name Samson and the young man grew and the Lord blessed him but already right there we see a big indication of trouble because Samson's name, Sam's son, is a tribute to the son, God. Samson is going to live a life that depicts Israel, a life that is filled with compromise. Let me give you four problems that are going to plague Samson's life.

Think of these like a precursor to the next couple of messages. I won't go deep into them but I want to introduce them to you because they are kind of thrown out there for you, verse 24. Number one, compromise. Samson's life is going to be characterized by compromise. He is going to break flagrantly all three provisions of the Nazarite vow. Remember the three provisions? No wine, never cut your hair, don't touch anything dead. Chapter 14, you want to go over one chapter? I'll give you a little appetizer on this. Samson falls in love with a Philistine girl which is obviously a problem because she doesn't even share his faith but because to celebrate his engagement he throws a Miztah.

Remember what those are? A week-long beer keg party. So he's not doing too well with the alcohol vow. A few days before the party a lion attacked. He's on his way to the party, the engagement party, the lion attacks him and then comes my favorite verse in the whole story, Judges chapter 14 verse 6. The lion attacks him and he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. As one tears a young goat? Was that common in those days?

It's said like it is. I've never torn a goat. It doesn't sound like it would be that easy to me to tear a young goat but evidently everybody did that back then.

Anyone could tear a young goat. But Samson not only tore a young goat, he didn't tear a whole lion. And so he tears the lion and a few days later it says he's passing back by the place where he killed the lion. He looks over off the road and there's the lion's carcass and in the carcass is a beehive that is filled with honey and bees which raises a number of questions to me.

Like how did it get in there? Did the lion eat it? Maybe that's why the lion was mad and attacked Samson.

Poor lion. Or maybe did the bees make the hive in there after? Do they like carcasses?

Is that like an ideal place for them to put? I don't know. It doesn't tell us.

It just says that he saw it. So he went and he got the hive out and he eats the honey but obviously he touches a dead body in the process because he's hungry. And of course he ends up cutting his hair which leads to his downfall. He compromises whenever it's convenient. Number two, impulsive.

Impulsive. Throughout his life he's controlled by his passions. He gets hungry for honey. He eats. He wants a woman. He takes her. It doesn't matter if she's a Philistine or a prostitute. Whenever. In fact, when Samson's parents hear about him marrying the Philistine they object.

They're like, hey, you shouldn't do that. Here's his reasoning. Chapter 14, verse 3. Get her for me. Why? Because she pleases me. I want it. It's what I want.

It's what I get. He gets mad. He kills people. Almost every demonstration of strength in his life comes as a result of him being personally ticked off about something. He's not righteously angry. He's just chapped. You get this image of a guy on roid rage, essentially, as you read Samson.

Only one illustration of this because it's one of my favorite stories. After Samson kills the lion and eats the honey out of its belly, you remember he's on his way to his bachelor party, beer keg party. When he gets there, there are 30 Philistine guys and he says, I'm going to tell you guys a riddle.

Let's make it interesting. If you can guess the answer to this riddle, I'll give each of you a brand new suit of clothes. But if you can't guess the riddle in seven days, each of you has to give me a set of clothes. The Philistines are like, we're smarter than you anyway and we're not going to let you show us up.

So, boom, bring it on. Samson says, okay, here's the riddle. Out of the eater came something to eat.

Out of the strong came something sweet. Obviously, he's talking about honey from the lion. The Philistines go back and they caulk us and they can't come up with the answer. For six days, they talk about it.

They're going to panic because now they're going to lose and they're going to lose face. And so they go to his bride, the Philistine, his bride-to-be, and they say, would you please get Samson to tell you the answer and you give it to us because you're one of ours? And she's like, well, I can't really do that.

He hasn't told me. And they're like, if you don't do that, we're going to kill you and burn your house with fire. So the woman goes to Samson and she pulls the oldest trick in the book. She starts to cry. And she starts to say stuff like, you don't really love me.

We're starting out our marriage with secrets and all the counselors say, that's not good. You've got to tell me. In fact, let me read it to you. Verse 17, she wept before him for the next seven days. Let their feast last.

Talk about a miserable beer keg party. And so on the seventh day, he finally told her because she pressed him hard. And she told the riddle to her people and the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down, ah, Samson, what is sweeter than honey and what is stronger than a lion?

Then in my second favorite verse in the Samson story, Samson says only, if you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have found out my riddle. Man, two obvious lessons for you right here, okay? A little Father's Day advice from Uncle JD. Number one, do not let anybody plow with your girlfriend.

Number two, do not call your wife a heifer, okay? You just, that's Father's Day, okay? Well, Samson is ticked. So he goes out and he kills 30 other Philistines and takes their clothes off their body and takes it back to those 30 and like, here's your clothes, they're all bloody and torn.

He's like, here's your clothes. That's his whole life right there. Every one of his great feats of strength come from an impulse.

It would almost be funny if it weren't so doggone tragic. He's impulsive. And honestly, y'all, as I was thinking about that this week, about how much Samson was willing to risk. I mean, he is the strongest man who ever lived, but what guy in the world would not want to be that? I mean, I would be like, I'll say, I'm the strongest man ever. I don't even look like it, I'm just amped. He's willing to risk all that for some honey?

Just the taste of some honey? I thought, who would do that? And then as I'm asking myself that question, it occurs to me, I see guys do it all the time. I feel tempted to do it all the time. How many guys throw away God and what he is doing in their lives for eternity just for a taste of a little pleasure? How many men have thrown away their family when they want a little taste of pornography? How many guys do I know in college that won't really think about the claims of the lordship of Jesus on their life because they don't want to have to give up sexual freedom while they're in college? And I want to look at them and say, you're willing to give up God? You're willing to give up eternity for you can have a little taste of pleasure for a brief time in your life? Impulsive.

It ruins him. Here's number three, entitlement. I'm not gonna go into this one. I have to wait for that one, but that's his attitude.

I deserve that, honey, so I'll take it. Number four, pride. Everything in Samson's life becomes about him. You gotta read through these chapters in the next few weeks and observe how many times Samson uses the word I. Samson's gonna leverage his God-given strength primarily to benefit him, not for God's kingdom. Eventually, he's gonna allow his hair to be cut because he's convinced himself that his incredible strength comes from himself and not from God.

Let me say this to the guys in here. Again, this is a later message. Those same four things are the greatest threats to what God wants to do in your life, the exact same four.

Compromise, living impulsively, living with a sense of entitlement and walking in pride. They destroyed Samson, the strongest man ever to live. They have the same things, the enemy, the same playbook he is using to destroy your life. But that's next time. To bring it back to the message for this week, the end of chapter 13, what I need you to see is that Samson, from the very beginning, the way his story is presented, is pointing you forward beyond judges. Samson is the last judge in this book, the last great hope for Israel. And so we, by this point in the book, are waiting to see how he's gonna rescue and rule God's people, how he's gonna bring them back to obedience to God. But in almost every way, we're gonna find ourselves disappointed because he points us forward to another. Jesus will complete what Samson begins.

See, that's the most important word in this whole story. Chapter 13, verse five, he began the salvation of Israel. Jesus will complete it. You see, Jesus' birth and Samson's birth have remarkable similarities. Both Jesus and Samson are promised before birth. Remember, I told you, Samson was the only judge to come that way, and it was as if God was saying, your salvation is not gonna be built on your strength at all. I'm gonna have to bring it all.

I'm gonna have to start from scratch. When Jesus was born, he's not just born to a barren woman. He's born to a virgin, which is God saying, salvation will not come from you at all. It's gonna come as a gift from heaven.

I've gotta do it from start to finish. Samson is giving us, in his birth, a picture of how the real Savior would come one day. The births of Samson and Jesus were both miraculous. Samson's mom was old and barren. Mary was a virgin.

One huge difference, though. The birth of Samson brought joy and honor in the midst of shame. The birth of Jesus brought shame to Mary and Joseph because everybody thought that they had had him out of wedlock.

Samson's birth brought celebration. Jesus was born into poverty and shame. Why that distinction?

Why? Because the real Savior would not save us simply through power. The real Savior would not simply turn our sorrow into joy. He wouldn't simply remove our shame.

The real Savior would have to take on our sorrow, have to take on our shame, and be born into it and then die for it. Samson was a Nazirite, which was a religious vow that brought somebody honor. Jesus was a Nazarene, which meant that he was culturally despised as an outcast.

One more thing. With Samson and Jesus, we're told a lot about their births, but almost nothing about their childhoods. The author who's writing Judges probably has no idea even what he is doing. But the Holy Spirit is guiding him to write this story in such a way that we see a parallel for how Jesus is born because we're told an awful lot about his birth and an awful lot about the angels that showed up and we're told nothing about his childhood. Samson's story is told in such a way that it gives us a premonition of something that is to come, even though the people and judges didn't know what it was. Because Jesus is the truer and better Samson and Jesus will succeed in every place that Samson fails. Like Samson, you see, Jesus's strength will reside not in how he's built. It wasn't gonna reside in his personal charisma, his beauty.

You see, Isaiah said there was no physical beauty that we would desire him. Jesus's strength, like Samson, would come from the indwelling power of the Spirit. But unlike Samson, Jesus would never compromise. He would keep every facet of God's law without sin. Instead of being controlled by his impulses, Jesus would be controlled by God's will. After fasting for 40 days in the wilderness and not eating a thing, Satan shows up and offers him some bread. And what does Jesus say?

It's totally the opposite of Samson. He says man does not live by desire. Man does not live by bread alone. Man lives by the will of God. Jesus did not do what pleased himself. Jesus did what pleased God. And so in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus looks at the Father and says, I don't want to do this. Nevertheless, it's not what I want, God. It's what you want.

It's what pleases you. Though Jesus was entitled to the throne, Jesus would take the role of a servant and submit to the humiliation of the cross. I look at Samson, a man of incredible strength, a Nazarite with incredible strength. And we are awed by his strength, but I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. When I say how marvelous, it's not about how strong Samson was or how strong God can make me. When I say how marvelous, it is about how Jesus would come and take upon himself my weakness, how the one who was strong and rich became weak and poor, the one who was righteous would become guilty, how he who knew no sin would become sin for me. And then I say how marvelous, because my salvation didn't come by a man with muscles or a man with intelligence.

It came by somebody who would take my shame into him and die for it. You see, until you see and believe what Jesus did for you, you'll never become a person of strength, because Jesus is the real Samson. His glorious life enables you to live like Samson should have lived.

You see, here's what I'm going to explain to you. God does want to use you powerfully in people's lives. He is going to give you supernatural strength to bless others, but you're going to screw it up, you always will, until you see that Jesus was the real Samson that was given for you. The salvation didn't come through strength, it came by him humbling himself and taking your shame. And when you see and you believe that Jesus was the real Samson who gave up his life to save you, instead of a life that declares I want it, so I'll take it, you'll start to say I want God, and so I want what he wants. Instead of saying I deserve it, you'll start to confess I deserve hell, and he saved me.

So I'll do whatever you say, Jesus. Instead of saying my strengths and my talents and my abilities are all about me, you'll start to say Jesus, it's all about you. It's all from you, it's all through you, it's all for you. You'll start to say we're the whole realm of nature, mine, that would be a present far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all. Instead of saying I can handle it, you'll start to say I can't handle it. Without God, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

And you will cling tightly to the source of strength in your life and you will never let it go. Because this is all about him, and it's all about being in right relationship to the real deliverer, the real savior. On the road to Emmaus, after the resurrection, Luke tells us that Jesus was speaking with two of his disciples. And it said that walking between two towns, they didn't even know who he was at the time, he said he started with Moses and the prophets, which means Genesis, all the way through the Old Testament, and he explained how everything written was about him. When he came to the Samson story, I have to imagine that he explained some of the things that I'm explaining to you.

Because he was wanting his disciples, who were about to go into the world, to face the Philistines, he wanted them to see. I'm not asking you to go overcome, I overcame. And the whole Bible is not about you becoming like Samson, the whole Bible is not a list of examples for you to emulate. The Bible is about a savior for you to adore. And your strength is not going to come from what you do for me, your strength is going to come from worshiping me for what I've done for you. And your incredible strength is not going to be given by working it up, your incredible strength is going to come as you stand in awe and amazement of how I was the real Samson for you, I was the strong one who overcame, and you just worshiped me. That's why I've told you that a goal in a sermon is not that you leave with a page full of notes, my goal in this is not to fill your mind full with info about Samson, as if that information is going to make you more spiritual. My goal is not to tell you to live like Samson, you can't live like Samson, you shouldn't live like Samson.

The goal of a lecture is that you leave with information, the goal of a motivational speech is that you leave with action steps, but the goal of a sermon is that you leave worshiping. There ought to come a time in the sermon where the pen goes down and the eyes go up, and you quit writing down, oh my God, look at all the things I've got to do for you, and you start saying, oh my God, look at what you've done for me. Because when your heart bursts alive in worship at what Jesus the Nazarene has done for you, then what you begin to do for God will flow with the strength that will give you the ability to do what Samson could not do. Samson was physically strong, but morally weak. God wants to give you such strength of character that you will use every bit of what he's given you to bless and not to destroy.

And that strength comes from seeing that the strong one was made weak for you, and that he did it for you, and he did it gladly, and you begin to worship him. So at all of our campuses, why don't we stand, everybody, stand to your feet at all campuses. And why don't we end our time just declaring the beauty of the Lord Jesus. Every sermon ought to lead to this point of worship. And why don't we lift our eyes at all of our campuses as our worship teams come, and why don't we declare that he is the great savior. Father, I pray, I pray, God, that you would give us eyes to see the height, the width, the depth, and the breadth of the love of the Father for us. We pray in Jesus' name.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-04 11:40:15 / 2023-09-04 12:03:02 / 23

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