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When the Weak Become Strong, Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
June 23, 2022 9:00 am

When the Weak Become Strong, Part 1

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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June 23, 2022 9:00 am

During this message, Pastor J.D. invites us to look at one of the most familiar characters in the Old Testament. His life teaches us that God can accomplish amazing things through ordinary people--when they submit to his leadership.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. 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. 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 for explanation so that I can believe that he's good. And God said, you're not getting explanation, you get revelation. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author and theologian J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. You know, the Bible is filled with fascinating stories about heroes and villains, real life descriptions of men and women who struggled just as we do. Did you know that these stories aren't intended just to teach us moral lessons or simply to entertain us? They're ultimately designed to point us to the person and the work of God. The father and his son, Jesus Christ. Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. invites us to look at one of the most familiar characters in the Old Testament.

His life teaches us that God can accomplish amazing things through ordinary people when they finally submit to his leadership. If you'd like to follow along with the transcript of each message, you can find them free of charge at J.D. Greer dot com.

So let's get started. Pastor J.D. Greer titled today's message when the weak became strong. 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, that will show kind of where you think most of the time. But if I say owl and your first thought is cahal, 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. 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. 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. 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 are extremely sophisticated. 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 were unspeakably cruel. 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. 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? 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. 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. 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 corresponded 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 text 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. We'll get right back to our teaching in just a moment here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. You know, we work hard here at Summit Life to stay engaged with you, our faithful listeners. And one way to be sure to stay plugged in is by following Pastor J.D. on social media. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all tools that can help spread the good news of the gospel each and every day. With daily encouragement and shareable wisdom, you can send the message of hope to those you love simply by following us today. Search for Pastor J.D. Greer on your social platforms or visit our website for links to his daily content. We'll see you right now at jdgreer.com.

That's J-D-G-R-E-E-A-R dot com. Now let's return for the conclusion of today's message. Once again, here's Pastor J.D. 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 shows 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 is 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 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 OK.

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 on to Him nearly as tightly as He is holding on to 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 up on 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 with 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. All right. 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.

And 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 against 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 is 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 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 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 US 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 going to 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 going to 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 going to require explanation because I'm not going to give it. I'm going to 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 up 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, you know, 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. 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.

How could we respond otherwise? The only answer is yes, Lord. This is Summit Life featuring the Bible teaching of Pastor J.D.

Greer. To share this message with a friend or to catch up with programs you may have missed in this series, we invite you to listen online at jdgreer.com. As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian and secular, it can be hard to have mercy for one another when we're confronted with difficult topics and questions. We've put 16 honest questions, quick answers into a book to help give you words of grace when discussing hard things. Questions like, can you lose your salvation?

And how can I trust Christians when so many are hypocritical? We'd love to get you a copy today of this latest resource, Honest Questions, Quick Answers, Volume 2. If you missed Volume 1 when it was offered a couple of years ago, sign up for both when you give today by calling 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220. Or give and request this book online at jdgreer.com. While you're on the website, you can also sign up for our email list to get ministry updates, information about new resources, and Pastor J.D. 's latest blog post delivered straight to your inbox.

It's a great way to stay connected with Summit Life, completely free to subscribe. Sign up when you go to jdgreer.com. I'm Molly Vitovich. Come back at this same time Friday when Pastor J.D. Greer continues this message about Samson, right here on Summit Life. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-30 04:30:12 / 2023-03-30 04:41:48 / 12

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