Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
Gain a better understanding of the book of Judges and see the pictures of Christ and pictures of ourselves in the words of this book. If God is able to use someone like Samson, He can use any of us if we will only turn from our sins and in faith, turn to Him.
The Book of Judges portrays the reality of sin and death and our modern sanitized view of God's Word will not match the contents of this book. Let's look deeper into God's Word for answers to life's questions.
How Much Do You Know?
In Genesis 1:1, we find the words “In the beginning GOD...” John 1:3 says, “God created everything through him, (Jesus) and nothing was created except through him (Jesus).” (NLT) Today, scientists believe that the universe gave birth to itself out of nothing! Stephen Hawking, who passed away in March 2018, said that the universe gave birth to itself and sprang from nothing! He goes on to say that “Therefore there is no need of God, since God is not necessary to create the universe.” Scientists also now say that matter (or the universe) creates light! They say that all light is created by matter from nothing! So, scientists do believe that something can be created from nothing, but they cannot believe that there is an almighty God who created everything from nothing? In an effort to keep anyone from believing in the Lord or His Word, science has become its own religion with its own faith in the universe as creator. It seems that today, people want to think, believe and do whatever they want to do even if it is ridiculously illogical! They want to do whatever is right in their own eyes!
For many, the book of Judges is defined as “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (17:6). It seems as though those are the days in which we are living today. The King, the Lord, is not king of most people's lives and I am afraid that is true for many people in today’s churches. God’s Word tells us, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT). See also: John 12:48.
Like modern-day people, the book of Judges gives us a picture of a people who believe the universe is all about them. They enjoy life and peace but somewhere in the process they forget God. When that happens, they fall into sin, self-will and pride. They forget that they exist only because of God, by God and through God! They forgot what Moses said when he gave them the Word of the Lord... “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
But, each time they fall, God sends a deliverer (Judge) and saves them! Why? Because He loves them so much that He has worked and shaped history in order to bring His promise of a Savior to fulfillment through them! Just as He had promised Abraham. And, He did it for us too! He did it so that His One and Only Son could come to earth and take our place as a propitiation for our sin.
To gain a better understanding of the book of Judges and see the pictures of Christ and pictures of ourselves in the words of this book. In this study, the student should be able to clearly see that he or she, along with the rest of us, are no better than they were. We are all sinners and fall short of God’s Glory. But, by grace through faith, Christ lives in us and we receive His Grace and forgiveness. And they should also see that God is able to use someone like Samson, He can use any of us if we will only turn from our sins and in faith, turn to Him.
· Flawed people can be used greatly by God!
· God uses whom God chooses to use.
· The Book of Judges portrays the reality of sin and death and our modern sanitized view of God's Word will not match the contents of this book.
1. Why study the Book of Judges?
He did not just create us and leave us to wonder about Him or about His expectations for us. He gives us the Word of God! The whole Word of God. The Old Testament helps us to understand the New Testament and the New helps us to understand the Old. "Now these things happened to them (Old Testament people) as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (New Testament people). Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). We must study the connections found in the Old Testament or we may not be able to stand! (v. 12) The Lord tells us to study it! “Written for our instruction” and “take heed” tells us that He expects us to study the Old and the New Testaments. All of God’s Word can be trusted and we must trust the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth.
The Judges lead Israel on and off for 300+ years. That is longer than the United States has existed! During this time, "...Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord!" (2:1, 3:7; 12, 4:1, 6:11, 10:6, 13:1) and "...every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (17:6, 21:25 KJV) And this happened over and over! The Book of Judges paints picture after picture of all of mankind and our constant ability to choose ourselves over the Lord. It is a book full of wars, death and rebellion but the saddest statement in the whole book may be, “In those days Israel had no king...” (17:6,18:1, 19:1, 21:25 NLT).
In those days Israel had no king, so all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. I have always heard people zero in on “did what was right in their own eyes” but as I read these passages and thought about them (Angie was driving me to Nashville and I was trying not to pick at her about her driving so I was reading Judges), it hit me! They had a King! At least they used to have a King? They rejected Him! Later, during the time of Samuel, the Lord allows them to get what they asked for! They will receive a king, his name is Saul, and things will not go so well. At that time the Lord said to Samuel, “‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.’” (1 Samuel 8:7). And then in 1 Samuel 12:12, Samuel says, “When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the Lord your God was your king.”
In Judges, Israel, like many of us today, will decide they want to be king over themselves. But the King of Kings is still there! He does not leave or abandon Israel, and just like today, He will not abandon us!
2. Who were the Judges?
A left-handed assassin, named. Ehud is the first Judge. He kills a king in cold blood and leaves him lying with his intestines hanging out! (3:20-23) Shocking? You bet! But that is the reality of the Word of God in the Book of Judges! Jephthah sacrificed his only daughter as a burnt offering because of a vow he had made to the Lord. (11:29-40) Human sacrifice is strictly forbidden by the Lord! (Deuteronomy 18:10) Jephthah was misguided!
Or, how about a muscle-bound womanizer who was one of the world’s most prolific killers! He broke every rule God gave him when he was born! Yet both Jephthah and Samson are listed in Hebrews 11 as men of great faith? Or how about a lying-tent peg wielding-wife that murders a guest of her husband in their own house? (4:21) How are we to reconcile the fact that God uses her to deliver Israel from the enemy?
God will use people like Ibzan of Bethlehem, about whom the Bible says nothing positive! His priority seems to be his (obviously) many wives and his own household: “He had thirty sons. And he gave away thirty daughters in marriage, and brought in thirty daughters from elsewhere for his sons. He judged Israel seven years.” (12:9 NKJV). Sixty children? Wow! What a family to have to feed! We have to wonder if his family was more important to him than the Lord? Yet God used him to save a nation. At one point God uses a godly woman named Deborah as a judge possibly because there was not a man in Israel who was following the Lord?
I have come to a conclusion… We draw back, confused about how God could use and even bless such people! And then, there is a humble light of truth that dawns in our minds... - WE ARE SUCH PEOPLE! We are just like them! Our hearts are just as capable of the same colossal failures that they experienced! “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.” - Jesus (Matthew 15:19 NLT)
There are connections to the One and Only Son of God all over Judges! “Pictures of Christ” might have been a good title for the book! But, if I had to describe Judges in one sentence, it would be “The Rejection of the King!” At first reading, many will not be able to understand why God would use such flawed and sinful people as heroes of the faith! That answer is not hard to understand. We reconcile it the same way each of them were counted worthy before God... by Grace through faith! It is only by the Grace of God that Israel survived the time of the Judges! And for us, it is only by Grace through faith that we are able to come before a Holy God to gain eternal life! They teach us to have a faith! A faith like theirs! Those sinful people, “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises…” (Hebrews 11:33 NJKV).
3. Samson the Nazarite
In Samson, it seems that the sin nature that we all have is clearly depicted as well as the consequences of those actions. Samson would certainly not be welcome in many churches today but, believe it or not, some of the best pictures of Jesus are found when we look at him. That, of course, begs the question: Are some of the best pictures of Jesus found in you or I? If God can use Samson…?
Like Jesus and John the Baptist, Samson’s birth was announced by an angel before his conception. “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazarite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” (13:5 NLT). This was going to be a very special birth. This was not just an angel that came down to announce the coming conception of Samson; this was the angel of the Lord. It was another appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In Judges 13:21-25 it says, “...Manoah finally realized it was the angel of the Lord, and he said to his wife, ‘We will certainly die, for we have seen God!’ But his wife said, ‘If the Lord were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.’ When her son was born, she named him Samson. And the Lord blessed him as he grew up. And the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him…” (NLT)
This was a miraculous birth! Manoah’s wife could not have children! When he is born, he is named Shimshon (Samson in English). Shimshon means “Man of the Sun”. Samson’s name may have been a tribute to God. In Psalm 84, which was written by some of the sons (descendants) of Korah (Exodus 6:21-23). It says, “For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11 NLT).
Samson grows up during a time of oppression by the Philistines. “Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.” (13:1). Then he meets a woman! Not just any woman! A woman whom he had no business being around! A woman - Delilah! Delilah's name is wordplay on the Hebrew word “layla” which means “night” (latter it came to mean “Faithless one”). This is a lesson for us. If Samson had remained in the light of God's Word and leadership, his life would have been different and his death would have been different as well. But Samson gave himself to this woman of the night. Delilah would overcome Samson as the darkness of night overcomes the light of the day. What a picture! Delilah (the Woman of the Night) overcomes the apparently invincible strong man, Samson (the Man of the Sun). But it is temporary. Think about Jesus hanging on the cross and laid in a dark tomb… It seemed darkness had won! But it was only temporary.
So what does being a Nazarite mean? A Nazarite is someone who is set-aside for God. He (or she in some cases) would be dedicated to the Lord and would serve the Lord. They could not drink alcohol. They could not make himself or herself un-pure by touching dead things or people (although there were also other ways to make one’s self un-pure). And, of course, they could not cut their hair.
Apparently people could become Nazarites with a pledge and then stop being a Nazarite if they wished to do so. But, Samson is different. God called him to service before he was conceived. (Yet another reason all abortions are wrong.) He would be a Nazarite, set aside for God’s purpose even in his mother’s womb! Samson, the judge of Israel! The strongest man in the world! Samson the Nazarite breaks every command of God he was given. He drank wine with his friends, ate honey from a dead lion’s carcass, defiled himself with a prostitute and finally allowed his hair to be cut. Before he finally loses his strength and is imprisoned, there is an interesting account of what happens to Samson in a place called Ramath Lehi.
4. Samson on Jaw Bone Hill
When Samson’s wedding to a woman “of the daughters of the Philistines” (see: 14:2) was ruined by some of the Philistines, Samson felt betrayed by the woman that he loved and intended to marry. Three women are mentioned in conjunction with Samson. One is the woman he fell in love with and wanted to marry, the second is a prostitute that he had relations with and the third is Delilah. Only the woman that he was going to marry is said to be a Philistine. We just do not know about the other two. Samson was going to get his way even though by marrying this woman Samson would defile himself because she was not an Israelite! When the relationship all fell apart because of the riddles and the betrayal, Samson went into revenge mode!
He burned their fields, vines and olive groves. He killed a number of their people! Then, the Philistines burned his ex-fiancé (wife) and her father to death. The Philistines had enough. They came up to Judah and were ready for battle near Lehi… “The men of Judah asked the Philistines, ‘Why are you attacking us?’ The Philistines replied, ‘We’ve come to capture Samson. We’ve come to pay him back for what he did to us.’” (15:10 NLT). So, in what appears to be priorities out of order they send 3,000 men “down to get Samson at the cave in the rock of Etam.” (15:11 NLT). They have no faith in the Lord to deliver them from their oppressors! So what do they do? They go to Etam and face the strongest man in the world that has killed thousands with his own hand! Fear can cause people to make bad choices! Some would say that they went to Samson hoping that he would come peaceably, but if that were the case, why take 3,000 men? When they ask Samson, “Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us? What are you doing to us?” (15:11 NLT). They reveal the truth. They were comfortable with the status quo! Don’t rock the boat! Don’t change the traditions! Don’t upset the balance! And they were now afraid.
Now they claim that they only came to tie him up and hand him over to the enemy. But again, why bring 3,000 men? But Samson does the honorable thing and gives himself up for his people. Samson was betrayed by his own people. Relatives who should have supported him. Sound familiar? That's exactly what happened to Jesus. He was betrayed by His own people, bound and handed over to the enemy in the worst act of betrayal in history. The betrayal of Samson was almost as bad, but Samson was actually guilty of death and destruction by his own hand and Jesus was totally innocent. The connections go on between Samson and Jesus.
Samson is then taken from the cave in the rock of Etam, Samson’s rock of refuge, to the enemy’s camp for prosecution and death. They were camped at Ramath Lehi (Ramath Lehi literally means “Hill of the Jawbone”). There were bones lying around. It was a hill of death. It may have been a dumping ground for dead animals. Regardless, after Samson kills a thousand Philistines there, it became a hill of death! The hill where Jesus was crucified was also a hill of death. It was called “the Place of the Skull” or “Skull Hill”. It was there that the enemy would kill Him.
But for Samson, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he breaks the new ropes he was tied with! He picks up a fresh jawbone and uses it as a weapon. After he kills a thousand men, he yells a taunt, probably at the rest of the men that were running away, which would have included the 3,000 Israelites. And then Samson finds himself alone. After the battle, which probably had lasted for hours, Samson is exhausted and dehydrated. “Then he became very thirsty, and he called to the Lord and said, ‘You have given this great deliverance by the hand of Your servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?’ But God split the hollow place that is in Lehi so that water came out of it. When he drank, his strength returned and he revived. Therefore he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day.” (15:18-19).
There, on the hill of death, Samson cries out to the Lord in faith! There is no doubt in his words. Samson knew the Lord had given him the victory! He speaks to the Lord and the Lord answers. The Lord splits the cleft of the rock and brings life giving water to Samson! Samson’s example is for us! The Lord fought sin and death on the Hill of the Skull and “He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6 HCSB).
Because of his inability to remain faithful to God, Samson is eventually captured and put into prison and into service as a slave. His eyes are gouged out and he pushes the millstone around as though he were nothing more then livestock. Yet his faith in God still does remain. On the day that they are having their largest celebration, there at one of the great temples, Samson is brought out and placed between the pillars for all to see. Through his prayer of faith, God restores his strength and Samson pushes the columns, collapsing the building and killing more of the enemies of God's people then he had killed in his entire life.
Application: What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
Connecting it to Jesus: God splits the rock and gives Samson life-restoring water (Judges 15). It was then that the name of the hill, where this happened, was changed from "Hill of the Jawbone" to "En-hakkore” (Spring of the one who calls you)! Do you see the parallels? Through the cross, the Blood of Jesus has become a Spring of Living Water! One day, Jesus stood up in the Temple and cried, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to me..." (John 7:37). Could it be that Jesus was remembering the thirst of Samson on Jawbone Hill? Could it be that it was Jesus Himself that split the rock and gave Samson water that day? The very one who had announced the coming of Samson before his conception?
The Bible is about Jesus and the Grace that He brings to us from cover to cover! But for some of us, with our modern sanitized views of the scripture, we will have our eyes opened in the Book of Judges! These warrior saviors are as flawed as they come. They often led armies, conquered people and even shed blood with their own hands! But God used these leaders to save Israel and continue the line of Christ! Christ is THE WARRIOR SAVIOR! He battles for us now! When He returns, He will do battle with the forces of evil and the kingdom of man! In the meantime… What kind of picture are you painting with your life? What kind of faith will you be remembered for?
· God speaks through flawed people and used whomever He chose to use.
· God acts by delivering the people from bondage and restoring them to Himself even though they were going to fall away and reject the King again.
· God reveals Himself through His judges and His presence even during the darkest times of those days when Israel had rejected her true King!
What Have You Learned?
· What has the Book of Judges taught you?
· Are we really like the people in the Book of Judges or are we better than them?
· What aspect of God do you see in the life of Samson and the fact that God never abandoned him?
Copyright © 2018 Michael & Angela Anderson - Prodigalmike.com, Connections Bible Study - Connecting God's Word From Cover To Cover - Finding Jesus on Every Page! "We receive no compensation from any websites listed in this site or from any part of this website. We just love Jesus and want to spread his Word! All opinions in the website are my own! Always check the things we say against what the Bible says and decide for yourself." - Mike & Angie - All Rights Reserved.
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