FROM SUFFERING TO STRENGTH 

Has Jephthah found any peace after his sacrifice?  Giving Israel victory after being rejected by his own brothers, he also had to give his daughter to the Lord.  Now he is again rejected by a fellow tribe of Israel. 

And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.  And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.  And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the LORD delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me? Judges 12: 1-3

If Ephraim had joined the battle when asked, they could have participated in the victory.  Why should they be upset when he went on to defend himself without their help?  Do we still find some neighbors unable to be reasonable?  You will experience persecution to some degree if your serve God.

Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites. Judges12:4

They are accused of being less than the men of Ephraim, but the men of Gilead proved themselves in battle.  We have these carnal battles from the Old Testament as examples for our own spiritual warfare.  It is a sad thing when the church is divided against itself by the accuser of the brethren.

And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;  Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.  Judges12:5-6

When one decides to serve that accuser who is Satan, he is marked.  Having a place to sit in the church will not protect us from the judgment of God.  The Gileadites are unable to cover their identity with lies.  Jephthah will claim a permanent place for his final rest from the land of Gilead.

And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.  And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.  And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years. Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.  Judges12:7-10

The Judges managed the business of Israel for many generations, even hundreds of years. 

And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.  And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.  And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.  And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.  And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.  Judges12:11-15 

The Judges served for a few years, and leadership was passed to another.  A time is coming when Israel will not be satisfied to be led by God’s judges.  They will look to the nations around them for their pattern of leadership.  But for now, another judge will continue the leadership of Israel.

And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.  And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.  Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:  For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.  Judges 13:1-5

This child is predestinated to be a Nazarite, he was selected, not a volunteer.   We may remember that a person may separate themselves as Nazarites.  It was usually a choice, and added to the already rigorous requirements of the Law.  We now know the Law as our condemnation, as no one could keep it fully.  Imagine making one’s life even more difficult by asking to be a Nazarite.  Samson was predestinated to drafted.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD. Numbers 6:2

This earlier reading established the vow as a service of dedication to God.  This made the concept familiar to this woman when it was prophesied for her son.

Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:  But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.  Judges 13: 6-7 

Her husband sought God to confirm this message, to try the spirits.  God did answer, but only to his wife again.   

Then Manoah intreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.  And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.  And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.  Judges 13: 8-10

This time Manoah followed his wife back to where this angel was waiting.  The message was confirmed to Manoah then.

And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am.  And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?  And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.  She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.  Judges 13:11-14

Manoah wants to more about this man, and gets little satisfaction at first.  He would get his answer though.

And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.  And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.  And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour?  And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?  So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.  Judges 13: 15-19

The wonderous deed revealed who this angel was.  He flew upt to heaven with the flames of the fire.  He expressed fear of death, but his wife assured him that the accepted offering was proof of their peace.

For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.  But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.  And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.  But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.  And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.  And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.  Judges 13: 20-25

The Lord began to manifest his promises early in Samson’s life.  We will see if Samson will keep his oath to God as well.

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