Hebrews Chapter 4 – A Sabbath Rest for the People of God


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Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Hebrews 4:1-2

The writer of Hebrews proceeds with his exhortation to the Hebrews, and all professing Christians, to faith, obedience, and perseverance. As God finished his work, and then rested from it, so He will cause those who believe, to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. There is a more spiritual and excellent Sabbath remaining for the people of God, than that of the seventh day. This rest is, a rest of grace, comfort, and holiness that is available to everyone who receives the gospel of their salvation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

The good news of the forgiveness of sins and the promise of heavenly reward has no value unless it is received by faith.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4:3

The writer of Hebrews was quoting from Psalm 95:

Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did. For forty years I was angry with that generation: I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” Psalm 95:7b-11

“Massah” means trial or temptation and “Meribah” mean “quarreling or strife.” Exodus 17:1-7 gives the details of the account where the children of Israel provoked Yehovah to anger in their wilderness journey.

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.

Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:1-7

The LORD had delivered the children of Israel out of the bondage in Egypt with a mighty hand. He redeemed them from the land of slavery and from the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not only did they witness ten plagues that the Egyptians endured, they and their animals were not affected by them. When the Egyptian army pursued them, God miraculously brought them through the Red Sea on dry ground, but drowned their enemies. The LORD had repeatedly demonstrated His power and goodness towards them.

When they Israelite community became thirsty when they camped at Rephidim, they could have waited on the LORD in faith or asked Moses to inquire of the LORD. Instead, they protested and complained angrily to Moses and accused him of bringing them out of Egypt only to die of thirst in the wilderness. They questioned the faithfulness and goodness of Yehovah by saying. “Is the LORD among us or not?”

When the LORD delivered Israel from slavery, He intended to bring them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. The children of Israel, because of their lack of faith, complained and fought against God almost every step of the way. When Moses was receiving the law on Mount Sinai, they worshipped a golden calf. They complained about being thirsty, about being hungry, about the manna and about the leadership. In fear because of the bad report of ten of the twelve spies sent into Canaan, the people refuse to enter into the Promised Land. So the LORD declared on oath in His anger that that generation of Israelites would never enter His rest.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 1 Corinthians 10:11

We who are born-again believers in Christ are admonished to learn a lesson from the failings of the Israelites who provoked God to wrath by their unbelief.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

In Christ, we have authority in His name, in the Word of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to stand in faith and not be anxious. Instead, we can let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15).

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” Hebrews 4:4-5

God rested from all his works on the seventh day and made it holy.

“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:11

The LORD is omnipotent. He is all powerful.

The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. Isaiah 40:28

God is the sum of perfection; He is never diminished in any way, and that includes being diminished in power. The Hebrew word translated “rested” in Genesis 2:2 includes other ideas than that of being tired. In fact, one of the main definitions of the Hebrew word Shabbat is “to cease or stop.” In Genesis 2:2 the understanding is that God “stopped” His work; He “ceased” creating on the seventh day. All that He had created was good, and His work was finished.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews again was referring to Psalm 95 when he wrote that God rested on the seventh day but the rebellious children of Israel would not enter into His rest.

The “rest” originally intended was that of Canaan, when “the LORD gave rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about.”

After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man, Joshua 23:1

Canaan was a type of God’s heavenly rest. The warning given to the Israel of his day by the psalmist is to be regarded as a warning that, if they followed in the steps of their forefathers, they might miss that final and crowning “rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, Hebrews 4:6

Once we have passed through the wilderness of this sin-stained world, there is an eternal rest that awaits those who by faith receive the promise.

God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:7-11

There was a period of time of nearly five hundred years between the peace established by Joshua’s victories over the inhabitants of Canaan and the inspired words of King David speaking about another day. The writer of Hebrews reveals that there still remains a Sabbath-rest for God’s people apart from the weekly Sabbath. Disobedience will disqualify any person from entering into that heavenly rest and that person will perish.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:1

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17

Puritan Writer Thomas Brooks said, “The Word of the LORD is a light to guide you, a counselor to counsel you, a comforter to comfort you, a staff to support you, a sword to defend you, and a physician to cure you. The Word is a mine to enrich you, a robe to clothe you, and a crown to crown you.”

Since God is the living God, and His Word cannot be separated from Him, that Word is a living Word. It is eternal. As Isaiah 40:8 proclaims, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Since God is the author of life, His living Word imparts life in two ways. His Word imparts life to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins and His Word renews and refreshes His saints.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

The truth of God is all-penetrating and searching, and that the real thoughts and intents of the heart will be brought to light; and that if there is insincerity and self-deception, there can be no hope of escape.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:14-15

Since Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, He is the perfect mediator between God and man. Since Jesus has experienced every type of temptation, He can identify with the feelings, thoughts, and attitudes of mankind. Although Jesus was sinless, He can sympathize with us sinners.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Because our great High Priest empathizes with our weaknesses, we can approach God’s throne of grace boldly and receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

What an honor and privilege that believers in Christ can speak to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God anytime, day or night in prayer.

Hebrews Chapter 3–Jesus is Worthy of Greater Honor than Moses


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Fix your thoughts on Jesus. He has been found worthy of even greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house. 

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. Hebrews 3:1

An apostle means the “one sent forth.” He is an envoy, ambassador, or messenger commissioned to carry out the instructions of one who is in a position of higher authority. In the New Testament originally “apostle” was the official name of those twelve of the disciples whom Jesus chose to send forth first to preach the gospel and to be with him during the course of his ministry on earth.

Jesus our apostle is the Sent One of God. Although there is only one explicit reference to Jesus as an apostle found here in the first verse of Hebrews chapter 3, there are implicit references to his having been “sent” by the Father. These references are found throughout the New Testament and especially in the Gospel of John. A few examples are:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17

For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. John 3:34

“I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. John 5:36-38

Jesus in turn “sends out” his disciples to continue and extend his mission. Thus, all apostleship finds its meaning in Jesus the Apostle, sent by God to be the Savior of the world.

When Jesus is called our high priest, it is with reference to both the priesthood of Melchizedek and that of the Aaronic high priests from the tribe of Levi.

The first scripture referring to Melchizedek is in chapter 14 of the book of Genesis after Abram returned from rescuing his nephew Lot who had been taken captive by the armies of the four kings of Mesopotamia:

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”    

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:17-20

The second mention of this priest of God is in the book of Psalms referring to the prophesied Son of David:

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4

Chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Leviticus detail the ordination of Aaron and his sons as high priests. Verses 1 to 4 of chapter 8 speak of God’s command to Moses concerning the elements of the ordination ceremony:

The LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron and his sons, their garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams and the basket containing bread made without yeast, and gather the entire assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” Moses did as the LORD commanded him, and the assembly gathered at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Leviticus 8:1-4

The last verses of chapter 9 of Leviticus record the closing activities of the ordination ceremony:

Then Aaron lifted his hands toward the people and blessed them. And having sacrificed the sin offering, the burnt offering and the fellowship offering, he stepped down.

Moses and Aaron then went into the tent of meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. Leviticus 9:22-24

Like Melchizedek, Jesus is ordained as a priest apart from the Law given on Mount Sinai. Like the Levitical priests, He offered a sacrifice to satisfy the Law of God when He offered Himself for our sins. Unlike the Levitical priests, who had to continually offer sacrifices, Jesus only had to offer His sacrifice once, gaining eternal redemption for all who come to God through Him.

He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.  For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory. Hebrews 3:2-6

The faithfulness of Jesus is made evident by both his first words that are quoted in Scripture and by some of his last words He uttered before His death on the cross.

When Jesus was twelve years old, He accompanied his parents to the temple for the Feast of Passover. When the festival was over Mary and Joseph headed back home, but they were unaware that Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. After three days of searching for Him, they discovered Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. When His anxious mother questioned Jesus about why He had done this thing, His answer revealed His faithfulness to God who had sent Him. These are the first words of Jesus that are recorded in the New Testament:

And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49

His Father’s business was for Jesus to be a suffering servant who would lay down His life and pay the price of redemption with His own blood.

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

On the cross just before Jesus yielded up His spirit He said, “It is finished.” The Greek word translated “it is finished” is tetelestai, an accounting term that means “paid in full.” When Jesus uttered those words, He was declaring the debt owed to His Father was wiped away completely and forever. Not that Jesus wiped away any debt that He owed to the Father; rather, Jesus eliminated the debt owed by mankind—the debt of sin. Jesus was faithful and completed His Father’s business.

In this chapter of Hebrews, the message of the superiority of Jesus to Moses would have been particularly important to Jewish followers of Yeshua in Rome. Many of them were struggling under Nero’s persecution and were considering moving back toward the Mosaic Law. The writer to the Hebrews showed these Jewish believers that, though they were faced with suffering, they were indeed following a much better way and they should persevere.

 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. Hebrews 3:7-9

By nature, the heart of man is like a stone, destitute of spiritual life, impenitent, stubborn, and inflexible.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

The Holy Spirit calls out to those who have ears to hear, “Do not harden your hearts.” God desires to give us a heart of flesh.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

In John 16:7-9 Jesus declared:

But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:

There are those people who resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. To resist means: to run against, to be adverse, oppose, strive against.

Stephen, a man full of the Holy Spirit, was arrested and spoke before the Sanhedrin. Stephen, by the power of the Holy Spirit, challenges these men with the Old Testament and how they have been responsible for not listening to God.

“You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” Acts 7:51

After their miraculous deliverance from their bondage in Egypt, the Israelites rebelled at Mt. Sinai and worshipped a golden calf presented to them by their high priest Aaron. The Israelites murmured and complained during their years in the wilderness. They complained about food, they complained about water, and they challenged God’s appointed leader Moses.

In spite of God’s miraculous provision of manna from heaven and water from a rock, they did not trust that God would fulfill His promise to subdue their enemies and bring them into the Promised Land.

But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. Numbers 13:31-32

All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Numbers 14:2

…not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. Numbers 14:22-23

Except for Caleb and Joshua, who believed that the LORD would fulfill His promise, none of the Israelites aged 20 years or older who were delivered out of Egypt would live to see the Promised Land. Their lack of faith led to fear, their fear led to rebellion, and their rebellion resulted in their destruction.

That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” Hebrews 3:10-11

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: Psalm 103:6-7

Although the people of Israel saw the mighty deeds of Yehovah in both their deliverance from Egypt and His miraculous provisions in the wilderness, unlike Moses they did not know His ways. They did not have an understanding or desire to follow His precepts, walk in faith by believing in His promises, or submit to His will.

See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:12-13

To be hardened emotionally means to become cold, insensitive, unfeeling, and unwilling to be submissive. A hardened heart is a stubborn and unyielding attitude that leads a person to reject God’s will. Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin.

Fire is a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is like a fire in at least three ways: He brings God’s presence, God’s passion, and God’s purity. The Holy Spirit is the presence of God as He indwells the heart of the believer (Romans 8:9). In the Old Testament, God showed His presence to the Israelites by overspreading the tabernacle with fire (Numbers 9:14-15). This fiery presence provided light and guidance through their journey in the wilderness (Numbers 9:17-23).

The Holy Spirit creates the passion of God in our hearts. After the two traveling disciples talk with the resurrected Jesus, they describe their hearts as “burning within us” (Luke 24:32). What seemed to be tongues of fire rested on those at Pentecost. After the apostles receive the Spirit at Pentecost, they had a passion that land impelled them to speak the word of God boldly (Acts 4:31).

The Holy Spirit produces the purity of God in our lives. God’s purpose is to purify us (Titus 2:14), and the Spirit is the agent of our sanctification (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). As the silversmith uses fire to purge the dross from the precious metal, so God uses the Spirit to remove our sin from us (Psalm 66:10; Proverbs 17:3). His fire cleanses and refines.

The Holy Spirit is a fire dwelling in each believer. He wants to express Himself in our actions and attitudes. When believers do not allow the Spirit to be seen in our actions and attitudes, when we intentionally sin, we suppress or quench the Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Ephesians 4:30-31

Sinful thoughts and actions grieve and quench the Holy Spirit.

The words of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, were spoken to a hostile audience. The message of the risen Christ was being rejected. “You stiff-necked people,” he says, “with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51)

The writer of Hebrews urges his audience to learn a critical lesson from the generation of Israelites that perished in the wilderness due to their sinful and unbelieving hearts. They resisted the Holy Spirit, and their complaining, bitterness, anger, and lack of faith caused their hearts to become hardened resulting in their failure to enter into God’s rest.

Unlike those who perished, we are to be aware of the condition of our hearts and we are to strive to build up one another in our most holy faith.

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:14-15

Perseverance in faith in Christ is the best evidence of the sincerity of our confession of faith. As we hold firmly to our belief that Jesus, the Son of God and Messiah, came to save us, we continue to share in the nature, graces, righteousness, and life of Christ.

Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Hebrews 3:16-18

Faith in God is the fundamental element that enables us to acknowledge, revere, and embrace His absolute existence and divine presence. One’s confidence in God will lead to doing the will of God by faith and then receiving what is promised. Unbelief was the downfall of those Israelites who perished in the wilderness. Their lack of faith prevented them from doing His will and therefore they did not enter into the Promised Land. Each time the people sinned by complaining bitterly, their every act of disobedience, and their resisting the Holy Spirit progressively hardened their hearts until they provoked God to wrath.

Many of us are familiar with the parable of the boiling frog. It describes a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

Sin’s great deception is that each unrepentant sin gradually dulls a person’s conscience and incrementally hardens one’s heart. Sin progressively leads a person to rebel against God. May we all take to heart the writer of Hebrew’s admonition not to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews Chapter 2 – How Shall We Ignore so Great a Salvation?


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How shall escape if we ignore so great a salvation? God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? Hebrews 2:1-3a

In this chapter, the author is exhorting the reader to play close attention to and to heed two critical issues that were presented in the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews. First, is that in these last days God has spoken to us through His Son. Secondly, the writer presented scriptural evidence that the Son of God is far superior to the angels whom He had created and who worship and minister to Him. Therefore His message is far superior to theirs.

This is the blessing that Moses the man of God pronounced on the Israelites before his death. He said: “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes. Deuteronomy 33:2

The message spoken through the angels was God’s word, but angels were the means through which it was given to men. The binding message they presented was the Mosaic Law with its commandments, rules, and regulations. Every act of disobedience and violation of the law was met with its just punishment.

The superior message of the Messiah was the gospel. If the violation of the written code was met with just punishment, how much more so should we regard the gospel of our salvation? If we ignore so great a plan of salvation we will not escape eternal punishment.

This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:3b-4

A miracle is a supernatural act that takes place in the natural realm. A miracle is a divine activity in which God provokes people to marvel at His power and bears witness to Himself. A sign is a visible phenomenon witnessed in the natural that attests to its divine origin and may confirm God’s will or portend a coming event. A wonder is a type of miraculous event that evokes awe and amazement.

Jesus performed miracles over nature. An example of His sovereignty over nature is found in the eighth chapter of the Gospel of Luke:

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” Luke 8:22-25

Yeshua the Messiah performed miracles of provision. He miraculously fed thousands of people on two occasions:

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Matthew 16:8-10

He also performed many healing miracles:

Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23

The Lord also demonstrated his power over the demonic realm:

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Mark 1:32-34

The Messiah also was able to miraculously raise the dead:

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:38-44

The purpose of the signs, wonders, and miracles performed by Jesus was to affirm that He was the prophesied Messiah and the Son of God who would proclaim the good news and provide salvation through His own shed blood.

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.” Acts 2:22

God performed many supernatural acts through Jesus to publically attest to the fact that Jesus was indeed who he proclaimed to be, “The Messiah, the Son of the Living God.”

God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. Hebrews 2:4

In addition to signs and wonders, God also affirmed the message of the gospel of salvation announced by Jesus by the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.1 Corinthians 12:7-11

These gifts serve to demonstrate the workings of God’s power and affirm that the message of the gospel is true and of divine origin.

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.” Hebrews 2:5-8a

Man and woman were created with natural bodies and therefore were made a little lower than the angels who possess heavenly, spiritual, incorporeal natures. Even so, the angels will not be ruling during the Millennium. Instead, it will be the resurrected and translated saints who rule and reign with Christ.

See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Isaiah 32:1

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:21-22

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Revelation 20:4

Man was created in the image of God. Adam and Eve were to have dominion over the earth and they and their offspring were to increase in number and fill the earth. Prior to the fall of Adam, God expressly gave Adam (and therefore mankind) charge to rule over all the creation.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:26-28

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. Hebrews 2:8b

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Genesis 3:6

The reason that presently we do not see everything subjected to mankind is because of the fall. Adam’s act of rebellion brought a curse on both mankind and upon the earth. Adam had listened to his wife who has disobeyed God and instead they both had obeyed Satan. The authority and dominion over the earth and its creatures that had been given to man was now transferred to Satan. He is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air.

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

Christ was made a little lower than the angels for a little while by becoming man and taking on a frail mortal body so that that He could suffer an atoning death which would satisfy the wages of sin.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:8-11

Because the Messiah was obedient unto death, He is now crowned with glory and honor.

 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Hebrews 2:10

That the Messiah should die was ordained by God for whose glory and through whose power all things exist. The Son of God, the source of the salvation of many sons and daughters, was perfected (His goal completed) through the suffering He endured.

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Hebrews 2:11-13

Jesus is the one who sanctifies. The children God has given Him are set apart for holy purposes. The Son of God is in unity with those who are His by grace through faith in the New Covenant. Jesus and His brothers and sisters are both of one God and Father, Christ’s God is their God, and his Father is their Father. They are of one body, Christ is the head, and they are members. They are of one covenant. Christ is the Mediator, and the messenger of it, and they share in all its blessings and promises. They are all of one nature, of one blood because Christ has taken part of the same flesh and blood with them.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

The pre-existent, eternal Son of God, manifested in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8

If you have the assurance of eternal life you no longer fear death. Yeshua shared in our humanity so that He could serve as a kinsman redeemer and free us from the fear of death. The Book of Ruth illustrates the role of a kinsman redeemer. Boaz married the poor Moabite Ruth. He acted as a kinsman redeemer. The law of the kinsman redeemer was given in Leviticus 25:25: “If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold.

The kinsman-redeemer is a prophetic picture of our Lord Messiah Yeshua. The account of Ruth is a picture of our redemption. There were several requirements a man had to meet in order to qualify as a kinsman-redeemer. First of all, he must be a near kinsman. Second, he must be willing to redeem. Third, he must be able to redeem. Yeshua, the Son of the living God, became like us so that He could be a near kinsman. He was willing to lay down his life and redeem us with his own blood. Because He led a sinless life, He was able to redeem.

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:16-18

The writer of the Book of Hebrews wrote to Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua to express Yeshua’s superiority to the angels. The writer also presents the evidence of His superiority as a High Priest in the order of Melchezidek to those who served as High Priest from the Tribe of Levi. The Son of God being fully human as well as fully God experienced humanity and temptation. This experience enabled Him to empathize with us in our weaknesses. Being a sinless man qualified Him to be an acceptable sacrifice for sinful man. Having experienced suffering, rejection, and shame, Yeshua became a merciful and faithful High Priest. Being 100% man and 100% God made Yeshua the perfect mediator between man and God.

Hebrews Chapter 1 – These Days He Has Spoken to Us by His Son


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In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

According to the Web Bible Encyclopedia on ChristianAnswers.net, the English word, “prophet” is translated from the Hebrew word, “navi,” from a root meaning “to bubble forth, as from a fountain,” hence “to utter.”

Navi is is the first and the most generally used for a prophet. In the time of Samuel another word, ro’eh, “seer,” began to be used (1 Samuel 9:9). It occurs seven times in reference to Samuel. Afterwards another word, hozeh, “seer” (2 Samuel 24:11), was employed. In 1 Chronicles 29:29 all these three words are used: “Samuel the seer (ro’eh), Nathan the prophet (navi’), Gad the seer” (hozeh). In Joshua 13:22 Balaam is called (Hebrew) a kosem “diviner,” a word used only of a false prophet.

The “prophet” proclaimed the message given to him, as the “seer” beheld the vision of God. (See Numbers 12:6, 8.) Thus a prophet was a spokesman for God; he spoke in God’s name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jeremiah 1:9; Isaiah 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Peter 1:20-21).

In the past, before the ministry of Messiah Jesus, God’s prophets received a divine message which they proclaimed in His name and by His authority.

According to Acts 2:14-17, the last days began at Pentecost:

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Recorded in the Old Testament is the word of God spoken through the prophets. In these last days, recorded in the New Testament, are the words of Yeshua (Jesus) and the account of his ministry, death, burial and resurrection that comprise the Gospels as well as Messiah’s instructions to the body of believers recorded in the epistles.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16

Jesus’ relationship to His Father begins with the phrase “the image of the invisible God.”

The word “image,” meaning copy or likeness, expresses Christ’s deity. This word involves more than a resemblance, more than a representation. He is God. Although He took on human form, He has the exact nature of His Father.

Note that Jesus is called the first-born, not the first-created. The word “first-born” (Greek word “prototokos”) signifies priority or preeminence. In the culture of the Ancient Near East, the first-born was not necessarily the oldest child. First-born referred not to birth order but to rank. The first-born possessed the inheritance and leadership.

Therefore, the phrase expresses Christ’s sovereignty over creation. After resurrecting Jesus from the dead, God gave Him authority over the Earth (Matthew 28:18). Jesus created the world, saved the world, and rules the world. He is the self-existent, acknowledged Head of creation.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory. The glory of God is the revelation of His character and presence. It is the manifestation of His infinite beauty and worth.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Just as sunshine is a combination of bright light and radiant heat that is emitted from the solar sphere of hot plasma called the sun, the Son of God is the ultimate revelation of God’s character, presence and infinite worth. Jesus is the light of the world that emanates from God’s glory.

The Greek word, “charakter” which is translated in English as the “exact representation” references an instrument used for engraving or carving. It is the exact expression (the image) of any person or thing, marked likeness, precise in every respect. Jesus is the image of the invisible God.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17

Jesus is the agent of and sustainer of all creation. After Jesus was crucified and provided redemption by the shedding of His own blood, he resurrected from the dead, ascended to heaven, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:4

Jesus laid aside some of His glory in His incarnation and was made lower than the angels for a little while, but is now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death (Hebrews 2:9). The Messiah, being in very nature God and creator of all things, is much superior to the created heavenly beings known as angels. Angels are ministers and servants of God. As a class of beings, angels are known as “sons of God” written with a lower case “s,” while Jesus is the only begotten Son of God written with a capital “S”.

The Archangel Michael’s name means, “Who is like God?” The Archangel Gabriel’s name means, “Champion of God”. The names of these angels point to God. Yeshua’s name means “salvation.” The name of the Son of God is much superior to the names of the angels because His name exemplifies His mission as the divine author of salvation.

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? Hebrews 1:5

Acts 13:32-34 makes it clear that the prophecy found in Psalm 2 concerning the resurrection of the promised seed of David was fulfilled when Jesus was raised from the dead.

And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’ As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

The Only Begotten Son of God is the eternal Son of God in His divinity. When Jesus incarnated, He put on the element of humanity. In His humanity Christ was not yet the Son of God. But in His resurrection – “today I have begotten You” – Christ brought His humanity into His divinity and was begotten by God in His humanity to be the Son of God.

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” Hebrews 1:6

Angels are commanded to worship Jesus.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:11-12

In Matthew 8:2 a leper came and worshipped Jesus.

In Matthew 14:33 after Jesus had calmed the storm the disciples worshipped Him saying He was the Son of God

I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!” Revelation 22:8-9

Note that men were rebuked for worshipping other men or angels but they were never rebuked for worshipping Jesus because Jesus is in very nature God.

In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.”Hebrews 1:7

It is emphasized in verse 7 that God made the angels and they are spirit beings. Angels are created beings that serve God.

But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. Hebrews 1:8

This quote is taken from Psalm 45:6. The Son is called “God” by the Father. God the Son rules justly for eternity. The Messiah is the ultimate fulfillment of the LORD’s promise that David’s line would never end and his throne would be established forever.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Psalm 103:19-21

Messiah Yeshua is the eternal King of kings, while the angels do His bidding.

You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:9

Psalm 45:7, quoted here in Hebrews 1:9, emphasizes the moral status of this king. The Son of God loves righteous people and righteous works, faithfulness and integrity, a just administration of government and everything that is holy, just, and good. He hates iniquity, unrighteousness people and unrighteous acts which are contrary to both his sinless human nature and the holiness of His divine nature.

During biblical times, kings and priests were consecrated to their office by pouring oil on their heads. The expression “to anoint,” therefore, comes to mean to consecrate to office, or to set one apart for God’s purpose.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

Psalm 45 concerns the office of the king. “The oil of gladness” is a reference to the perfumed oil that was poured on the king’s head while those in attendance rejoiced. The inauguration of the Messiah as king would be an occasion of rejoicing and triumph. God has set King Messiah above his companions. He would be more exalted than all other kings. The Son of God is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

 He also says, “In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. Hebrews 1:10

The creation came from God the Father, through God the Son, and was given life by God the Spirit.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17

Through the Holy Spirit, God gives birth to and supports both natural and spiritual life.

If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust. Job 34:14-15

The Spirit gives physical life though natural birth.

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, Titus 3:5

The Spirit gives supernatural life through spiritual rebirth.

They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”
Hebrews 1:11-12

Although the present heavens and the earth will wear out, the Son of God is eternal.

as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. 2 Peter 3:12-13

 To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”?
Hebrews 1:13

Hebrews 1:13 is quoted from Psalm 110:1 and reads:

The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

When Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost he said:

God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” Acts 2: 32-36

Biblically a matter is established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. These three passages of Scripture taken both from the Old and New Testaments establish that Jesus will not return until the Lord’s enemies are under His feet and will not return until that event occurs.

The prince of the power of the air, the god of this world, the adversary is he who presently controls the kingdoms of this world:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Matthew 4:89

The god of this world, the prince of the power of the air will rule the earth until:

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come.

The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the   prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great— and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Revelation 11:15-18

At the seventh trumpet, the rapture occurs and the prophets and the saints are rewarded as God pours out His bowls of wrath upon His enemies.

Chapter 18 gives the account of the destruction of Babylon:

Verse 10 – Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: “‘Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’

Chapter 19 continues with the events that follow the fall of Babylon the Great Prostitute.

Verses 1-2: After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.

The chronology following the Fall of Babylon (towards the end of the Tribulation period) – Chapter 19 verses 6-8:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

The rewarding of the saints takes place after the seventh trumpet. The wedding of the Lamb comes after the Fall of Babylon. The bride is made ready by enduring through the time of great persecution and not loving her life as to shrink from death.

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14

The last verse of Hebrews chapter one again emphasizes the superiority of the Son and the subservience of the angels. The Son is the author of salvation, while the angels are spirits who minister to the heirs of salvation. He is God’s eternal Son; angels are God’s created beings. He is “the firstborn” who receives worship from angels. He is God enthroned and anointed, angels are merely servants of God. He is the Creator of the heavens and earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Judges Chapter 18 – In Those Days the Danites Had No King


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In those days the Danites were seeking a place of their own where they might settle. They had not yet come into an inheritance amid the tribes of Israel

In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. Judges 18:1

The assigned inheritance for the tribe of Dan is described in Joshua 19:40-46. Although their territory had been assigned to them, they had not been able to conquer it completely because of the fierce opposition of the Philistines and the Amorites. The Danites did not acquire the full possession of their allotment, since a considerable portion was wrested out of their hands by the encroachments of their powerful neighbors. As a result of the need for more territory, a number of Danites sought a new and additional settlement in a remote part of the land.

As we shall see, without a king to serve as supreme magistrate, and before the time of the judges, there was no deterrent or accountability for the evil actions of the Danites.

So the Danites sent five of their leading men from Zorah and Eshtaol to spy out the land and explore it. These men represented all the Danites. They told them, “Go, explore the land.” So they entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. Judges 18:2

Zorah and Eshtaol were the first cities that were assigned to the Danites when the territory of their inheritance was determined by lot. These cities were located on Dan’s border adjacent to the territory of the Philistines. The frequent raids by the Philistines provoked the Danites of Zorah and Eshtaol to seek territory in the north of Canaan. Five of the leading men of these cities were sent to spy out the land. When they entered into the hill country of Ephraim, they bedded down for the night in the vicinity of Micah’s house.

When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, “Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?”

He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, “He has hired me and I am his priest.” Judges 18:3-4

It is obvious that the Danite men were personally familiar with this Levite since they recognized his voice. The young Levite told the five men that Micah paid him ten shekels of silver a year and provided him with clothes and food in return for his serving as Micah’s priest.

Then they said to him, “Please inquire of God to learn whether our journey will be successful.”

The priest answered them, “Go in peace. Your journey has the LORD’s approval.” Judges 18:5-6

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Isaiah 59:2

Since the priest was serving in a household where there were teraphim (household gods) and a

silver covered idol, it is quite doubtful that Yehovah actually responded to his inquiry. The LORD had already determined the Danite’s territory by lots. It is improbable that He would approve a different location for their habitation.

So the five men left and came to Laish, where they saw that the people were living in safety, like the Sidonians, at peace and secure. And since their land lacked nothing, they were prosperous. Also, they lived a long way from the Sidonians and had no relationship with anyone else. Judges 18:7

Laish was situated at the furthest northern border of the land of Canaan. Unlike the ten spies who returned from searching out the Promised Land and spread a bad report because they were in fear of the great size of the people there, these five men were encouraged that the people of Laish were peaceful, prosperous and located far from any potential allies.

When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their fellow Danites asked them, “How did you find things?”

They answered, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen the land, and it is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever.” Judges 18:8-10

Hearing their report, their fellow Danites concluded from both the Levite’s claim of God’s approval, and from the peaceful state of an unsuspecting population that God made the people of Laish easy prey for the Danites.

Then six hundred men of the Danites, armed for battle, set out from Zorah and Eshtaol. On their way they set up camp near Kiriath Jearim in Judah. This is why the place west of Kiriath Jearim is called Mahaneh Dan to this day. From there they went on to the hill country of Ephraim and came to Micah’s house. Judges 18:11-13

The six hundred armed warriors set up their camp near Kiriath Jearim which means the “city of woods.” After their encampment the place west of Kiriath Jearim was named Mahaneh Dan which means “the camp of Dan.” From that location in Judah, they travelled to the hill country of Ephraim and arrived at Micah’s house.

Then the five men who had spied out the land of Laish said to their fellow Danites, “Do you know that one of these houses has an ephod, some household gods and an image overlaid with silver? Now you know what to do.” Judges 18:14

These lawless adventurers were covetous idolaters.

So they turned in there and went to the house of the young Levite at Micah’s place and greeted him. The six hundred Danites, armed for battle, stood at the entrance of the gate. The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods  while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate. Judges 18:15-17

These Danites who cowered in fear of the Philistines and sought to live as far away from them as possible, are emboldened by their overwhelming numbers and brazenly steal Micah’s possessions.

When the five men went into Micah’s house and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods, the priest said to them, “What are you doing?”

They answered him, “Be quiet! Don’t say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn’t it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man’s household?” The priest was very pleased. He took the ephod, the household gods and the idol and went along with the people. Putting their little children, their livestock and their possessions in front of them, they turned away and left. Judges 18:18-21

The Danites were so assured of their ability to defeat the unsuspecting people of Laish and take their land and goods by force that they brought their families, livestock and possession with them confident that they would not return to Zorah and Eshtaol. The priest was very pleased with their offer and went along with them.

When they had gone some distance from Micah’s house, the men who lived near Micah were called together and overtook the Danites. As they shouted after them, the Danites turned and said to Micah, “What’s the matter with you that you called out your men to fight?”

 He replied, “You took the gods I made, and my priest, and went away. What else do I have? How can you ask, ‘What’s the matter with you?’”

The Danites answered, “Don’t argue with us, or some of the men may get angry and attack you, and you and your family will lose your lives.” So the Danites went their way, and Micah, seeing that they were too strong for him, turned around and went back home. Judges 18:22-26

Like most bullies, these Danites were cowards. They fled from their fight with their Philistine neighbors but were bold and brash when the odds were overwhelmingly in their favor.

Then they took what Micah had made, and his priest, and went on to Laish, against a people at peace and secure. They attacked them with the sword and burned down their city. There was no one to rescue them because they lived a long way from Sidon and had no relationship with anyone else. Judges 18:27-28a

Not only did these Danites steal from a fellow Israelite but they had no compunction slaughtering a peaceful people and burning down their city.

The city was in a valley near Beth Rehob. The Danites rebuilt the city and settled there. They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish. There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land. They continued to use the idol Micah had made, all the time the house of God was in Shiloh. Judges 18:28b-31

Beth Rehob means the “house of spaciousness.” This city was located in a valley within the territory of the tribe of Asher, in the extreme north of the Holy Land. Moses’ grandchildren were priests for the tribe of Dan who continued in idolatry until the defeat and dispersion of the northern ten tribes by the Assyrians.

Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,  from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
Revelation 7:4-8

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. Revelation 14:4-5

The tribe of Dan is not listed among the 144,000 – the firstfruits of Israel. The Danites were disobedient to the LORD’s command to possess their allotted portion of the Promised Land (Jdg 18:27-31), and they continued in idolatry until the time of the Assyrian captivity.

Jacob’s blessing over his children includes a prophetic description of Dan as a serpent and a viper that bites the horse’s heels causing the rider to tumble backwards (Gen 49:16-17).

Deuteronomy 33:22 contains the account of Moses’ prophetic blessing of Dan which describes Dan as a lion’s cub springing out of Bashan. Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm which describes the future crucifixion. Verses 12-13 is a symbolic picture of the enemies of Christ:… strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing at their prey…. Dan is described as a serpent and a roaring lion seeking to devour.

Antiochus Epiphanes, a type of Antichrist, was a Selucid King (Greek ruler of Syria). The city of Dan is the northernmost city in Israel, just below the Syrian border. Idolatry marks the worship of the beast and the Danites were idol worshippers. Based on these facts concerning the tribe of Dan, It is speculated that the Antichrist may be a Danite. In any case, the tribe of Dan is excluded from the listing of those who were sealed from all the tribes of Israel.

Judges Chapter 17 – Micah from the Hill Country of Ephraim


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Micah from the hill country of Ephraim returned eleven hundred shekels of silver he took from his mother. She used some of the silver to make an idol.

Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse—I have that silver with me; I took it.”

Then his mother said, “The LORD bless you, my son!” Judges 17:1-2

The events of chapter 17 and the next four chapters of the Book of Judges did not occur after the death of Samson, but much earlier, after the death of Joshua. This and the other narratives that follow form a miscellaneous collection, or appendix to the Book of Judges. It belongs to a period when the Hebrew nation was in a greatly disordered and corrupt state before the time of the judges.

The name “Micah” is a shortened form of the name “Micaiah.” Micaiah means, “Who is like Yehovah?” The account of this man from the northern territory of Ephraim was recorded to illustrate the lawlessness of the times in which he lived. The love of money made Micah so disrespectful to his mother as to rob her, and made her so unkind to her son, as to curse him.

When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the LORD for my son to make an image overlaid with silver. I will give it back to you.” Judges 17:3

Micah’s mother falsely believed that she could both consecrate her silver to Yehovah and then use some of it to as a covering for an idol and it would be pleasing to the God of Israel.

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? 2 Corinthians 6:15-16a

Using a graven image in the worship of Yehovah breaks both the 1st Commandment, “You shall have no other gods before me” as well as the 3rd Commandment, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.”

Aaron used a “golden calf” to hold a festival to Yehovah.

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. Exodus 32:1-6

Was the God of Israel who brought the nation out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, pleased with this festival held in His name? No! His anger burned against them and except for Moses’ intercession, He would have destroyed them as a nation.

So after he returned the silver to his mother, she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who used them to make the idol. And it was put in Micah’s house. Judges 17:4

This woman’s silver was her god, before it was made into a graven or a molten image.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

It is incongruous that the mother whose son was named, “Who is like Yehovah?” pays to make an idol and then puts this idol into her son’s house.

Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. Judges 17:5-6

Micah was an Ephraimite.

Bring the Levites to the front of the tent of meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. You are to bring the Levites before the LORD, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. Aaron is to present the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the LORD. Numbers 8:9-11

According to the LORD’s command, both the priesthood and temple workers in Israel were supposed to come from the tribe of Levi. Micah not only disregarded this ordinance, he made an ephod; a priestly garment and established idol worship in his family. His actions exemplify the moral corruption of the times when everyone did as they saw fit. Then they soon did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.

A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim.

Micah asked him, “Where are you from?”

“I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,” he said, “and I’m looking for a place to stay.”

Then Micah said to him, “Live with me and be my father and priest, and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.” Judges 17:7-10

When Micah discovered that the young man was a Levite, he thought that his house of worship would be more credible by having a Levite serve as his priest as well as his spiritual father.

So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man became like one of his sons to him. Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house. And Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest.” Judges 17:11-13

One of the important regulations that a Levitical Priest is to observe is found in Ezekiel chapter 44:

They are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. Ezekiel 44:23

Ironically, this young Levite who was commanded by Yehovah to teach the difference between the ceremonially clean and unclean was willing to utilize his holy office in the service of an idolater.

Judges Chapter 16 – The Secret of Samson’s Strength Revealed


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One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. Judges 16:1

Samson had “seen” a woman in Timnah, and although he was an Israelite and she was a Philistine, he told his parents to obtain this woman as his bride. Samson’s disregard of the LORD’s prohibition against intermarriage with the inhabitants of Canaan ended in disaster. His wife and her family were burned to death.

Sometime later, Samson is travelling in Philistine territory where he “saw” a prostitute and spent the night with her.

For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. 1 John 2:16

In both instances, Samson first lusted with his eyes before he committed these sinful acts of intermarriage and fornication.

He, who could strangle a lion and kill a thousand men single-handedly, could not conquer his own passion and lust. The man whom God had blessed with supernatural strength again showed himself to be morally and spiritually weak.

Samson who also defiled himself by reaching into the carcass of a dead lion to scoop out honey and defiled himself by using a “fresh jawbone” of a donkey as a weapon, seems to have little or no regard to his calling as a Nazarite.

The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.” Judges 16:2

The men of Gaza heard that Samson was in their city. They may not have known exactly where he was staying, so they set an ambush for him in the city gates. Many men probably hid in the guard-room by the side of the gate. Their intention was to launch a surprise attack against Samson at the time in the morning when the gates were to be opened and kill him.

But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron. Judges 16:3

Samson arose at midnight. Possibly the woman had learned of the plot, and gave Samson warning, after the manner of Rahab; or she may have been his betrayer, and planned on keeping him bedded until morning. In any case, Samson arose in the middle of the night. The watchmen were not expecting him until morning. They most probably went into the upper part of the gate-house to rest up in preparation for their morning attack.

Samson took hold of the doors of the gate. The city’s gate was in two sections. It rotated upon pins in sockets, and was secured by a bar which slid into the posts on either side. Instead of forcing the doors open, he tore the posts up with the barred doors attached to them. Samson pulled up the whole framework of the gate, doors, posts and bar, and carried it off in one piece. He carried it to the top of a high hill not far from Gaza, which looked towards Hebron. Although Hebron was several miles from Gaza, Hebron stood upon a mountain and could be seen from the hill facing it.

Samson’s act of supernatural strength sent a message to the men of Gaza. He did it with contempt for their attempt to confine him with gates and bars, and in order to show himself more formidable to the Philistines and more acceptable to his own people.

Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.” Judges 16:4-5

Sorek was not in the Philistine district, but was near Samson’s native town of Zorah. This valley’s name means, “Choice Vine.” Sorek was noted for its fine wine.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or other fermented drink. They must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as they remain under their Nazirite vow, they must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.

 “‘During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.

 “‘Throughout the period of their dedication to the Lord, the Nazirite must not go near a dead body. Numbers 6:1-6

Samson had already disrespected his Nazarite vow not to go near a dead body by thrusting his bare hands into a lion’s carcass and wielding a fresh jawbone of a donkey as a weapon. Now Samson, dedicated to God with a lifelong vow that he would have nothing to do with grape products or fermented drinks, goes into a valley known for its choice vines and fine wine. There he fell in love with a woman named Delilah.

The only stipulation of Samson’s Nazarite vow that he had not yet broken was that a razor was never used on his head.

The Philistines occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. Their rulers each promised Delilah eleven hundred shekels of silver if she could discover the secret of Samson’s strength.

The meaning of Delilah’s name is, “seductive” (tempting and attractive; enticing) or “languishing” (growing weak or feeble). The attractive Delilah was promised fifty five hundred shekels of silver if she could seduce Samson into revealing his secret so that he would grow week and feeble.

So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”

Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”

Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.

Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”

 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”

So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.

Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”

He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric and tightened it with the pin.

Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.

 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” Judges 16:6-15

Delilah claimed that Samson repeatedly made a fool of her by being dishonest and lying about the secret of his great strength. But in reality, Samson was a fool to believe that Delilah loved him. Delilah not only approached Samson and asked him directly for the source of his great strength, but also stated that the purpose of knowing his secret was to bind him up to capture him.

With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.

So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” Judges 16:16-17

“Chinese water torture” is also known as “Spanish water torture” in Europe, because this term often refers to a type of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition. Victims would be strapped down so that they could not move, and cold or warm water would then be dripped slowly onto a small area of their body—usually the forehead. The forehead was found to be the most suitable point for this form of torture because of its sensitivity, and because of its ominous proximity to the brain and facial features.

The victims could see each drop coming and, after a long duration of time, were gradually driven frantic to the point of insanity.

Although Samson was physically strong, he was so tormented by Delilah’s incessant nagging that he finally broke down mentally and emotionally and yielded to her request.

When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands.  After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”

He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.

Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. Judges 16:18-21

Samson, who had lusted with his eyes before he committed sinful acts of intermarriage and fornication, now had his eyes gouged out.

Samson’s life is a portrait of unfaithful Israel during the times of the Judges. Like him, the nation was strong so long as its people kept the covenant of their God. Like him, Israel was prone to follow after strange loves. Its Delilahs were the gods of the heathen, in whose laps it laid its anointed head, and at whose hands it suffered the loss of its God-given strength. Like him, the nation was blinded, bound, and reduced to slavery until the people cried out and another judge arose to deliver them.

But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved. Judges 16:22

Samson’s afflictions were the means of bringing him to deep repentance. By the loss of his natural sight, the eyes of his understanding were opened. Being convicted of his sin, and repenting of it, letting his hair grow was a sign that he renewed his Nazarite vow.

Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”

When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.”

While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. Judges 16:23-25a

When the Philistines rulers were high on wine, they sought to ridicule Samson by having him perform for them. Little did they realize that his act would literally bring the house down.

When they stood him among the pillars, Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Judges 16:25b-28

Samson’s successful and desired human vengeance required divine authorization or permission. One of the major aspects of vengeance is “the rendering of a just punishment upon a wrongdoer or the recompense given to the victim of the wrongdoing.” In Samson’s case, the gouging out of his eyes would be the wrongful act which would deserve recompense. This is not to be seen as malicious or vindictive retaliation by the wronged person, but rather as a just recompense for a crime. Divine vengeance is often invoked upon “external enemies” who oppress Israel and should be understood as an appeal for justice.

Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other,  Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.

Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years. Judges 16:29-31

Despite all of Samson’s moral weaknesses and his disregard for the restrictions of a Nazarite, Samson turned back to God before he died. God in His sovereignty used Samson to fulfill His purpose. Samson’s death did much to impede the oppressive actions of the Philistines against the Israelites by killing all five Philistine rulers in his final act of supernatural strength.

Judges Chapter 15 – Samson Takes Vengeance on the Philistines


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 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, “I’m going to my wife’s room.” But her father would not let him go in. Judges 15:1

Samson’s anger had been kindled against his wife for her treachery and unfaithfulness to him by revealing the answer to his riddle, and against his companions for their deceit. Therefore Samson had left his wife and returned to his father’s house. After some time, Samson’s anger subsided and went to visit his wife. He took a young goat with him, which would have been considered a delicacy, to share a meal with his wife as a sign that he wanted to reconcile with her.

Her father would not allow Samson to enter her room. Samson could have easily overpowered his father-in-law, but showed him respect and did not force the issue.

“I was so sure you hated her,” he said, “that I gave her to your companion. Isn’t her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead.” Judges 15:2

It was the father’s decision to betroth his daughter to another man and collect a second dowry. She had not yet married Samson’s companion, otherwise she would not still been living in her father’s house. If his wife’s father was honest, he should have restored the dowry which Manoah had given for her.

The father offered his younger daughter to Samson in an effort to appease him and justify the wrong he committed.

Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them.” So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. Judges 15:3-5

It was springtime and the wheat crop was beginning to be harvested. Samson’s actions resulted in the destruction of the Philistines’ wheat fields, olive groves, and vineyards. To burn these items, all of which were staples in the Ancient Near East, would mean an economic disaster for the Philistine people. Also, the Philistines were trying to regain economic and military power after a devastating war with Egypt. The burning of these crops would have dealt a major blow to their overseas trade agreements.

When the Philistines asked, “Who did this?” they were told, “Samson, the Timnite’s son-in-law, because his wife was given to his companion.” So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. Judges 15:6

The Philistines threatened Samson’s wife that they would burn her and her father’s house. She, to save herself and oblige her countrymen, betrayed her husband; and the very thing that she feared, and by sin sought to avoid, came upon her. Ironically, she, and her father’s house were burnt with fire by her countrymen, whom she thought to oblige by the wrong she did to her husband.

Samson said to them, “Since you’ve acted like this, I swear that I won’t stop until I get my revenge on you.” He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. Judges 15:7-8

Samson having slain many of the Philistines, went and dwelt in a cave of the rock of Etam which was located in the tribal territory of Judah.

The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. The people of Judah asked, “Why have you come to fight us?”

“We have come to take Samson prisoner,” they answered, “to do to him as he did to us.” Judges 15:9-10

The Philistines were determined to take Samson captive. They were willing to declare war on Judah if Judah insisted on protecting Samson.

Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Don’t you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?”

He answered, “I merely did to them what they did to me.” Judges 15:11

Obviously the power and exploits of Samson were so well known that it took three thousand men from Judah to muster up the courage to confront Samson. They presented their grievances to Samson in an attempt to convince him that it was unwise to provoke the Philistines. Didn’t Samson realize that their rulers had the power to oppress them even further, to increase their tribute, and even to put them to death?

Why had he rebelled against their masters? His reply was simple. He had only done to them what they had done to him. They had burnt his wife and her father to death, and in return he had slain many of them.

They said to him, “We’ve come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines.”

Samson said, “Swear to me that you won’t kill me yourselves.”

“Agreed,” they answered. “We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock. Judges 15:12-13

Samson could have resisted, but instead he submitted himself to his fellow Israelites. He understood that they did not have hostile intentions towards him, but were compelled to do what the Philistines demanded of them.

Though they were 3000 of them, Samson did not fear them. If they attempted to take away his life, he could have defended himself. But he chose not to shed the blood of any of his own countrymen. Instead, he consented to be bound by them so that he would be delivered into the hands of their enemies. In this instance, Samson was a type of Christ. Jesus was betrayed by his people the Jews, and delivered by them into the hands of the Romans. Although Samson could have delivered himself by his great strength, he did not. He allowed himself to be taken and bound and given into the hands of his enemies, that his own people might go free.

As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. Judges 15:14

The Philistines ran out to meet Samson. They were shouting with joy when they saw him bound, believing that he was subdued and powerless against them. The Spirit of the LORD came so powerfully upon Samson that his bindings melted away.

Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.

Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”

When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. Judges 15:15-17

The donkey’s jawbone was not dry and brittle but probably had some flesh and blood still on it. Samson disregarded the rule of ceremonial cleanness, which as a Nazarite, forbid him to touch a carcass of an unclean animal.

Samson took the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon and attained a mighty victory. But this miraculous feat was of God, and not of man. This victory was not attained by the weapon, or by the arm of flesh, but it was accomplished by the Spirit of God which guided the weapon and empowered the arm.

After Samson’s great victory, the place of the battle was called, “Ramath Lehi” which means the “Elevation of Lehi,” or the “The High Place of the Jawbone”.

Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord, “You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. Judges 15:18-19

Samson’s carnal character is once again evidenced by the way he addressed the LORD. Samson had demanded that his parents get him a Philistine wife, he killed thirty Philistine men because he was cheated and lost a bet, he disregarded his Nazarite vows, and now he sarcastically cries out to God, “Must I die of thirst…?”

God in His mercy and to fulfill His plan to use Samson to deliver His people from the Philistines, does not upbraid Samson but immediately responds to his request by opening up a spring of water. The place was then called, “En Hakkore” which means, “The fountain of him that cried for thirst” or can be understood as, “The fountain or well which was given in answer to my prayer.”

Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. Judges 15:20

Twenty years he judged Israel, during which the Philistines, though not utterly subdued, seem not to have oppressed the Israelites as before so that they had respite from their oppression, if not perfect freedom.

Judges Chapter 14 – Samson Wants a Philistine Woman as a Wife


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Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” Judges 14:1-2

Timnah was originally allotted to the tribe of Dan in the days of Joshua but was taken over and became a Philistine city. Samson went down to Timnah which was located in the Valley of Sorek. Timnah was a little town about four miles from where Samson was living at Zorah.

Samson had seen a woman in Timnah and asked his parents to obtain this Philistine woman as his bride. In the ancient world marriage was arranged by the parents. Samson’s parents would need to negotiate the dowry which was a gift of money or valuables given by the bride’s family to the groom and the newly formed household at the time of their marriage.

His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?”  Judges 14:3a

Samson’s parents were told by angel of the LORD that their son was destined to be a life-long Nazarite. They believed the heavenly messenger and earnestly prayed for divine guidance in raising their son. They, who were faithful to obey all that were told to do, are appalled that their grown son would disobey the commandment for the Israelites not to intermarry with the people living in the Promised Land.

and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your children away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. Deuteronomy 7:2-4

Samson’s father and mother understood that they were in covenant with the LORD. They were puzzled and disturbed as to why their son would seek a wife among the uncircumcised Philistines.

But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”(His parents did not know that this was from the Lord, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) Judges 3b-4

Samson wanted to marry this pagan woman because he was physically attracted to her. His motive was neither pure nor spiritual. The text says that this was from the LORD. God never condones sin and disobedience. But Samson’s actions would accomplish God’s purposes. God chose Samson as a Nazirite and deliverer, but Samson didn’t merit such honor and privilege. In spite of his many sins God would use him to deliver his people from the Philistines.

Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Judges 14:5-6

While Samson was alone and separated from his parents as they approached the vineyards of Timnah, he was attacked by a young lion. The wild mountain passes of Judah were the lairs of savage beasts; and most or all the ‘lions” of Scripture appear in that wild country. Samson was able to perform the supernatural act of tearing apart this powerful beast with his bare hands because he had been empowered by the Holy Spirit who came upon him.

The Spirit “coming upon” an individual in the Old Testament doesn’t always indicate the person’s spiritual condition – that they were righteous and obedient. So, while in the New Testament the Spirit only indwells believers, and that indwelling is permanent, the Spirit came upon certain Old Testament individuals for a specific task, irrespective of their spiritual condition. Once the task was completed, the Spirit presumably departed from that person.

Samson’s parents were unaware of what he had done to the lion.

Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. Judges 14:7

Samson had seen this Philistine woman and had found her attractive. Having spent some time talking with her, he also liked her personality.

Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass. Judges 14:8-9

Samson was chosen by Yehovah to be a life-long Nazarite. Although Samson was set apart for God’s purposes, he made no effort to keep himself from being defiled.

You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. However, of those that chew the cud or that have a divided hoof you may not eat the camel, the rabbit or the hyrax. Although they chew the cud, they do not have a divided hoof; they are ceremonially unclean for you. The pig is also unclean; although it has a divided hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses. Deuteronomy 14:6-8

A lion has neither a divided hoof nor chews the cud. A lion is not only ceremonially unclean to eat but it is forbidden to touch its carcass. Samson, who was on his way to make arrangements to marry a Philistine woman, scooped out honey from a carcass of an unclean animal, ate some of it, and then shared the rest with his parents.

Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions. Judges 14:10-11

The wedding festivity would last a week. The men and women were probably entertained in separate homes. The bride, her female relatives, and companions celebrated at her parents’ house. Since Samson was not a Philistine and did not live in Timnah, he, and the “friends of the bridegroom,” were selected by the bride’s family and attended his party in some local place obtained for the occasion.

“Let me tell you a riddle,” Samson said to them. “If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.” Judges 14:12-13a

Riddles formed one of the amusements of these Middle Eastern protracted feasts.

“Tell us your riddle,” they said. “Let’s hear it.”

He replied,

“Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.”

For three days they could not give the answer. Judges 14:13b-14

Samson’s encounter with the honey-filled carcass of the lion he had torn apart formed the basis for his wedding feast riddle.

On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, “Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?” Judges 14:15

The festive week was more than halfway over when the thirty men chosen to be the bridegroom’s companions demanded that Samson’s newly married wife learn the answer to the riddle. They were enraged because if they failed to obtain the answer to the riddle, they would be stripped of their clothes and left practically naked.

If Samson’s wife failed to get the explanation to the riddle from her husband and was unable to secretly tell them the answer, she and her father’s household would be burned to death.

Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, “You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.”

“I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,” he replied, “so why should I explain it to you?” She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. Judges 14:16-17

Samson’s wife in fear of being burned alive, sobbed, wailed, and pleaded for the remainder of the seven days until Samson was worn down.  Emotionally and mentally exhausted, Samson told his wife the meaning of the riddle on the last day of the feast.

Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, “What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?”

Samson said to them, “If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.” Judges 14:18

Samson instantly perceived his wife’s treachery, and showed that he did so by quoting the proverb of plowing with another man’s heifer. The men who had attended the wedding feast had not used their own wit to solve the riddle, but had learned the secret through his wife. Samson insinuates that had they acted fairly he would have won the wager.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. Judges 14:19

Samson’s anger was kindled against his wife, for her treachery and unfaithfulness to him, and against his companions for their deceit, and against the citizens of the town, who perhaps laughed at him for being tricked and deceived.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit with supernatural strength and led by the Spirit, Samson went to the city of Ashkelon. Ashkelon was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines which was located about twenty-four miles away. There he slew thirty of their men who he stripped of their clothes.

After forty years of oppression by the Philistines, Samson was destined to be the warrior-judge who would deliver Israel from her enemies. His slaughter of thirty Philistine men marked the first round in the battle to liberate the Israelites from her oppressors.

And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast. Judges 14:20

Samson’s return to his father’s house was construed as a rejection of his wife, and so she was given in marriage to Philistine man. This action would result in Samson taking revenge on the Philistines and another step in the fulfillment of God’s plan to free His Chosen People.

Judges Chapter 13 – The Birth of Samson Who was a Nazarite


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Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years. Judges 13:1

The Israelites’ great tribulations at the time of the Judges were the result of both their failure heed God’s command to rid the land of the Canaanites and their backsliding into apostasy by disobeying the Torah. Their acts of rebellion resulted in their subjugation to the Canaanites and the neighboring peoples.

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LordOver and over again during the time of the Judges, the Israelites turned from the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt, and committed spiritual adultery by worshipping pagan gods and engaged in immoral acts and child sacrifice. This time their punishment was fierce oppression from the Philistines for forty years.

A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Judges 13:2-3

A Christophany is an appearance of the incarnate Christ in the Old Testament. A Christophany is thus a special case of a theophany. The word, “Theophany” is derived from the Ancient Greek, meaning “appearance of God.” Whenever someone received a visit from “the angel of the LORD,” this was in fact the pre-incarnate Christ. The visible appearances of God in human or angelic form in the Old Testament, is actually the Son of God manifesting Himself prior to His incarnation.

There are several instances in the Scriptures where a barren and childless woman miraculously was able to give birth:

God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”

Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Genesis 17:15-17

“Sarai” means “my princess”, but “Sarah” means simply “Princess”, indicating that she will be exalted, not only by her husband but by all nations. Yes, Sarah would miraculously bear a child at the age of ninety.

and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Genesis 25:20

After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. Genesis 25:26

Rebekah was barren and childless for twenty years until she gave birth to Esau and Jacob.

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” Genesis 30:1

Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, “God has taken away my disgrace.” She named him Joseph, and said, “May the Lord add to me another son.” Genesis 30:22-24

Rachel’s sister Leah had given birth to six sons. Rachel’s servant Bilhah bore Jacob two sons and Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob two sons before God enabled Rachel to conceive and give birth to her first son Joseph.

Although Manoah’s wife was barren and childless she was told by the angel of the LORD that she would become pregnant and give birth to a son.

Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” Judges 13:4-5

Manoah’s son was to be a Nazarite and dedicated to God from the womb.

Nazarite means one who is separated. A Nazarite is    a person of either sex who was bound by a vow of a peculiar kind to be set apart from others for the service of God. During the term of a Nazarite’s consecration, the person was bound to abstain from wine grapes, with every production of the vine and from every kind of intoxicating drink. He was forbidden to cut the hair of his head, or to approach any dead body, even that of his nearest relation.

Manoah’s son was destined to be a life-long Nazarite. He would serve as a warrior-judge who would lead Israel in victory over the Philistines.

Then the woman went to her husband and told him, “A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn’t ask him where he came from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he said to me, ‘You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.’” Judges 13:6-7

Manoah’s wife would have to refrain from wine, fermented drinks and unclean foods during her pregnancy. While her baby would be in her womb, he would receive his food and nutrients from his mother through her placenta and his umbilical cord. As she ate, the food would pass through her digestive system where her body would break it down into small particles the body can absorb. The nutrients travel through the mother’s bloodstream and exchange to the bloodstream of the developing baby through the placenta. In order for her son to be a Nazarite from the womb, she needed to refrain from the food and drinks that were forbidden to be consumed by Nazarites.

Then Manoah prayed to the Lord: “Pardon your servant, Lord. I beg you to let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Judges 13:8

Without hesitation or doubt, although his wife had been barren and childless, Manoah believed the heavenly messenger and earnestly prayed for divine guidance in raising his son. Manoah understood that his son was selected by God to lead Israel and deliver his people from the Philistines.

God heard Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman while she was out in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. The woman hurried to tell her husband, “He’s here! The man who appeared to me the other day!” Judges 13:9-10

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16b

Manoah prayed earnestly in faith and soon received the answer to his prayer.

Manoah got up and followed his wife. When he came to the man, he said, “Are you the man who talked to my wife?”

“I am,” he said.

So Manoah asked him, “When your words are fulfilled, what is to be the rule that governs the boy’s life and work?” Judges 13:11-12

Manoah did not doubt and ask if the words of the angel of the LORD would be fulfilled, but confidently said to the man, “When your words are fulfilled.”  Manoah understood his and his wife’s privilege and responsibility in raising Israel’s next ruler and wanted clear instructions on how to best accomplish their task.

The angel of the Lord answered, “Your wife must do all that I have told her. She must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, nor drink any wine or other fermented drink nor eat anything unclean. She must do everything I have commanded her.” Judges 13:13-14

Since Manoah was not present at the first appearance of the angel of the LORD, it was important to him that he received the instructions on raising his son directly so that there would be no miscommunication as there was in the Garden of Eden.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

The LORD God gave this command to Adam before Eve was formed from his rib. God did not say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden.” In fact, God had given Adam access to a variety of eye pleasing trees that were good for food. God had only forbidden Adam from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Genesis 3:2-3

Eve’s response was not accurate. Actually, there were two trees that were in the middle of the garden – the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The LORD did say that man must not eat from the tree of the knowledge, but He did not say that if you touch it you will die. When Eve touched the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and did not die, she then proceeded to eat it.

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, “We would like you to stay until we prepare a young goat for you.”

The angel of the Lord replied, “Even though you detain me, I will not eat any of your food. But if you prepare a burnt offering, offer it to the Lord.” (Manoah did not realize that it was the angel of the Lord.) Judges 13:15-16

Manoah did not realize that he was speaking to the angel of the LORD. Manoah assumed him to be a man, a prophet sent from God. Therefore, Manoah offered him a meal as was the custom of Middle Eastern hospitality.

Then angel of the LORD refused to eat, but told Manoah to prepare a burnt offering for Yehovah.

A “burnt offering” is an offering which was wholly consumed by fire on the altar. The burnt offering, except for the ashes, would ascend in the smoke to God. The meaning of the whole burnt offering was that the person offering the sacrifice was submitting himself, soul and body, to God and the submission of his will to the will of the LORD.

Then Manoah inquired of the angel of the Lord, “What is your name, so that we may honor you when your word comes true?”

 He replied, “Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding.” Judges 13:17-18

Manoah’s request to learn the name of the angel of the LORD elicited unequivocal proof of the divinity of his supernatural visitor. The NIV translates the reply as “It is beyond understanding.” Other translations includes, “It is wonderful,” “It is hidden,” “It is secret,” and “You can’t comprehend it.”

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” Genesis 32:24-26

Wrestling is one of the most physically demanding activities that there is. Wrestling is personal, physically exhausting, and emotionally taxing. Although Jacob was 97 years old, he wrestled through the night. Even when he suffered excruciating pain from having his hip dislocated, he refused to let go of his opponent. With the coming of daylight, Jacob and this mysterious man might be seen by others. Since this significant encounter was to be highly personal, the man said that it was time for Jacob to let go.

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:27

Jacob understood that the man he wrestled with was no ordinary man. The hip is the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint. Surrounding the hip joint are many tough ligaments that prevent the dislocation of the joint. The strong muscles of the hip region also help to hold the hip joint together and prevent dislocation. This man just touched the socket of Jacob’s hip and it was wrenched out of place. This man was not only supernaturally powerful but Jacob understood that the man also had the spiritual authority to bless him.

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” Genesis 32:27-28

Names of people in the Bible have great importance. A person’s name may reflect their character or have prophetic significance, while others reflect their faith and gratitude to God.

Jacob whose name means, “heel-grabber” or “usurper” had deceived his father and stolen his brother’s blessing. In spite of being deceived and cheated by Laban for twenty years, Jacob remained faithful to fulfill his end of their work agreement. Jacob’s struggles served to refine his character. His name change reflected his new nature. Israel means “prince of God” or “he who struggles with God.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. Genesis 32:29

Many years later, Manoah the father of Samson asked the same question.

Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” But the angel of the LORD said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” Judges 13:17-18

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” Genesis 32:30

Both Jacob and Samson’s parents had an encounter with the “Angel of the LORD.” Though Jacob wrestled with a figure that looked like a man, Jacob declared that he saw God face-to-face. Jacob saw the second person of the Godhead – the pre-incarnate Jesus.

Then Manoah took a young goat, together with the grain offering, and sacrificed it on a rock to the Lord. And the Lord did an amazing thing while Manoah and his wife watched: As the flame blazed up from the altar toward heaven, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame. Seeing this, Manoah and his wife fell with their faces to the ground. Judges 13:19-20

The rock served as an altar. As the fire consumed the sacrificial offering, and the flames and the smoke ascended upwards, the angel of the LORD also ascended upwards towards heaven.

Manoah and his wife in astonishment and awe fell on their faces to the ground in fear and reverence in their realization that they were in the presence of a divine being.

 When the angel of the Lord did not show himself again to Manoah and his wife, Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord.

“We are doomed to die!” he said to his wife. “We have seen God!”Judges 13:21-22

Although the parents of Samson had spoken to the angel of the LORD, Manoah knew that they had seen God.

But his wife answered, “If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and grain offering from our hands, nor shown us all these things or now told us this.” Judges 13:23

Manoah’s wife reasoned correctly and helped to quell her husband’s fear. Their sacrifice was acceptable to the LORD and the purpose of the divine visitation was to prepare them to parent Israel’s next judge and deliverer.

 The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. Judges 13:24-25

The English name, “Samson” is derived from the Hebrew name Shimshon which means of the “sun”.

While Samson grew to adulthood the Spirit of the LORD began to strengthen him, encourage him, and prepare him for his destiny. This happened while he lived in the territory of Dan which was located near the Philistines. Samson would be a witness to the ravages and oppression by Israel’s enemy and was being groomed to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.