Judges 13

Today's Passage: Judges 13 

Sometimes you’ll hear someone say that the Bible is boring. Clearly that person has never read Judges. If you’re unfamiliar with Judges or if it’s your first time reading it, buckle up. As we progress through the story, we grow further and further from God’s design. In fact, the judges represented Israel’s best and brightest, but they increasingly look more like the Canaanites they were supposed to eradicate from the Promised Land the further we get into the story.

The last judge we’ve read about, Jephthah, made a rash vow that cost his daughter’s life—and he kept his vow. Then, when the Ephraimites got mad for not being including in the military victory, Jephthah presided over a conflict that cost the lives of 42,000 Israelites.
As we open Judges 13, things haven’t been going great for Israel. However, God sent an angel to a woman and her husband telling them they will bear a child dedicated to the Lord. Uniquely, this chapter isn’t about a judge or one of Israel’s leaders. It’s a birth announcement about a coming judge. As a reader, there’s a spark of hope for Israel. We’ve been on this sliding descent into chaos. Finally, it seems that the Lord is intervening.

Numbers 6 outlines the Nazarite vow. Basically, it is a temporary vow a person takes for themselves to dedicate themselves to the Lord. They’re not supposed to cut their hair, drink strong drink, nor touch anything dead. Then, when the vow concludes, there’s several ceremonial requirements.

So, stepping back into Judges 13, the angel tells the woman that though she is currently now barren, she will have a baby and he will be a Nazarite from birth. First, the Nazarite vow was supposed to be voluntary¬¬, the baby is dedicated by command. Second, the vow was supposed to be the temporary, the baby would be vowed from birth for life. Finally, the vow was for purity and ritual cleanness—we’ll see tomorrow how long that lasts.

Although this chapter offers a lot of hope, spoiler alert, Samson is as flawed a judge as any who have come before. God will keep his promise and deliver Israel through Samson, but God’s rescue was more despite Samson than because of him.

As I reflect on this passage, a couple things come to mind. First, our hope can never be in people. We all have the people we look up to and respect, especially in ministry. However, never forget that they’re just people. It seems like very often we hear of one Christian leader or another disqualifying themselves somehow. If my belief and trust in God is wrapped up in this or that Christian leader’s faith and obedience, then that’s awfully shaky ground. Every celebrity pastor and speaker needs Jesus just as much as you. I also believe that many of them are under tremendous temptation because of their status and influence. Pray for them. Encourage leaders. But, don’t be surprised when you discover they’re sinners in need of a Savior.

Second, God cares about me personally. He cares about you personally. God was faithful to Israel to raise up a judge in order to defend the nation from the Philistines. He could do that any way he wanted. The way he chose to do it was to bring a child to a barren woman.

I’m not saying this is a promise that God will save or spare his people from hard circumstances. However, he knows and he’s at work. Even if it’s not how we would write the story, he loves us.

Written By: Tyler Short

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