Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Samson Generation

Judges 13.20-25
20 For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.
21 But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD.
22 And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
24 And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.
25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

There was an experiment recorded with rats in a cage, where there were two buttons. When the rats touched one button, it produced food for them to eat. When the rats touched the other button, it produced a pleasurable sensation through a neuro-probe attached to each rat. The rats continually touched the pleasure button even as they starved to death. Human nature is much the same. When given a choice between that which is good for us and that which makes us feel good, we will choose that which is pleasurable.

This study is not for you if you are not serious about going to Heaven, if you are happy playing church, or if you are content with a Spiritless life. However, if you are not content with a Spiritless life; if you will not be happy playing church; or if you are serious about going to Heaven, I have somewhat to say to you.

The life of Samson:
· Separated as a Nazerite, yet tampered with evil associations
· Spiritual at times, yet under the power of carnal influences
· Mighty in physical strength, yet weak in resisting temptations
Samson was a mingler. He sought to mesh the things of God with the things of the world.

In Matthew 12.30, Jesus tells us, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

Saul, when he was commanded to destroy the Amelekites and all of their flocks and herds, brought back the king and flocks and herds. When the prophet, Samuel, confronted him about this, he blamed the people. His response was, “But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.” We only keep the best to offer to God. The best the world has to offer is still death.

Gold is a precious metal. Its value is in its purity. The purer the gold, the more it is worth. When you add anything to pure gold, regardless of how pure the additive, it makes the gold worth less. The same is true of the things of God. When we seek to inter-mingle the things of the world with the things of God, we render the things of God worthless. In Romans 1:16, we read, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” The word ‘gospel’ is ‘euaggelion’ (yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on); meaning a good message. The good news of Jesus Christ is the power of God to save to the uttermost. (Hebrews 7:25 “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”) It is the power of the pure and unadulterated words of God that saves the world. It is not a co-mingled document. It is not the words of God and the opinions of man that save. When we seek to add to His word, we make it worthless in its power to save. If it cannot save us, it has no value to us. The best the world has to offer is still death.

We want to discuss two men whose lives are closely related: Samson and Lot

· Judge over Israel
· Nazarite vow
· Devotion and consecration
· Nephew of Abraham
· Believer
· Child of God
For all of their differences, Lot and Samson’s lives come into a remarkable parallel, which should serve as a warning to us from God.

Genesis 13:10-11
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

As there is no sin in having rightly gained wealth, or elegant homes, or fair gardens, or fine art to look upon, neither is there any evil in desiring fertile fields instead of barren rocks to cultivate. Christianity invites men and women to enjoy the good things which have been freely given by God. It is the will of the Creator that we, his children, enjoy the creative work. He intends us to breathe freely the air He has provided. He intends us to enjoy the benefits of our labor.

There was no sin in Lot’s choice of the well watered plains of the Jordan Circle, but there is a lesson to be learned in the results of that decision. I would assume that it was not Lot’s intention to move into the city of Sodom, but he pitched his tent in that direction. The word ‘toward’ means ‘as far as,’ in the original text. Lot chose the plains that bordered on the boundary of the city of Sodom.

There are things in the world which, in and of themselves, are not sin, but will lean you in the direction of, or take you to the border of sin. I do not want to imply, in any way, that there are to be no pleasures in serving God. It is an austere life, but it is filled with pleasure. God will never ask anything of you without offering a greater return. You will never lose a friend without gaining a brother. While this is a walk of sacrifice, it is also a walk of abundance. Christians are the happiest people.

If we are not careful, we may find ourselves stumbling into Sodom.

There are those that are walking so close to the line that they only need to stumble in the wrong direction to end up in the world. They do not fall away from God. They merely stumble into Sodom. I will not attempt to define the border for you. That border varies with each Child of God. What may be tempting to one may not be tempting to another. As a non drinker it does not tempt me to walk past a tavern or night club. However, a recovering alcoholic may experience a different set of feeling in walking past the same places. You know from what He has delivered you.

Samson looked into the land of the Philistines before he married a Philistine woman, went in unto a harlot, or fell in love with Delilah.

If we would spend less time peering into the world, we would be less likely to fall in love with the things of the world.

2 Timothy 3:1-7
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,
7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

We must maintain a spirit of repentance. We must embrace this spirit of turning away.

David was a warrior king. He was generally in the midst of the fray. You would find him in the heat of the battle. There are numerous accounts of David and his victories. It speaks all the more that one of his greatest defeats happened when he was not in the battle. Oh yes, Israel was in a battle.

2 Samuel 11:1 “And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.”

However, this time, David was not on the battlefield. He was in the palace looking from the roof at Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, as she bathed. Here was David, in the place he didn’t need to be, seeing the thing he didn’t need to see, and doing the thing he didn’t need to do.

He took Bathsheba and lay with her. She became pregnant. Then, David conceived a plan to cover his actions. He brought Uriah home under the pretext of inquiring about the battle, thinking he would lay with his wife and thereby assume the child she was carrying was his. But, Uriah would not go home and sleep in his bed, while his brothers, and the ark, were abiding in tents.

Then David conceived the most heinous act. He told his general to place Uriah at the forefront of the battle, and then to withdraw, so Uriah would be killed.

This, because he did not embrace the spirit of turning away from temptation.

Back to Samson:

Judges 14.3
Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

It is pleasing or right in my eyes.

In order for Samson to marry a Philistine woman or Lot to move into Sodom, there first had to come a relaxing of their moral senses. There must be a distinct downward step from the platform of self consecration to the service of God. He, whose choice is guided only by his eyes and governed by his fancy, will find himself living in a strange land or with a Philistine in his arms.

We must learn the difference between selfish choices and God centered or Spirit led choices. Selfish choices are many times preceded with the words; “I am” or “We are”. The selfish suffer from a narrow vision of the world. The things which matter are those things which are centered on their wants and needs. One of the philosophies of Neitzsche was ‘that which helps me is good and that which hurts me is bad.” This was his take on morality.

Mingling with and marrying into the families of the ungodly ruined the pre-flood world.

The chief injury done to the church arises from throwing down the wall of separation between it and the world. Separation from and nonconformity to the world and much more, the wicked portion of it, is the duty of every believer. (Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.)

Lot was a good man, but his piety would not prevent the gradual deterioration of his nature through the evil influence of his neighbors.

There are those that will claim that we need to be part of the world in order to be a witness to them. This is not true. Lot lived in the city of Sodom. He lived among the citizenry. He interacted with them in that he was known of them. Lot’s witness, if it were prevalent, yielded no results. There were less than ten righteous in the city. When God told Abraham that He was going to destroy the city, Abraham asked Him if he would spare the city for the sake of fifty righteous souls. God agreed. Abraham intervened and worked that number down to ten souls. If in the whole city, there could be found ten souls that were righteous, God would spare the city. In spite of the influence of Lot, there were not ten righteous souls inside the city of Sodom.

I know we cannot be isolated from the world, but we must be insulated from the world. It is okay for the house to be in the cold, but the cold must not be in the house. It is alright for the ship to be in the water, but it is a different story altogether when the water is in the ship. We must live in this sinful world, but we must not allow the sinfulness of the world to live within us.

Paul said, “I keep under my body and bring it into submission, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself become a castaway.” The phrase interpreted ‘bring it into subjection’ is from a compound word, ‘doulagogeo’, of which, ‘ago’ means to ‘drive by force’, and ‘doulos’ means ‘a slave’. There are times that serving will come easy, and then, there will be times that we must drive our bodies to do the right.

Samson had brushes with greatness in God, but he lacked the drive to maintain any measure of spirituality.

There are people today that have confused the grace of God for the approval of God. “I touched it and I did not die, it must be alright.” This is not the case. While, in the Old Testament, God moved quickly with His divine retribution, He now allows us a period of grace, to come to the knowledge of our sinfulness and His love.

Samson’s strength was tied to the outward sign of his Navarite vow. He tampered with his vow, and placed it at the mercy of a heathen harlot, and never woke from his delusion and presumption, until he found himself delivered into the hands of his enemies.

Samson felt the power was his and could not be taken away. “I will go out and shake myself as other times before.” The Scripture says, “He wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”

His strength was gone. He shared the fate of other men.

There was a time when the king of Sodom was involved in t war with several other kings and the city was taken. All the inhabitants were taken and their goods. Lot was taken as well, living in Sodom.

He was like all others in the city. He shared the fate of other men.

We will share the fate of the world if we mingle with the world.

God is very patient and longsuffering. He “is not slack concerning His promises, as men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He handles our offences with gentle rebukes and gives significant warnings of the dangers. However, if the warnings go unheeded, the state of presumptiveness will grow until there is no remedy.

The altar was designed as a place of sacrifice and repentance. The Jews had so drifted from this place that they didn’t recognize its significance when Jesus came to Earth. It had become the place of their rituals. The rituals were meaningless except to those performing them. Their apostasy was a stench in the nostrils of God. They had so mingled their beliefs that the altar was merely a place of ritual.

The Church that mingles is in this place. The child of God that mingles is in this place. Their service is merely a ritual. Their prayers are merely rituals. They are laden with arrogance and expectation. There is no repentance in their prayers. There is no service in their prayers. They are going out as before and shaking themselves not knowing that God has departed.

In this state, men rush into temptation, as if without harm. They neglect service as if it is not necessary. They neglect the Word as if they no longer need it. They wander away from true prayer. They lose the marks of a gracious soul and are not frightened at its absence. Their souls languish and grow weak. Their gifts wither. Their fruit begins to die. Everything goes cross, but they do not see the cause. They are not aware that God has departed from them, nor do they care to reconcile themselves to him.

Then comes the fall, which to others seems sudden, but which has been advancing in successive stages of presumption and self confidence. They need God less and less, or so it appears to them.

Samson did not realize he was alone.

Leprosy is often used to illustrate sin and its nature and affect. Leprosy causes the loss of circulation to the extremities.

Leprosy is a slowly progressing bacterial infection that affects the skin, peripheral nerves in the hands and feet, and mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and eyes. Destruction of the nerve endings causes the affected areas to lose sensation. Occasionally, because of the loss of feeling, the fingers and toes become mutilated and fall off, causing the deformities that are typically associated with the disease.

Sin has the similar effect. When we begin to mingle with sin, it will slowly progress in our lives. It will cause the loss of sensation in the extremities. It begins as a dulling of the feeling. We begin to see the deadness spreading through the farthermost regions of our Christianity. Because of the affect on the nerve endings, we don’t even feel the pain. Lepers lose the feeling before they lose the member.

Samson had moved into a state of spiritual indifference. Samson forsook God long before God forsook Samson.

This is the nature of sin.

The Eskimos use an odd technique to hunt the Arctic Wolf. They use a double edge bladed knife. They put blood on the blade and stick it in the ice, handle down and blade up. The wolf will come, attracted to the blood and begin to lick the blade. This licking will cut the tongue of the wolf. He will not be able to distinguish between the blood and his own blood. He will continue to lick and lap the blood until he bleeds to death.

This is the nature of sin.

The Samson Generation

Our new found strength is based on His mercy and our dedication.

Have you ever considered a hot air balloon?

The balloon lies on the ground. Heaters and fans blow heated air into the balloon. The balloon fills and slowly rises into the air, tethered by cords to hold the basket to the ground. When the balloon is sufficiently filled and the air adequately heated, the passengers enter the basket and the tether is removed. The hot air balloon slowly, graciously, magnificently rises into the air.

Once it has been aloft for a while, the air inside the balloon is cooled by the temperature surrounding the canopy. The heater is re-employed. The air is reheated. The balloon remains in the air. The same thing that it took to get the balloon off the ground is what it takes to keep it in the air.

Walking with God is like that. It took prayer, tears, and sacrifice to get you out of the world. It will take prayer, tears, and sacrifice to keep you aloft. When the things of the world begin to mingle with the things of God in your life, your balloon is going down.

Joel 2.13 tells us, “rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God...”

In Bible days, certain groups made a great show of their grief by tearing their garment as an outward sign of their emotional distress. Joel uses the word, lebab, in this reference. It signifies the center of being. It refers to the heart, the soul, the intellect, and the will. It represents a true repenting and not just a surface scratching. Some have become satisfied with an easy touch of the Spirit of God and have abandoned the much deeper spirit of repentance.

Repentance and salvation do not come through the works of flesh but will produce works in the flesh. You are not initially saved by the keeping of the rules and regulations of the Word of God. The operating Spirit of God will, however, cause you to keep the commandments of God. While I feel the outward appearance is of equal importance to inward purity, it cannot be the sole basis of our perception of one’s position with God. We are much too quick to judge a person as saved if they dress and behave according to our person dictates and to judge them as lost if they do not.

We must reach beyond the surface and touch the innermost being. Salvation must touch us deeper, affect us more profoundly, and change us more radically than anything else we encounter in this life.

Samson’s strength returned to him gradually as his hair began to grow again.

We are received immediately back into God’s favor when we return in faith with a penitent heart, but we conquer evil consequences and regain spiritual powers and positions by degrees.

The return of Samson's strength was realized by prayer. In his own soul he was weak. Our strength must come from God.

We must move away from the line.

We must leave the bad influences.

We must rend our heart.

If we are serious about going to Heaven;

If we are not satisfied playing church;

If we are not content with a Spiritless life;

We must rend our hearts.

Which button will you push?

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