12. So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”
13. The angel of the LORD replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her.
14. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”
Judges 13:12–14 NLT
The Lesson from Today’s Passage, if I’m honest, could be summed up in one sentence; “I said what I said!” But since this is a Bible Commentary and there is a little more nuance involved than that, I’ll take the time to elaborate. But let’s be clear; what Manoah is doing in this Passage is completely unnecessary.
Okay, before we go further, let me explain myself here. What’s happened in this Story so far? God had decided to Bless a barren woman with a child, and that child was to become the next Judge of Israel. For the child to be capable of doing the task ahead of him, he needed to be set apart; he needed to be different.
That difference was to come in the form of the Nazarite Vow. It was a dedication to God indicating an individual’s commitment to following God’s standards to an even more stringent level than most Israelites, and they were already the oddballs of their day as far as Religious practices went.
One of the reasons the Judges were established in the first place wasn’t simply to keep the Children of Israel in check, which, if you’ve been paying attention, was never a sure thing. The principal reason for Sampson’s birth was to free Israel from the heavy hand of Philistine domination. The Judges were both protectors and guides of God’s Chosen people.
So, Sampson’s role is one of not only authority but of liberation, and the people had to know that he was dedicated and consecrated for the task. That meant that his mother, during her miraculous pregnancy, had to adhere to similar rules as her son. She had to make a sacrifice to receive the desire of her heart, a recurring theme in the bible.
Now, for anyone in those days, to forego the benefits of wine was a real detriment, because the water was not the greatest quality. Wine provided one of the only assuredly “clean” beverages available to them. So, to voluntarily abstain from wine would have drastically cut down on the options one had. It really was a sacrifice, but one that would set an individual apart, so that everyone knew their stance.
Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let me get back to my point. I said that this entire Passage could be summed up in one sentence, and it’s not all that flattering. Manoah has already messed up once in this situation, and he didn’t even know it.
Manoah thought he was being proactive when he requested God to send the angel back, but he was really exercising his Fear. Doubt immediately crept in when his wife delivered her Message, and Manoah didn’t recognize what he was given even as it starred him right in the face.
What am I talking about here? It’s something I think we’re all guilty of when it comes to receiving a Blessing from God. We often don’t take Him at His Word. Why are we always so quick to ask for clarification if God Said something? Is His Word not enough? Do we think our questions will cause Him to offer more details than He did when He Spoke to us in the first place?
Well, if that’s the case, just look at what God does when Manoah asks for clarification. He tells him the EXACT SAME THING he told his wife, without any variation or inconsistency. So, when Manoah asked for clarification, his answer was essentially; “I said what I said! I already told your wife I’m not changing the Message at all. What she told you is what I told her and what I expect if you want this Miracle. Do you want this Miracle or not?”
Okay, that was a Chris Reid paraphrase, but I think you get the point. How often are we presented with a good thing from God and immediately look our “gift horse” in the mouth? It’s not that we Doubt God per se; Manoah had Faith that his son would be born. I think the Doubt lies within ourselves, but therein lies the issue. Doubt is still Doubt, and regardless of why it comes, the result is the same; Fear and, often, after Fear erodes our certainty; Stagnancy.
We are unsure that we can perform the task adequately because of our human weakness, so we project that weakness onto God. But if He Called you, then He’ll Qualify you! All you have to do is follow His instructions, and you have already achieved your Victory! The only thing standing in your way is your own self-generated Doubt!
God told Manoah’s wife what she needed to do to comply with His Will. Manoah wanted to hear it for himself. The Message didn’t change. At least God wasn’t as harsh in His Answer as I was. Nope! God is patient while we are intolerant and impetuous; good thing we’re not God, huh?
So, Today’s Lesson is to Listen and Accept what God Says the first time. If He’s said it, there’s no reason to Doubt Him. Just do what He said, regardless of how it sounds. He knows what He’s doing; sometimes, He’s Testing our Faith with His ambiguity. Faith is a Test; expect to put in some effort. Do you have the Faith to Follow God even when the Path is not clear? Do you have True Confidence in God, or do you, like Manoah, need more clarification?
Have a Terrific Tuesday And If God Speaks, Accept It; Clarification Is Immaterial!