We have a new twist in our pattern of God’s rescue. We have an angelic visitation during the time the Israelites are being oppressed. Rather than raising up someone already alive, God is going to take a different approach this time. An angel appears to a woman who has been unable to have children and tells her she will have a child!
But there’s more! This child will not be just any child. The woman has been given strict instructions to keep herself pure from alcohol and forbidden foods even during her pregnancy. She was going to give birth to a son who will be dedicated as a Nazirite. “He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
While that isn’t a familiar calling to us today, in the ancient Hebrew world, this woman would understand. You see Nazirites voluntarily devote themselves to God, refrain from drinking alcohol, refrain from cutting their hair, and so forth. You can read more about this in Numbers 6:1-21.
You can imagine this news seemed quite unbelievable. So much so that the woman’s husband, Manoah, needed to hear it for himself. He “prayed to the LORD, saying, “Lord, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”
The man of God returned to the woman and stayed present with her so she could summon Manoah. It was quite an encounter. Manoah got his questions answered. Can you imagine what the couple must have been feeling after having accepted they would never have children?
Their first reaction was to honor this guest at bringing them such news. “Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.” It would have been their custom to offer hospitality and a meal. The angel turned down the offer to eat and said, “[h]owever, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to the Lord.” That is precisely what the couple did.
It wasn’t until the man ascended in the fire that the couple realized they had been visited by the angel of the LORD. They now had some fear of death because they had “seen God.” They had just been given a job to do, to raise their child so that he could be a true Nazirite. As I understand it, Samson is the only Biblical example we have of a Nazirite.
Samson grew and was blessed by God. The spirit began moving inside him, and this story will be continued in the chapters to come. I love how God changes up the way he calls his heroes. There doesn’t seem to be one “cookie cutter” type of person he uses for his purposes. He continues still today to use people of all shapes and sizes, backgrounds and interests.
How is God calling you? That a question I wrestle with every day. Cling to this verse today: Lamentations 3:22, “The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease.”
Let’s pray …
Lord, I continue to be astounded by how you provide in such magnificent ways for your children. You have a plan for each one of us. Forgive me for taking your grace for granted. Show me how I can be of service to you today. Make my heart steadfast and true. In Jesus’ name. Amen.