In Numbers 6 we see an exhaustive list of the rules and regulations that the Nazarite was to follow. A Nazarite was a person set apart for God to do His purpose. He showed that to others by external signs (not cutting his hair, not drinking any fermented drink, not partaking of the fruit of the vine and not being in the presence of a corpse) These would make him ritually impure and he would need to start his period of being a Nazarite again.
A Nazarite either chose for himself to do this or his parents chose for him. In the examples we’ll see below, the children were set apart to God even before their conception, and their parents were charged with raising them to be Nazarites. All of these men were tasked with the deliverance of God’s people.
In this series LOVE is: I’m going to show you uncommon and unusual scenarios of LOVE all from the Bible 🙂 I say uncommon and unusual , because these examples may not be the first things we think of when we say LOVE. Love has changed so much and means so many different things in our culture nowadays. Some times we as a community, don’t recognize instances of Love.
Let’s look at our first Nazarite in this post, Samson the Judge.
Samson was the last Judge of Israel chosen by God, just before the time of Eli and Samuel the Priest. Samson’s parents hadn’t had any children and they were visited by an Angel of the LORD ( first his mother, then his father) with a prophecy that they would have a son and were to name him Samson and he would deliver the people from the Israelites.
The Angel of the LORD gave the parents instructions about raising him as a Nazarite. When Manaoh and his wife detained the Angel and offered a sacrifice, the sacrifice was accepted. From this we see that this instance was most likely a Theophany (a pre-incarnate appearance of God. A pre-incarnate form of God appearing to people means He showed Himself to them in a form they could recognize and interact with, but this was before His birth on earth).
Samson was raised and lived a Nazarite. But Samson. Samson was ruled by his flesh. He lusted for several women and acted on that desire. He was impulsive and did not wait for the leading of the LORD. He was violent without control or mercy. He killed a lion with his bare hands, but then ate honey from its carcass, making him ritually impure.
Samson divulged the secret of his strength to Delilah and was betrayed in turn. She cut off his hair and delivered him into the hands of the Philistines, who blinded, imprisoned, mocked and scorned him.
Samson at the end of his life acknowledged that his strength came from the LORD not his hair. He repented and asked the LORD for help one last time.
When Samson was bought to the Temple of the Philistine god, with his hands braced on two pillars (making the shape of a cross), and filled with the power of the Living God, he pushed the pillars, bringing death to more Philistines than he had killed in his twenty years of being a Judge over Israel.
I talk about this at the end of the post , but here are some ways that the life of Samson and Jesus were similar. More recent Christian commentators have viewed Samson as a type of Jesus Christ, based on similarities between Samson’s story and the life of Jesus in the New Testament. Samson’s and Jesus’ births were both foretold by angels, who predicted that they would save their people. Samson was born to a barren woman, and Jesus was born of a virgin. Samson defeated a lion; Jesus defeated Satan, whom the First Epistle of Peter describes as a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. Samson’s betrayal by Delilah has also been compared to Jesus’ betrayal by Judas Iscariot; both Delilah and Judas were paid in pieces of silver for their respective deeds. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer notes in his A Guide to Scripture History: The Old Testament that Samson was “blinded, insulted [and] enslaved” prior to his death, and that Jesus was “blindfolded, insulted, and treated as a slave” prior to his crucifixion. Brewer also compares Samson’s death among “the wicked” with Christ being crucified between two thieves.
Next let’s read about Samuel the Prophet, Priest and Judge.
Samuel’s mother Hannah was barren and had been mocked by her rival, the other wife of her husband. In deep distress she went to the Tabernacle of the LORD and poured out her grief to the LORD. The priest Eli thought she was drunk, but when he came to know that she was praying, he blessed her and said her prayers would be answered. The next year she gave birth to Samuel and when he was weaned, Hannah brought him to the Tabernacle and dedicated him to the service of the LORD.
Hannah was rewarded with other children after she gave up Samuel. So… She could have had children, but God in His wisdom kept her from having children until the opportune time. When Samuel could be mentored and the nation of Israel was desperate.
Eli the Priest watched over Samuel and helped him understand what was happening when He first heard the voice of God speaking to him. Samuel became a Prophet and at the death of Eli became the Priest of Israel. He also went on a circuit through the cities of Israel giving judgements and resolving disputes among people. Samuel joined a few others (Moses, Deborah) in holding multiple offices at the same time.
We cannot forget that our God holds the offices of Prophet, Judge and Priest and more (King, Deliverer, Counsellor, Saviour, Healer, Provider, Warrior to name a few) at the same time.
Samuel was the last person to hold the office of Judge over Israel. The people in rebellion to God wanted to led by kings like the neighboring nations of the time. Samuel was personally offended but was told by God that the offense was against God Himself. He was commanded to anoint the first two kings of Israel. He did so with sorrow and regret. He was alive for a few years to see what the (human) kings brought about in the nation.
Last up for today’s post is John the Baptist.
Zechariah received a prophecy from the Angel Gabriel about his to-be-born son. He was to turn the hearts of the people back to God and teach about repentance of the soul and the coming Kingdom of God.
Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were elderly , but both of them belonged to the line of the Levites. When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, Mary (the mother of Jesus) her cousin came to visit them. Hearing the voice of Mary and being filled with the Spirit, the child (John) leaped in the womb.
John was about six months older than Jesus. He lived as a Nazarite and he taught people out in the desert. In his adult life John was characterized by blind devotion and utter surrender to Jesus Christ and His kingdom. John’s voice was a “lone voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23) as he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to a people who desperately needed a Savior. He was the precursor for the modern day evangelist as he unashamedly shared the good news of Jesus Christ. He was a man filled with faith and a role model to those of us who wish to share our faith with others.
John did not make a distinction between the classes and the religious inclinations of the people. To the masses he told them to share their extra belongings with those less fortunate. To the tax collectors (who would have been outcasts in that society) John told them to only collect their dues and not collect extra money. To the soldiers (who would have been despised because they were Romans) John told them to be satisfied with their pay and not to extort people. To the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day, John was an enigma and they asked him constantly if he was the Messiah they had been waiting for.
John vigorously denied being the Messiah. Through the power of the Spirit , John declared “Look, He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” when he saw Jesus with His disciples. John baptized Jesus in the River Jordan on the other side of Bethany.
John was ignominiously killed when he was vocal against the marriage of Herod to Herodias , his brother’s wife. Many of John’s disciples became the early followers of Jesus Christ.
Some of the lessons we can learn from John’s life are First, whole-heartedly believing in Jesus Christ is possible. Second, anyone can be a strong and serious witness for Jesus Christ. Third, like John, we are to know and believe that “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), so we can be fearless in the face of persecution and death. Fourth, John shows us how to stand firm in our faith no matter what the circumstances. Paul reminded Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
Looking at these three men and Jesus, let’s talk about some similarities and differences.
- All of them were miracle births, born to barren women or elderly women long past the age of child-bearing (In Jesus’ case Mary was a virgin).
- Before any of these children were conceived, they were set apart for God’s purpose, to do His will (Jesus included).
- With the exception of Samuel, a prophecy by a heavenly being was spoken to the parent/s of the children. ( An Angel of the LORD to Moanoah and his wife and the Angel Gabriel who appeared to both Zechariah and Mary).
- All of them were to bring about the deliverance of the people of God.
- With the exception of Samson, they stayed faithful to God and honored God during their lives.
- They performed miracles and feats of power during their lives. They lived extra-ordinary lives and changed the culture around them.
- With the exception of Samson, they tried (and in Jesus’ case succeeded) to turn the hearts of the people back to God.
- Their deaths caused sorrow and grief to the people around them.
How do we recognize LOVE in these three people specifically?
We see LOVE in that they were set apart for God, even if it were the choice of the parents.
We see LOVE in them honoring God and serving Him faithfully with their talents, gifts and strengths.
We see LOVE when they realized that their power came from GOD alone.
We see LOVE when they sought the good of the people they served, by teaching them of the need of repentance and of the LOVE of God for them.
They realized they were part of a whole. With the Triune God, they did what they were supposed to accomplish. They depended on God to give them what they needed.
When God at the beginning of time decided to make man in His image, He did so because of LOVE. It wasn’t because GOD was lonely or that He wanted worship form a created being. It was because HE was full of LOVE. So much so that He wanted to show love to another.
So when these men remembered that they were part of something greater, they gave up their autonomy and did extra-ordinary things and performed many miracles. Being willing to give up their identity and their will for Some One else’s was the greatest expression of LOVE that they could do, (in my opinion).
There is no greater LOVE than this, that a Man lay down His life for His friends.
Do you know this Man Jesus who laid down His life for us so that we may have eternal life? If you don’t, come to Him now. HE is waiting for you with arms open wide.
Until next week,