Today’s Reading: Judges 8:22-13:25
The Israelites were so excited about their mighty HERO, Gideon, that they asked him to become their ruler or king. Knowing God was the true Hero and King, Gideon denied their request. God blessed Gideon with 70 sons. After he passed away, the Israelites started worshiping false gods again, forgetting who had rescued them from all their enemies. Gideon’s son, Abimelech, revisited the idea of Israel wanting a ruler. To make sure none of his brothers rose to the occasion, Abimelech had all but one of his brothers killed. His youngest brother, Jothan, escaped and went into hiding. Abimelech had the opportunity to be a HERO, but his greedy pride made him into a murderous VILLAIN instead (Judges 9).
More judges came and went for the people of God – Tola judged for 23 years and Jair for the next 22 years. Again the people did evil in the eyes of the Lord and he turned them over to the Philistines and the Ammonites, who oppressed them for 18 years. Next God used Jephthah, the son of a prostitute, to rescue the people of Israel, who had cried out in misery for God to rescue them again (Judges 11).
Next, Ibzan from Bethlehem judged Israel for 7 years and then Elon from the tribe of Zebulun judged Israel for 10 years. Abdon son of Hillel judged Israel for 8 years and then the people of Israel again started sinning against God, so He handed them over to the Philistines for the next 40 years. Again, God’s people needed a HERO to rescue them from their troubles.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Amazing Spider-man”, perhaps you remember this famous quote from Peter’s Uncle Ben:
“Peter? I know things have been difficult lately and I’m sorry about that. I think I know what you’re feeling. Ever since you were a little boy, you’ve been living with so many unresolved things. Well, take it from an old man. Those things send us down a road…they make us who we are. And if anyone’s destined for greatness, it’s you, son. You owe the world your gifts. You just have to figure out how to use them and know that wherever they take you, we’ll always be here. So, come on home, Peter. You’re my hero…and I love you!”
Ben Parker saw that his nephew was special – that he had a larger purpose in life. In Judges 13, God reveals to a husband and wife that they are about to have a son who will be born for a special purpose.
In those days a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant and they had no children. The angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. So be careful; you must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink nor eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazirite from birth. He will begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.” – Judges 13:2-7
She ran to her husband and told him all the angel had said. Manoah prayed for God to send the man of God back so he could receive more instruction about this son who was to be born. I love this portion of Scripture because it speaks to the heart of Manoah. He was so thankful that God was going to bless him with a child that he wanted to be the perfect father to this child, for whom God had a magnificent plan. He inquired of God and God faithfully responded by sending the angel back to appear to Manoah and repeat all that he had said to Manoah’s wife. Manoah responded in thanksgiving by offering to the Lord a grain offering and a burnt offering.
Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to the Lord. And as Manoah and his wife watched, THE LORD DID AN AMAZING THING. As the flames form the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of the Lord ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground. – Judges 14:19-20
Lord, we inquire of you today – What do you want us to do in order to prepare the way for your plan? How can we be the parent you have called us to be? Father God, we long to see you do AMAZING things for you are an AMAZING God! As I’ve heard Beth Moore say – make your word a holy fascination to us and a flame leaping upward to its sacred source. Be an all-consuming fire, Oh God! We love you so much! Amen.