Hello Family of Zion!
Welcome to our new addition of the Zion Church website! This will be the first blog post for a new blog series that we will be starting up this month.
One of the most tragic verses in the bible was covered this Sunday for our middle school students in our walk-through of Judges. Samson, who is one the great men in the Hall of Faith found in the book of Hebrews, has been discussed over the last three weeks as we studied through the chapters of Judges that covered his life. Samson, though he is a believer in our God and attributed genuine faith according to the New Testament author of Hebrews (Heb. 11:32), led a life of self.
Samson was the center of his universe and he did as he pleased. Samson sought the pleasure of women he did not marry (Jg. 16:1), abandoned the woman he did marry (Jg. 14:19-20), and betrayed his personal, unique covenant with God to another woman he was living and sleeping with (Jg. 16:16-18). Samson abandoned his life here on earth for the momentary fleeting pleasure of revenge in this life (Jg. 16:30). We also see throughout his life that Samson not only chose to break his personal, unique covenant with God, but neglected the people in his life along the way, including his parents, his ex-wife, and the whole tribe of Judah (Jg. 14:9, 15:6, 9). Frequently in his story Samson’s self-serving lifestyle got the people close to him in danger or killed. The worst part of his story comes near the end in Judges 16. Samson had just revealed his covenant with God and that he had swore to never cut his own hair or God would remove His Holy Spirit’s strength from Samson (Jg. 16:15-20). As God kept His side of the covenant, God removed His Holy Spirit’s strength from Samson and Samson did not even notice. (Jg. 16:20).
“…But Samson did not even know that the LORD had left him.” Judges 16:20b
What a scary and tragic place to be in your life that you do not even know that the LORD your God has left you to your own devices. Unfortunately, Samson’s story in this life doesn’t have a happy ending either. Samson’s final wish for his life was that God would grant him strength one last time for a murder/suicide. Samson was not motivated by the glory of God, but found his zeal for revenge in the humiliation of his own defeat and the loss of his eyes during his torture. God granted Samson’s final wish and Samson buried himself, along with 3000 Philistine men, in a tomb of stone that was once the temple of Dagon. Despite Samson’s life of sin, recklessness and disobedience, Samson is mentioned in Hall of Faith as a hero of the faith. In spite of Samson, God’s glory was still shown in perfect majesty in Samson’s story. God can and still uses our disobedience and sin for His glory, but how tragic it would be for any of us to be so far into sin that we ‘did not even know that the LORD had left him.’
This would surely have to be the worst fate a person could experience once it is realized, at least here in this life.
Now, this is not God abandoning Samson to eternal punishment of Hell. This is not Samson becoming an unsaved individual who lost his salvation. Again, even the New Testament author of Hebrews believes Samson is a believer of God, but this case is something different entirely. Samson’s life was a mark of individualism and as previously stated he did as he pleased. God showed that without His holy protection, Samson’s arrogance and own strength was not enough to defeat anyone let alone the armies of the lords of Philistine. God removed His divine hand of protection and strength from Samson and he was captured after Samson broke the covenant for the final time. Yet, in doing so, God shows that even this is for God’s glory. God sovereignly used Samson, so that he killed more Philistines on his deathbed than all other times in his life combined (Jg. 16:30). God used Samson for His own purpose, even when Samson didn’t diligently follow God in the way other Judges did before Samson.
One of the lessons we learned previously was ‘even though God’s purpose for us will be accomplished, our actions have consequences for us and those around us,’ and this is still true in Samson’s final lesson for us. There is no better place for us than being in God’s will for our lives. What better way to know that we are following God’s will, than by keeping His commands. John 14:15 states that if we as believers in Jesus love God, then we will keep His commands. There is a beauty revealed here, not in following commandments blindly as works of salvation or to keep God happy, but as joyfully following God’s commandments in obedient love. We are able to love Jesus, because Jesus first loved us (Jn. 4:19). By the time Samson died he had broken most if not all the Nazarite vows for his side of the covenant and God removed His hand and let Samson reap the consequences of his own actions.
Let us come to Samson’s story as a warning for us as believers to not neglect our covenant with Jesus our Savior, to not turn to the worldly pleasures for comfort and solace. Instead, let us go to our Lord, our God who loves us and gives us the opportunity to joyfully follow Jesus because of who He is and what He has done for us in life and death on the Cross. Samson commonly put himself under temptation and danger by sleeping with the enemy, spending the night in the enemy’s fortified cities, marrying their women and engaging in fellowship and relationships with their people. Jesus calls us to engage the world with our faith in Him, but we are to remember that we are not of the world (Jn. 17:14-19). Like Samson, we were made to go into the world for God as tools to reveal God’s glory in a dark world that needs the light of Christ. Like Samson, we can be distracted along the way with the things of this world. Jesus closes John 17:18 that while we are in the world, He prays that we will be kept from the Evil One while we are here. Jesus wants us here in the world for now. Jesus desires for us to be that city on the hill (Mt. 5:14). As Jesus commands us into the world as witnesses of His salvation and partakers of His grace, it my prayer for myself and you that we will not be distracted from God’s glorious will for our lives as we do all things for the glory of God in the good times and the bad (1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17).
For the Glory of God,