Accents and the words of eternal life…

23 05 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY ONE : Judges 12 v. 1 – 13 v. 25; John 6 v. 60 – 7 v. 13; Psalm 59 v. 9 – 17

Manoah and his wife, with the ‘angel of the Lord’ :

Jephthah and Ephraim – the Ephraimites seem to have a bit of a recurring chip on their shoulder! In chapter eight they moaned to Gideon because they hadn’t been involved in his campaign, and here they have a go at Jephthah because he didn’t include them in his battle. Jephthah explains how he had ‘called’ them, but they didn’t come to help (some miscommunication there ?). So Jephthah calls the Gileadites to war against the Ephraimites, who were saying of them,
‘You Gileadites are renegades from Ephraim and Manasseh’.
They captured some of the fords of the Jordan, and killed any Ephraimites who came that way, even to the point of checking how a person said ‘Shibboleth’ (Ephraimite accents sounded more like ‘Sibboleth’), and killing those with the accent of Ephraim!
42,000 Ephraimite were killed; Jephthah, himself, died after having led Israel for six years

 The tribes of Israel turning against one another, a time of civil unrest, when regional accents are beginning to be a sign that the tribes are settling and are, at times, distancing themselves from one another…

Ibzan, Elon and Abdon – Then comes Izban from Bethlehem, who led Israel (he had 30 sons and 30 daughters…neat!) for seven years, but must have spent so much of his time marrying off his sons and daughters to partners from outside his clan…
Following Izban, Elon the Zebulite led Israel for ten years.
Following Elon, Abdon led Israel (he had 40 sons and 30 grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys) for eight years.

not told much about these guys – was it a fairly stable twenty-five years ?

The Birth of Samson – once again, the people of Israel fall away and ‘do evil in the eyes of the Lord’, and they are overtaken by the Philistines for forty years.
Then there enters onto the scene Manoah (from the tribe of Dan) and his wife (who was unable to have children). Manoah’s wife (wish we knew her name…) is visited by the ‘angel of the Lord’ to tell her that she will conceive and give birth to a son (a form of God bringing to life that which seemed dead). She is to watch what she eats (nothing unclean) and drinks (no alcohol). There are instructions for the boy to be born – don’t cut his hair, as a sign that he is a Nazirite, ‘set apart to God from birth’. He will be the one to bring deliverance from the Philistines.
When she relays this to Manoah, telling how she’d been visited by a ‘man of God…an angel of God, very awesome…’, Manoah prays that God will send this messenger again to them, for further instruction about how to parent this boy.
God responded by sending the angel a second time, to the woman, who runs to get her husband, Manoah, to come out to the field where the angel was. Checking it’s the same angel, Manoah then asks about the ‘rule’ for this boy’s life – how are they to raise him ?
The angel restates the rule that Manoah’s wife is not to eat unclean food, or drink alcohol. ‘She must do everything I have commanded her.’
Manoah offers to make food for the ‘angel of the Lord’ (though Manoah doesn’t realise he’s speaking to ‘the angel of the Lord’), but he says he will not eat it, rather a burnt offering should be prepared for the Lord.
Manoah asks the ‘angel of the Lord’ what his name is, but he says that it is beyond understanding.
Manoah prepares the burnt offering, and as it is being consumed by the flames, the ‘angel of the Lord’ ascends to God in the flames. Manoah and his wife fall to the ground in worship, Manoah realising it was ‘the angel of the Lord’. Though Manoah is afraid this means the end for them, having seen God and expecting to die, but his wife reasons that the angel would not have gone to all the trouble to share this great news of their baby to be born, only for them to die before it would all come to pass.
In time, the boy is born, and is called Samson.
‘He grew and the Lord blessed him, and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan.’

A Nazirite was someone who had taken a vow (the name itself drawn from the Hebrew ‘to vow’), and for a period of 30, 60 or 100 days would abstain from alcohol, from unclean food, would not cut their hair or beard, and would avoid contact with dead bodies, as a sign of being set apart for God. The only life-long Nazirites mentioned in the Bible are Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist (all appointed as such from birth, rather than personal choice later, perhaps). 

Many Disciples Desert Jesus – after all that hard teaching about being the bread of life, and about eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood, Jesus underlines the importance of belief in Him.
‘The Spirit gives life…the words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life, yet some of you do not believe.’
Many of his disciples turn back (to their ordinary lives), and no longer follow Jesus.
I’ve always heard a tone of sadness in Jesus’ question of the remaining twelve disciples, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’
Simon Peter’s answer is fantastic – ‘to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that You are the Holy One of God’.
Jesus simply reminds them that He has chosen them (not the other way round). 

Jesus Goes to the Feast of Tabernacles – Jesus is still enjoying this time away in Galilee, away from the prowling Jews in Judea, waiting to capture Him. Jesus’ brothers try to push Him to go to Judea to be noticed on a bigger stage : ‘No-one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret…show Yourself to the world!‘.
Jesus points out to His brothers, ‘The right time for me has not yet come…the world hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.’ Jesus stays in Galilee, whilst His brothers attend the feast in Jerusalem; but then Jesus does follow after them, attending the feast in secret. The Jews there were certainly watching for Him. Everyone was talking about Jesus (but not publicly for fear of the Jews), some saying He was a good man, others that He was a deceiver.

Jesus divides opinion !!

O my Strength, I watch for You…my fortress, my loving God.’
the psalmist bemoans all those who slander him, who curse and lie about him, asking God to vindicate him.
‘I will sing of Your strength…I will sing of Your love;
for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to You…my fortress, my loving God.’




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