A Wife and Mother of Grace

Steve Viars May 10, 2015 Judges 13:1-25

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Philippians 2:14-16 - Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…

3 characteristics of a mother who shines her light well

I. A Woman of Grace Selects Her King Wisely

Judges 21:25 - In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

A. In contrast to those around her

1. Like the sons of Israel who “again did evil in the sight of the Lord” – Judges 13:1

2. Like people unwilling to repent and cry out to God

3. Like people who had no apparent desire for the salvation of the Lord

Judges 15:11 - Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?”

Judges 13:2 - …and his wife was barren and had borne no children.

Judges 13:3 - Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children…”

B. In the context of heartache and disappointment

II. A Woman of Grace Raises Her Children Based on What is Right in God’s Eyes

A. Because she recognizes her children are a gift from the Lord

Judges 13:3 - …but you shall conceive and give birth to a son.

Judges 13:5 - For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son…

Judges 13:7 - But he said to me, “Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son…”

Psalm 127:3 - Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.

B. Because she believes God’s way is best for her children

1 John 2:3 - By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

C. Because she longs to see God’s purpose fulfilled

Judges 13:5 - …and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

“This text is the hermeneutical star that must go before us as we work through the Samson materials.” (Such a Great Salvation, Dale Ralph Davis, p. 157)

D. Even when her children don’t always immediately respond

III. A Woman of Grace Possesses Reverence and Trust

Judges 13:20 - …When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground.

A. She rightly feared the Lord

B. She also joyfully trusted Him

Judges 13:23 - But his wife said to him, “If the Lord had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.”

C. Ultimately pointing to those who would trust in God’s perfect Savior

Luke 1:46-50 - …My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And his mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. 

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I mentioned last Sunday that I spent the past few weeks in the country of Albania. What initiated that trip was an invitation to speak at an annual Shepherd's Conference for the evangelical pastors who are in that country. One of Albania's greatest assets is their extended coastline along the Adriatic Sea so after communism fell, a number of companies came in and they tried to build hotels and resorts on the beaches, some with, let's just say, more success than others but they decided to have this Shepherd's Conference at one of those hotels. Many of these pastors are from very small churches and the reason for that is that atheism was their official state religion under communism for the previous 50 years up to the 1990s. After that, when communism fell, a significant percentage of the Albanians converted back to a nominal form of Islam so evangelical Christians comprise less than 1% of the entire population. In fact, they have done a couple of censuses now within the last 10 years and both of those censuses showed that somewhere between 10 and 20,000 persons attend an evangelical church anywhere in that country on a given Sunday so very, very small churches for sure.

So they needed to keep the cost down for this conference to enable as many pastors to be able to come as possible so even though it's off-season on the beaches, well, they selected a hotel that was, let's just say, inexpensive as possible. I've been to a number of emerging Third World countries and their hotels can be interesting. Interesting. This particular one where I stayed had 9 stories, hundreds of guest rooms but only one very small elevator. Unfortunately, the elevator didn't always work. I came out of my room, I was on the third floor and one morning when I had just gotten there, the elevator doors were just partially open and you could look down and see all the way down to the bottom of the elevator shaft. At that point, I decided that perhaps the Lord wanted me to get some additional cardiovascular exercise by just taking the stairs for the rest of my stay there. That was a bit challenging because the teaching sessions were on the top floor, on the 9th floor, but that seemed better than the toppling down the elevator shaft option so that's what I did.

One night I had finished teaching and the sun had already gone down. We're coming down the stairs and we're starting to mix with quite a few of the other hotel guests who were coming in for the weekend when all the lights went out. All the lights went out. There's nothing quite like being in a stairwell with a bunch of people who don't speak your language when things go pitch black. Several things started happening. Some people just started screaming and on Mother's Day, I won't go into the gender of the persons who thought that was the best option. I'm way smarter than that so we'll just skip that part of the story. But that was decidedly unhelpful. It really was but that didn't stop them. It didn't stop them at all. Others started talking loudly in Albanian about what I assume was either guesses about the nature of the problem or maybe the possible solution. That didn't do much for me either because I couldn't understand a word that they were saying. Finally, a man I didn't even know, I assume now he was someone from the conference that I don't even know, he tapped me on the shoulder, he reached into his pocket and he took out a cell phone and because he had apparently been in this situation on a number of  occasions before, he had installed an app on his iPhone. He turned it on, the flashlight app, and led me safely to my room. I was reminded once again of the well-known but very true saying: it's often better to light a candle or in this case light a cell phone, than to scream at the darkness. You see, only one person was able to get me to safety. That was the fellow with the light. The fellow with the light.

I would suggest to you that that metaphor is especially appropriate for followers of Jesus Christ on a Sunday like Mother's Day. I don't think there's ever been a point in any of our lifetimes where the cultural darkness has been more pervasive, especially when it comes to the nature of the family. What it means to be a woman, what it means to be a wife, what it means to be a mother is now being openly debated in ways that are shockingly dark. Shockingly dark. So a political candidate proudly proclaims that religion must change in order to accommodate her particular view of abortion on demand. Just recently, she and those like her will decide when a person is a mother and when she isn't and when a child's life is worthy of preserving and when it's not. And make no mistake about this: when she recently publicly condemned the company like Hobby Lobby's position on this matter, she wasn't just saying that you could not exercise your religious freedom or that your opinion shouldn't be considered when making public policy, she was demanding that everyone's religious views worldwide have to change.

The very definition of marriage is now before 9 Supreme Court judges and at least Justice Kennedy was willing to be honest publicly about the core issue. This isn't a matter of rights, first and fundamentally it's an issue of definition which is why he said, "This definition has been with us for millennia," that is, the traditional definition of marriage being between one man and one woman. He said, I quote, "This definition has been with us for millennia. It's very difficult for the court to say, well, we know better." We'll see. That's why Chief Justice Roberts later explained, "You're not just seeking to join this institution but change what this institution is." And their decision, as you know, is expected next month and I don't know anybody who believes anything but that the justices will move to redefine marriage which, if that happens, will be one of the court's most far reaching decisions in their 225 year history but that's where we are.

We have public figures proudly seeking to change their gender, not because of any particular physical problem but just because they would prefer to be a different gender than the way they were made. So is it fair for me to say this morning that what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a wife and what it means to be a mother is now being openly debated in this country in ways that are shockingly dark? The question then becomes: what are people who say they know and love God supposed to do? Well, I suppose we could all scream at the darkness and see where that gets us or we could talk about our analysis of the problem with a solution in a language that many don't understand. And while there may be times and places where a small measure of that is appropriate, there is no question that generally the wisest and the most effective response is to quietly reach in our pockets and turn on a light and then tap others on the shoulder and invite them to come in that direction. Which is why Paul said to the Philippians, "Do all things without grumbling and disputing." You might want to memorize that one for the next 16 months or so. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God, above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom," here you go, "you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life."

So the question this morning is: what does the word of life tell us about a wife and a mother of grace? With that in mind, please open your Bible this morning to Judges 13. That's on page 191 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you. So we're in the Old Testament, Judges 13, page 191 of the front section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.

This spring we're doing a series entitled "Grace for the Family." Aren't you glad there is grace for the family? That's what makes having any kind of light possible, of course, grace for the family. That's part of our overall theme this year of "Finding Grace." Finding grace. Our study this morning, I realize you might be shocked that I ask you on Mother's Day to turn to the book of Judges, well, our study this morning brings us to a very sad time in the history of God's people, the period of the judges, the years between the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua to the establishment of Israel's first king, King Saul, in 1043 BC. I recently read through this book as part of my devotional time and that's why it's good to read through books of the Bible at one sitting if you can. I was just struck by how similar this period of history is to the day and age in which we live but what's marvelous is the gracious saving hand of our redeeming God in spite of the rebellion of even his own people and the rare examples of faithfulness that shine like the bright lights that Paul would later describe, including an unnamed woman who just happened to be the mother of one of Israel's judges, a wild man in many ways. We know his name, huh? His name was Samson. But Samson's story is fascinating for all sorts of reasons including how much of this entire narrative is devoted to the story of his mom.

Judges 13, beginning in verse 1.

1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, so that the LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, "Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

That's the most important part of everything that I have read so far, "he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, "A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.'" 8 Then Manoah entreated the LORD and said, "O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born." 9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field,

It's interesting Manoah was not there.

but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, "Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me." 11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, "Are you the man who spoke to the woman?" And he said, "I am." 12 Manoah said, "Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy's mode of life and his vocation?" 13 So the angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Let the woman pay attention to all that I said. 14 She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded."

So in other words, the same thing I already said.

15 Then Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you." 16 The angel of the LORD said to Manoah, "Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to the LORD." [to Jehovah] For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the LORD. 17 Manoah said to the angel of the LORD, "What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?" 18 But the angel of the LORD said to him, "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to the LORD, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 Now the angel of the LORD did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of the LORD. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, "We will surely die, for we have seen God." 23 But his wife said to him, "If the LORD had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time." 24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and the LORD blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him in Mahaneh-dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

We're talking this morning about a wife and a mother of grace and with the time we have remaining, let's think about 3 characteristics of a mother who shines her light well.

I. A Woman of Grace Selects Her King Wisely

Firstly, she's a woman of grace by selecting her king wisely. You see, this book is famous for a lot of reasons but especially for the way it ends. Remember this? "In those days," the days of the judges, "there was no king in Israel so everybody did that which is right in his own eyes." Now, please keep that in mind, friends, because Jesus is here in this passage much closer than anyone realizes, the great King, whose exploits someday will make Samson's pale in comparison. But one of the ways that Samson's mom stands out is how she selects her king wisely in contrast to everybody else around her. There is so much evidence of darkness in this passage like the sons of Israel who again did evil. Again, in the sight of the Lord. If you have ever studied this book before, you know that there is a clear 4 part cycle that is repeated over and over and over throughout the book so Israel departs from following the Lord, then God allows them to be subjugated to some foreign power, then his people cry out for deliverance and then the Lord sends a judge or a deliverer, literally a savior who leads them to overcome their oppressors.

So Samson's mom finds herself at the beginning of yet another one of those cycles where the sons of Israel again are doing evil in the sight of the Lord. But here's what's unusual about this go around: there is no cry for deliverance. Compare it to all of the other cycles, what's unusual here is there is no cry for deliverance. That is very conspicuously absent in this particular cycle meaning they are people unwilling to even repent and cry out to God. I'm suggesting that makes the days in which Samson's mother is living even more dark. In fact, she is surrounded by people who had no apparent desire for the salvation of the Lord. That's how bad it had gotten. If you know this book, you know that when Samson does begin to function like the deliverer that God was raising him up to be and when he is starting to help them overcome the Philistines' oppression, the people get mad at him. This was right after Samson burns the Philistines' crops. Do you remember this? As part of God's potential deliverance for his wayward and apathetic people and here's what happens: then 3,000 men of Judah, God's people, went down to the cleft of the rock of Adam and said to Samson, "Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?" Done to us? God was doing that to their oppressors but they were so used to the worship of false gods and becoming progressively as morally and spiritually dark as the culture around them, they didn't even want to be delivered and they complained about it when it happened.

You see, here's the question contextually: what hope is there that a godly mother could possibly emerge from that dark setting? Well, she wasn't just facing what was happening around her, her greatest heartache was what was not happening inside of her. This passage affirms twice these sad words, "and his wife was barren and had borne no children," as if the word "barren" needs definition. And then to make matters worse when the angel of the Lord appears, those are among his first words, "Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children." So now we have the context of heartache and disappointment. What I'm trying to lay out here, friends, is that Samson's mom is living at a time of an incredible darkness and yet she receives a promise from the Lord, the rightful King of Israel, and she goes against her culture, she even goes against the doubts and the hurts of her own soul and she chooses to exercise faith in Jehovah, the King of heaven. That's how you reach in your pocket and begin to turn on the light.

We want to thank and commend every mom and every woman here who has made a similar choice. If there has been a definite time in your life where you admitted your need and you placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord, you invited the Light of the world into your heart and your children are the better for it. And if you are here this morning and you've not yet made that decision, we would invite you to do so today. There is no more important decision for a wife, for a mother, for anyone to make than who is going to be your Savior, who is going to be your King, and in a culture where there is no king in Israel and everybody does what is right in their own eyes, deciding who your rightful King, Lord, Savior is going to be is more important than ever.

This week I had reason to review one of my counseling files and I'll explain why a bit later but what I'm going to be telling you this morning is with this family's permission. You may know that for over 35 years now our church has had a community based counseling ministry where we just try to help those who are hurting but it's for people who are unchurched. If a person already has a church home, they ought to be receiving that kind of help from their own pastor. So we work with people who don't have a church home or sometimes those whose pastors aren't comfortable yet working with persons in that kind of a personal way and so we invite the individuals and their pastor to come and we provide hopefully help and training at the same time.

Well anyway, last October, I began working with a family. They were from about an hour away. They claimed to be Christians. They didn't have a church at the time and they had marriage problems that had reached the place that the mom had filed for divorce, even though there were young children in that home. We listened that first session just very carefully to what was going on and, frankly, started to confront the husband on some of the ways that he needed to change and he was thankfully very receptive to that confrontation. Then because there was no biblical grounds for divorce in that particular situation, I asked the wife and the mom to consider taking the divorce off the table. Now, I'm honestly not a very good note taker. If you have ever seen my notes you would say, "Are you in second grade?" So I'm not a very good note taker but what I have in my file from the next week is that they reported that they had told all their children that they were coming for counseling. They told their children openly that they had decided they wanted to work together on their marriage and that mom had contacted her attorney and postponed the divorce. You see, she at that moment was like Samson's mom, she was choosing her King wisely. She was doing what she was doing because she believed that's what her King wanted her to do.

Now, the first question for all of us would be: have we done the same? Has there been a definite time in your life where you have acknowledged your need and you have made Jesus the foundation that we were singing about earlier in our service? And for some who will hear this message today, you have had a mama talking to you about that for a long time. Here's my message to you: what a great Mother's Day gift you would give if you would repent and believe in Christ as Savior and Lord. And don't do it simply to make your mama happy, do it because it's right and because Jesus deserves to be your King and I promise you, "Faultless stand before the throne," that ain't going to happen to nobody unless you have a perfect Savior who died on the cross for your sin, making it possible for your sin to be forgiven and for simultaneously his righteousness to be placed on your account. So do it because it's theologically right, but do it also because you can later on today tell your mama that you finally trusted Christ and then you probably need to ask her forgiveness for your stubbornness but she'll do a happy dance as much as Baptist type people can do happy dances. It will bring joy to her heart for sure. Have you made Jesus your rightful King?

II. A Woman of Grace Raises Her Children Based on What is Right in God’s Eyes

Now, what else can we learn in this text about Samson's mom? A woman of grace raises her children based on what is right in God's eyes. What we are reading here is a direct contrast to the dark culture in which she lived where everybody simply did that which was right in their own eyes. She was intimately concerned obviously about the way God wanted her to raise their son. Why? Well, because she recognized her children are a gift from the Lord. Clearly in this text over and over, "You shall receive and give birth to a son." Verse 5, "For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son." She repeated that in verse 7, "he said to me, 'Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son.'" This son is a gift from God. She would have agreed with the psalmist who said, "Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is his reward." The principle is this: show me a mom who truly believes her children are from God, I'll show you a mom who wants God's word to be her guide for the way they are raised because she really believes God's way is best for her children.

The angel of the Lord explains that Samson was to live lifelong under the Nazirite vow explained in the book of Numbers 6 which included these 3 conditions: no strong drink, never touching a dead body and not cutting one's hair. Now, just to be clear, the point is not that there is anything right or wrong about any of those 3 things. Don't say as a mom, "Oh no, I just took my baby to the barber this week!" Don't worry about that. It's like eating the apple in Genesis 3, the issue wasn't the hair length. This text has been used in all sorts of interesting ways over the years. The issue wasn't the hair length or whatever, just like the issue in Genesis 3 was not eating an apple. The issue is obedience to whatever commands God gives at the time and what stands out here is her desire to get it right. There is a carefulness to this mom. It's like the person described in 1 John 2, "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments." And the word "keep" in that text is the same word that is translated in other places in the New Testament as "guard." That's the point, there is a carefulness about this. "I want to be sure that I get this right. I want to guard the commands of God. I want to be sure as a mom and as a dad, I want to be sure that I'm letting the word of God govern the way I raise my child even though I recognize I'm living in a culture where everybody does that which is right in their own eyes. I want to be a bright light shining against that darkness." It's what Paul would later describe as walking circumspectly. Circum, around, spect, to look. A mom who is very, very careful just like Samson's mom was to get this right. "To let the word of my God, my King, be the determinate for how I'm going to raise my child."

We have many moms with us today, that's the way they lived. Do you realize that? And that's the way they continue to live, by not allowing the culture to squeeze them or their children in its mold but shining a light in their culture in part by wanting to know and teach and live by the word of God. That's also true, by the way, for women in our church family who might not have children. It can be a happy Mother's Day for them too because a number of them serve in our children's ministries or serve with their extended family members' children with a particular goal of doing that which is right in God's eyes. Many of us can also praise the Lord today because we had mothers like this. Some of my earliest memories are of waking up and coming in the kitchen and seeing my mom with her Bible out. I just have that fixed in my brain, seeking additional strength and grace to parent her children well. I'm so thankful for my wife, Chris, who wants God's word to guide the way she serves as a mother. That was true of Samson's mom. Just think about how amazing it was that God gave Samson's mom the grace to live that way in light of the context in which she found herself.

I think this passage has a very important hint to why was that the case. It's because she longed to see God's purpose fulfilled. I tried to highlight as we read verse 5 that Samson "shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines." Dale Ralph Davis in his commentary on the book of Judges and if you are looking for something to study this summer just for your devotional life, the book of Judges is a great book to study and this commentary by Dale Ralph Davis, "Such a Great Salvation," is a fabulous, fabulous commentary. And he said about verse 5, "This text is the hermeneutical star that must go before us as we work through the Samson's material." That's right. In other words, what that means is, "while all of this is startling, an angel of the Lord, a woman who is barren etc., while all of this is startling, what's most surprising is that God is going to use her son as an instrument of deliverance with his erring people." That's why so many moms around here make those trips back and forth to the church, Sunday school, youth group, etc. etc. and everything else that she's doing to try to raise her children in the nurture and admonition of Christ. Why? Because in the back of her mind, she's thinking, "Lord, I want my children to someday be a useful vessel in your hand." That's why she tears up when she sees her child lose the athletic game and then gather around the center of the court and pray with players of the opposing team anyway because God is using her child to potentially bring the message of salvation to others.

Now, you might say, "Well, let's get real here. I mean, Samson wasn't exactly a picture of piety." No, he wasn't and it eventually cost him his eyes but that too screams a message about God's grace and about this mother's faithfulness because she lived this way even when her child was not always immediately responding. The Bible is silent on what Samson's growing up years were like, like another mom and the birth of her child. It's amazing the parallels between the Samson narrative and the narrative of Mary and Jesus. But the Bible is silent on what Samson's growing up years were like but based on everything that we know about him as an adult, would it be fair to say that he would have been a handful? Yeah. Yeah. That's why godly moms do what they do, not because of immediate gratification but because it's right in God's eyes and they'll leave the results and even the timing of the results in God's hand.

This couple I mentioned earlier had to come to that realization. One of their challenges was that they had an adult son named Jade who still lived with them but was doing things in their home that were not pleasing to God and it was having a negative impact on the other children, it was having a negative impact on their marriage and they came to the hard conclusion that what was right in God's eyes was to sit down with their adult son and establish a set of simple standards based on God's word that he would have to abide by just like everybody else and the family would have to abide by if he was going to continue to live with them. No mother wants to do that. No father wants to do that but there were multiple reasons why that was right in God's eyes.

Jade hit a pretty rough spot around Christmas and actually left the home. Then a Christian family north of here asked if they could offer Jade a job and a place to stay and a church youth group to join and everybody agreed that was best. It wasn't easy but they believed it was right in God's eyes. By then, we were at the end of our counseling with this couple. They were doing marvelously well. They had found a church home after Christmas time. We dismissed our counseling.

A few weeks before Easter, Jade was driving to his evening shift at work and was having trouble getting any other stations on the radio and he came across a Christian radio station and the song he heard that evening was by Casting Crowns, "I'll praise you in the storm," and I don't know exactly why but song at that moment impacted him deeply and he actually pulled his van over to the side of the road and started crying and was reminded of all of the truth that he had been taught by his parents growing up, about all the ways his parents had been gracious to him, how often he had rebelled and right there on the side of the road, he gave his life to Christ. Of course, the first person he called was his mama and right then began the process of reconciliation. The youth pastor helped him begin to take some steps in the right direction. All of that happened because a mom and a dad decided that Jesus Christ was going to be their Savior and their King and they were going to raise their children in a way that was right in God's eyes, even when it was incredibly hard.

Well, this text explains that Samson's father asked the angel of the Lord to return and he graciously did. Then interestingly, he doesn't give them any new information. He just repeated the instructions he had given to Samson's mom and Manoah offered to make him a meal and asked him his name. That's when it was revealed that this wasn't just any messenger. This is what is known in theology as a theophany. This was the angel of the Lord. This was the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ who was initiating this salvation among the people of God.

III. A Woman of Grace Possesses Reverence and Trust

What happens next teaches us that a woman of grace possesses reverence and trust. The angel invited them to make an offering to the Lord and when they did, he ascended up in the flame and when Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. She rightly feared the Lord. You see that throughout this text. There is a reverence about this mom, a bright light in an incredibly dark culture. Then her husband and the commentators take different slants on Manoah at all. It's not part of our study this morning but there is a lot you could say about him but he was certainly wrong at this point, her husband wrongly suggested that they were going to die because they had seen the Lord and Samson's mom, Manoah's wife, joyfully trusts the Lord. His wife said to him, "If the Lord had desired, just simple logic, if the Lord had desired to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, plus it would be really hard for me to give birth to this son if that's what he's about to do. Nor would he have shown us all these things, nor would he have let us hear these things like this at this time."

What an incredible theological and even emotional balance that comes to a wife and mother who isn't sucked into the darkness of her culture, huh? That's called clear, precise thinking, for sure. Of course, ultimately this is pointing to those who would trust in God's perfect Savior. God was bringing about rescue to his very wayward people though through a very imperfect deliverer but the day would come when an announcement would be made to another young mother, her name was Mary, and she too chose to believe what God had said and part of her response was, "My soul exalts the Lord. My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior," Mary said, ""For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him."

You see, what does it take, what do we do when we live in a culture that is progressively becoming darker in many ways but especially right now regarding God's word and the family? Well, how about celebrating the light of the lives of mothers who chose to be like Samson's mom? So if you are this kind of woman or this kind of mother today, we thank you for allowing the Savior to work in your life in this way and if this study has given you reason to reconsider ways your light should be brighter, I want to encourage you to take those steps even on Mother's Day. If you have such a woman in your life or in many of our cases several women like this in your lives, I would challenge you to thank them and commend them today if you possibly can and if you have such a person in your life who has lived for Christ before you and quietly and faithfully witnessed to you, if you haven't accepted their King as your Lord and Savior and therefore let's just face it, you are doing that which is right in your own eyes, I would urge you to repent and believe in the rightful King today.

You might wonder why with everything else I had to do this week I would take the time to review the file of a counseling case that I had already successfully dismissed. That is highly unusual for me. I think it's fair to say that I almost never do that. It's because something happened while I was in Albania that this couple wanted to speak with me about as soon as I returned. This past Monday evening, they came and explained that their son Jade had been making incredible strides. They celebrated Easter together as a family and the excitement of his new-found faith was just infectious to them on that day. The following week after Easter, their younger son had a track meet and Jade was there cheering on his brother to victory. He had a marvelous time with his parents and his siblings. When you trust Christ as Savior and Lord, you become just a positive impact on the family. His mom even asked if she could take a picture of him and in the past he wouldn't let her do that and was just in his rebellion, just not even allowing her to do that. This time he looked over and she snapped that beautiful shot of her repentant son.

A little later on that evening at the track meet, Jade ran into a fellow student who had bullied him when he was in high school and initiated a conversation that led to their reconciliation right there on the side of the track meet and someone took that shot as well.

At that meet, a little after that particular incident, Jade told his parents he'd like to start over. He'd like to move back home. He would like to live under their authority. There at the track meet they told him, "You can do that. In fact, son, you can move back right now, right after the track meet if you want to. You can come home. We're so glad for what God is doing in your life and what you're allowing him to do in your life." He said he thought it would be better for him to go on to his job that evening. He felt that he should not give his job the proper amount of notice and then make the move.

He was traveling north just a few hours after that picture was taken. There was another young man coming from the opposite direction. Eyewitnesses say that the second driver was behaving very erratically, dangerously passing cars at speeds estimated at nearly 100 miles an hour. Tried to pass yet another car. Didn't make it back into his lane in time. Instead struck Jade's van head-on who was traveling at an estimated 60 miles an hour in the other direction. Both young men were ushered into eternity and this couple received that news at 2 o'clock the next morning and they had called me to ask me if I would try to help them with their unspeakable grief.

It's another one of those many conversations which I wish our entire church family was present because this couple is determined with the help of God together as a husband and a wife and a family to draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in their time of need. And here was the repeated refrain on Monday night, "What if this would have happened to us last October? Where would our marriage be? And where would our son be?" You see, friends, wise people choose their King and then joyfully and faithfully live for him while they have the opportunity to do so.

Let's stand together for prayer, shall we?

Our Father in heaven, we want to thank you this morning for just a very unusual story in your word and, Father, your saving, redeeming, initiatory grace is so evident in this dark, dark period of time, the judges. And Father, I pray that that would encourage our hearts and, Lord, I pray that we wouldn't spend a whole lot of time worrying about the darkness. I pray that we would focus on the joy of shining a light and we would focus on the joy of the amazing grace of our God who has sent his Son, making it possible for by his grace our sin to be forgiven, for his righteousness to be placed on our account, for us to have a hope that is Jesus' blood and righteousness. Father, one of the lies of this dark culture is that there will always be another day; just keep living in a way that is right in your own eyes and there will always be another day. Lord, I pray that we would reject that as abject folly and I pray that we would choose while we have the opportunity to do so, to be mothers, to be fathers, to be men, to be women, to be people of grace. We pray this in Christ's name. Amen.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video