Beginning with Home Schooling (26) Judges 13 and Christian Education (II)

Historically, the biggest intruder and violator the family, the church and a free society has confronted, has been the State. It was the State under Pharoah that kidnapped the Hebrews and murdered their babies, and sought to kill Moses (see Exodus 1-2). It was the State that murdered Jesus’ forerunner John, that tried to kill Jesus as a baby (see Mat.2), then murdered Him around AD 33. Not content with this, it then attacked His church (Acts 12:1-3; Rev.13:1-7).

It was the State under Henry VIII in England that opposed the Reformation. He had the great translator William Tyndale strangled and burnt in 1536, and Henry’s daughter Mary was named “Bloody Mary” for good reason; she put some 300 Protestants to death.

The twentieth century graphically bore out this homicidal tendency of evil governments.[1] Its tyrants didn’t only kill those of other countries in war, they began and continued with their own.[2] Any Russian, German or Chinese person under the reigns of Stalin, Hitler or Mao, had very good reason to be afraid for their life, at the hands of their own government.

Thus the care and education of children is committed to parents, so it was to Samson’s future parents that the angel spoke. He firstly visited Manoah’s wife (v.3-5), then at Manoah’s request (v.8), he appeared again, to his wife (v.9). When she then hurried to find her husband, and he returned and beheld the angel, after identifying him, he asked,

Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation? (v.12)

The angel does not answer Manoah’s question directly. He merely gives Manoah a summary of his original direction to Manoah’s wife, and twice (v.13-14) directs her to do what he commanded her, in their first meeting.

Why is this relevant? Jordan’s comment is helpful:

Why did God appear to the woman rather than to her husband? Is it because Manoah was a bad man, so God had to bypass him? Not at all. It is because the theme, again, is the Seed of the Woman. God appears to the mother, to instruct her how to raise up the Seed. Similarly, God appeared to Rebekah, not to Isaac, to give instruction about the primacy of Jacob over Esau (Gen. 25:22f.). [3]

Whilst both parents have the responsibility to raise their children, it is evident that in this case, along with Rebekah (Gen.25:22-23), it is the mother who received the word of the Lord, and in this case, she is to avoid any wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing.

Matthew Henry’s comments here are helpful:

Observe from Manoah’s enquiry, [1] In general, that, when God is pleased to bestow any mercy upon us, our great care must be how to use it well, and as we ought, because it is then only a mercy indeed when it is rightly managed. God has given us bodies, souls, estates; how shall we order them, that we may answer the intent of the donor, and give a good account of them?

[2] In particular, those to whom God has given children must be very careful how they order them, and what they do unto them, that they may drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts, form their minds and manners well betimes, and train them in the way wherein they should go. Herein pious parents will beg divine assistance…[4]

In this case, the angel gave Manoah no more information than he’d given his wife. He actually summarised what he’d already said, reinforcing to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said” (v.13).

Manoah’s question to the angel related to his future son’s vocation. But a person’s calling is way more important than their career. In the examples of Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus, all of whom were conceived miraculously, they were all destined to die violently, early in life. None of them had a career, that we know of. Manoah’s question to the angel (“What shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”) was a legitimate one, but the angel gave him no answer to it.

Was it for this reason? Gary North has defined a calling from God as

the most important thing that you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace.

Conclusion:

The thing that was uppermost in God’s mind in relation to Samson was his calling, explained by the angel to his mother:

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

If parents are to prepare their children for anything, it is for this: their calling. Vocations are fine, but they must be secondary to the call of God.

Now here’s my question: what has God prepared your children for?  Are you doing anything about it?

 

 

[1] One of the direct consequences of the First World War was some 900,000 French children being orphaned.

[2] Hitler ordered the execution of the Christian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1945, only weeks before he (Hitler) committed suicide.

[3] James Jordan, “Judges: God’s War against Humanism,” 1985, p.225-226.

[4] Matthew Henry’s Commentary, ‘Joshua to Esther,’ p.204.

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