For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

13:1.  “And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.”

The sad cycle repeats itself, and Israel is found again delivered into the hand of an oppressor, for he who will not serve God must serve Satan, and the Philistines were but the instrument in the hand of that evil master.

Keeping in mind, however, that this part of Scripture, as much as any other, is written for our instruction, it is necessary to determine what is represented by the Philistines if we are to understand the practical instruction woven into this section of Israel’s history.

It is generally agreed that this enemy is a figure or type of apostasy, particularly as represented by the great apostate religious system that masquerades as the true church, but which is in fact her bitterest foe.  We should note, however, that the Philistine represents apostasy in general, so that he is a figure also of the apostate nation of Israel to which the Lord came at His first advent, that nation being herself a type of the church, the small believing remnant representing the true Church, and the apostate majority, the great harlot system which rules Christendom today.

Two factors at least confirm the accuracy of this interpretation.  First, the Philistines imposed their name on the land that God had given Israel, for Palestine is simply a derivative of Philistine.  The great false church has fulfilled the type, for it is she who is viewed by the world as the assembly of God, while the true Church exists, unrecognized, in her shadow, and all too often under her dominion.  And so was it also in Israel.  The godly remnant, the true Israel, was lost in the shadow of the apostate majority.

Secondly, the word Philistine means literally wallowing, and it is significant that the only Scriptural reference to wallowing is used to describe apostates, “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pe 2:22).  The dog and the pig are unclean animals, so that those portrayed here are unbelievers; the dog “returned to his own vomit,” representing those, who having been made aware of the truth (the spiritual food of the clean, the redeemed), have spurned it, and turned again to feed on the lies which are the filthy “spiritual” food of the unclean, the unconverted.  The pig portrays those who once professed salvation, but without having been born again, and now with that false profession abandoned, are returned to their former unclean living.

It was Israel’s sin that brought her under the dominion of this enemy; and it is the sin of the professing church that has brought her under the dominion of the evil religious system represented by the Philistine.  It is significant that in 2 Pe 2 those represented by the dog and the pig are apostates who teach lies, and no spiritual mind will refuse to acknowledge that the professing church has been for centuries under the thraldom of just such a class of teachers.  Roman Catholicism has long been the equivalent of the ancient Philistine, but Protestantism, largely apostate, is no less so.  The clerics of both systems exercise a control over the minds of their deluded followers that keeps those dupes in a bondage which is typified by that in which the Philistines held Israel.

But how did Israel’s bondage to the Philistines begin?  She “did evil... in the sight of the Lord.”  And the bondage of the professing church began the same way!  Israel turned away from God, giving to idols the worship that belonged alone to Him, and the professing church has duplicated her folly.  The Apostolic age wasn’t even ended until those who claimed to be believers were worshipping the same idols as are worshipped by professing believers today: money, success, education, ease, pleasure, sports, music, art... to name but a few, and the result was that there was no time for God and His service.  The evangelists, elders, and teachers who ought to have been giving themselves to the development of their spiritual gift, and the promotion of Christ’s kingdom, were too busy with the things of this present evil world.  But like Israel, they would preserve the form of allegiance to God; and to preserve the facade, employed hirelings who would attempt to do what they themselves should have been doing - I say attempt, for God’s work cannot be done by hirelings.  It can be done only by those whom He Himself has gifted, and while education (particularly theological) may produce what passes for gift with the unspiritual, it isn’t gift!  

Many of those today gifted as evangelists, elders, and teachers, are no less delinquent, so that even in the assemblies, just recently escaped from this “Philistine” bondage, the same evil clerical system is being reinstated, and the same servitude reimposed.

Scripture furnishes illuminating details relative to the vassalage which the Philistines imposed on Israel.  For example, “Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: but all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.  Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads.  So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan” (1 Sa 13:19-22).

Keeping in mind that the sword is a Scriptural symbol of the Word of God (Heb 4:12), the absence of sword or spear in Israel is a figure of the condition of the professing church for a thousand years under the dominion of Rome, when the Scriptures were written and read in Latin, a language the common man didn’t understand, nor was he permitted to possess a copy even if he could have read, the proscription extending even to his right to interpret Scripture.  All of these privileges had been arrogated by Rome’s priests.

Nor has the common man fared any better under the Protestant clerics, for though not explicitly stated, they too presume to be the sole competent interpreters of Scripture, and their “ministry” effectively precludes the development of the spiritual gifts of evangelism, shepherding, and teaching.  The only significant difference between the bondage inflicted by the Catholic cleric and that enjoined by his Protestant twin is that the former is largely imposed; the latter, willingly accepted.

The servitude that left Israel dependent on the Philistine for the sharpening of their agricultural implements, is the symbolic announcement of what is found in Christendom today, for agriculture is itself the symbol of Christian work or service, and only spiritual blindness will prevent our seeing that much of the service rendered by true believers today is according to “Philistine” standards rather than God’s.

A sword unused is no better than a sword not possessed, and the unarmed condition of ancient Israel is an accurate portrait of the professing church today.   The ignorance of Scripture that has resulted from the activity of the cleric, has left her as defenseless spiritually as was Israel literally in the days when the Philistine ruled.  For all she knows of its life-giving truths, the professing church might as well have no “sword” (no Bible).  It might as well not exist, for in the homes of countless professing Christians, it lies unread, and when it is occasionally opened, isn’t understood.

The forty year period of the Philistine domination is also instructive, for forty is the Biblical number of testing, and it is significant that, unlike other oppressions, this one doesn’t appear to have elicited from Israel any cry for deliverance.  This may have been because the Philistine subjugation had been imposed gradually and with a measure of subtlety, so that Israel was unaware of the full extent of it, and had simply come to accept it as a normal way of life.  This is suggested by the experience of the professing church, for it is by degrees and by subtlety that the bondage of clericalism has been imposed upon her, so that she isn’t even aware of being in bondage.  She can’t even visualize life without the cleric!  Note for example the words of the men of Judah to Samson when they discovered that he had slain some of the Philistines, “Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us?”  It is the same today.  Those who would deliver believers from this evil system are themselves treated as the enemy, for a Christendom long accustomed to the rule of the cleric, has long since lost the desire to be liberated.  The yoke has become comfortable!

However oblivious disobedient Israel may have been of her true condition, God was fully aware of it, and even though the sinful nation, having lost sight of her high calling, might be satisfied to spend her days under the domination of the enemy, He would not be satisfied to leave unfulfilled His own high purposes for her.  His intention was that Israel be the head and not the tail among the nations, see De 28:13.  He, therefore, while she lay in the lethargy of indifference induced by sin, was preparing a deliverer; that deliverer, like all the others, being but a figure of the true Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ.  One of the proofs that these deliverers are types of Christ, is that we find virtually the same pattern connected with the appearance of each of them, one of the most convincing proofs being that when He did come, Israel was in bondage to yet another oppressor, Rome - and her response to Christ was the same as that given to Samson by the generation whose history we are now studying, “If we let him (Jesus) thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (Jn 11:48).  Compare the language of Judah to Samson in 15:11 “Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us?”

13:2.  “And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not.”

Here we are introduced to those who were to be the parents of the deliverer, and the points of similarity between them and Joseph and Mary are too obvious to miss.  First there is the barrenness of the wife, a condition that rendered the birth of the deliverer impossible apart from the miraculous intervention of God.  The virginity of Mary likewise precluded the possibility of her giving birth to the Deliverer apart from the intervention of God.

Then there is the fact that it was the woman who first received the angelic communication, Manoah himself being addressed only after he had prayed for instruction concerning the training of the promised child.  So was it with Joseph.  He was addressed only after the announcement had been made to Mary.

It is very possible that in Manoah and his wife we may have a symbolic picture of the Israel of Christ’s day, he representing the professing, but unbelieving mass; she, representing the godly remnant.  They are, however, double types, for Manoah also represents Joseph the husband of Mary; and Manoah’s wife, Mary.  But the context points symbolically to the reawakening of Israel in the Tribulation, and certainly it isn’t difficult to see in the Philistine oppression, the tyranny of the great harlot, apostate Christendom, during that terrible seven year period.  This would explain why the communication was given to the woman alone, and then only incidentally, as it were, to the husband.  It will be through the believing remnant in the Tribulation that the rest of the nation will hear the good news.

The name of the place where Manoah dwelt also contributes instruction, for Zorah means she was smitten with leprosy, but since leprosy is a type of sin, we are reminded that Joseph, like Isaiah, could well have said, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips....” (Isa 6:5).  Joseph also dwelt spiritually in “Zorah,” i.e., in a place “smitten with leprosy (sin),” in the midst of a sinful people.

Manoah was “of the family of the Danites,” and inasmuch as Dan means judging: a judge, we are reminded that while Joseph was literally of the tribe of Judah, he was spiritually also a Danite, for all the tribes of Israel were under divine judgment because of their sin, yet there was in the midst of that judged and sinful nation a small remnant, including such as Joseph, Mary, Simeon, Anna, etc., who judged themselves and sought to walk obediently before God.  Manoah and his wife appear to have been a part of that godly remnant in their own day.

His name Manoah means rest, suggesting that like those who constitute the remnant in every age, they rested in God in the midst of a scene of departure and ruin.  Such also were Joseph and Mary.

13:3.  “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son.”

The announcement to Mary in Lk 1:31 was, “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son.”  The parallel is too obvious to require comment.

13:4.  “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing:”

13:5.  “For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

The law governing the Nazarite is recorded in Numbers 6:1-21, and may be summarized briefly: wine and strong drink were forbidden, as was any product of the vine; the hair was not to be cut; a dead body was not to be touched.

All of this of course has spiritual significance.  Wine is the Biblical symbol of joy, and the proscription concerning it declares that the believer who would keep himself separate for God today, must not be a partaker of the world’s pleasures. 

Since it is a shame for a man to have long hair (1 Co 11:14), the uncut hair of the Nazarite informs us that he who would live for God today must be willing to suffer shame for Christ’s sake. 

And since the “dead body” represents the old nature, which is reckoned by God to be dead in the believer, the proscription relative to touching a dead body declares that he who would please God in the midst of this present evil world must not gratify the lusts of the flesh.

The purity personified by the Nazarite was God’s ideal for Samson, but the son of Manoah defiled himself in all three areas (He touched the dead body of the lion, 14:10; it is to be presumed that the feast he prepared in 14:10 included also drinking wine and strong drink; he had illicit relations with a harlot (16:1); and in 16:19 he allowed his hair to be cut).  This is in stark contrast with the true Nazarite, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who glorified God in His perfect sinless life as a man on the earth.  (It is to be noted here that the Lord was not a literal Nazarite.  He drank wine; and the fact that “they plucked the hairs from his face” rather than from His head, implies that, as was the custom among men, His hair was short, even though the artists would have us believe it was long.  Whether He ever touched a dead body is uncertain, for in regard to Jairus’ daughter whom He did touch, He Himself said that she was not dead, but sleeping, Mk 5:39, and it is to be noted that the word used in connection with her sleeping is different from that used in connection with Lazarus.

“... and he shall begin to deliver Israel.”  Samson would only begin to deliver, but sadly, he never completed that work.  It was very different with the One he typified.  Having perfectly completed the work of deliverance, “He said, It is finished” (Jn 19:30).

“... out of the hand of the Philistines.”  As noted already the Philistine represents apostate Christianity and/or Judaism.  In spite of the fact that the deliverance wrought by Christ includes deliverance from this very foe, the professing church, like unbelieving Israel, has preferred to remain under the dominion of the enemy.

An obvious question presents itself at this point.  Why were the restrictions of Nazariteship imposed also upon Manoah’s wife, at least until the birth of Samson?  Since few have explained it better than Rossier, I quote him here, “The Nazariteship of Samson involved that of his mother.  In order to do honor to the deliverer of Israel, it was needful for his witnesses to bear before the eyes of all, the impress of his own character.  This is true at all times.  If we do not manifest Christ down here in His character of entire separation to God, we are not witnesses for our Savior.  Christ having come, permanent Nazariteship should characterize the saints as it does the Lord; and the more the ruin increases, the more apparent will this become.” (Meditations on the Book of Judges, p.120).

13:6.  “Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible; but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:”

It is generally agreed that this angel of God was the Lord Jesus Christ, see, e.g., verse 18 where His name is declared to be secret, (literally wonderful, one of the names of Christ given in Isa 9:6).

It is to be noted also that while the woman beheld his countenance as being “very terrible,” no such sight appears to have been granted Manoah when he saw the angel during his second visit, see, e.g., verse 11 where, clearly, the appearance was simply that of a man rather than an angel.

God’s revelations are given to faith, not to unbelief.

The fact that Manoah wasn’t with his wife when the angel came, declares symbolically that the unbelieving part of Israel, which Manoah in the present context appears to represent, was also separated from the believing remnant. 

13:7.  “But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.”

This reference to his death carries us forward to 16:30, where we read that, “the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life,” reminding us that the mighty victory won by the true Samson was accomplished by His dying on Calvary’s cross.  Christ was born to die, because, apart from His death, there could be no remission of sin.

13:8.  “Then Manoah intreated the Lord, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.” 

Manoah’s inquiry had to do with what was to be done with the child.  In regard to Christ, however, no such inquiry is needed.  To sinners, the command is, Believe on Him as Savior; and to Saints, Obey Him as Savior and Lord.

His prayer may represent the beginning of Israel’s awakening in the Tribulation, for significantly, the period between the two appearances of the angel is one in which no activity is recorded.  It was the same following the Lord’s first advent.  As far as Israel was concerned, it might as well not have occurred.  But note the repeated references to the angel’s second appearance, “Let the man ... come again, and in verse 9, “The angel of God came again,” and again in verse 10, “... that came unto me the other day,” and again in verse 11, “Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?” and clearly the reference is to the angel’s first visit.

All of this tends to confirm that the symbolic reference is to the awakening of Israel in the Tribulation prior to the Lord’s second advent.

13:9.  “And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her.”

God continues to communicate with the woman, as He did with Mary.  This may be perhaps to emphasize that since it was by the woman that sin came into the world, so would it be also through her that the Redeemer would come, as promised in Ge 3:15, “... it (the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy (Satan’s) head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Undoubtedly there is reason for its being said that the angel came unto her “as she sat in the field,” and it may be, that since the field represents the world (Mt 13:38), the woman represents the remnant of Israel in the world awaiting the coming of the promised Child, the Messiah, for there is no question that the mother of each deliverer is a figure of the Israelite remnant that brought forth the man child two thousand years ago as the Lamb foreordained before the foundation of the world to die for the remission of men’s sins, and that will bring Him forth again as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to rule the world at the end of the Tribulation.

This would also explain the absence of her husband on the two occasions when the angel visited her, for if the woman is a type of the believing remnant, then in that context Manoah is a type of the unbelieving mass of the nation (as well as being also a type of Joseph).

13:10.  “And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day.”

The haste with which she ran to tell her husband would portray the eagerness with which the remnant in the Tribulation will hurry to bring the good news to their unbelieving fellows.  And a practical lesson for us is that we should also be in haste to spread the good news, for today could be our last opportunity.

13:11.  “And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman?  And he said, I am.”

Manoah’s going “after his wife” points to the obedient response of many from the midst of unbelieving Israel in the Tribulation.  Many of them will also “go after” the obedient believing remnant represented by Manoah’s wife.

The angel’s response “I am” (the term by which God describes Himself often in the OT), portrays the revelation of God to Israel in the Tribulation.

It is generally agreed that the angelic messenger is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

13:12.  “And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass.  How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him?”

This will be the language of many Jews in the Tribulation, and is very different from the response of that nation two thousand years ago when their refusal of God’s Word caused them to be cut off as a nation.

Manoah’s question is literally, What kind of child will he be, and what will his work be?  In vivid contrast with Israel’s indifference to Christ at His first advent, there will be an anxious desire on the part of many of that nation in the Tribulation to know more of their coming Deliverer.

13:13.  “And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.”

It seems that nothing was to be added to what had already been revealed to the woman in verses 3-5, thus confirming that she alone was the recipient of God’s counsels, and tending to confirm that she is a type of the believing remnant (as well as of Mary), for it is to the obedient minority alone that God reveals Himself in every age. 

The necessity of implicit obedience is declared in the angel’s words, “Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware.”  God is not prepared to accept partial obedience, either from Israel in the Tribulation, or from men in general at any time.  The word has the same force today.  Anything less than total obedience cuts us off from blessing, and makes us heirs of chastisement.

13:14.  “She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.”

Since the spiritual significance of this has been considered in our study of verses 4-5, there is no need to repeat it here, except to note that the repetition of the injunction is meant to impress us with the absolute necessity of holy living, which requires separation from the pleasures of this sinful world.

13:15.  “And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee.”

It seems that Manoah’s intention was simply to extend the usual hospitality of providing a meal for the guest, and this would indicate that the glory which had so awed his wife (verse 6) wasn’t revealed to him, for as noted already, he doesn’t appear to have seen in the visitor anything more than the appearance of a man (verse 11).  This may indicate perhaps the attitude of Israel in the Tribulation.  The terrible judgements of that era will cause many of them to seek after God even before full enlightenment comes.

13:16.  “And the angel of the Lord said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord.  For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the Lord.”

Since the sharing of a meal involves communion, this refusal of the angel (the Lord Himself) to eat with Manoah, emphasizes the truth that there can be no communion between a man and God until that man has been reconciled to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  And if we have been correct in viewing Manoah as a type of unbelieving Israel, then the truth being demonstrated is that there can be no communion between God and that nation until the time when they are reconciled to Him through faith in their crucified and risen Messiah.  The angel’s words, “And if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the Lord,” become, then, the assurance that Israel must present that offering, that is, they must, through faith, present Christ to God as the Lamb Who has shed His blood for the remission of their sins.

Manoah’s ignorance of the identity of his guest depicts Israel’s present ignorance concerning the true identity of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Manoah failed to see that the one who had come to him in the guise of a man, was in reality the Lord Himself, and so was it with Israel when the Lord appeared among them in the form of man two thousand years ago.

13:17.  “And Manoah said unto the angel of the Lord, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honor?”

Significantly, Jacob returning from his long sojourn with Laban, asked virtually the same question, “Tell me, I pray thee, thy name,” and received almost the same answer, “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” (Ge 32:29).  Jacob, wrestling with the angel in the darkness of night, and then passing over Penuel in the light of morning, on his way back to Canaan, is also a picture of Israel’s wrestlings in the Tribulation, out of which they too, enlightened and converted, having, as it were, seen the face of God (the meaning of Penuel), will also “cross over” into Canaan, but a Canaan enjoying millennial blessings.

This seems to confirm that we are correct in viewing Manoah both as a type of Joseph, and also of those Israelites who will be saved in the Tribulation.

The desire to honor the angel when his words would be fulfilled, points also to the response of converted Israel in the Millennium, for it is in that coming glorious dispensation that converted Israel, enjoying the fulfillment of all God’s promises to Abraham, will “do Him honor.”  They will walk in obedience, and worship Him out of grateful hearts.

We of this present dispensation, out of our wrestlings with a convicting, striving Holy Spirit; having, as it were, seen the face of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, have “crossed over Penuel” also in the light of a new day, but into blessings infinitely superior to those to be enjoyed by converted Israel in the Millennium.  What disparity there is, however, between the honor we ought to do Him, and that which we do, in fact, render!

13:18.  “And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?”

The word that has been translated “secret” in the KJ version is literally wonderful, removing all doubt as to the true identity of this angel of the Lord.  He is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for in Isaiah 9:6 it is written of Him, “And his name shall be called Wonderful....”

His question, “Why askest thou thus after my name,” is instructive, for in the language of Scripture, the name is indicative of the character, so that the lesson being conveyed is that the character of Christ cannot be known until He has first been accepted as Savior, and obeyed as Lord.  Manoah hadn’t yet offered the sacrifice which is the typical representation of that act of faith.

13:19.  “So Manoah took a kid with a meat (meal) offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the Lord: and the angel did wondrously; and Manoah and his wife looked on.”

His sacrifice is the symbolic announcement, not only of Manoah’s faith, but also of that of the nation of which he is a type, for they too will offer the equivalent sacrifice in the coming Tribulation.  They will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior Messiah, for that kid is a figure of Christ dying in our guilty place, the meat (lit., meal) offering which accompanied it, being the figure of His humanity, reminding us that apart from His becoming man, He could not die, for as God He was beyond the power of death.

The rock upon which it was offered presents us with a typical picture of the sure foundation upon which our faith rests.  That rock is Christ Himself, His eternal existence assuring us of the eternal efficacy of that one perfect sacrifice which puts away for ever the sins of every believer.

“And the angel did wondrously” has also its own special message.  As discussed already, the presentation of that offering corresponds typically to the moment of conversion, not only of Manoah, but of Israel, and of every sinner who trusts Christ.  The miracle that led the eye of Manoah from the kid to the angel ascending up to heaven in the flame, is a picture of what happens at conversion.  The guilty sinner comes with faltering, childlike faith, seeing in Christ simply “a kid,” the One Who has died as his Substitute for his sins; but the light that enters the soul at that instant continues to illuminate the life, revealing Christ as infinitely more than just the One Who died for men’s sins.  That knowledge goes on increasing to show us Christ, not only as the Trespass offering, but also as the Sin, Peace, Meal, and Burnt offering.  The revelation, in fact, continues all the days of our lives, and the angel ascending in the flame is the symbolic declaration of that truth, that revelation.

“And Manoah and his wife looked on.”  This is a beautiful picture of what will yet be.  We have noted already that on the two earlier appearances of the angel, Manoah wasn’t with his wife, and in that we have seen the symbolic picture of the two parts of Israel, Manoah portraying the unbelieving mass of the nation; and his wife, the believing remnant.  Here they stand together at the altar.  So will it be with Israel when the Millennium begins.  The nation will then be one.  There will be no longer two parts.  All will be believers.

13:20.  “For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar.  And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground.”

The flame is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, reminding us of the part He has in the work of redemption.  It was through the Holy Spirit that Christ offered Himself without spot to God (Heb 9:14); and a fact largely ignored today is, that apart from His convicting a man of sin, there can be no conversion.  The spurious popular “gospel” that omits all reference to that essential work of conviction of sin, will bring salvation to no one.  It is Satan’s delusive counterfeit of the true Gospel.

“... and fell on their faces to the ground.”  This reminds us of the reverence that becomes us in relation to God.  That reverential fear of Him has all but disappeared from the world, not only the world of the unbeliever, but also of the professed believer.  Many, claiming to belong to Christ, treat earthly superiors with more respect than they do Him Who is King of kings, and Lord of lords.  Reverence ought to mark all our thoughts, our words, and our deeds relative to God, for that reverential fear is our greatest safeguard against sin.

13:21.  “But the angel of the Lord did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife.  Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the Lord.”

What his wife had recognized at the first, Manoah discerned only after the angel’s miraculous ascent in the flame.  Since his presentation of the kid is typically synonymous with his conversion, the lesson being emphasized here is what we have noted already: revelation is given only to faith. 

The fact that the angel never visited them again may be to remind us that it would be many centuries before the Lord would present Himself to Israel.  But another thought suggests itself.  They wouldn’t see the angel again, but they would have with them the son whose very presence would be the continuous reminder of that miraculous manifestation.  So is it with every believer.  We see the Lord, as it were, but once - the moment we trust Him as Savior, but from that instant we have with us the Holy Spirit Who is not only the “earnest of our inheritance,” but the One Whose ministry of enlightenment is the continuous reminder of the day we first saw Christ as our Savior.

13:22.  “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”

Manoah’s needless apprehension reminds us that newfound faith has much to learn.

13:23.  “But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.”

It is instructive to note that her first assurance was based, not on the disclosures given, but on the fact that God had accepted their offering, and in this we find our own assurance.  We are accepted on the basis of our offering, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Nor should we miss the significance of her mentioning the Burnt offering and the Meat (meal) offering as being distinct the one from the other, even though the Meal offering is almost invariably found as an adjunct of the other offerings.  The Burnt offering tells us that the offering of Christ was first for the glory of God; the Meal offering assures us that His sacrifice was also for us.  Christ can be the Mediator between God and men because He has perfectly met the claims of the One, and the dire need of the other, by His assumption of humanity, which the Meal offering portrays.

It is only after mentioning the offerings that she goes on to remind her husband of the promises given.  This is the experience of every believer.  We have the double assurance of security: first, the acceptance of our Sacrifice, and then the confirmation of truth revealed to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in taking the things of Christ and revealing them unto us out of the written Word.

13:24.  “And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him.”

This recalls the words of Paul to the Galatians, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Ga 4:19).  This is God’s purpose: to reproduce Christ in us, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro 9:29).

That growth, that conformity, should be an ongoing experience, for in the growth of the child, God is reminding us that we too are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pe 3:18), “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ep 4:13).

The growth and blessing of the child foreshadow the growth and blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ, “And the child (Christ) grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Lk 2:40).

His name too is significant.  It means sunlight, and points to his great Antitype Who is the Light of the world, “the Sun of righteousness (Who shall) arise with healing in his wings” Mal 4:2.

13:25.  “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.”

Dan represents judgment; and Zorah she was smitten with leprosy, we have seen to represent the spiritual state of the mass of Israel at the Lord’s first advent; and Eshtaol I will be entreated reminds us that God will be entreated on behalf of those who judge themselves, confess their sin, repent, and admit that they dwell spiritually in Zorah.  It was in a similar scene, metaphorically speaking, that the Lord began his human life.

[Judges 14]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough