SanLo Community, an update for the week of October 21, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Judges 13, “A Portrait of Grace.” Children throw tantrums because they believe what they are demanding is right in their own eyes. They want what they believe is theirs with their whole mind, body, and heart no matter how unreasonable it is. In the child’s mind they are correct in their thinking and everyone else is wrong. This is the background of Judges 13, “Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.” Israel had strayed so far from the Bible, that just as children don't think their behavior is wrong, the people of Israel believed the way they lived was not evil or sinful. Through their own eyes, Israel fooled themselves into believing how they conducted themselves was fine but in reality it was evil before God. Satan makes sin look beautiful and good. Imperfect people do the same thing by fooling themselves into thinking they are the definers of sin. Upon examining closely the events and context of Judges 13 we will see that God offers His perfect grace to imperfect people. What does God's perfect grace to imperfect people look like?
1) God’s perfect grace is MIRACULOUS. (vv.1-7) God's grace is truly amazing. It is wonderful beyond our imagination. It's something we don't deserve, yet God freely offers this supernatural gift of perfect grace to imperfect people. In the midst of Israel’s poor behavior, God initiates a plan to begin delivering His chosen people from the Philistines through the gracious gift of a miraculous birth to a barren unnamed woman. A man of God appears to this woman and says to her, though you have born no children you will conceive and give birth to a son. Not only will this birth be miraculous, God chose this boy to be Israel's rescuer in his mother's womb. The man of God further instructs this woman to (vv.4-5) "Be careful not to drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing," because her son would be a Nazirite, set apart by God to begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. God’s grace was demonstrated through His plan to begin freeing Israel from the Philistines through this miraculous birth. Likewise, God’s perfect grace for imperfect people is just as miraculous. Only God has the ability to give this gift called grace. Ephesians 2:8.9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
2) God’s perfect grace is PATIENT. (vv.8-14) God’s grace is long-suffering, truly tolerant and persistent. Manoah, instead of trusting the man of God, wanted to know the “rules” or “guidelines” of how to raise this child when he requested the man of God to teach them what to do for the boy. This seems reasonable until it is realized that the religious culture Manoah and his wife lived was works oriented. There were many rules and duties that had to be followed to please their gods. Also by not answering Manoah’s question in verse 12, “What shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation or mission?” the lesson learned is that God’s grace to imperfect people is received by faith. We often question God as Manoah did, from our desire to control circumstances. When these questions are not immediately answered we need to trust and learn how to faithfully rest in God’s care. Their child was chosen by God to begin delivering Israel from the Philistines. How this child was raised would not prevent God from doing His thing. God in His perfect grace did not require anything but faith from Manoah.
3) God’s perfect grace is COMPASSIONATE. (vv.15-20) Manoah, in accordance with tradition offers to make a meal for the man of God. Sounds nice but this meal obligates the guest to the host to offer something in return. He does not reveal his name just as he did not in verse 6. Instead, the man of God deflects the invitation and desires to give credit to God by instructing Manoah to offer a burnt offering to the LORD. God in His compassion offers His perfect grace despite imperfect motives. Manoah attempted to detain the man of God with a meal. Manoah offered the burnt offering and the man of God ascended to heaven in the flame. It was then Manoah and his wife realized it was the LORD they were speaking to. This is God’s perfect grace. When we face the reality of our attempts to manipulate God we should fall to our knees and give thanks that God does not destroy us but offers compassion.
4) God’s perfect grace SAVES. (vv.21-25) Despite Israel’s sin, God initiates a plan to deliver them from their enemy. The perfect grace of God frees us from sin’s captivity. God’s perfect grace liberates us from the grasps of sin. Manoah was aware that anyone who saw God would not survive. When Manoah and his wife knew that the man of God was actually the angel of the LORD, he feared for their lives. Manoah’s wife assured him that the LORD spared them to complete their God-given task through the birth of their son, Samson. God chose Samson to begin the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines. In the same way that God saved Israel from total destruction by Samson, we are saved by Jesus from the devastating power of sin.
Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD because they were influenced by the religion and culture of their society. They justified, rationalized, and defined sin. They decided in their own minds what sin was and was not. They did not recall this truth, that sin is anything outside the will of God. The Portrait of Grace is a wonderful and beautiful illustration of God’s miraculous grace, that is patient, compassionate and saves us. Meditate upon His Portrait of Grace and allow it to pierce your heart drawing you nearer to Him. Jesus lived, died, and rose again on the third day to rescue us from sin. May we as imperfect people receive God’s perfect grace to live freely and powerfully according to His will.