SanLo Community, an update for the week of October 28, 2018…
Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from Judges 14:1-20, “Intermarriage.” We are continuing in the book of Judges in our series called Fallen People, Faithful God. Intermarriage is defined as a marriage between people of different races, castes, or religions. As we look at Scripture, marriage is a wonderful and sacred relationship that God has ordained and created for a husband and wife. He certainly did so at the beginning of the time in order to set a foundation for all relationships and life. The main thrust of the passage gives us a picture of our heavenly marriage and relationship to God. God is gracious and good to us even when we fall. What happens to us when we become married to our sin?
1) Sin causes us to disobey God’s Word. (vv.1-4) Sin has an evil way of leading us astray from what God has said, but ultimately, what is good and really best for us. Samson’s actions reveal a neglect and disobedience to the teaching from Moses and the law to only marry within the fold of the Israelite family. God had given His people a consistent reminder not to intermarry with other races in order to keep the people of God faithful to Himself, the most important relationship with Yahweh. That’s the important thing to note. God doesn’t believe interracial marriage is wrong, but He does believe interfaith marriage is not good. The warning was to ensure that they won’t fall away to other gods like the gods of the Canaanites, Philistines, and others in the land. Yet, in Samson’s lust, he ignores the Word of God and his parents. This applies to us today where 2 Corinthians 6:14 says - 14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? Scriptures teaches in marriage, there really is only one prerequisite to a biblical and Christian marriage, having faith in Christ. For those of us who aren’t single or looking for a spouse, your issue isn’t marriage, but there are other biblical principles and commands that we might ignore or disobey. We all have something that causes us to be married to ourselves rather than to our God. We must be careful to understand our sinful tendencies and turn back toward God for help. Sin will cause us to ignore, to neglect, and to disobey what’s best for us.
2) Sin causes us to hide our sin. (vv.5-9) Here is one of Samson’s moments of strength and power. Yet, it is God who strengthened and empowered Samson to defeat the power of the lion. Once again, Samson shows his disregard for the Word. Since, Samson touched a dead animal, under the law, he has become unclean. According to the Word, he must immediately go to the tabernacle and undergo a lengthy purification ritual. This would have taken eight days. He would have to shave his head, make a sin and burnt offering, and sacrifice a lamb. Doing this would have put off his pursuit of this fancy lady that has caught his eye. He didn’t want to make a trip to the tabernacle, waste time, money, and resources to do the right thing. So, he willfully ignored God’s Word, and he intentionally hid his actions. He did what was right in his own eyes. God gave him a way out of his lustful sin. If he actually followed through with his Jewish sacraments, then he’d be in the tabernacle, make an offering, and sacrifice a lamb. Through all that he’d recognize his sin and turn back to God. God was giving him a second chance, a way out, a way of grace. Yet Samson didn’t take it, he only held onto his own lust.
3) Sin causes us to pull others down. (vv.8-9) Remember God’s Word and the Jewish law defining this animal as unclean, which also makes the honey unclean. Yet, Samson again ignores the Word of God. He deceives his parents, and he offers them the unclean honey. This in turn makes his parents ritually unclean, because of his action. The only thing that matters to Samson was his own interest. His actions not only bring down himself but his parents too. After all this, Samson creates a riddle and a bet with the Philistines. This creates more drama and tension as they threaten his wife. So then, she must entice him. Sin just causes more drama. His sin has pulled in his parents, his wife, and his community. But that’s how evil and sin works. It spreads like a disease to hurt one, then two, and then an entire community of people. So it’s imperative for us to be vigilant over ourselves and over sin. Let us be careful to walk closely with Jesus Christ who forgives our sins and empowers us to overcome our sins. Let us submit ourselves into the hands of our Savior and our God.
Even though we sin and fall, 4) God still remains committed to His redeeming work. (vv.19-20) God empowers Samson. Again, it was the Holy Spirit who did this. Not Samson’s big muscles but the muscle of God. He goes to Ashkelon and he strikes down thirty men in order that he can pay back his debt for losing the bet. So, we see the main thrust of this passage isn’t how bad Samson is but how good God is. God is continuing His deliverance of sinful people to advance God’s agenda, not man’s agenda. Samson was foolish and selfish yet God remained steadfast and faithful. God uses Samson as an agent of deliverance despite his silly and idiotic mistakes. God’s redemptive plan continues through even someone like Samson, who was married to his own sin. This is the same beautiful picture of the gospel as displayed in the New Testament, with Christ and the church. God is married to His bride, the Church, for eternity. He will never let her go nor will He ever abandon her even when she turned away, when she fell, and when she disobeyed. So much so Christ gave Himself up for her, Christ died for His bride, the church, you and me. He suffered God’s punishment and wrath upon the cross to take way our sin debt. God did so out of His great love for us. This is the amazing picture we see of God’s marriage to His church and to us especially if we’ve messed up or fallen.
We aren’t the beauty queens of the world, more like the drama queens. We aren’t the strong heroes on earth, more like weak vessels. We aren’t the perfect saints, more like imperfect sinners. But God, rich in mercy loved us. God rich in mercy used Samson and Israel. He continues to do the same for us. God remains committed to His people and His redemptive and saving work of salvation. This is the good news of the gospel which ought to inform and to transform our marriage choices, our relationship decisions, and our moral and ethical actions. The gospel ought to change our attitudes from self-interest to a God interest. This love of God and this grace of God ought to pull us away from our selfish motives into His loving arms of Christ. It ought to humble us so that we don't hide or conceal our sin but to set us free to confess our own sin and weakness. It ought to stop us from hurting others. God has remained firmly committed and married to His people and His purposes never letting us go so that we might hold more tightly to Him every day of our lives.
Frank Nakasone, the elders and the congregation prayed for our pastors in support, encouragement and appreciation for all they do to lead us spiritually in answering their call from God to minister. Pastor Rod, Pastor Eric, Pastor Brian, Pastor Scott, Pastor Josh and Pastor Sunao, we thank you for serving us in such a loving and humble way.
Frank also shared about the decision which came from the Grow SanLo Summit, to continue the capital campaign as there is a sense the vision is the same and in God’s timing and way, we will move forward growing the ministry of our church.