In my next few blog posts I will be talking about surprises that anointed servants of Jesus experience as they serve the Lord. I take my inspiration from the life of Samson who, like us, had imperfections but yet began the deliverance of Israel because of the Lord’s gracious working in his life.
The first surprise we see is that God is surprisingly in charge. In our world it often seems like God is not involved. We see the chaos and the oppression of people, we experience the consequences of our own brokenness yet God seems distant. So must it have seemed to the Israelites as they laboured under the oppression of the Philistines, yet the Scripture tells us that there was an unseen reality to their situation that told a different story. God was orchestrating things behind the scenes.
His control of the situation was shown in several ways. First he orchestrated the times of Israel’s bondage and release. Judges 13:1 states “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.” We see his sovereign hand guiding national events. He delivers Israel to their enemies, at the same time he begins preparing a deliverer to release them from their enemies. His hand is on the clock of Israel’s history. He is surprisingly in charge of big picture happenings.
Yet he not only has his hand on the big picture, he has his hand on the local and individual level as well. He sovereignly prepares a couple who will be happy to raise the deliverer in the needed way. He chose a childless couple who would be longing for the joy of children and willing to give their son to God’s service without reservation. Manoah and his wife were not only people of faith but they were willing to raise their son in the disciplines of the Nazarite lifestyle. So God was orchestrating the national events but also at work in specific, individual lives to prepare a deliverer for Israel. Samson, the man who was endowed with supernatural strength was to be their son.
God also orchestrated the timing of Samson’s ministry. Judges 13:25: “and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.” (NIV). Manoah and his wife raised Samson as the Lord commanded, however his ministry did not begin until the Spirit of the Lord began to stir. Manoah, his wife or Samson did not decide when his ministry was to begin, this timing was also chosen by the Lord. God is surprisingly in charge.