What’s Next? Study 12 Men without chests Study 13 People without a King Study 14 Exiles in a foreign land Study 15 Living in a pagan society: five models Study 16 The dream of the kingdom Study 17 The fiery furnace Study 18 The mad King
What’s Next? Study 19 The writing on the wall Study 20 The lion’s den Study 21 Joseph and the dream Study 22 Joseph’s fall and rise Study 23 Joseph and his brothers Study 24 Joseph redeems his family Study 25 The feasts of the King
What is a Pluralistic society? Religious pluralism is a set of worldviews that stands on the premise that one religion is not the sole exclusive source of values, truths, and supreme deity. It therefore must recognize that at least “some” truth must exist in other belief systems. This is one example of “they can’t all be right.”
Themes • God relentlessly offers his grace to people who do not deserve it nor seek it nor even appreciate it after they have been saved by it. • God wants lordship over every area of our lives, not just some.
Themes • There is a tension between grace and law, between conditionality and unconditionality. • There is a need for continual spiritual renewal in our lives here on earth, and a way to make that a reality.
Themes • We need a true Savior, to which all human saviors point, through both their flaws and strengths. • God is in charge, no matter what it looks like.
Judges 16 1-3 1 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. 2 The people of Gaza were told, "Samson is here!" So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, "At dawn we'll kill him." 3 But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
1a. How it prepares us for the climax. • First, it shows a pattern in Samson’s life — it links both the past and the future. • Secondly, the incident shows not just the pattern but how it is deepening and strengthening. • Thirdly, the story prepares us to understand why Samson would play such a dangerous game with Delilah later.
1b. How can success be the worst thing for us? We saw this with Gideon, as well. The more God blessed Samson, giving him strength to fight his foes, the more Samson grew confident of his own invulnerability and the more he engaged in irresponsible behavior. In other words, Samson’s heart used God’s blessings as a reason to forget God.
2a. Delilah’s motives • The original motivation of Delilah is greed for gain (16:5-6). They promise her money (v.5), “so Delilah said…”(v.6). • But as the process goes on, Delilah’s pride is more and more at stake.
2b. Samson’s motives • First, we can guess that Samson was motivated by his overconfident love of danger. • But second, it is also possible that Samson is the kind of “denial” that is typical in classic addiction-syndromes.
2c. What other forms can this relationship take? • Samson and Delilah are a rather extreme case of using one another rather than serving one another. • Another less obvious form is the “helper”-syndrome.
2d. What is the solution? C.S. Lewis talked of the difference between ‘need-love’ and ‘gift-love’ that gets at this issue: “Need-love cries… from our poverty; Gift-love longs to serve… Need-love says of a woman, ‘I cannot live without her’; Gift-love longs to give her happiness… You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God.”
Question 2 “The strength that [Samson] had was physical and external, not spiritual and inward. That was why he had to look to a succession of women, like Delilah, to try to give meaning and significance to his life. Because he did not have a deep faith relationship with God, he looked for a [god]-substitute in human relationships, as every person made in the image of God does and must. It was this personal vulnerability, which never found its answer in God, that ultimately brought him crashing down.” – D.Jackman, p.251
3 16:15-21. Why does Samson tell Delilah the truth? Many believe that Samson still was in denial about the evil purposes of Delilah. He either believed: a) that she really didn’t aim to capture him, or b) while she had in the past, she would not do so now. So the answer to why he told Delilah is this — he did not really believethat his hair or his Nazirite vow was really the source of his strength. He had come to see his strength as an inalienable right, not a gift of God’s mercy.
4 16:15-21. What is the secret of Samson’s strength? The Philistines and Delilah must have known that Samson’s strength was not innate. Magic power depends on a) external conditions, and b) their exact manipulation. God’s power, however, depends on a) internal conditions, and b) relationship.
4b Who really understands the secret? “In explaining his ‘secret’ to Delilah he concentrates merely on the externals of the Naziritevow; but they were never designed to be an end in themselves. The whole point was that the external signs represented the internal reality of a life devoted to God… It seems that Samson did not really understand the secret of his strength. His attitude was very similar to the superstitious practices of the pagan Philistines among whom he spent so much time.” – D.Jackman, p.250
5 What is the source of your spiritual strength? What forms of this ‘magic’ view of God’s blessing exist among us today? There are many answers! Here is just one answer that bears discussion. “Works-righteousness” is the attitude that God will bless me and answer my prayers as long as I: a) have regular Bible study, b) regular prayer, c) go to worship services, d) live a disciplined and moral life. As a result we often do our Christian duties mechanically, and miss the point of them — which is real fellowship and friendship with God.
616:21-31. How is the arrest and death of Samson unlike the arrest and death of Christ? The main way in which Samson’s arrest and death is unlike Christ’s is that they were the direct result of Samson’s disobedience, while Christ’s were the result of his faithfulness and obedience.
6 16:21-31. How is the arrest and death of Samson like the arrest and death of Christ? • First, both Samson and Christ were rejected and handed over to the Gentile oppressors (not only in chapter 15, but here in chapter 16). • Second, both Samson and Christ were both saviors alone. • Third, both Samson and Christ gave their lives, but in their death, gave life.
7a 16:22-31. Why did Samson’s strength return (read Heb.11:32-34 for the best answer)? The first reason his strength returned was the faithfulness of God. “[The Philistines knew nothing of the God who does the unexpected (Ehud), whose strength is made perfect in weakness (Gideon), and who never breaks his word. That God had said that Samson would be a Nazirite ‘to the day of his death’ (13:7). His abandonment of his servant could not but be temporary. The promise was bound to hold, however Samson might despise it. There is grace abounding to the chief of sinners. ‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Tim.2:13)” – M.Wilcock, p.148
7a 16:22-31. Why did Samson’s strength return (Heb.11:32-34 for the best answer)? The second reason his strength returned was that Samson must have been exercising heart faith in God (perhaps for the first time).
7b How does Samson’s story illustrate, “when I am weak, then I am strong”? It is the gospel! Jesus became weak to become strong. We, too, become Christians in that way. Only those who admit they are unrighteous receive the righteousness of Christ. Then we grow as Christians in the same way. Only those who know their life and strength is totally of grace are not living in the grip of fear, anger, boredom, and despondency.