By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry! Thank you for joining me today as we look at another phase of Samson’s life and try to understand its prophetic meaning. We have seen how the ecumenical movement, as typified by the woman of Timnath, wants to distract God’s church from its most powerful message. You have to be careful to avoid ecumenical gatherings, or you will be increasingly drawn into its arms. And while that doesn’t mean that you don’t connect with evangelicals or Roman Catholics in order to win them, we must not engage in the ecumenical spirit. We have a unique and distinct message to bear which flies directly in the face of the ecumenical spirit. So, there is no basis on which to engage at that level.
As we begin, let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank you for Jesus who inspires us with the amazing predictions of His word and the Salvation He has given us. We so much want to see this world end and Jesus return in the clouds of glory. But we are a long way from being ready for that great day. Please send Your Holy Spirit to teach us today and show us how to understand the counsel of the Lord for our times and for our lives. Show us the important things we need to understand from the life of Samson. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
We will continue now with Chapter 15 of Judges, beginning with verses one, two and three. “But it came to pass within a while after, in the time of wheat harvest, that Samson visited his wife with a kid; and he said, I will go in to my wife into the chamber. But her father would not suffer him to go in. And her father said, I verily thought that thou hadst utterly hated her; therefore I gave her to thy companion: is not her younger sister fairer than she? take her, I pray thee, instead of her. And Samson said concerning them, Now shall I be more blameless than the Philistines, though I do them a displeasure.”
It was clear to Samson that he could not trust the Philistines. He should not have been surprised with what his father-in-law did. Yet, his father-in-law’s lame excuse for giving his wife to another man is quite apparent. Samson was justly angry for what his wife had done to him. His absence, for a time from her, by rights, should not have been taken as permanent by her father. But, God was trying to wean Samson from the Philistines. Now that Samson had made himself an enemy of the Philistines there wasn’t much chance of reconciliation.
But there was a deeper problem. Samson had lost the sense of the sacredness of his work. “God’s providential care had been over Samson, that he might be prepared to accomplish the work which he was called to do. At the very outset of life he was surrounded with favorable conditions for physical strength, intellectual vigor, and moral purity. But under the influence of wicked associates he let go that hold upon God, which is man’s only safeguard, and he was swept away by the tide of evil. Those who in the way of duty are brought into trial may be sure that God will preserve them; but if men willfully place themselves under the power of temptation, they will fall sooner or later.” That is from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 568.
Though he was physically strong, Samson was very weak in moral power. It was as if his Nazarite vow of purity meant nothing to him. He had embarked on a course that God had forbidden and now he was entangled in a big mess. The Philistine woman he wanted as his wife was now given to another man. This stirred his anger and he took his revenge on the whole region of the Philistines.
Please understand the symbolism in our modern context. A woman represents a church. When God’s people engage with other churches in ecumenical activity, they compromise their spiritual standing and lose their sense of the sacredness of their work and message. Samson represents the powerful three angels’ messages. If God’s people forget the importance and power of the three angels’ messages, they will lose their strength and will not be able to resist the gravitational pull toward union with those who do not love God’s truth for this time. And in the end, they will be swallowed up in an alliance with those who are determined to undo them.
“The Lord has instructed His people not to unite with those who do not have His truth abiding in them. ‘What concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?’ 2 Corinthians 6:15, 16.”
Those who regard Sunday worship above the sacredness of the seventh day Sabbath of God’s law are not to be trusted to help God’s people keep it holy. Remember, the Israelites were under the oppression of the Philistines. They hated the Israelites. And ruling over them might have brought some considerable satisfaction to the Philistines. To them it was a symbol that their god Dagon was more powerful than the Israelite God.
Samson’s father-in-law was somewhat pleased with what had happened. His gratuitous offer to give his younger daughter reveals his lack of understanding of the marriage relation. He saw it as a mere social contract, which could be entered and exited at will, similar to the way the French came to view marriage before the chaos and confusion of the French Revolution and which is predicted to come upon us in these last days. Now more than ever God’s people need to understand the sacred value of the marriage relationship. Its purity should be guarded as if it is a treasure from heaven. Likewise, they should also place a high value on the sacred three angels’ messages and stay married to Christ and refuse to join the ecumenical agenda.
“At his marriage feast Samson was brought into familiar association with those who hated the God of Israel. Whoever voluntarily enters into such relations will feel it necessary to conform, to some degree, to the habits and customs of his companions. The time thus spent is worse than wasted. Thoughts are entertained and words are spoken that tend to break down the strongholds of principle and to weaken the citadel of the soul.” That’s Patriarchs and Prophets, page 563.
Do you see how easy it is to get drawn into compromise? Now let us read verses four and five.
“And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.”
Samson views himself as a public person. He was a judge in Israel and also the deliverer from the Philistines. He does not merely avenge himself of his father-in-law’s slight, but takes out his revenge on the whole region. He destroyed their food sources perhaps in an effort to create a famine on the whole land.
I have no idea how Samson caught 300 foxes. Note, this is not three foxes, or 30 foxes; It was 300 foxes!! Then he tied them by pairs, two and two, by the tail, and secured a firebrand or stick between them. The terrified foxes ran into the field looking for shelter and a place to hide and thus lit the whole field, and the vineyards and the olive orchards all at once and in many different places so that the Philistines could hardly quench them. God was just in this. The corn, wine and oil was a meat offering to Dagon the Philistine god. By destroying it with fire, God made it a burnt offering to himself. It is interesting to note that the Philistines had injured Samson by subtlety and malice. Now Samson uses the subtle foxes to return the injury and cause great mischief with them.
Now consider what this says to us. The enemy often employs subtlety in his efforts to waste God’s church. And there is no more subtle assault on the mission of the church of God in these last days, than the fire of division and disunion. It creates tremendous distraction.
Another subtle temptation to the church is the ecumenical movement, which professes friendship and kindness, but only leads to the neglect and eventual disavowal of its distinctive message. Keep in mind that the ecumenical churches have quite a different interest than God’s remnant church. They unite on the principle of doctrines on which they agree, the chief of which is Sunday observance. On the other hand, God’s remnant, last-day church has a distinctive message to give that distinguishes them from and places them in opposition to the ecumenical churches. It emphasizes the seventh-day Sabbath as the product of a loyalty to Christ. It declares that these churches have become part of Babylon and are fallen. These two different missions can never be reconciled. They are diametrically opposed to each other.
Samson’s scorched earth policy angered the Philistines. He took away their livelihood. Now verse six. “Then the Philistines said, Who hath done this? And they answered, Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he had taken his wife, and given her to his companion. And the Philistines came up, and burnt her and her father with fire.”
The Philistines were outraged with Samson, but they knew they could not attack him. So, their outrage was vented against his father-in-law and his former wife. They understood that it was their own behavior that had provoked Samson to do this thing, but the rabble attacked them anyway and burnt them with fire, perhaps in their own homes. After all, it was these two that had given the Philistines occasion to be angry. They took the vengeance on them that Samson was unwilling to do himself, perhaps because of his relation to them.
Here is another interesting thing. The Philistines had threatened the woman that if she would not get the solution to the riddle out of Samson, they would burn her and her father’s house with fire. To save herself, and oblige her countrymen, she betrayed her husband and thereby brought this evil upon herself. Often, the mischief we seek to escape by any unlawful act or deceitful tongue we end up bringing on ourselves by the sin we commit to avoid it. If we would but trust in God, He can get us out of any perplexity and rid us of any evil without causing us to compromise. He that will save his life (by sin) will lose it.
Listen to this powerful statement from Desire of Ages, page 330. “Our heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us, of which we know nothing. Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish, and a plain path before their feet.”
Now verses seven and eight. “And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease. And he smote them hip and thigh with a great slaughter: and he went down and dwelt in the top of the rock Etam.”
In other words, he killed them by the strength he had in his hip and thigh, not in his arms and hands. He humiliated them since he did not smite them in the regular way. Instead he kicked at them and killed them with his feet. And it wasn’t just one or two of them. It was a great slaughter.
Samson then went up to the natural fortress called the rock Etam, which was apparently near the border with Judah. There, he waited to see if the Philistines would want to negotiate peace. But instead they came with a great army and spread themselves near Lehi, which is in Judah.
Verse nine. “Then the Philistines went up, and pitched in Judah, and spread themselves in Lehi.”
They came with a more formidable force than when Samson had to contend with when he smote them hip and thigh. They were set on revenge, so they came up in a body, armed and dangerous. They spread themselves in battle array up and down the land in an effort to find Samson. The location of Lehi is not known. But it was obviously in Judah. Perhaps it was a region or territory much like states or provinces today.
In any case, the tribe of Judah was apparently living in contented servitude to the Philistines and it alarmed them that so many Philistines were spreading themselves over their country armed to the teeth. The Philistines, however, only wanted to seize Samson. They did not intend to battle the Israelites. Did you hear that about contented servitude? I said that on purpose. We’ll come back to that point.
Verse ten. “And the men of Judah said, Why are ye come up against us? And they answered, To bind Samson are we come up, to do to him as he hath done to us.”
The men of Judah asked the Philistines why they had come up against them. They had paid their tribute money. They had not given any offense to the Philistines. The Philistines told them that they only wanted Samson, to “do to him as he hath done to us.” That is, to smite him hip and thigh. You know, an eye for an eye principle. Note also that this was a whole army sent against one man.
Now let us think about the spiritual and prophetic consequences. Samson, as we learned in our last message, represents the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14. They are powerful to deliver sinners from the control of the oppressor both Satan and his human agents. But the enemy is determined to stop them from their work. And he has come up in battle array against God’s church in these last days.
The three messages involve the seventh day Sabbath, the health message, the sanctuary and the hour of the investigative judgment (verse 6). It identifies spiritual Babylon as the Papacy and declares that she is fallen, that great city of Rome which made all nations drink of her false doctrines and practices that she has taught for many centuries (verses 7, 8). It condemns the mixture of church and state, and lastly the consequences of worshipping in her communion (verses 9-12). In other words, these three messages summarize the whole system of truth that God has been pleased to give us in the whole of scripture. These three messages are the most complete, the most systematic, the most comprehensive and the most mature concept of truth ever given to the human race. They involve everything that is found in scripture. And those who do not appreciate them, or understand them, will make the great mistake of fighting them.
In the end time, the whole world will be arrayed against these three messages and against the loyalty of God’s people to the truths contained in them, just as the Philistine army came after Samson and arrayed themselves in battle gear for a conflict. The powers of darkness will persecute God’s people if they do not comply with the laws that will be imposed.
Here is a classic prophetic type of what is to come in the last days. Nebuchadnezzar organized a legal worship ceremony for all major sectors of society on the plain of Dura. His purpose was to get all of society to support his worship principles. This he did in an arrogant assumption against the God of heaven. It was a prophetic prototype of the last days on earth. If you study verses 2-4 of Daniel chapter 3, you will see that there were the princes, the governors, the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the providences.
Consider whom these people represent. The princes were working behind the political scenes to manipulate the outcome. These elites were not elected and they were not out on the political front lines. They are like the secret societies today like the Bilderbergs, the Tri-lateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, etc.
The governors are the rulers over territories like presidents, prime ministers, monarchs, and even lesser territories, and bureaucrats within governments. The captains represent the military. The judges represent the court system. The treasurers are the ones that control the economy, like the central bankers and massive global companies. The counselors are the lawyers that formulate the laws and their punishments for disobedience. And the sheriffs are the police.
In verse four there is one more sector of society involved in the global worship. The herald that cries aloud and gives instruction on what to do represents the media.
All of these and more will be arrayed against God’s people in the last days and their principles of faith. There will be no escape except in God. And it was Christ Himself that stood by Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when they were thrown into the midst of the fiery furnace. It was His strong and mighty arm that delivered them. It was His presence that upheld and sustained them.
Now look at what Samson’s fellow church members did in verse 11. “Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? what is this that thou hast done unto us? And he said unto them, As they did unto me, so have I done unto them.”
Note that this was not just 30 men, or 300 men, but 3000 men from the tribe of Judah. They should have been united against the Philistines, but they weren’t. Three thousand men is sort of the size of a small mega-church, these days. That’s a lot of people though.
This huge congregation came up to Mount Etam, and confronted Samson. There were leaders and laymen probably. These people had accepted the Philistine rule over them, and they did not think Samson’s actions were helping to keep the peace in the church let alone with their oppressors. They were very concerned about being politically correct with the Philistine bullies. They knew that it would disturb the peace and the status quo if Samson went about doing what he was used to doing – creating a mess – and killing their enemies. They wanted to impress Samson that he was going against the grain. They did not want to cause trouble for themselves. They wanted to maintain that contented servitude.
But God had ordained Samson to disturb their quiet servitude. And they knew it. But even so, they were prepared to side with the government (the Philistines) and deliver Samson into their hands. Imagine that, my friends. They were going to turn Samson, one of their own fellow church members, who was seen as a judge in Israel, over to those pagan authorities. It is interesting to note that when we side with the government on some oppressive measure, we lose our freedom in Christ. Not only that, we will lose our love of the message, and will always be looking over our shoulder to see who is watching and worrying about their opinions of us. We seek to avoid conflict, even when God requires us to go into battle. We first belong to Christ. He rules our conscience. And if the government does things that are designed to separate us from Christ or to cause us to break His law, we must always side with Christ and the Bible, which is His word to us. All too often, historically, we side with the government. May God help us not to do that in these last days.
Perhaps I should point out that joining with the ecumenical movement, will lead us to side with the government when they demand compliance with laws that bind the conscience. And we get practice doing it in advance of the great Sunday law. When the government requires men to join military service and bear arms and work on the Sabbath, what do we tell these men to do? “Do what they tell you, and then be re-baptized when you are discharged.” I know people who went to jail because they did not take their fellow church members’ or leaders’ advice. And there are many other historical examples of this.
Friends, God wants us to understand these three important messages, the three angels’ messages in our personal lives, so that we can have His presence in our hearts, and His personal guidance to help us navigate the last days. Without the three angels’ messages, we would not understand our duty in these troublous times.
Samson’s fellow church members were unhappy that he upset the status quo with those false worshippers who ruled the land. They did not find the rule of the Philistines so onerous that they could not live with it. Besides they had paid their tribute, and they were quite settled into the arrangement. After all, it had been going on now for nearly forty years. Why should anyone disturb the relatively peaceful circumstances?
Though Samson was considered to be a judge in Israel, he was quite politically incorrect. After all, he had destroyed the food sources of those Philistines, killed some of them, and caused quite a disruption.
You know how the thinking goes. No one wants to mess up a reasonably confortable set of circumstances, particularly with a cutting message that is designed to kill the spiritual enemies of God’s people. We want to live in peace and safety, and if that means a little compromise with those other churches around us, well, so be it. A little softening of the message is ok, so long as we still believe it. We don’t have to be so bold as to proclaim it too much. That would create a lot of problems for God’s people. And besides, we don’t want to bring persecution on ourselves before its time. The last thing we want is to be accused of being a “cult,” or some other unsavory thing.
It is this precise type of reasoning that leads God’s people to conform to demands of the ecumenical movement to mute our message and collaborate with other fallen churches, the daughters of Babylon, in meetings and gatherings designed to promote so-called peace and reconciliation between churches. In order to achieve this, however, there must be a setting aside of distinctive beliefs and a focus on only that which is common to all.
Here is a very interesting and prophetic statement from the book The Great Controversy, page 444. “The wide diversity of belief in the Protestant churches is regarded by many as decisive proof that no effort to secure a forced uniformity can ever be made. But there has been for years, in churches of the Protestant faith, a strong and growing sentiment in favor of a union based upon common points of doctrine. To secure such a union, the discussion of subjects upon which all were not agreed—however important they might be from a Bible standpoint—must necessarily be waived.”
This movement has now matured, mostly, to the point where virtually all churches are now engaged in the ecumenical movement, and are moving back toward Rome. Formerly protestant churches, now known as evangelical churches are getting closer together. They have learned from Rome how to lay aside their differences in the service of some common cause, such as electing a president of the United States, or some other official in government.
And here is where this leads from page 445. “When the leading churches of the United States, uniting upon such points of doctrine as are held by them in common, shall influence the state to enforce their decrees and to sustain their institutions, then Protestant America will have formed an image of the Roman hierarchy, and the infliction of civil penalties upon dissenters will inevitably result.”
What would be the leading churches of the United States today? Those would be the huge mega-churches with powerful and influential pastors, wouldn’t it? Some of these churches have 25,000-40,000 members. And their influence goes way beyond their membership because many of them have television ministries that reach millions more. These are the ones that are currently influencing the president of the United States. And these are the ones that have laid aside their doctrinal differences, and have begun to work together to accomplish their common goals.
What institutions do they want sustained by decree? That would be Sunday worship, my friends. We don’t hear much about this right now in the press, but the day is coming once the evangelicals have consolidated their power and have increased their strength. God’s people will be brought into very difficult places. We know that they want this because of Bible prophecy. But you can understand this clearly, by the fact that they are in an all out war against the liberal left movement in America. They know that there is no way they can bring the liberals into line except by legislation that works against their secular and often wicked principles. It will likely get so contentious, that eventually they will make laws to force these liberals back to church to get some instruction in righteousness. That would be the likely basis of Sunday laws.
But the enemy is shrewd. He will eventually use this to ensnare God’s true Sabbath-keeping people. If you oppose Sunday laws that are designed to teach liberals “righteousness,” you will look like you are defending the liberal leftists who are so irreligious and so progressive that they are odious to anyone with any godly neurons. This will put God’s people in a vice grip. They will come after them with a vengeance. They will force them by legislation to worship on the first day of the week and if they won’t comply they will persecute them.
And churches know how to punish those miscreants who cause trouble and upset the status quo. They come to you and bind you by saying things about you and your ministry that cause your fellow believers to be suspicion of you and distance themselves from you. This is a form of binding that is invisible, but it is very real. And they often warn those who are in danger of becoming politically incorrect and of creating too much trouble. They tell them that they will bind them by warning others away from them.
And that’s what they did to Samson. These men from the tribe of Judah told him they were going to bind him. And they sent 3000 men, an overwhelming force of influence and power. They were serious. They sent all those men in order to surround Samson and control him. And the intentions of Samson’s fellow church members were not good. Listen to the scriptures in verse 12.
“And they said unto him, We are come down to bind thee, that we may deliver thee into the hand of the Philistines.”
You see the purpose of binding God’s true servants who give His true message is to deliver the messenger into the hands of the enemy. Today, we might say that the voice of God’s messengers is not permitted to be heard in the churches. Ecumenical ties and connections bind the true messenger and pressure him to keep silent.
Here is the rest of verse 12. “And Samson said unto them, Swear unto me, that ye will not fall upon me yourselves.”
Samson was not so much concerned for his own life as for the ministry God had called him to perform. And today, the three angels’ messages have fallen on hard times, my friends. People don’t want to proclaim them and some want to “kill them” all together. They are not convenient and they will stir up the enemies of God’s people. The Bible itself has become politically incorrect, even among some Christians, as well as the secular world. So, if you give a pointed testimony regarding the true identity of the beast, or the identity of the mark of the beast, you will stir up the anger of your enemies and even your frenemies (or those that should be your friends).
Verse 13. “And they spake unto him, saying, No; but we will bind thee fast, and deliver thee into their hand: but surely we will not kill thee. And they bound him with two new cords, and brought him up from the rock.”
These church leaders and members were willing to let God’s enemies do the dirty work against God’s messenger. Samson was not in some sort of collaboration with these Israelites to deceive the Philistines. But this would not have been politically correct either as far as his fellow church members were concerned. It was far better to let others do that which would be inappropriate for God’s people to do.
Do you remember what happened in the days of Christ? The priests and rulers did not kill Jesus themselves though they believed that according to their law, He deserved to die. Instead they turned him over to the state authorities to do this work because they did not have the authority to kill Him.
The same is true of the Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages, or the dark ages. They used the state to shed the blood of the faithful followers of Jesus. They never got their blood on their own hands at least outwardly. They would be very close by in order to write down their confession and offer pardon for their sins. But they would not shed blood themselves. They had organized the state to do that under their bidding and control. It is interesting that Samson’s experience is a forewarning to all of God’s true people down through time, right down to our own time.
So Samson, let them bind him and basically betray him to the Philistines. Friends, it is important to understand that when we engage in the ecumenical movement, we end up working against God’s true messengers sent to deliver God’s people from the bondage of sin and control by their spiritual enemies. Sometimes, even church members and leaders work against God just as these 3000 Israelites did.
Verse 14. “And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands.”
This was a miracle, my friends. Samson did not have all that power except by the blessing of God. Can you imagine the Philistines surrounding Samson thinking he was now safely in their hands? And all of a sudden he snaps the chords as if they were flimsy bits of ash.
What a shock! Samson has no weapon. He has no sword, no bow and arrow, nothing. The Bible says, “he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.” That’s verse 15.
So, no matter what his fellow church members and leaders did to him, he still prevailed over God’s enemies. And isn’t that the way it will unfold in these last days. God will bypass those who are connected to the ecumenical movement. He will marginalize those who oppose His true message for these last days, and use humble instruments and unusual weapons to do battle for the Lord of hosts.
Verses 16 and 17. “And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramathlehi.”
So, Samson, who represents the powerful and mighty three angels’ messages in these last days, slew a thousand enemies, just by the might that God invested in him. He celebrates his victory with a song, which he composed. God’s people will celebrate their victory over the enemy, which Christ will give them and will proclaim the might and power of God in song.
This has parallels to the time of Christ also. Christ was the Savior of mankind. He slew the enemies of His true followers and delivered them from bondage to sin and saved them by His might as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. On His way back to heaven the angels sang a song of victory as He neared the gates of the Holy City.
But why was the tribe of Judah disaffected with Samson? Perhaps they were jealous of his power. They may have wished that he had been from their tribe instead of the tribe of Dan. They didn’t understand God’s move in setting up Samson as the start of Israel’s deliverance. Often God works in the shadows and He does things that are very unusual and mysterious. Often God’s ways seem like they are the opposite of what makes sense to human minds. They did not realize that God had started the process by which they would be freed from Philistine control. Often the church has hindered their own deliverance by pretended points of honor, which are really just petty jealousies and contention between believers.
The men of Judah might have also been suspicious of Samson because he was not part of the official structure. He was not one of the priests, or church authorities. It is as if God had worked around the structure to get the job done. Does that sound familiar?
Listen to this statement from the book The Great Controversy, pages 606 and 607 “Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power, the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who consecrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of His Spirit than by the training of literary institutions. Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words, which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these. In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? the ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refuse to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord,” the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitudes to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.”
“As the controversy extends into new fields and the minds of the people are called to God’s downtrodden law, Satan is astir. The power attending the message will only madden those who oppose it. The clergy will put forth almost superhuman efforts to shut away the light lest it should shine upon their flocks. By every means at their command they will endeavor to suppress the discussion of these vital questions. The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and, in this work, papists and Protestants unite. As the movement for Sunday enforcement becomes more bold and decided, the law will be invoked against commandment keepers. They will be threatened with fines and imprisonment, and some will be offered positions of influence, and other rewards and advantages, as inducements to renounce their faith. But their steadfast answer is: ‘Show us from the word of God our error—the same plea that was made by Luther under similar circumstances. Those who are arraigned before the courts make a strong vindication of the truth, and some who hear them are led to take their stand to keep all the commandments of God. Thus light will be brought before thousands who otherwise would know nothing of these truths.”
What a time that will be, my friends. To see the very ones who have been charged with the message to spread the light of God’s truth and to teach the people the Bible, lead them to reject the plain teachings of God’s word. Anyone who is caught up in the ecumenical movement will be among those who reject God’s message. It’s that simple. The reason is because they have turned away from the very light and message that God has shed upon them and turned to just those things that are common to all. They no longer appreciate the message that God has for His end-time people.
Instead of binding Samson and turning him over to their enemies, these men of Judah should have awakened from their slumber and self-contentedness and seen this opportunity to shake off the yoke of the Philistines. Had they had even a little courage and a little ingeniousness remaining in them, they would have joined with so brave a man as Samson and mustered the strength and with one great struggle they could have rid themselves of their oppressors and recovered their liberty.
And aren’t so many of God’s people just as lethargic today as they were back then? How many of God’s people really understand the three angels’ messages? They are rarely preached from the pulpit any more. There are very few that really grasp what they are talking about, and they are often afraid to witness to others about them because they fear that if they were to know and understand the truth, it would alienate them from their friends and neighbors.
Sin, my friends, is at the root of this. It causes men to be dispirited and it infatuates them and hides from their eyes the things that belong to their peace.
Samson must have thought that by going to the border of Judah that the men of Judah would understand how that God by His hand would deliver the nation from their enemies. He wanted to have them join him in his mission. He would have offered to them his service to bring them freedom. But no, they did not understand, and in fact, they rejected his help in delivering them from the Philistines. They thrust him from them. They blamed him for the troubles that had come upon them as if he had done them a great injury. “What is this thou hast done unto us,” they said.
Samson had appealed to their higher nature and offered them hope of deliverance when he answered them. “As they did unto me, so have I done unto them… If we put our energies to work, we can rout these Philistines and remove their yoke and be free again.” But they weren’t having anything of it. Such is the ungrateful returns that have often been received by those that have borne the best service imaginable to their people. The same thing happened to Jesus who did many good works among them. They were ready to stone him, and they eventually crucified the Lord of Glory, the great deliverer who had come to save His people from their sins.
What is it about human nature that makes them fond of their fetters and love their servitude? So long as they have peace and safety and so long as they are not disturbed, they will put up with some level of bondage. They will even betray those who would bring them freedom. Thus the Jews delivered up our Savior to death, and thus will many of them do to the true followers of Jesus who give the full message with great strength under the power of the Latter Rain.
Listen to their illogical argument against Samson. “Knowest thou not that the Philistines rule over us?” Whose fault was that? The Bible tells us it was because they had done “evil in the sight of the Lord.” (13:1) The men of Judah would have never been sold into their hands, had they not first sold themselves to do wickedness.
Samson made a covenant with the men of Judah not to fall upon him. Was it because he was worried for his own life? It might seem that way on the surface, but think about it for a minute. Could not Samson have done to these fellow church members what he had done to the Philistines? But he was loath to injure God’s people. If they had fallen upon him, he would have been sorely tempted to fall upon them. And that would not have ended well. So, upon receiving confirmation from them that they would not kill him, he meekly let himself be bound and went with them, as Christ went with his persecutors from the Garden of Gethsemane. Could not Christ have loosed the fetters? Of course. But he chose to be bound by them.
This tells us quite a bit about the nature of those 3000 men of Judah. They were in effect, by betraying him, Samson’s murderers. In other words, they were delivering him to what they thought was death. They were delivering him to the uncircumcised Philistines who they knew would do worse than kill him. They would abuse and torture him to death. Like Judas (whose namesake they were) did to Christ, They obliged their worst enemies by abusing their best friend and deliverer.
Friends, do you think this is what can or will happen to Christ’s true followers who will give the last powerful message to the world? Is it possible that many of their brethren will work against them and will try to persecute them? Is it possible that those with whom they have worshipped and fellowshipped will turn against those who give the last message?
Listen to this statement from The Great Controversy, page 608. “As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel’s message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbathkeepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.”
Did you notice what this says? Those who once rejoiced in the truth become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren and become the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them. That’s serious my friends. Already we are seeing tokens of this, by ministers and laymen leaving God’s church, but not just quietly going away, but turning on it, accusing it of being a cult, teaching false doctrine, or some other evil insinuation.
When Samson loosed his bonds he saw a jawbone of an ass. He took it and with it he killed 1000 Philistines. Can you imagine? As they fled from him he chased them and one by one killed them until he had killed 1000 of them. Not 10, not 30, as he had done before, not 100, but 1000. And though he was poorly armed, what execution he did with it! The Philistines, like the devil, had passed the point of repentance in their wickedness and their determined rebellion to God. God ordered the execution of 1000 of them in mercy, so that the rest would see it and believe in the God of Israel.
There is a prophecy in Joshua 23, which Samson fulfilled. Listen carefully to these words from verses 8-10. After warning them not to join to the other nations, God said through Joshua the prophet and leader of Israel, “But cleave unto the Lord your God, as ye have done unto this day. For the Lord hath driven out from before you great nations and strong: but as for you, no man hath been able to stand before you unto this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.”
Samson fulfilled these verses. Had he used the jawbone of the lion he had killed he might have been tempted to think of himself more than he ought, all the more formidable. But to take the jawbone of a lowly animal like the donkey and do wonders with the foolish things of this world shows the excellency of the power is of God and not of man. When the Spirit of the Lord comes upon man mightily, there is no limit to what he can do for God. Through God, and with the humble instrument, the message will be given valiantly and with power. Do you remember the statement I just read about God using humble, less learned men and women to give the message instead of those who are in positions of power and authority? The jawbone of the ass in the hand of Samson represents those humble instruments in the hand of Christ giving the three angels’ message with power to slay the powerful enemies of God’s people and deliver them from sin.
Note that he also gave the name to the place Ramathlehi, or the lifting up of the jawbone, or the place where the jawbone was lifted up to do a great work of deliverance.
Now let us read verse 18. “And he was sore athirst, and called on the LORD, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
The Bible tells us that Samson was very thirsty after his work of execution. After all that, I suppose I would be too. When the battle is over, and the victory is won, or when we have exerted ourselves valiantly, we often realize that we have become exhausted, and have come to our last extremity – thirst. It is our human lot and it reminds us that we are human. It keeps us from being proud and arrogant. Samson was but a man and subject to the nature of man, hunger and thirst, both of which are common to man.
The men of Judah should have come to the aid of his necessity. They should have come to him with water. They should have brought him bread, if not for his victory, to atone for the injury they had done him, but they did not. I can imagine Samson’s disappointment in the lack of support from his brethren. He has to make his own song of victory. No daughters of Israel came out to sing for him, as they did with David. He had to find his own water instead of them spreading a meal before him. He was tired, exhausted, and no one came to minister unto him. Can you hear the frustration in his voice, “and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised.”
Do you think Christ felt that way when his disciples deserted him at the very moment when He needed them most, and at the very moment of His great victory over the enemy of souls? They all fled. They did not minister to His necessities or stand by Him in his trauma. These are the greatest slights that are often put upon those who do the greatest service for God. But God had not forsaken His servant Samson. God Himself ministered to his necessity.
He prays to God and pleads for two things. First, he acknowledges God’s power in “this great deliverance.” This is an excellent plea for further mercy. And secondly, he pleads his need for water, since there is none by him. “God, you have done the greater, now can you do the lesser and provide a little water?” His thirst and exhaustion exposes him to his enemies. “Why let me fall into the hands of the uncircumcised Philistines? That would do you great dishonor, Lord. If I am refreshed, I can fight on for your glory.”
And isn’t that what God’s people will do under the latter rain? It will be an enormous effort. It will be a supernatural power that will attend them. They will be exhausted and thirsty. Have you ever read about what happens to God’s people just before their deliverance?
Here it is from The Great Controversy, page 619. “The people of God will then be plunged into those scenes of affliction and distress described by the prophet as the time of Jacob’s trouble. ‘Thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace…. All faces are turned into paleness. Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.’ Jeremiah 30:5-7.”
“Though God’s people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth’s sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour’s promise: I “will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.” Revelation 3:10. If they could have the assurance of pardon they would not shrink from torture or death; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character, then God’s holy name would be reproached.”
God’s people will suffer anguish. They will thirst for rest and peace. But God knows that they must go through the time of trouble alone so that they are fully dependent on Him to give them the power of holiness and victory over the enemy at every turn.
God delivered his servant Samson, and He will deliver His end-time faithful souls. Let us read verse 19. “But God clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.”
God made the same place of justice that was called Lehi (place of the jaw), where Samson inflicted defeat upon God’s enemies, to minister to his need. A fountain of water came up out of that place. Samson drank of that good water and revived. Enhakkore means the well of him that cried. In other words, he memorialized the place where he cried unto the Lord and where the Lord answered his prayer. At Ramathlehi, he triumphs over his enemies, but at Enhakkore, he shows himself needy and dependent.
Friends, God’s people in the last days will be both triumphant and dependent. Dependent on Christ for the triumphant victory over the enemy.
It turns out that Samson, at length, was accepted by Israel, for God was manifestly with him and there was nothing that could be said against that. So, the Bible says, in verse 20 that “he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.”
We don’t know any particulars of the judgment of Samson. But suffice it to say that the stone, which the builders had rejected, became the cornerstone. His government was, no doubt, according to the government of the judges. It is a fitting symbol of the judgment that God’s people will do with Christ for 1000 years when they are delivered.
Friends, the lessons are so very powerful in the life of Samson. They give us an understanding of how God will use the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, and the fourth angel of Revelation 18, which represents the latter rain in a powerful and mighty way to defeat the enemies of His people. He will be merciful to them, but they will experience many of the things that Samson experienced in type.
Let us pray, Holy Father, we are very impressed by the life of Samson. He is such a powerful prophetic prototype of Christ and especially of the end times. His work reflects our own to come in the latter rain, when the last message will go with great power and might. Please send Your Holy Spirit to work in us that we may be as we should be – pure and holy – so that we will receive of that special power that is to befall all true followers of Jesus. Give us victory, we pray, over our sins, that we may be filled with Your love and receive of Your power. In Jesus name, I pray, amen.