Samson’s Deadly Folly: The Ecumenical Woman of Timnath
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith Ministry. Thank you for joining me today as
we look at another important end-time principle.
I just want to share with you something that was published in GQ magazine recently in an article entitled; “21 Books You don’t have to Read, of which the Bible was one. Here is what they wrote; “[The Bible] is repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious (which means moralizing), foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.” It is obvious to any true Christian that this is the “blind leading the blind.” And they think they are so GQ! By the way, GQ means a man who is dressed very nicely, very sleek, and very attractive.
But friends, don’t listen to the GQ editors. The Bible is the best book that was ever written. It is most consistent as it interprets itself through the writings of many authors. What secular people, like the editors of GQ magazine don’t realize, is that its beauty and symmetry; is magnificence and power are disguised in what to them looks like “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned” drivel. But the Bible is the most life-changing book anyone will ever read, if it is read under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, something that the GQ editors manifestly don’t have. In fact, it can save your soul and bring you eternal life, something that the editors of GQ, who sit in “scoffers row” like the men in the days of Noah and Lot, may not find very interesting.
Today, we’re going to go back to that so-called “sententious” Bible and continue our study of the life of Samson and its practical application for today. Samson is an amazing figure that was under the special guidance of Providence. Yet, he came far short of what he could have been. As we study his life, it is important to understand that its prophetic significance to our time, gives us an understanding of a major issue that God’s church is facing in these last days. So, let us begin with prayer.
Our Father in heaven, we’re awed by how much the Bible has to say to us today in an age that scoffs at its revelations. While many people turn their back on the Bible because, they say it isn’t relevant, or because someone ridicules those who appreciate and live by its sacred truths, we find it more relevant and prophetic than ever. Father, please, in Jesus’ name, send Your Holy Spirit, to teach us the deep things of God today so that our light will shine amid the moral darkness of the world. Thank you for the light that the Bible brings into our lives. And may we understand it as You would have us to. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Let us begin by opening our Bibles, that sacred book, which brings us light from heaven, to the book of Judges, chapter 14. Beginning with verse one and two, we begin to see that Samson is not what he should have been.
“And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.”
Samson had the best of conditions designed to prepare him to deliver Israel from the Philistines. Samson and his parents lived in the hill country overlooking the Philistine plain which gave Samson the best position to see what kind of people the Philistines were and understand what he would be up against.
The family of Manoah was one of the few families that had not fallen into the general apostasy of the times and had remained true to God. His mother was very temperate in her eating and drinking and was very careful not to do anything that would jeopardize her son’s chances of serving the Lord as he was called to do. She trained him in the Nazarite vows and taught him that God had chosen him for the special work of delivering His people from the oppression of the Philistines. She tried very diligently to train him in right habits and temperance from his birth.
No doubt, there were times when Samson’s little mind swelled with enthusiasm for what God had given him to do, especially as he grew in physical size and strength under the blessing of the Lord. He was massive and he was the strongest of all the lads in Israel. Samson knew that his tremendous physical strength did not come from his physique, but from God.
But something began to happen to Samson. Listen to this description from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 562. “Had Samson obeyed the divine commands as faithfully as his parents had done, his would have been a nobler and happier destiny. But association with idolaters corrupted him. The town of Zorah being near the country of the Philistines, Samson came to mingle with them on friendly terms. Thus in his youth intimacies sprang up, the influence of which darkened his whole life. A young woman dwelling in the Philistine town of Timnath engaged Samson’s affections, and he determined to make her his wife.”
The irony is that Samson was just at the point where he was entering in upon manhood, the very time when he must begin to engage in the work God had appointed him. It was the time above all others that he should have been faithful to God. But instead he connected himself with the enemies of Israel.
Now let us understand this spiritually in our context today. We are also to help deliver souls from the oppression of sin and Satan just as Samson was to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Philistines. And we are to do that through the special message that God has given to us in these last days; the three angels messages. If that message is understood and followed, God will truly deliver the humble soul from the deceptions of the last days and they will join God’s true people in heaven with Christ forever.
Samson had a health message that was given him to live by. We too have a health and lifestyle message embedded in the three angels messages of Revelation 14. You know where it is, right? Verse 6, “Fear God, give glory to him…” Now let us read 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
If we are going to glorify God, it involves eating, drinking and doing – in other words, your lifestyle. Not only will that message deliver us from many diseases, if we follow it, it will also keep our minds sharp and perceptive so that we can discern and avoid the enemy’s temptations.
So, in many ways Samson represents the three angels messages. These are powerful messages, just as Samson was powerful; more powerful than any other message. While it involves the main points of the gospel, it is much, much more than that. Samson’s strength represents the power of the Holy Spirit. So, the three angels messages will become most powerful when God’s people who proclaim them, have the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. They are designed to help you purify your life through healthful living, just as Samson was ordained to live a pure life unto God as a Nazarite.
Friends, what is a woman in Bible prophecy? Yes, that’s a church. This woman of Timnath prophetically, or symbolically, represents an apostate church that connects with God’s people – an ecumenical church. She is a Philistine. But, for whatever reason, she has some appeal to those who have been called to teach and proclaim God’s last message to mankind. Unfortunately, many of those who have been called, like Samson, have dabbled with the enemy through self-indulgence.
And today, at the time when it is most important to be faithful to God and to the three angels messages, some, if not many of God’s people are involved with the enemies of spiritual Israel. Most churches have no interest in upholding the Bible Sabbath. They have no interest in understanding what the Bible teaches about what happens to us after we die. They have no idea what the sanctuary message is, and most of them have no interest in it, or its implications for their lives.
In fact, many of them despise the things God has given to His last day church, the remnant. They hate the Sabbath, which is the final test of loyalty to God, and they do everything in their power to dissuade their flocks from considering what God has said concerning the Sabbath.
Listen to this powerful statement from the book The Great Controversy, page 607. “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.”
How can God’s people join with those who hate the message? How can they unite with the churches who are as determined as can be to prevent the light from shining upon their members? Friends, joining with the churches that have taken a position to defend Sunday observance, when God has commanded us to keep the Sabbath will remove our strength, and the strength of the message. The ecumenical movement has nothing to offer God’s true people.
Just look at what happened to the Protestant churches, like the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Anglicans and Episcopalians, the Evangelicals, and others under the powerful influence of the ecumenical movement. Rome started the ecumenical movement after the 2nd Vatican council in the 1960s. Today it has matured, and almost all of the churches have gone into ecumenical dialog with Rome. They are willing to lay aside the truth in order to unite with the Roman Catholic Church. They think Rome genuinely wants to unite with them and be friends with them while remaining as their own distinctive denomination. But Rome wants to control them. It wants to determine their actions and strip them of their protest, which it has done very successfully. It has gotten so bad, and the churches are so blind that many declare that the protest is over. Yet, Rome has the same doctrines as during the time when Martin Luther risked his life to expose Rome’s abuses. Rome still offers indulgences. Rome still teaches the doctrine of an eternally burning hell. Rome still teaches the uniting of church and state, which gives her amazing control over the nations. Rome still teaches forgiveness of sins by a human priest. Rome still teaches righteousness by works, one of the key arguments that Martin Luther used against her. But most of all, the Catholic Church teaches Sunday sacredness, which is in violation of the commands of God.
Do you think it is possible to unite with such a woman? Samson wanted this Timnathite, a worshipper of Dagon, but this was his lust driving him to an immoral relationship with her, which God had forbidden. This is strange for an Israelite, let alone a man who is consecrated as a Nazarite to moral purity on every front. Is it possible to have ecumenical ties with the enemy of truth and righteousness? Yes, of course, but only at the sacrifice of truth. If we are going to have the moral maturity and moral purity required of God’s remnant people, we must avoid all ecumenical activities of the sworn enemies of God’s truth. How could this woman be a helpmeet to Samson in his special mission? And how can an ecumenical church help you in your mission today? “[Samson] did not ask whether he could better fulfill the purpose to be accomplished by his life. To all who seek first to honor Him, God has promised wisdom; but there is no promise to whose who are bent upon self-pleasing.” Patriarchs and Prophets, page 563.
The same goes for God’s church. If we seek the honor of God, we will not seek ecumenical engagements with other churches that will only urge us to let go of our distinctive Bible beliefs, and only focus on those doctrines which are common to all. This is a deceptive ploy to get us to give up our doctrines in the service of friendship with the churches that are superficial and do not understand the full message for this time, or that want us to give up those key doctrines that have been given by God.
Anyone who is guided only by his eye or by his fancy, can only thank himself if he finds himself, or if she finds herself, in the arms of a Philistine – someone who is an enemy of God and His people. Anyone who follows this course of action is not only courting forbidden fruit, they are courting disaster, as Samson surely did. In any case, marriage is more than a mere pleasing to the eye. The question must be asked, is this person worthy of my godly affections? The true worth of a soul is rooted in whether or not they align themselves with the Bible, not whether they please the eye.
But when it comes to churches, for God’s church to be interloping with churches that do not appreciate the truth for this time, nor have a liking for it – in fact, a distaste and a hostility for it – is totally out of character with God’s plan. In our time, and under our circumstances, if we think that being politically correct in this age of censorship is going to get us to heaven, think again. Showing up at ecumenical events and participating in speeches and other activities is simply leading us down the track of compromise.
Let us just say, for instance, that participating in an ecumenical event would stave off accusations that we are a cult or that we do not cooperate with the government and should be banned. In some places this is all too real. To avoid negative consequences by becoming part of the ecumenical movement in any country or region is simply compromise and a form of fornication. In Russia, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have been de-registered and banned. They have been accused of all manner of evils. It is far easier to comply with government demands and just find a way to get along with everybody. But if that means sacrificing our distinctive truths on the alter of political correctness, then we have no reason to exist.
And once a church has been pulled into the ecumenical movement on a superficial level, there will be plenty of attempts by those who hate our end-time message to draw us further into ecumenism. And as the intimacies spring up, it becomes more and more difficult to be able to explain the distinctive message that has been given to God’s people in the last days. And the pressure is to drop it all together.
Listen to this interesting connection from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 563. “Satan is constantly seeking to strengthen his power over the people of God by inducing them to enter into alliance with his subjects; and in order to accomplish this he endeavors to arouse unsanctified passions in the heart. But the Lord has in His word plainly instructed His people not to unite themselves with those who have not His love 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.”
Note the church relationship alluded to in this passage. The temple of God, which is the pillar and ground of truth, with idols, which are the essence of false worship. There can be no connection or affiliation, or “fornication,” as the Bible calls it. Rome, in scripture is called the mother of harlots. It’s found in Revelation 17:5, 6. “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”
There is no other entity that meets this description and the rest of the description in Revelation 17:2-4, than Roman Catholicism. So, any church, by uniting with her in ecumenical activities and connections, is lowering itself to an immoral relationship with her that is forbidden by God. It is clear that they do not understand her character. They do not understand her purposes. They think she has changed since the persecutions of the dark ages. But she has only changed her appearance and aesthetic feel.
Listen to this incredible statement from the book The Great Controversy, page 571. “The papacy is just what prophecy declared that she would be, the apostasy of the latter times. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4. It is a part of her policy to assume the character, which will best accomplish her purpose; but beneath the variable appearance of the chameleon she conceals the invariable venom of the serpent… Shall this power, whose record for a thousand years is written in the blood of the saints, be now acknowledged as a part of the church of Christ?”
Now let us look at verse 3. “Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.
Samson’s parents plead with him to find a woman among his own people for a wife. They had watched anxiously as his association with the Philistines of the plains below their home in Israel developed into friendship with the very ones he would one day have to confront. How could this work? He always had a pious excuse, perhaps, but it still troubled them. You know, he told them, I’m trying to witness to them of the true God. They knew that marriage to an unbeliever and someone who was one of the enemies of God’s people couldn’t be good.
And when he demanded that his parents arrange a marriage with this woman from Timnath, I want you to notice that he did not offer any other reason for marrying her than that she pleased him well. He did not say that she had agreed to become an Israelite believer. He did not even say that she was interested in the truth of God, or of giving up her worship of the fish God Dagon. He only argued that she pleased him well. This might have been pleasing to him, but it certainly was not pleasing to God. After all, marrying that heathen woman would make him unequally yoked. His mother and father were, no doubt, devastated by his request. They so longed for him to live righteously. They had noticed things that didn’t seem right as he was growing up. They prayed for him. They remonstrated with him. They reminded him of his mission. But most of all they knew that being pure and holy while married to this Philistine woman would be impossible.
The teachings of Roman Catholicism are actually the result of the ecumenical merger of pagan and Christian doctrines, which has perverted the Christian doctrine to where it is unrecognizable to the Bible, but is very deceptive to people who don’t know the Bible. All the pious ritual, ceremony and pomp makes it look, to the untrained eye, that the Roman Catholic Church is following Jesus and promoting Christianity. But it is not and has not, for its entire 2000-year history. It has instead persecuted the followers of Jesus and the Bible. The degrading of true Christianity into a mixture with paganism is the key to understanding how that church can be allied with world leaders and wield considerable geopolitical power. This affiliation with the kings of the earth, as the Bible calls national and global leaders, is identified in the Bible as fornication. Fornication is an illicit act of pleasure designed to unite two people who are not authorized by scripture to have that relationship. Spiritual fornication is, in essence the relationship between the kings of the earth and the global religious power of the papacy, which brings temporary pleasure, but is immoral and irreligious because it leads to persecution of God’s true people.
Now let us look at verse 4. “But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”
How should we understand this? How can something be of God that is patently contrary to His will? What this is saying is that God overruled it, for the Lord could nevertheless use the circumstance to find an occasion against the Philistines. In other words, God even used Samson’s stubbornness and his licentiousness to fulfill His purposes. Samson’s parents, understandably, did not know that God was going to use Samson anyway. They rightly worried about his direction in life, which was in the opposite direction of the thing that God had intended. But God is not short handed. He can even use those who are very compromised and faulty to fulfill His purpose. They may not have a good outcome, just as Samson did not have a good outcome. But He can still achieve His purpose.
Keep in mind that God had tried to engage Samson in His work before. Remember what it says in Judges 13:25? “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.” In other words, while yet in his youth, God new that Samson needed encouragement to forget his fancies and his passions, and engage in God’s work. So the Spirit of the Lord moved upon him at times, and it was known that Samson was called to a special task. Perhaps the gentle social pressure would help Samson make the decision to fully side with God in His plans for Samson. Or perhaps God gave Samson a taste of what it is like for the Holy Spirit to move on his heart so that he would want more of it and avoid those things that would separate him from God.
Isn’t God merciful, my friends? God extends His hand of fellowship, even to people He knows aren’t quite right with God. He uses them in His work so that they can understand it, and can engage in it more fully and leave off anything that is unchristlike in their lives. But beware, the enemy will try to take advantage of you if you are like that.
Let us continue with verse five and six. ”Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.”
There are many levels of understanding in this story. So, here is level one – the personal lesson. Apparently, his father and mother were not with Samson when the lion attacked him because it says they did not know what he had done. Apparently, he had gone off into the vineyards of Timnath, perhaps to eat grapes, which was something God had forbidden him as a Nazarite. Often we are fond of liberty and would like to remove the constraints that the Lord has given us for our happiness and blessing. But by going out side the path set before our feet by the Lord, we only encounter dangers and difficulties that could have been avoided if we had stayed on the high road.
His encounter with the lion was hazardous. And so was Samson’s course of action with the Philistine woman. How could he maintain his spiritual standing?
Level two – the spiritual lessons: Please note the powerful symbolism. This young lion was strong and fierce. Satan is a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour. He too is fierce. The lion was a fitting symbol of the danger of dabbling with the sin he was setting out to do. God had sent Samson a warning lion that got in his way. Continuing on his course, would only lead him into the jaws of the enemy. And though Samson tore the lion to pieces, the warning was still quite obvious. Turn back, was the message. But Samson persisted.
Here is another spiritual lesson. Perhaps I should point out that it was God’s original purpose to make Samson a fitting symbol or type of Christ, the mighty warrior against the devil and his angels. Christ was to deliver his people from the oppression of sin. He was to be their Savior. He was to be the mighty God and powerfully overthrow the enemy. He was to restore peace to Israel as the Prince of Peace. Samson was to be a type of all this, yet by turning his back on God’s principles and living an impure life, he lost the privilege of that symbolism. Like Moses who destroyed the symbolism by smiting the rock a second time, God still loved him and had a plan for him.
Here is another spiritual lesson. In the special providence of God, by killing the lion God was also letting Samson know how much strength he actually had. This was a young strong lion. Does God do that for us? Does God allow circumstances to arise that will motivate our energies and empower our will, so that we can gain the faith and experience we need to do what He has really called us to do?
For instance, if we understand the full three angels messages for these last days, we may think we are weak and cannot wield the Bible sword very effectively. But God puts us into experiences that we may see what we can do under the influence of the spirit and in the power of God. If you want to disbelieve, He cannot do this for you, and you will be left in darkness. But if you are eager and earnest to know and do the will of God, and you humbly seek His counsel in the word, He will guide you.
Here is another level. The remnant church as a body must also gain experience by circumstances that arise. For instance, if we are threatened with the loss of our religious freedom, we must arouse to its defense. And for those given that opportunity, they must vigorously defend it. But if we compromise and join an ecumenical alliance, we will not only lose our religious freedom eventually, but we will lose the message and the ability to spread it. Furthermore, we will lose the experience and the power we need to overcome the enemy who wants to remove it from us.
Sometimes God raises up a roaring lion, something so serious that we have to take note of it. But not only do we take note of it, we have to spring into instant action to avoid a calamity. Daniel experienced this when he learned that the king had ordered the death of all his wise men. He sprang into action and asked the king for time.
This is God’s hidden purpose. He uses His enemies to stir up our united action. This is so that God can teach us that we do not need to fear great difficulties. It is so that we may learn that we can, in the Spirit of the Lord, look the greatest difficulties in the face. This is a very important lesson, especially in light of our times and the maturing ecumenical movement, which is designed to isolate all who do not comply with its demands.
The young lion stood no chance with Samson, just as the enemy stands no chance with Christ. If we have the faith of Christ, no enemy can withstand us. Christ will fight for us and give us the strength to endure and overcome. And if the church is faithful to her mission, Christ will stand by her side, though the whole world stand against it. Not only that, no ecumenical scheme can overcome God’s true people.
It is interesting that David, who was to complete the deliverance from the Philistines would have to fight both the lion and the bear, and he suggested that the “uncircumcised Philistine [Goliath] should be as one of them.” See 1 Samuel 17:36.
In other words, it matters not what kind of beast the enemy may send against God’s church. Christ is able to defeat it. Remember, a beast represents a civil power. So, when the various types of civil power come against God’s church, as prophecy declares it will, we are to understand that in the strength of God, not in an ecumenical spirit of compromise in order to get along with the established religious power, we can and must stand against these powers. Christ will stand by our side so that we survive spiritually though attacked and challenged. There are many different kinds of civil powers, just as there are various dangerous beasts in the wilderness. There is American republicanism, the British Commonwealth, Russian communism and Chinese communism; there are democracies, dictatorships and all manner of government structures. So, though one beast differs from another, in God’s strength His church can stand on its own without having to compromise with church or state.
Now let us read verses seven and eight. “And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of the lion.”
When Samson came down to solemnize the wedding with his parents, he had the curiosity to turn aside to the vineyard where he had killed the lion and see if it was still there. The birds and beasts had no doubt eaten the flesh from the bones, but the carcass was still there. But to his surprise there was a swarm of bees that had made a hive of it. And they had laid up a good stock of honey, a staple commodity in the land of Canaan. Samson seized the honey with his hands. No doubt the bees confronted him, but why should the man who did not fear the lion fear the sting of bees? And in so doing, God taught him not to fear the Philistine giants (and there were a number of them) though they swarmed all around him. He was to stand in the power of God to destroy them and deliver Israel.
And for God’s church in the last days, the lesson should also be clear. We are not to fear those who may threaten God’s people. They may even be ecumenical giants. And for those who do not go along with their enticing bribes and inducements, they may become fierce and threatening. We can take energy from the scriptures that feed us on God’s message, which is as sweet as honey.
The honey is another fitting symbol. It is by the mercy of God that bees manufacture honey that man can use to sweeten his taste. But the symbolism reflects on the joy and sweetness of the deliverance from Israel’s enemies. It is a promise, as it were, of that deliverance. Being in the dead carcass, the honey represents the church surrounded by the world. Its work of righteousness and its message is sweet and nourishing to the soul. And at the end of time, the three angels messages of the remnant church is also sweet as honey when rightly understood.
But Samson was on a fool’s errand. He was following his eyes and his passions. He was not following God’s truth. He was not living the message that God had given him to keep him pure. Aren’t many of God’s people doing likewise today? They think they have learned the truth, but in reality, they are still carnal and do not want advanced light. They go to church every Sabbath, but that is about it. They live by their eyes and their passions.
And here is one more practical lesson. Many times, and I say many times, because that is what I think it is; many times, we refuse to hear the message that someone may bring to us because it comes to us in vessels that are not ideal to our minds. We think them odd, or strange, or straight-laced, or too this or too that. But the Lord disguises the messenger to see if the people will hear the message. The word of God, the reproof of the Lord, is still sweet as honey no matter by whom it comes.
But there is yet one more lesson for those who faithfully fulfill their God-given duty to proclaim the message for this time. When God, in His overruling providence, brings His church in among their enemies in the last days, it is so that they may glorify God by their righteous and holy lives, not by ecumenical compromise with them. Yet their enemies may pressure God’s people. They may threaten them. They may even do evil to them though they do not deserve it. That’s when God can work.
It is in times of persecution that God’s power is most manifest through the characters of the people of His church. It is during times of oppression that God intends to reveal His outstretched arm and preserve His glory and character. And when God’s church is brought into persecution for Sabbath observance in the last days, it will be God who delivers them. He is mighty to the pulling down of strongholds. He will turn their oppression and give them beauty for ashes. That is when meat comes out of the eater, and sweetness comes out of the strong.
Samson’s alliance with this pagan woman is also a fitting symbol of what we see today among some of God’s people. There is a tendency among some, if not many, to join in ecumenical worship, activities, and social projects in order to be part of the larger body of so-called Christians, who are actually scheming to get them to leave off the Sabbath, and lead them down the path to apostasy. They, like Samson’s Philistine woman, have no desire to defend God’s truth. They are its enemies and therefore they are the enemies of God’s people. We cannot trust them. We cannot unite with them. We cannot yield to their inducements.
Eventually, they will turn on the message like they turned on Samson. They cannot be trusted with the secrets of God’s truth for they will twist it and make it out to be the most despicable interpretation of the scriptures. They will accuse God’s people of being a cult. But when God’s providence allows persecution to come to his church, and when He allows much trouble and trial such as never was to come upon them, it is for His divine purpose. For when God brings good out of evil, and when that which was threatened turns to their advantage, or when their enemies are subdued, that’s when meat comes out of the eater, and sweetness comes out of the strong.
Let us read verses nine and ten. “And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to his father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion. So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do.”
So mighty Samson comes down to the wedding feast. This will be the first time that Samson makes enemies of the Philistines. He is about to start the process of crushing their power.
Samson made a wedding feast according to the custom of the land and it lasted for seven days.
“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 confirm 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 principles and to weaken the citadel of the soul.” That’s Patriarchs and Prophets, page 563.
Verse eleven. “And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him.”
The story of the wedding feast is nothing short of amazing. Samson was actually quite vulnerable to the enticements of the occasion. Keep in mind that the woman’s relations were really nice to him at least on the surface, and they made him unwind and feel quite relaxed. They arranged 30 companions to be with him, perhaps to do him honor and to help him as his groomsmen. But more likely they were a little fearful of him and wanted a guard upon him since he was so strong and powerful. Perhaps they were also jealous of him and would like to have spies to watch his every move.
Friends, if you are unequally yoked with those who are not faithful to God’s message in these last days, you risk great losses. You risk having friends who are no friends indeed. Even though they may be very friendly, you cannot trust them. They will always be working against you.
And, as God’s church, we should never mingle with the enemies of the truth as if to participate in their feasts and join them in their festivities. Ecumenical worship services and other ecumenical meetings are truly forbidden. Remember, the daughters of Babylon are enticing. They will, however, find a way to learn the secret of our strength. You can propose deep questions that will engage their minds, but they will never understand the answers and will pervert the truth into lies.
Verses twelve and thirteen.“And Samson said unto them, I will now put forth a riddle unto you: if ye can certainly declare it me within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments: But if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it.”
These 30 men accepted the challenge of the riddle. So, Samson, who invented the riddle, …“And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness. And they could not in three days expound the riddle.” Verse 14.
Think about this, my friends. If Samson is a type of God’s last message, the three angels messages, its strength would be sweet because no one would be able to overthrow it. It would gain victories and make disciples of all nations. It would defeat the arguments of God’s enemies, and it would stand pure and strong amid the moral darkness of our age. And isn’t that what the three angels messages are designed to do?
None of these thirty men could figure out the riddle, even though it was really quite easy. If you think of the strongest beast, surely one of them would have come up with a lion. If you think of the sweetest meat around, surely one of them would have thought of honey. After all, neither lions nor honey were unfamiliar to them. But either they were so dull of mind, or so inebriated that they could not think clearly. For whatever reason, they could not even stumble upon so plain a riddle as Samson’s.
Verse fifteen. “And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they said unto Samson’s wife, Entice thy husband, that he may declare unto us the riddle, lest we burn thee and thy father’s house with fire: have ye called us to take that we have? is it not so?”
They accused Samson’s bride of trying to get for Samson what was theirs. They threatened to kill her by a most barbaric form of death, that is, by burning her with fire. But if she could not get the answer for them, they would destroy her and her father’s house. This was mean and brutish. No doubt, this frightened her, and she determined to get the answer.
Had they had things in a true perspective, don’t you think it would have been the better part of wisdom to just admit they could not answer the riddle, and pay the small price of a shirt and a coat? But no, they could not let this foreigner get the better of them. They could not stand to lose, even so small a wager. But they knew not what was in store.
Now, I want you to notice something. It was on the seventh day of the week, the fourth day of the feast, that they threatened her. In other words, on the Sabbath, the day on which God commanded rest, that she began her vexations against Samson. I think it is very interesting that the Sabbath day is mentioned here and was used as the day to pressure the wife of Samson to find out the riddle. Isn’t the Sabbath the final test of God’s people?
Friends, it is the Sabbath that is the key to understanding Christ in his fullness. It is the Sabbath that unlocks the understanding of the three angels messages, the sanctuary message, the sealing message and many other key principles of faith in these last days. The Sabbath is the most important point of controversy with the enemies of God’s people. So it is over the Sabbath that the pressure is applied on God’s true people that refuse to join in ecumenical worship and other ecumenical projects.
Verse sixteen. “And Samson’s wife wept before him, and said, Thou dost but hate me, and lovest me not: thou hast put forth a riddle unto the children of my people, and hast not told it me. And he said unto her, Behold, I have not told it my father nor my mother, and shall I tell it thee?”
Samson’s wife knew that Samson would not have his love questioned. So she argued that he did not love her because he would not tell her the answer to the riddle. And it worked. Even though he protested that he hadn’t even told his parents.
Now verse seventeen. “And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted…” That is, for the rest of the seven days of the feast. And this was embarrassing to Samson. She was marring the mirth. How can a woman weep and cry like a spoiled child at her own wedding? Well, that’s what she did.
Continuing on, “and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she lay sore upon him: and she told the riddle to the children of her people.”
This woman was more loyal to her people than to Samson. Could not Samson have prevented them from fulfilling the threats of the 30 companions? Could not Samson have defended her father’s house against a whole army? Yet, she was not trust worthy. She treacherously betrayed him.
Think about what it will be like to have joined with an ecumenical church as Samson had done in type with the woman of Timnath. Her tears are a type of what the ecumenical movement does to some who do not understand God’s last message, and are vulnerable to its advances. That ecumenical church makes you feel like your powerful three angels messages are of no value. They complain that they are too legalistic. They even think that they are founded in bigotry. They argue that they do not emphasize the cross and forgiveness. They teach that your former denomination is a cult and that you are now free in Christ. You don’t need to keep the Sabbath any more. You don’t need to worry about keeping any of the Ten Commandments, for that matter, for Jesus has forgiven you your sins, past, present and future. They make friends with you and then teach you that you were deceived by your former denomination.
Eventually, you begin to see your former church members as naïve and deceived. You begin to see them as enemies, and their stubbornness as rebellion. When a Sunday law is proposed by the legislative body of the land, you are caught by surprise because you have ridiculed the idea that such a thing could happen. And now you can’t really leave your new ecumenical associations because you would have to recant your strong remarks of loyalty to the ecumenical principles. You’re stuck. You can’t get out of the ecumenical movement very easily, and moreover you are angry that the people you once fellowshipped with are achieving what you thought was impossible. Friends, I think we had better think twice about joining the nice sounding ecumenical movement. After all, it has teeth and will eventually persecute those who are not prepared to go along.
Now verse eighteen. “And the men of the city said unto him on the seventh day before the sun went down, What is sweeter than honey? and what is stronger than a lion? And he said unto them, If ye had not plowed with my heifer, ye had not found out my riddle.”
Samson knew what had happened. He also now knew that he could not trust his wife.
Now, verse nineteen. “And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.”
Note that the Spirit of the Lord enabled Samson to kill 30 men of Ashkelon. The Philistines were nearly past their probationary time, and God was working to deliver Israel from their control. God was trying to wean Samson from his new relations. After all, God was still merciful to Samson. He knew that He could still use Samson. And if he would repent and live correctly, He could still make of him a great deliverer. Friends, it is better to be angry with the Philistines than to be in love with them. Or to put it more pointedly in our time, it is better to despise the ecumenical churches than to join them.
Verse 20. “But Samson’s wife was given to his companion, whom he had used as his friend.”
Samson withdrew in displeasure at the whole affair. But instead of begging Samson’s pardon for what she had done to him, his wife married another, the chief of the guests, perhaps. The friend of the bridegroom.
Friends, we cannot put confidence in man, or in man’s schemes. They will always come to disappointment and even ruin. May God help us to be faithful to the message. May we learn the three angels messages and taste of their sweetness. Let us always be loyal to God and in every way avoid compromise with those who would lead us away from His power.
Next month we will look at more of this powerful story.
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, thank you for the story of Samson. It is a fitting reminder that we are living in a time that was symbolized by his marriage to this Philistine woman of Timnath. Please help us, as Your people, to see and understand the dangers of the ecumenical movement, and learn to live by faith in Christ, so that nothing can dissuade us from following in His way. Give us victory over the lions that attack and may we stand firm in Christ in every emergency. In Jesus name, amen.