“You can do something other than working with God in His purpose, but it will always be something lesser, and you couldn’t come up with something better.”

Steve Hawthorne

TODAY’S READING: Judges 16–18

A missionary God will be glorified among all peoples with or without human compliance. God’s joyful preference is to see His children join Him in His missionary passion; but if we refuse, it does not alter His mission or His goals. It is similar to godly parents today. We have no greater joy than when our children serve Jesus with us; but if they don’t, despite our sorrow over their disastrous choices, we will still serve the Lord. Our ultimate joy is not in whether or not our children participate with us in serving the Lord (painful as that may be); our ultimate joy is in serving the Lord ourselves. And the same is true for God. His ultimate joy is not in us nor in our service; His ultimate joy is in Himself and in His mission purposes for the whole creation. The theme running through Judges is this very reality: There is joy in serving Jehovah and glorifying Him among the Philistines (i.e., the nations), but if that joy is forfeited, God will still glorify Himself.

It is theologically true that God is just as glorified in His judgments as in His mercy. A judge is good only if he or she both vindicates the innocent and condemns the guilty. No glory of God is lost when He judges from His holy throne. God is just as glorified when He consigns the unrepentant sinner to hell as when He graces the repentant sinner to heaven. There is no glory to God if He would allow the wicked into His holy heaven. When God judges His judges because they do not represent Him well, He is glorifying His holy character. When God judges the nations because they do not bow at His majestic feet and receive His offered clemency, He is eminently glorious. God will ever and always be glorified no matter how humans react to Him. The Philistine nation mocked Jehovah by claiming their god had overcome God’s judge (16:23–24), and God brought 3,000 of them to fearful reality in a moment (vv. 27–31).

That act of glory simultaneously ended the life of God’s representative, a life of mixed results, for no tool of Jehovah is exempt from holy living. Samson died with the Philistines (v. 30) because both did not glorify Jehovah as they should. There is one non-negotiable standard for all men, saved and lost—and that is the glory of God. Whoever dishonors the Lord, whether the body of Christ or the unreached, will eventually have the roof fall on their heads. It is interesting to note that Samson’s death had a greater impact than his life (v. 30). In one way, this is tragic because consider the glory Samson could have brought His King if he had lived up to His Nazarite vows!

The word “Nazarite” means “one who is consecrated (or separated or devoted) to something. More specifically, a Nazarite was one who had taken a vow ‘to the Lord’ (Num. 6: 2).”[1] What a tragedy that we see Samson so conflicted and wholly devoted to unholy women that there is not a mention of his heart for Jehovah. Samson had all the external strength and charisma of a devotee, but none of the internal character that sought the glory of God. The lesson of Delilah’s scheming (16:6–17) is that nothing put on us can bind us—neither scorn, prison, or suffering. The only thing that can bind us is that which is taken because we gave it away: namely, our intimate covenant with God. Samson had been living a charade anyway, and his last attachment to glorious devotion was his obedience to not cut his hair. With his hair shaved off, gone was the last vestige of any diminishing glory that Samson voluntarily gave Jehovah among the nations. And so the fearsome principle was applied: Because Samson did not voluntarily glorify his Lord before the non-people of God, his Lord had to take extreme measures for the honor of His own name, no matter the price to His servant or His people.

[1] The Chronological Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008. 281.

Prayer Focus: Afghanistan (67 UPGs)

Today’s Unreached People Group: Pashtun, Southern
Population: 8,933,000
Language: Pashto, Southern
Primary Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.02%
Estimated Workers Needed: 179

[Source: Joshua Project]

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