St. Luke Ev. Lutheran Church
Sermon by Pastor Anthony E. Schultz
Advent Vesper #1. December 5, 2007
Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.”
People of God—rescued from the flaming lake of fire in hell by the innocent blood of the very Lamb of God:
You have to be a little bit older to know who Rod Serling was. Rod Serling was kind of like—who should I say—kind of like Stephen King! That he saw things from the dark side—would be an understatement! Rod Serling was the guy who invented The Twilight Zone. Your little black and white TV screen—would be full of static and lines of light and darkness. If you didn’t know better—you would think one of your tubes—little breakable parts in old TVs was on the fritz. Then Rod Serling would appear—in his black suit and white shirt with this skinny black tie. He talked like he was a little bit irritated—telling you—they had taken over your TV—and what was going to happen next was not going to be pleasant. The story would be from a different time and a different dimension—from The Twilight Zone. Perhaps one of the most frightening episodes ever made was Episode #16—The Hitch-Hiker”! A very pretty actress named Inger is alone on a cross-country trip. She has a tire blowout—a terrible crash. She survives the accident—or does she? She gets back on the road—only to see the same hitch-hiker again and again and again and again! Who is this little man? Death—maybe? You might be tempted to think that death has to be big and mean and ugly and horrible. The fact is—in this story he is small and quiet—and everywhere and unavoidable! Death is all around us—but we don’t need to be afraid. The Christ-child was born to destroy the power of death—to give us the gift of eternal life by grace through faith. This Advent time—as we prepare our hearts to welcome the Christ child once again—we will look at three very special people—Samson, John the Baptist and Samuel—as shadows of the coming Savior. Today we will think about Samson—a Nazarite—a shadow of the coming Savior.
Samson—a Nazarite is a Type of Christ
1. Learn from the LORD how to raise your children
2. Learn from Samson how to be truly strong
The part of God’s Word we are concentrating on today is part of the book of Judges. This is probably not the part of God’s Word that we know the best. The book of Judges talks about the children of Israel—about their spiritual roller-coaster ride. They would be faithful to their Heavenly Father for a little while—then they would plunge into fertility cult worship—to idolatry of the most vile and perverted and gross and disgusting type that was humanly possible. The LORD would discipline them with a white hot righteous wrath. The people would repent. And things would be a little better for a little while—before backsliding into terrible wickedness again! Again and again the LORD called his people to repentance and faithfulness. Judges chapter 2 says, “The angel of the LORD—that would be the Son of God in Old Testament times—went from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars. Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? Now therefore I tell you that I will not drive them out before you; they will be thorns in your sides and their gods will be a snare to you.” How sad is that! Thorns are exceedingly painful. Jesus would ultimately wear a crown of thorns—as he bled to redeem us!
We ought to know about the time of the Judges—lest we repeat their painful mistakes! God’s Word says, The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and Asherahs. The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Aram—that is the King of Syria. This literal slavery lasted for 8 years. The LORD had mercy on his people. He sent judges—faithful people to lead Israel to spiritual safety and security. Judges like Othniel. The LORD delivered the King of Syria into Othniel’s hands and he overpowered him. So the land had peace for 40 years! That’s a long time of spiritual and military peace. But the cycle repeated. Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. This time—the time of slavery wasn’t just 8 years—it was 18 years! Again the children of Israel cried out to the LORD and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin! Ehud came to pay the tribute money—the riches Israel had to pay to their oppressor. Eglon was pretty heavy—so heavy Ehud plunged the double edged sword into him—so far—the whole sword was sucked inside Eglon. Ehud left—locking the door behind him. Eglon’s servants thought their master was using the washroom—so they waited and waited and waited. By the time they unlocked the door and went in—they found their master dead—and Ehud had escaped. Ehud—then—rallied the children of Israel—to attack Moab. The LORD gave them the victory—putting to death some 10,000 enemy soldiers—all vigorous and strong. Not one enemy escaped. The LORD gave his people peace and safety for 80 years. After 80 years of peace—the Philistines attacked. The LORD gave his people a man named Shamgar—as their leader—their Judge. Shamgar struck down 600 enemy soldiers—using a weapon no more complex than an ox goad—a sharp stick for motivating oxen!
The writer to the Hebrews talked about the Judges—heroes of faith—Gideon, Barak, Deborah, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Then came Ibzan of Bethlehem—imagine a deliverer from Bethlehem. He had 30 sons and 30 daughters. Can you imagine that? When he died—he was buried in Bethlehem. Then came Elon from the land of Zebulun. What does that mean to us? Zebulun and Naphtali—were up in the north—the first to be attacked when enemies came from the north! This is where so much of Jesus’ ministry would be—way up in the north—in Galilee—pretty much like Wisconsin—where Jesus preached the Gospel to people sad and frustrated and troubled by sin. After Elon came Abdon. Abdon had forty sons and thirty grandsons who rode on seventy donkeys. Can you imagine that? An army of 70 sons and grandsons riding on their donkeys—with the power of the LORD making them strong! Abdon judged Israel for 8 more years!
The chapter we are concentrating on begins with the roller coaster going down hill again. Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for 40 years! 40 years! That’s a long time to be oppressed by your godless enemies! Faithful, humble repentant people must have cried out to the LORD for help! At just the right time—according to the LORD’s mercy and grace—A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. The angel of the LORD—that is the Son of God—in Old Testament times—appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You can find out what is clean and unclean by reading God’s Word. You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof—but not both. Don’t eat that stuff. Camels chew their cud—but don’t have a split hoof. Don’t eat camels. Coneys—little rock badgers—chew their cud—but don’t have a split hoof. Don’t eat them. Bunnies—chew their cud, too—but don’t have a split hoof. Don’t eat bunnies. And the one everyone knows—pigs have a split hoof—but pigs don’t chew their cud. Don’t eat bacon or ham or pork chops. Don’t eat—don’t even touch a dead pig. They are unclean! From the sea part of the menu—clean requires fins and scales. That would mean—no shrimps, no crabs, no lobsters, no clams, no oysters. Don’t eat them—don’t even touch dead ones! There are all kinds of birds you are not supposed to eat. Don’t eat eagles, no vultures, no ravens, no owls, no sea gulls, no hawks or ospreys, no storks, no herons no hoopoes. Do you know what a hoopo is? They are related to kingfishers and bee eaters—and rollers—birds that can do acrobatic flying to catch bugs to eat. They have crests—long pointy beaks and bright striking colors. Don’t eat them and this isn’t a difficult one--bats are not supposed to be food! It is all very complicated and technical—not to mention the different kinds of bugs you may and may not eat. What was your Heavenly Father thinking? It’s hard to say. It’s important to remember he doesn’t owe us an explanation—what Old Testament believers were supposed to eat and what they weren’t supposed to even touch! It doesn’t need to be reasonable to us today—why it was wrong to eat shrimp 4,000 years ago—but it’s perfectly fine today. It is enough to remember people had an impossible time—trying to stay ceremonially clean. It reminded them again and again—that their Heavenly Father was concerned about every aspect of their life. It reminded them again and again--that their only hope of being right with their heavenly Father—was with the ultimate Passover Lamb—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah’s son—become flesh to redeem us! That was their only hope.
In the meantime—the LORD was going to send a Judge—a rescuer who would fight against their horrible enemies the Philistines!
That rescuer would be Samson! Then Manoah prayed to the LORD: “O Lord, I beg you, let the man of God you sent to us come again to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” Samson was to be brought up a Nazarite—never eating anything unclean—never drinking any wine or fermented beverage—never cutting his hair or his beard. Normally Nazarites didn’t touch dead people either. Except Samson was going to be the cause of lots and lots of dead Philistines—during his life time—and in his death—bringing down the Temple of the false god Dagon—down upon himself—and all the people who were there worshiping this false god! Samson had a difficult life. Samson met a young lion—and quite literally tore that lion apart—with his bare hands. That’s how strong the LORD made Samson. Samson made some bad choices. He chose a wife—a Philistine woman from Timnah—long before he ever had “hugs and kisses” with the nasty Delilah. This first wife became a reason for confrontation with the Philistines. There was death and destruction again and again. One time Samson struck down 30 Philistines. Another time Samson—who was unbelievably quick caught 300 foxes—tied their tails together—tied a torch to them—and set the fields of the Philistines on fire. One time—armed with the jawbone of a donkey—Samson put to death 1,000 Philistines. When Samson brought down the temple of Dagon—it was the LORD who made him strong again—putting to death more Philistines—with his death—than he put to death during his life! Samson is but a pale pale shadow of Jesus—who would do battle with Satan and death—and by his death set us all eternally free. Eternity will not be long enough to thank Jesus!
I like to watch The Twilight Zone. Different episodes—bend time and space—always to make a point. Perhaps none more simple nor more profound than death—the hitch-hiker. The lady who was confronted again and again and again--by the hitch-hiker death—was named Inger—Inger Stevens. She was in fact a very pretty young lady from Sweden! She was very popular. She had very famous—very handsome boyfriends. She was in movies and on TV. She was famous. She had all those things so many people think are the sure signs of earthly happiness. She was pretty and rich and famous—with all the house and car and clothes and good looks that money can buy. Not only was she not happy—she was so miserable—she despaired and self-destructed when she was just 35 years old. She went to sleep and woke up to see Jesus! Did she know that Jesus died and rose again to wash away all her sins? Did somebody—did anybody tell her? So—some very pretty blonde lady in Hollywood dies all alone—years ago. Am I supposed to care? Jesus cared! Jesus cared so much he was born a little baby in a stable—resting in a feed box to save Inger—and to save you and me. When God has blessed us with the gift of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If we are the Aunt or Uncle—or sponsor and God-parent of little people—may we have the attitude of Manoah—to ask the LORD to help us do whatever we need to do—to train up these little people to love Jesus with all their heart and soul and strength and mind. Then we can serve Jesus with the spiritual strength of Samson—and one day know perfect rest by Jesus in Heaven. Amen!
To God alone all glory!
Rev. Anthony E. Schultz
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 (Kevin)
Service of Light-pg. 54
Psalm 73 pg. 94
Sayings of Agur--Proverbs 30:15-17
Sermon hymn 500
Sermon text: Judges 13:8
Song of Mary…
Offering hymn 454 v.5,6
After the blessing: 592
Wednesday, December 12, 2007 (Karen)
Service of Light-pg. 54
Psalm 6 pg. 66
Sermon hymn: 16
Pastor Clark Schultz
Text: Luke 1:13-17
Song of Mary
Offering 483 v.1,2,3
After blessing 592
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 (Melissa)
Service of Light—pg. 54
Psalm 91 pg. 100
Sermon hymn: 373
Text: 1 Samuel 12:22-24
Song of Mary…
Offering 488 v.1,2
After the blessing 332