“I was reading the book of Numbers the other night, and I realized…. I don’t have yours.” – Christian Pick-Up Line
Currently my bible reading plan has me reading through one of six books Christians often dread reading. Numbers. A book rivaled by both volumes of Chronicles, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and the latter portion of Exodus; Numbers fills many with consternation as they begin it. After all, how well can a book that begins with a request from God to hold a census go? (Sidenote: isn’t this the same God who knows how many hairs every man has on his head, and how many grains of sand exist in the world?) Irrelevant in the modern world as far as commands and family histories go, many fail to see the many ways this book points to Jesus.
In Chapter 6, The LORD shares with Moses the rules of being a Nazirite, of being “consecrated to the LORD.” To be consecrated is to be formally dedicated for a divine purpose. It’s almost like being baptized. It is very intentionally saying “I am living for The King of Kings, and for no other. I will lead by example.” Being a Nazirite seems to be a position one earned. There were four simple conditions set up.
1) No alcohol. Ever.
2) No Grapes. At all. Under any circumstances.
3) No use of a razor on the individuals body.
4) Don’t go near dead bodies. Of any kind.
After doing these things for an appointed time, there were certain rites and traditions that had to be observed. Sacrifices and such. After going through all this, the individual was supposed to be closer to God.
So a few hundred years – or at least a few decades, I’m not really sure on the whole timing thing – Samson comes along. I know this because I went to Sunday School as a small child. Also, because I attend LifeChurch.tv and it is our current series. Craig Groeschel has been talking a lot about weakness, and desire, and how these things affect modern Christian men.
If you’re unfamiliar with Samson, his story is tucked neatly in the book of Judges 13-16, between a mere footnote on Ibzan, Elon and Abdon and the story of a guy named Micah who seems to get his own personal Levite priest.
Basically, this Samson dude is supposed to be a blessed son of God and a Nazirite from birth to death (I don’t know for sure, but it seems like this is a big deal). A decade or two after his birth, he walks to this town and kills a lion on the way. Then Samson decides he wants to marry a Philistine girl – a daughter of enemies. When returning to the town, he decide to eat some honey from a hive bees built in the carcass of the lion. Long story short, he gets screwed over and ends up killing 1,000 Philistines. Years later, he decides to marry another Philistine woman – Delilah. She gets him to give up that his immense strength and ability comes from his unshaved hair. So she shaves his hair and he becomes an eyeball-less captive of the Philistines. Finally, after being a captive for awhile, he pushes against the pillars of the Philistine temple and brings it down around him, killing hundreds of Philistines and himself.
Samson was an elite, appointed leader. He was God’s chosen vessel to rule over Israel – and relatively successfully for about 20 years – yet he constantly makes mistakes. He constantly ends up in situations that compromise his purpose, his values, his desires. And he constantly gives in to those things.
Thousands of years later, Jesus came, lived by example and was led to the slaughter like a helpless lamb. Jesus was a sacrifice for our sins. No longer do we have to hold to the books of rules and laws and rituals. Our rule, our law, our ritual, is to love Christ and love like Christ.
Samson had a set of rules to abide. We have a rule to abide. Yet alone we are just as unable to follow that rule as Samson was unable to follow his rules.
How could Samson be so close to God as to have his direct power, to hear from God specifically, and yet make so many mistakes? More over, how can we be so close to God, so connected to him through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and yet make so many mistakes? At any time, we can say “hey God, what’s up? I need your help” and he is there. Why is our faith so weak?
How often do we fail on the things we are supposed to do? All we have to do is share the love of Jesus – unconditional, unstoppable, deeply caring love. Love of individual no matter who they are, what background they have, and what actions they choose to take