18.6.07

Honey from the Lion

Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. (Jdg 14:5-6)

After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion. (Jdg 14:8-9)


One thing that causes Christians much confusion and difficulty is the issue of trials and suffering. Anyone who has walked the journey of faith for more than a moment will know, even if they don't admit it, that we as Christians are not immune from the effects of Adam's sin on this fallen world. Jesus himself promised us tribulation. Paul said we must pass through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.

Yet many have bought into a false teaching that assumes that once we come to Christ, everything will be a breeze. We will be shielded from all trials and sorrows by the grace and favour of God. As a result when the inevitable trials and difficulties do occur they are off guard and totally unprepared. Their faith is not ready, and they falter, thinking God is no longer for them or that he is no longer in control.

Peter warns us to watch out for our enemy who prowls like a lion. Why would this be necessary if God will never let him come near us? Those who teach in God's house have a responsibility to prepare God's people for when the lion attacks.

Samson, for all his faults, was a man chosen and anointed by God. Yet God did not spare him from the attack of the lion. It came at him with everything it had got. Its full onslaught of might and intimidation. A young lion, in full vigour, roaring with all its might - its sole aim to bring the man of God to a premature end.

But even though Samson has nothing in his hand, nothing in his own ability or resource to defend himself, he stands firm and in the power of God he overcomes.

This is what we must understand: Bad things will come against us, God never promised they wouldn't, but no matter what comes, we can always overcome! The promise of the Scriptures is not that no weapon forged against us will ever come against us, nor even that no weapon will draw blood, or cause us genuine hurt. The promise is that no matter what comes, it shall not prosper. Nothing can overcome those who stand firm in their faith in God. The lion can rush, the lion can roar, but the lion can never overcome. We can always overcome him if we stand our ground.

When the lion comes, he comes roaring. He roars, "Where is your God?", "How could he let this happen?", "Where is his protection when you need it?", "Why you?" But the hallmark of men of faith is this: they shut the mouths of lions! They are not intimidated by his roars, and they do not entertain his doubts. They stand firm and overcome.

Honey from the Lion is thus a delicious irony. That which came against the man of God to consume him is itself consumed, and becomes a source of strength. That which came roaring doubts, became a source of God's word.

We may not understand at the time why we go through times of trial and difficulty. We don't have to. We just have to stand firm in faith and overcome. But when we revisit them later, those past victories can speak to us and be a source of God's word to us.

They proclaim, "The God who was with you in all you overcame in the past, is the same God who is with you today to cause you to overcome anything you may face. He did not let you fall then; he will not let you fall now."

Honey from the lion is the food of warriors. It is the sustenance of those who are ready to overcome today, because they have already been tested and stood firm.

Alone on a hillside, tending his fathers sheep, a young boy with a deep love and devotion for God was attacked by a savage lion. Who knows whether at the time he understood why his loving heavenly father allowed such attack. What we know is this, later in life that boy saw a giant defying the God in whom he had stood firm, and as one who had tasted the "honey from the lion" he was able to declare with complete conviction:

"The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." (1Sa 17:37)

7 comments:

SLW said...

Lions, giants, or even Delilahs, God doesn't sheild us from trouble that requires us expressing faith in the midst of living. Being able to get past the visible, to see the invisible arm under us, is a lesson never learned but only readied for the next challenge. Nice post, good series Chris.

Richard Bentall said...

Chris - I love the posts and the insight that you draw from scriptures. [The other place that I read about honey and curds is Is 7:15 and 7:15 anyway I digress].

The story of Samson become even more fascinating when we search the Scriptures for clues to its deeper meaning. In Numbers 6:1-8 the Lord gave Moses directions on the proper way to execute a special vow of separation called the Nazirite vow. As the angel had instructed Samson's parents, people taking the Nazirite vow could not cut their hair, drink any wine, or partake of any food or drink derived from grapes. Normally the vow was voluntary and kept for a period of time to demonstrate a commitment to God, after which the person returned to a normal life. But 3 times in Scripture the Lord designated a yet to be born child as a life long Nazirite. All 3 were born to previously barren women: Samson, Samuel (1st Samuel:1) who anointed David as Israel's king, and John the Baptist (Luke 1), who proclaimed the coming Messiah.

However the most remarkable lesson is the way in which Samson's life parallels the history of Israel. Both were set apart from birth, foretold by an angel, called to begin the deliverance of God's people, supernaturally empowered against overwhelming odds, sought after strange women (false gods), blinded for disobedience, called upon the Lord, and brought judgement upon His enemies.

oops a bit off track from your post but thought it was well drawing attention to [infact I'm a couple of weeks ahead of myself in my own posts]

Every blessing

Richard

PS heres one for you Chris in
Number 6:7 seperation from his head - oooh link that into Samson

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this article but still struggle with events that hinder the belief that God is interactive with us in a practical way, in the physical world -- in the present time, day-to-day, moment-to-moment.

For example, I am with you, step-by-step, in your article until paragraph 8, sentences 5 and 6: "The lion can rush, the lion can roar, but the lion can never overcome. We can always overcome him if we stand our ground." What of the contrast between your assertions and the suffering and death of Christians by lions in Rome's Coliseum (http://www.olph.com/lions.htm)? Why did God not bring them through this to a glorious rescue? Why did these Christians not overcome the lions?

I know we all have to die sometime. I estimate, however, that there were young adults and children who were sacrificed at those events, that not all who died were elderly, and that none, even among the elderly, would have said, before the event, that they were ready and happy for life to be over. I estimate that none of these would have chosen the horror, pain, and brutality of dying in this way over peacefully passing away in their sleep, had God asked them.

Closer to home, what of Christians dying horrendously painful, lingering deaths from cancer or other wasting and debilitating diseases? What of those occasions where we meet, instead of a lion, a drug-crazed or psychotic mass murderer? What of the young (20-something) youth minister who had touched, and begun to touch, so many lives and yet died gruesomely and painfully in a car fire following a crash? Surely he would have accomplished more with his life, to the glory of God, had he been allowed to live, or, more excellently, been allowed to avoid the crash altogether. Why was that ''lion,'' the crash and fire, not overcome? The youth minister was certainly standing his ground; the trip was in Christian service and it was said that they had been singing hymns just before the impact.

In so many of these cases where our Christian brethren suffer such austerity, disappointment, or brutal death, how is God glorified?

I want to believe in the truth. If an interactive God is part of the picture, it is very important to me to understand that fact. I believe that God will see me through trials with spiritual support and that when I die I will be with Him in heaven. However, I get fearful, confused, and even downright frustrated , when I become aware of instances mentioned above, as I suspect that God is not physically interactive. If ANY of you can provide some insight/scripture on this issue, that would be helpful.

Thanks!
Becky

Chris HH said...

Becky,

Thank you for your comment. There are no easy answers to the questions you ask. The pain of these kind of tragedies is very real for all involved.

However, death is not the end for the Christian, it is just a doorway into the eternal presence of the Lord. The martyrs of whom you speak, were said to have entered the Colosseum with radiant joy on their faces, in the same way that the first martyr Steven did.

You see, even if he does kill us, the Lion still cannot overcome. His moment of "victory" is brief, because once we have passed through death into the glorious presence of the Lord, we are beyond his reach forever. There is no longer any tears or sorrow or pain.

Jesus himself is the ultimate example of this. Though he died the worst possible kind of death, it was not a defeat but a victory. Even in death he overcame the lion, and because he did, so can we.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..."

perpetually joyous said...

Just as a tag-on to Chris hh, if you look at the early martyr stories, these people were often overwhelmed with a desire to die for Christ. In fact, there was controversy over whether the following scenario (which happened more than once) was morally acceptable: a Christian would be in a crowd and see another Christian being arrested and condemened to death for his/her faith, and the one in the crowd would say, "I am a Christian, too" and be likewise condemned. If you read the martyrdom account of Perpetua and Felicity, you will see that they sang and were glad, and like Paul thought that "to live is Christ and to die is gain."

perpetually joyus said...

Also, Becky, look at Paul. He was beaten, imprisoned, in all kinds of trouble, but his soul was tranquil. He knew that the suffering he suffered was a participation in Christ's ("I make up for what is lacking...") and a participation in the salvation of souls that Christ won on the Cross. The question of suffering is complex, but our God offered us salvation, his eternal presence and care, not simply comfort. The ancient Jews wanted to please God partly so they could have long lives. Christ came and showed us that He is our life, and that that life is eternal. Our bodies matter, but they still are part of the world suffering from the effects of original sin. BUT, our suffering is transformed into an act of worship and love and obedience. Ask God to show you this. We do not understand the value of our prayers, our sufferings, our deaths, but God does...and he will multiply the good effects of the lives of those dear to him, however short they might be.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris. Are you also a member of Sermonindex? Dian.