For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines. – Judges 13:5 NASB
We've seen just how bad it can be with the people of God. Time and time again, they walk away from the one true God to worship the gods of the nations who surround them. They have refused to remove the pagan nations who occupy the land, but instead have chosen to intermarry with them and grow comfortable in their relationships with them. They have learned to acclimate themselves to their surroundings. Rather than live as God's "set apart" or holy ones, they have become increasingly like the nations around them. Now in chapter 13 we see that they are once again doing evil in the sight of the Lord. This does not mean that they had stopped and are starting again, but that they continued to do evil. And as a result, God sent punishment in the form of Philistine oppression. This non-semetic people group would prove to be a thorn in the side of Israel for years to come. They would grow in power and prominence, becoming Israel's greatest threat well into the reigns of David and Solomon. In fact, at this time, Israel found it easier to learn to co-exist with the Philistines than to fight them.
It's interesting that there is no cry for help recorded in this passage. They are oppressed, but do no call out to God for deliverance. And later on when God raises up Samson as their deliverer, the people will refuse to cooperate with him. They would rather continue their co-existence with the Philistines rather than oppose them – even if it meant disobeying the commands of God. Yet in the midst of their rebellion and reluctance to obey, God steps in and shows mercy. He sends His angel as a messenger of good news. He announces the miraculous arrival of His messenger and deliverer to a barren woman. Into a bleak situation and physically impossible circumstances God announces His plan to do something great. God was going to deliver His people whether they asked for it or not. He was going to show mercy and grace in spite of their rebellion and unfaithfulness. Remember, the book of Judges is about God, not Israel or even the judges themselves.
This was not the first time God had chosen to use a barren woman to accomplish His will. And it would not be the last. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth were all barren, as well as Mary the mother of Jesus. "What does he [God] do when he has a people who refuse to forsake Baal and have no desire to forsake Philistia? A people grown so used to bondage they don't even have sense to call out for relief? At least here the very God who judges them (Judges 13:1) begins to work their deliverance—anyway (Judges 13:2-5). That is grace—grace greater than all our sin, than all our stupidity, than all our density." – Dale Ralph David, Such a Great Salvation. Living in oppression can actually become comfortable to us. We can grow accustomed to living in the midst of sin and no longer see it as a threat. That is exactly where the people of God were at this time, and fearfully, it is where the church is today. We have grown far too comfortable in a society that is oppressing us and molding us into its image. We are losing our significance and set-apartness. And it doesn't seem to bother us. If it did, we would cry out for deliverance.
Yet in spite of our silence, God is rescuing His people. He always is. He is raising up deliverers to wake up His slumbering church. There are pastors, speakers, and writers all across the world issuing wake up calls on behalf of God. They are attempting to stir the people of God to awaken to the call of God once again. The key will be whether we will listen or not. Samson himself was to be set apart from even before his birth. He was to do be dedicated to God and His purposes. God is raising up a generation of Christ-followers who are to be set apart for His purposes. He is calling out a people from among His people who will live by a different standard and model a different way of life – even to those within the church. The bride of Christ has become "Canaanized." We have grown comfortable and complacent with the world. We are satisfied with co-existing with the world, rather than transforming it. Are you hearing His call? Are you willing to heed it?
Father, wake up Your church! Raise up a host of men, women, boys and girls, who are ready to step up and do what You are calling us to do. Forgive us for our love affair with the world and the things it offers. We are distracted and no longer living for You. We are ineffective and powerless in the midst of a world that hates us and is out to destroy us and the message You gave us to share. Give us ears to listen anda willingness to obey You. Amen