Bible Readings for July 31st

Judges 14 | Acts 18 | Jeremiah 27 | Mark 13

Through Samson, God was not merely saving his people by raising up one more judge, as we began to discuss yesterday. Through Samson, God was also uniquely foreshadowing the life and ministry of his own Son, Jesus Christ. Today, we get a few more clues about what the coming Messiah would look like.

First, Samson chooses a wife who would eventually bring disaster upon him, but we are told explicitly that Samson’s desire to marry a Philistine came from Yahweh, “for [Yahweh] was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines” (Judg. 14:4).

Second, as Samson is traveling to the vineyards of Timnah with his mother and father, he destroys a lion with his bare hands. This lion had attacked him, seeking to devour him, but Samson dismantled the lion with ease even though he had no weapons with him.

Third, Samson makes himself unclean by eating honey from a swarm of bees who had made their home in the carcass of the lion. This was a violation of Samson’s Nazirite vow, since an animal lying dead on the road for some days would be unclean.

But there’s another way that Samson’s story points forward to Christ: through a riddle that cannot be guessed but must be revealed. This is the strangest part of the story, but it is also the most significant. Samson tells a riddle that would have been impossible for the Philistines to guess unless they were given the answer directly. So, the Philistines get Samson’s wife to help them cheat Samson.

Now, take a step back, and look at the elements of this story again. Like Samson, Jesus also came into this world to seek a bride—and his bride (the church) brought him to destruction, since Jesus purchased his bride through giving up his life on the cross. There at the cross, Jesus tore apart another lion, Satan, who prowls constantly, seeking to devour God’s people (1 Pet. 5:8). And through the resurrection, Jesus made something sweet out of the most unclean things in this world: sin, death, and the devil. By making himself unclean, he reversed the curse that they held over us.

Now, no one reading the story of Samson before Jesus came into this world would have recognized any of this. These riddles are what Paul calls “the mystery hidden for ages” (Eph. 3:9), and it would have been impossible to decipher without being told the meaning of the story. But now that Jesus has come, God is delighted to give us the meaning of these stories—and without the deception and manipulation of the Philistines.

The riddles have now been made plain: the story of Samson announces to us in advance that Jesus Christ would be born into this world by a virgin and that he would be set apart by the Holy Spirit to save sinners from the curse of sin through his death and resurrection.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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