"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Monday, August 24, 2009

Raising The Standard: Initiative Is Acting With An Assurance Of The Outcome

God empowered a man to free His people from the oppression of their enemies. Filled with the Spirit of God, he could act with an assurance of the outcome because he knew the power behind the special gift which was given him. But understanding his power and his purpose in life were not enough. He never realized the potential that should have been his.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Initiative In Acting With An Assurance Of The Outcome? In the land of God's enemies the corn harvest was ruined. Their rich fields of grain had become a charred expanse of rubble because of one man. They would teach him a lesson. They gathered a large army and marched into his country.
The people of the land trembled and asked their enemy why they were there. When the enemy explained that they had come to bind the man who troubled their nation, the fearful countrymen agreed to cooperate to appease these angry men. They organized three thousand men and made their way to the top of a rocky hill. Then they called out to this one man, "Don't you know that these people rule over us? What is this that you have done? We have come to bind you and deliver you into their hand." With his permission they took strong new ropes and tied his hands. He let them wrap the rope around his arms until he was so tightly bound that he couldn't move. Then they led him back to the vengeful army that had set up camp in their land. As soon as the army saw him, a great shout went up. Some shouted because their mission was now achieved. Others shouted in derision. Was this man who looked so ordinary worth all this trouble? But they didn't realize that the force behind his strength was from God. Now with the Spirit of God upon him, the arms that were tightly bound snapped the ropes as if they had been burnt flax. He reached to the ground, and grabbed the jaw bone of a donkey and began swinging it at the soldiers who rushed upon him. His defense was so furious that before they realized what was happening heaps of dead men lay on the ground. This one man with the power of God in him had killed one thousand enemy soldiers. It is ironical that Satan would similarly defeat this man of God by introducing an element into his life, the force of which would destroy his spiritual potential. Disregarding the commands of God's Word and the wishes of his parents he fell in love with a godless woman. Her attractiveness motivated him to find reasons why it would be all right to compromise in what he knew was wrong. He reasoned that she was just a girl whom he could easily control. But the land of compromise is the territory of Satan, and behind those in his kingdom there is a force far greater than outsiders realize. Just as that army did not comprehend the power of God in his life, so did he not comprehend the power of Satan through her life. As if to empathize his spiritual blindness, Sampson's eyes were gouged out and he died in the land of God's enemies. (From Judges 15:1-17 and Judges 16:4-31)
Did Samson Realize The Source Of His Strength?
It is significant that Samson is listed in the New Testament's list of heros of the faith (Hebrews 11:32). It tells us that Samson did recognize that his power came from God. His error was not a lack of faith in God's power but rather his thinking that God's power would never leave him regardless of his conduct. When pressed by Delilah, Samson was able to tell that his strength was sirectly related to the fact that he was a Nazirite unto God form befor ehis birth. He knew that without God he would be as ewak as any other man (Judges 16:17). What is frightening is the fact that he was not aware of the Lord's departure from him when he began his final futile struggle against the Philistines after Delilah had betreayed him (Judges 16:20).
Why Did The Lord Help Samson Avenge His Own Personal Wrongs?
Two factors were involved in the Lord's answer to Samson's request for strength with which to avenge his enemies (Judges 16:28). First, the Philistines were using Samson to mock the God of Israel and justify their worship of their fish-god named Dagon. If such unbridled blasphemy were left unpunished it would have resulted in even greater religious confusion. Second, we learn that Samson's hair had again grown long (Judges 16:22). According to the Mosiac Law, when a Nazirite vow was broken, the person was to cut the hair, offer a sacrafice, his newly-grown hair was symbolic of the renewal of his Nazirite vow. The Lord filled him with strength just as before and allowed Samson to avenge their common enemies.
Did God Prompt Samson To Do Wrong?
Deliah was one of three women in Samson's life. The first was a Canaanite woman from Timnah whom Samson wanted to marry. The israelites were not to marry these people on the basis that it would lead them to idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). Samson was breaking this law and was not honoring his parent's good counsel in the matter (Judges 14:3). When we read the strange words, "It was of the lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philitines," (Judges 14:4) This does not mean that Samson's disobedient actions were prompeted by God. Samson's actions were prompted by his own evil lust (cf. James 1:13, 14). It is a sobering aspect of God's nature that he will give us the desires of our heart, but send leanness to our soul (cf. Psalm 106:13-15). At the same time God will use even the evil actions of men to accomplish his larger purposes (cf. Genesis 50:20). Named after its call, "flicker, flicker," this woodpecker inhabits farmlands and lightly wooded areas. The thirteen inch yellow-shafted flicker is often confused with its western cousin, the red-shafted woodpecker. Unlike most other members of its family, this flicker spends much time on the ground securing food.
How Does The Flicker Illustrate Initiative In Acting With An Assurance Of The Outcome? Rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat is the sound one normally associates with the woodpecker as it hammers away on the tree surfaces in search of bugs and other insects. But the yellow-shafted flicker is unique from its cousins in that it does not rely solely on this method to secure its food. This flicker is the most colorful of the North American woodpeckers with its various shades of yellow, brown, red and accents of black. Despite its vivid coloration, the shy bird is not easy to spot because of its tendency to conceal itself behind limbs, branches and foliage.
The yellow-shafted flicker is our only species of woodpecker that feeds on the ground. Since forty-five percent of its diet consists of ants, the flicker inhabits the open, sandy areas which are heavily populated by ant colonies. Always on the lookout for mounds of dirt which might house these industrious little creatures, the flicker examines any likely spot for the prospect of a meal. After locating a promising mound, it initiates a procedure which is highly effective. The flicker approaches the mound and vigorously raps on the doorway of the ant colony. This "doorway" is a tunnel which leads underground and then branches into many chambers. The energetic ants, protective of their larvae and home, unitedly respond to the threat of an intrusion. They viciously attack insects and worms, inflicting such fatal blows with their powerful jaws that they usually succeed in warding off or killing formidable enemies which are many times larger than they. Familiar with their response, the flicker deliberately disrupts the colony in an attempt to draw them out of their confines. It is aided in this by a special apparatus -- a long tongue coated with a special sticky fluid. The tongue, impervious to the bite of an ant, resembles a spear with its barbed shaft and sharp tapered point. As the bird vigorously pecks with its bill, it excavates the sides of the tunnel wall and forms a funnel-like cone. Then it inserts its long tongue into the hole. Mistaking the tongue for an intruding worm, the ants attack it in full force. As they assault this foreign object, the ants are entangled by its sticky coating. Quickly the flicker withdraws its tongue to devour the succulent insects and rapidly reinserts the blade into the tunnel. Escape is impossible for the ants that try to flee with their larvae. So effective is this means of procurement that the flicker can annihilate an entire ant colony or inflict such damage to its population that tremendous effort is required for the ants to recover. Because the flicker initiates an action which it knows will be successful, it is able to secure great quantities of food that would otherwise be overlooked.

No comments: