Advent: God With Us

Judges 13:2-24

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren, having borne no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, ‘Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, or to eat anything unclean, for you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.’ Then the woman came and told her husband, ‘A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like that of an angel of God, most awe-inspiring; I did not ask him where he came from, and he did not tell me his name; but he said to me, “You shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.” ’

Then Manoah entreated the Lord, and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, let the man of God whom you sent come to us again and teach us what we are to do concerning the boy who will be born.’ God listened to Manoah, and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field; but her husband Manoah was not with her. So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, ‘The man who came to me the other day has appeared to me.’ Manoah got up and followed his wife, and came to the man and said to him, ‘Are you the man who spoke to this woman?’ And he said, ‘I am.’ Then Manoah said, ‘Now when your words come true, what is to be the boy’s rule of life; what is he to do?’ The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, ‘Let the woman give heed to all that I said to her. She may not eat of anything that comes from the vine. She is not to drink wine or strong drink, or eat any unclean thing. She is to observe everything that I commanded her.’

Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘Allow us to detain you, and prepare a kid for you.’ The angel of the Lord said to Manoah, ‘If you detain me, I will not eat your food; but if you want to prepare a burnt-offering, then offer it to the Lord.’ (For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of the Lord.) Then Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘What is your name, so that we may honour you when your words come true?’ But the angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is too wonderful.’

So Manoah took the kid with the grain-offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to him who works wonders. When the flame went up towards heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground. The angel of the Lord did not appear again to Manoah and his wife. Then Manoah realized that it was the angel of the Lord. And Manoah said to his wife, ‘We shall surely die, for we have seen God.’ But his wife said to him, ‘If the Lord had meant to kill us, he would not have accepted a burnt-offering and a grain-offering at our hands, or shown us all these things, or now announced to us such things as these.’

The woman bore a son, and named him Samson. The boy grew, and the Lord blessed him.

John 7:40-52

When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’ So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’ The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’ Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’ Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, ‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’

As followers of Jesus Christ, having faith, trust, and doing as instructed can be challenging. The Bible has given us laws to obey, but to be honest, following the rules is notalways something that we as people enjoy doing. In Judges 13, Samson’s mother was instructed not to drink any strong drink before the anticipated birth of her son and not to cut his hair. In all honesty, trusting a random person telling you what to do and not to do with your body when you did not ask for input is not something everyone would do. However, had Samson’s mother not had trust and faith enough in God to know when something was a sign from Him, Samson could’ve potentially died before he was born. This would remove the message and purpose God placed in his life.

Many people choose only to acknowledge Samson. However, it was Samson’s mother who made it possible for Samson to enter the world and live his purpose. His mother is an example of what true faith and trust is in God. As people, it is our responsibility to care for the gift that God has planted inside of us because that gift has the potential to be the strongest gift ever birthed into this world. A story that defines faith just as Hebrews 11:1 KJV, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Samson’s mother had such a relationship with God that she could recognize a sign from Him, not be afraid, and trust His word. Samson’s mother was also barren. She knew she could neither conceive nor produce children. This did not stop her from receiving the blessing God was giving her.

It is essential to recognize God along with signs from God. In John 7, some people were unsure of Jesus. The Pharisees question whether Jesus was the Christ (Christ originates from the Greek word ‘chrīstós’ meaning “anointed one”) or a Prophet. John 10:27 KJV states, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” Knowing who God is allows us to trust Him and to develop a deeper relationship with him than we have previously had. By this, we will be able to see heights we never thought we could and exceed them. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Mark 9:23 KJV.

During this season of Advent, I propose that you grow your relationship with God. Get to know Him better. Speak and listen to Him. In the same way that Samonson’s mother had nothing but faith and trust in God, develop and hone that for yourself. As people, we may not know what God plants inside of us, but the outcome will always be stronger than we could ever imagine. I encourage you to believe in the promises God gave you. See God for who He is. Be open to love and gifts that you believe you do not deserve. God has a purpose for everything. Stay encouraged!

Edmond Jackson

Edmond Jackson is a 2023 graduate of Morehouse College with a B.A. in Political Science. While at Morehouse, Edmond was actively engaged on campus. He was a part of Lytehouse Community Service Organization, where he served as the Public Relations Chair, a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Scholar, President of the Morehouse Polo Club, Liaison for the Student Leadership Ambassadors, and Founder of The Cycle: Building the Community One Brick at a Time. During his time at Morehouse, Edmond was also the Campus Safety Liaison. Post college, Edmond is continuing his education at Mercer University, where he is pursuing a Dual Degree: a Master of Divinity and a Master of Business Administration. After the completion of his program, Edmond plans to attend law school. Still actively engaged in the community, Edmond has found a passion for serving and giving back to those in need. When not engaged in scholarship or service, Edmond enjoys spending time with family, reading, attending church, and exercising.