Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lean Not on Your Own Understanding




This post appears also as a chapter in The Ways of Wisdom, in the 2012 Lads to Leaders / Leaderettes Pearls Study series.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr., was piloting his Piper Saratoga light aircraft along the U.S. coast toward Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  Flying a new plane at night, with nothing but water below, he had no visual landmarks with which he could reorient his brain. He became confused. His inner ear tricked him into thinking that he was level when in fact he was beginning a steep dive. He sped downward at a speed of 4,700 feet per minute, or 1,100 feet in just 14 seconds. By the time Kennedy knew he was in trouble, it was too late for him to reverse his course. Adding to the tragedy was the fact that his wife and sister-in-law were flying with him. All three perished. 

How sad it is to realize that, from the time he began his flight, there was an instrument called an altimeter on board that could have guided him and preserved these lives. An altimeter is an instrument that determines a plane’s elevation, its height above sea level. It senses pressure changes that accompany changes in altitude.

Kennedy had never been trained to read his aircraft’s altimeter. If he had been, he probably would not have crashed. Instead he leaned on his own understanding, relying on his own instincts. When his inner ear whispered, “You’re level,” the altimeter read, “You’re going down.” It was the instrument that was correct. Because he acted according to what he thought and perceived, rather than trusting the objective truth provided by a reliable source, he lost his life and the lives of those who depended on him. That fatal night illustrates the danger we face if we fail to trust God, the most reliable source of all, to direct our paths in every area of life.

The Meaning of Trust
The word “trust” means to attach oneself to, confide in, feel safe, be confident, be secure or rely on. Imagine a person seeing a sturdy chair, agreeing that it is strong and steady, but refusing to sit in it. Does that person really trust that chair? It is only when one rests his or her full weight upon the chair that genuine trust has been shown. To trust in is to lean on.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart” is equivalent to “in all your ways acknowledge Him.” One who trusts God recognizes Him, credits Him and depends upon Him in every aspect of life. “All your ways” would certainly include your worship, but also your studies, your family life, your friendships, your language, your entertainment choices and so forth. You are to glorify God in thought, word and deed, whether on the Internet, on a ball field, on a school assignment, on a church pew or on a job. Only then does He promise to direct or make straight your paths.

Adam Clarke wrote, “Begin, continue and end every work, purpose and device, with God. Earnestly pray for His direction at the commencement; look for His continual support in the progress; and so begin and continue that all may terminate in His glory: and then it will certainly be to thy good; for we never honor God without serving ourselves. Self-sufficiency and self-dependence have been the ruin of mankind ever since the fall of Adam. The grand sin of the human race is their continual endeavor to live independently of God. True religion consists in considering God as the fountain of all good, and expecting all good from Him.”

The Opposite of Trust
One who does not lean on the Lord must lean on someone or something else. One who leans on his own understanding makes himself the final authority, the last word. This was the issue at stake in the first temptation.  The serpent asked Eve in Genesis 3:1, “Has God indeed said …?” He then offered her the opportunity to gain wisdom equal to God and to lean on her own understanding. She took the bait.

Every sin, without exception, results from a person’s choice not to trust the instruments (God’s objective standards) but to depend on his own preferences and wishes instead. The Bible says in James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

The Lord warns us often of the dangers of following our own desires.  We read in Jeremiah 10:23, “O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” Proverbs 14:12 notes, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”  Because the world in its wisdom could not find true wisdom, God provided His revelation, the message of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18).

In what areas must we deliberately choose to trust and acknowledge the Lord, rather than lean on our own understanding? Several crucial ones quickly come to mind, in which we must adhere to God’s biblical navigation system, even when—and especially when—it contradicts our own instincts or inclinations. Let us consider some of these vital matters.

Truth
Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:38, “What is truth?” People are likewise confused today. Some think that truth is relative, depending on a person’s preferences or circumstances. They will say, “This is true for me because it makes sense, because it works, because I like it, or because it feels good.”  People even speak of “my truth” as distinct from “your truth.” Many claim that truth is fluid, determined by the culture, or the majority, or elected officials. Having bought the lie of Darwinian evolution, they insist that truth has also evolved and is still evolving. Surveys indicate that as many as 75 percent of Americans, including many who claim to follow Christ, do not believe in absolute truth. They are leaning on their own understanding, not God’s instruments. The child of God agrees with Jesus, who said, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17). The Christian knows that truth is fixed, immovable and unchanging, because it reflects the perfect character of God.

Morality
In the beginning God made one man and one woman, and in marriage they became one flesh. Only at that point did they begin to have sexual relations, as God designed (Genesis 2:21-25). Jesus reinforced that original plan and added in Matthew 19:6 (NASB), “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.” No matter how many U.S. states or authorities attempt to redefine marriage in any other terms, they cannot, at least not in any ultimate sense. 

No matter how many movies glamorize sexual immorality, it is still evil in the sight of God, as are the other deeds of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). No matter how many voices declare the homosexual lifestyle to be just an equal alternative, God has declared it sinful (Romans 1:26-27). Human life is sacred and precious in God’s sight, even when that human life is still in the mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16). Abortion is the shedding of innocent blood, something that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). No matter how many unborn babies are put to death, God will never declare abortion to be right.  We must not allow opinions and feelings to distort the one objective instrument God has given: the Scriptures. Lying, cheating, impure desires, theft, pornography and adultery are just as wrong as they ever were.

People who lean on their own understanding may say, “As long as we love each other, and plan to marry, and don’t hurt anyone else, sexual activity is good. A baby isn’t in my plan at this time.” They ask, “As long as immodest clothing or behavior get me more attention from the opposite sex, what could be wrong with it?” “If it’s in the movies, if celebrities are doing it, and if it makes me happy, why shouldn’t I do it?” “How could it be wrong, when it feels so right?” One’s instincts may say, “You’re flying level,” but if God’s altimeter says, “You’re going down fast and hard,” it’s the instrument that is right.

Love
Human instinct tells young people that love is a feeling, a thrill or a sensation. Love is said to be something you “fall into,” “fall out of,” or experience “at first sight.” Love is thought to be based on chemistry, not a mutual commitment to serve the Lord. Some say, “Love is for me, to see what I can get from you, not the other way around. When the feeling is gone, I can leave you and look for someone else whom I find more interesting.” That’s the deceptive, dangerous human perception of love.

God’s objective instrument defines love as a decision to think and act on behalf of another person, to serve and to give, rather than to demand and take. When we trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding, we acknowledge Him by demonstrating these qualities noted in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

We recognize that other people truly love us, or do not love us, in the same way. A person who is possessive, quick-tempered, envious, selfish, arrogant, touchy or rude does not truly love another person. That is true, even if that first person is cute, smart, athletic, popular, or rich. Even if the chemistry is right, the relationship may be wrong. Even if the romance soars, the relationship may sink. The answer to one basic question must precede all the choices that we make. It is this: Will we lean on our own instincts, or will we take directions from God’s objective instrument that cannot fail?

Success
How do we measure a life well lived? Our culture urges us to seek fortune and fame, beauty and brains. Success is a six-figure income or a six-garage mansion. Our instincts may tell us to do as did the rich farmer, whom Jesus described in Luke 12:13-21. When his land yielded plentifully, he was concerned that his small barns were insufficient to store his crops. He decided to pull down those barns and build greater, and there he could store all his crops and his goods. Verses 19-20 let us see his thinking, “I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But then God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’” The farmer had laid up treasure for himself, but he was not rich toward God. Therefore he was not, in the final analysis, a successful man.

God’s instrument defines true success in quite different terms. His Word says that success is found in service and in sacrifice, in giving and in yielding.  Jesus defined success in this way in Mark 8:34-38, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Ironically, the One who lived the most successful life in history, Jesus Christ, had no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58). He came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). As prophesied in Isaiah 53:2-3, He had “no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

One author has said that we spend our lives climbing the ladder of success, only to realize, when we reach the top, that we placed it against the wrong wall. If you would be successful in the only sense that matters— the sight of God—aim that ladder toward all that pleases Him. When you reach your destination, you will have no regrets.

Judgment
“It is appointed for men to die once, but after this comes the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31). Sinful man, while quite willing to judge those around him, refuses to believe that he himself will be judged. Leaning on his own understanding, he dismisses the wrath of God and the need for repentance and obedience. He may accept the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) but not the fact that “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). 

Man’s instincts may say that there is no hell, or that it’s here on earth.  However, Jesus spoke in Matthew 25:41 of “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” He called it “outer darkness,” with “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:30). He described it as “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Man may think, “If there is a heaven, then I and all the people I know are going to be there after we die.” However, God’s altimeter says in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The truth is that, though everyone is invited to follow the Lord and enjoy His blessings, most people will not. They prefer to lean on their own understanding instead.

Salvation
Because of God’s amazing grace, the Bible says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NASB).  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, sinners can be forgiven. Enemies of God can be reconciled to Him. Every wrong thought, word or deed can be pardoned. Those headed for hell can be spared, redeemed and delivered. We who have leaned on our own understanding in the past can decide to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and acknowledge Him in all our ways. As a result, He will direct our paths. We cannot save ourselves, but the blood of Christ can save us when we turn to Him as He has directed.

Our salvation from sin cannot be based on our feelings, which are unstable and unreliable. We may be excited and confident about many things, but the only solid ground of Christian assurance is the Word of God. We may feel saved and yet be lost. Our instincts, our preferences, our perspectives and our conscience may mislead us. Therefore, God has given us an altimeter, an objective analysis of our position and clear directions to follow.

In order to receive God’s free gift of eternal life, you must believe that Jesus is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36). You must be pricked, convicted of the sin in your life (Acts 2:37). You must confess His name (1 Timothy 6:12) and repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He will add you to His church, in which you will work and serve. Then, as you continue to live by faith and walk in the light, He will direct your paths. You will not crash but land, right where you want to be, at home on the other side with Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Cory Collins
http://corycollins.net/

Image source: http://www.google.com/imgres?num=10&hl=en&biw=1143&bih=509&tbm=isch&tbnid=DkskWEAardDG2M:&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altimeter&imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f2/Drum-Altimeter.png/220px-Drum-Altimeter.png&w=220&h=219&ei=7uo6UMu2Mcji2QXD5oHQBg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=253&vpy=192&dur=6615&hovh=175&hovw=176&tx=76&ty=117&sig=114366707103814706739&page=1&tbnh=127&tbnw=128&start=0&ndsp=14&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0,i:145

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Has the Holy Spirit Spoken to “Brother Bob?”


In recent years it has become increasingly common to hear speakers say that the Spirit has given them personal, specific instructions. The Spirit “told” them to contact a particular person they had forgotten or to apologize to someone they had offended. He reminded them of just the right hymn or Scripture they needed at exactly the perfect time. He prompted or nudged them to do a particular good deed. Under His control, they said or did the right thing to the right person at the right time. Because they were in tune with the Spirit, they could “hear” His “voice.” Could they really?
Some current songs are asking the same question. The lyrics to “There’s a Stirring” read in part, “There’s a stirring deep within me … Is that His voice I am hearing? ‘Come away my precious one.’ Is he calling me? Is he calling me?” What about that? Can so-called “promptings” or “nudges,” that people once thought came from the conscience, actually be individual messages from the Holy Spirit to one’s own spirit? 
When I took part in outreach campaigns in college, I met a man in Iowa who claimed that the Holy Spirit told him exactly which Scripture to read next. He would turn to a passage and then say aloud, “Thank you, Holy Spirit.” Apparently he believed that John 14:26 was addressed directly to him: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
This troubled me because, for one thing, I believed that John 14:26 was a special promise Jesus made to His apostles, regarding the revelation and inspiration of Scripture. In addition, I did not know anyone – including this man – who had been taught “all” things and could remember “all” that Jesus had said. In fact, this man held beliefs that I considered contradictory to Scripture. I could not reconcile his unusual teachings with what the Spirit had clearly said in the Bible. Third, while I was thankful for the Spirit’s presence in my own life, I had to study and memorize Scriptures in order to recall them. And even then I sometimes forgot! I still today do not know anyone on earth who can honestly claim to have the “all” of John 14:26.
Meanwhile a friend of mine, who was preaching at that time, told me of something that happened to him shortly after his baptism into Christ. He had read Luke 12:11-12: “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Believing that he could claim this promise for himself, he stood up – with no preparation – to preach a sermon. Receiving no message from the Spirit, my embarrassed friend sat down. He realized that he had misapplied the passage. From that point on he carefully prepared his lessons.
There have been for some time, of course, people in the broader religious world who sincerely declare that what they feel has come directly from the Holy Spirit. Their teaching may not square with biblical truth. They may not have even become Christians in the way the New Testament teaches. Yet they claim that their intuition, their sudden impulses, and their spiritual desires have been prompted and produced by the Spirit. One prominent female evangelical speaker claims to have had a verbal argument with God in an airport over whether or not she should brush the hair of an unkempt man in a wheelchair. Years ago many of us would have seen such a claim as misguided, though sincere.
In more recent years, however, the idea of the Holy Spirit “speaking” to people has become much more common among some speakers in the churches of Christ. Some persuasive preacher will touch people’s hearts with stories about the Holy Spirit “speaking” to him through these “promptings.” That raises another question. If the Holy Spirit is speaking, why does He not use words as He did in the Bible? Why does He only communicate through these non-verbal “urges” that people feel? Does that kind of "speaking" have biblical precedent? Where?
An example of these modern assertions is a man we will call “Brother Bob.” When he claims special insight directly from the Spirit, his opinions and interpretations appear to be more valid than those of others. His listeners, honestly knowing that they themselves lack this kind of “sixth sense,” stand in awe of “Brother Bob” when he says, “I felt the Spirit telling me ...” He is very convincing. Then his followers, when any question arises, respond, “Well, ‘Brother Bob’ says …” because they think that “Brother Bob’s” views are, well, somewhat or almost inspired. After all, the Spirit prompts him. Anyone who questions “Brother Bob” is questioning, not merely a man, but also the Holy Spirit whose mouthpiece he has become.
As the process continues, there is increasing emphasis on “Brother Bob’s” experiences, feelings, thoughts, and concerns. His personal testimony is more and more captivating, and it becomes his primary message. People may not even realize that in his presentations there is less and less Bible, and more and more “Bob.” He’s not even talking about Jesus very much, but about himself and his unique personal experiences.
People in his audience think that maybe one day they can have the same direct connection with the Spirit that he does, if they just spent enough time listening to him. Bible doctrines which are more emphasized or less emphasized by “Brother Bob” become more important or less important to his devoted audience, because the Spirit has allegedly informed him of the things that truly matter and the things that do not. What he says about worship, or Bible study, or evangelism, seems to carry extra weight. His words, his thoughts, and his presence surpass those of others who lack his special “gift.” Many may be misled, if his message lacks full, balanced, biblical content.
I do not question anyone’s sincerity, but I am very cautious regarding such claims. On the one hand I am thankful that the Spirit of God personally lives in every child of God. His presence within us sanctifies, encourages, and strengthens us. Each of us can be transformed by the renewing of our minds, as He works in our lives. Our minds, focused more and more on the things of God, will naturally prompt us and encourage us to do the works of God. I am excited to think that love, joy, peace, and the rest of His fruit can be produced in every Christian. I am thrilled that, as every disciple thinks on things above, that disciple is more intent on all the things that the Holy Spirit would have us do. Ultimately all such growth comes from above, not from self.
However, I dare not equate my fluctuating, fallible feelings with some direct push from the Holy Spirit. I dare not present my opinions as anything more than just that: my opinions. I dare not preach my own experiences as some sort of standard. I will not wait for a “call” to get up and do what the Lord has already called all of us in Scripture to do. I am to be compassionate, forgiving, and evangelistic whether I feel a special “urge” or not. And I will preach, “Thus says the Lord,” and not, “Thus I have been led to feel.” I know that the Word of God, inspired by the Spirit of God, is the sword He uses to transform the people of God.
Cory Collins

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pain Plus Providence Equals Peace


“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Gen 50:20-21

It’s remarkable. Joseph was willing and able to forgive his half-brothers, 22 years after they sold him and deceived their father. How did he do it? How did he reconcile with those who hated him and sought to hurt him so? Why did he not use the power he had in Egypt to destroy their lives? Instead, amazingly, he provided for them food, a home, and a new life.

His secret? He believed that God had worked through it all for everyone’s good.

He recognized his half-brothers’ evil intentions. He certainly did not believe that God had caused them to be malicious, vindictive, or hateful. Yet he understood that God had used their wicked ways to provide for him and for them in a new land.

Several years ago my wife and I experienced the most painful circumstances and changes we have ever confronted in our years of ministry. Only now, with those matters as resolved as they ever will be, do I feel that I can write about our crisis. I believe that my experience can be of benefit to others who are serving in ministry and may face similar situations.

Differing personalities, convictions, and leadership dynamics produced a crisis in the local church where I served at the time. Issues surfaced related to leadership, worship, youth, and education. I felt that I was held responsible, to some extent, for decisions and actions that I had not endorsed. I was caught in the cross-hairs. For the sake of the church, my family, and my own walk with the Lord, I found it necessary to resign my position. It was very hard to leave people I loved and a work which I had given my very best.

Rather than possibly hurting or dividing the church, I said virtually nothing to anyone by way of explanation. Though I still believe that this was best, I carried a great deal of pain and sorrow in my heart. Things had been said and done that cut me to the quick. The last thing I wanted was to cause or contribute to major trouble in the church, so I had to pull away rather than be dragged further into it.

I had never before left one ministry position without having another one waiting. We owned a house and still had a child in high school. What would we do? Where would we go? How could this have happened to us? We prayed without ceasing.

Most people who knew me were very kind, loving, and respectful. They realized that I must have done what I thought was right and best, even though I could not explain the situation to them. Others, however, who did not know me well, would look at me and act as if I had done something wrong. Whatever they had been told, or whatever they thought, I just had to swallow it. I hoped that eventually the matters in the church would be resolved and that people would know that I had tried my best.

Then I began hearing various “explanations” that were circulating as to why I had resigned. Some said that I no longer loved the people in the congregation. Some said that I never stayed anywhere very long and that this change was not unusual. Some said that I no longer wanted to preach the gospel with a local church. Such comments only added to my pain. I did not want to become bitter. What could I do?

Maybe I had been at fault. Could I have said or done something different that would have led to a healthier outcome? Should I have openly revealed the factors, personalities, and decisions that led me to resign? Should I have defended myself and confronted matters publicly? I did not think so, but I lost much sleep agonizing over the whole experience and questioning myself repeatedly.

What saved me from ultimate despair was my belief that God was at work.

In the months and years that have passed since that crisis point …

The Lord allowed us to keep our faith, our home, and our sanity.
The Lord allowed us to stay in that area long enough to overcome by sowing seeds of kindness and love.
The Lord allowed that church to enjoy restored stability after we left, thanks to some changes that other people made.
The Lord allowed me to return to that church as a guest speaker on several occasions. I was able to show that I will always love the good people there. I feel that I am part of the solution and not part of the problem.
The Lord allowed me to continue preaching His Word in a new local church setting in that same community with precious, faithful, loving saints.
The Lord allowed me to make new friends in that area that I otherwise would never have known. Several are among the best friends I have ever had in my life.
The Lord allowed me to train ministers and missionaries as an instructor and a dean at a Christian university.
The Lord allowed me to write quarterly Bible study material for Lambert Book House and to write or help write four books.
The Lord allowed me to make mission trips to South Africa and Canada, and to become involved as a regular speaker for Yellowstone Bible Camp.
The Lord allowed my wife to overcome by teaching children in a local Christian school. She was even chosen as “Teacher of the Year” by her peers.
The Lord allowed our children to turn out healthy and happy, loving the Lord and His church.
The Lord allowed us to relocate in a wonderful new church setting, where we are enjoying ministry together more than we ever have before.

Our pain has been great, but our God and his blessings have been greater.

Lord, your providence has given me peace, even in the midst of pain, and I love you for it. Grant me the wisdom and the grace to finish strong in your service. Do not allow the devil, or other people, or my own weaknesses, or anything else, to pull me away from you and your kingdom.

Pain plus providence equals peace. Joseph knew it, and now so do I. Thank you, Lord.
Cory Collins

 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Samson Strikes Again


According to Rossella Lorenzi, writing in Discovery News, Israeli archaeologists have found a small stone seal – possibly a coin – that “depicts a man with long hair fighting a large animal with a feline tail.” Less than an inch in diameter, the seal was excavated at the Tell Beit Shemesh site in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem. A tell is a hill or mound, often covering an ancient site. This seal was found in the tell at a level that dates to roughly the 11th century BC.

Whose image might that be?  What strong man, at just that time, so many hundreds of years before Christ, would have taken on such a beast with his bare hands? Students of Scripture cannot help but think of just one man: Samson. Take a look at Jud 14:5-6.

Here’s another clue. That tell is located near the Sorek River, which was the boundary separating the Israelite territory from the Philistine territory at that very same time. The Valley of Sorek is mentioned but once in the Bible, in Jud 16:4, as the area where a woman lived who was named Delilah.  So not only the image on the seal, but also its location, would seem to point to Samson, the powerful, long-haired judge of ancient Israel.

Can we be sure that it’s Samson on this seal? The Israeli archaeologists, Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman of Tel Aviv University, don’t claim that the seal positively proves that Samson actually existed, but they do see the coin as evidence that stories – independent of the Bible – about a Samson-like man existed at that very time. In other words, as Eric Metaxas notes in his BreakPoint broadcast, the story of such a man was not a legend first invented by a sixth-century BC scribe living in Babylon, as many mainstream “Bible scholars” have claimed. The report goes back to the exact era in which the Bible claims that Samson lived.

There’s more. The archaeologists also found a large number of pig bones near the river Sorek on the Philistine side, while they unearthed nearly none on the Israeli land. The implication is that the ancient Hebrews, living on that side, did not eat pork. Obviously, this fits the dietary restrictions given in the Law of Moses. See Lev 11.

It seems so ironic that whenever skeptics deny the existence of a biblical character, nation, place, or event, scientists make this kind of discovery. What will they find next? I don’t know, but such things encourage me to believe all that the Bible says.  Faith is still “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).

Go get ‘em, Samson. The fight’s not over.

Sources:
“Samson Legend Gains Substance with New Find,” Rosella Lorenzi, Discovery News, Aug 3, 2012. http://news.discovery.com/history/seal-may-give-substance-to-samson-legend-120803.html

A Man with Long Hair,” Eric Metaxas, BreakPoint, Aug 15, 2012. http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/20069

“Lion Seal from Beth Shemesh Sparks Samson Discussion,” Noah Wiener, Bible History Daily, Jul 30, 2012. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/lion-seal-from-beth-shemesh-sparks-samson-discussion/