Summary: Did Jesus appear to Manoah and his wife?
A Preview of Christ
In John 5:39 Jesus commands His hearers to search the Scriptures for Him, as He is the way to eternal life. We also read in Luke 24:44-46 That Jesus opened the eyes of the Apostles that they might understand what the Scriptures said about Christ. The birth, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus are taught throughout what we call the “Old Testament.” The beginning of the Gospel does not begin with the birth narratives in the New Testament. If you will look at the early preaching in the Book of Acts, you will notice that the sermons begin in the Old Testament. Even when Paul is preaching to Gentiles such as in Acts 17:22-31, he begins with the doctrine of creation, even though he does not directly quote the Scripture. If this is the way Jesus and understood the Old Testament, we should interpret it the same way.
Early in the Book of Genesis, (Genesis 3:15), we have the first statement of the Gospel. After the fall of Adam and Eve, God curses the serpent and tells him that the seed of a woman would have his heel bruised by the serpent, but in turn, this child would bruise the serpent’s head. It is interesting that it says the seed of a woman and does not refer to the man’s seed as was so often thought in Old Testament times. Women in the ancient world were often seen as no more than incubators of the man’s seed. We know that this seed would be born of the Virgin Mary and had no earthly father to beget Him.
So how is this passage about the announcement of the birth of Samson point to Jesus Christ? Before I go further here, I want to make it clear that like the other Old Testament characters, we are dealing with real people who lived on this earth and not some myth. Peter reminds us of this in 2 Peter 1:16. This story is not an allegory. An allegory requires every point to mean something other than what it states. When we look at the text, we can make some comparisons between Samson and Jesus. For example, they are similar in the miraculous nature of their birth. They were separated from birth to deliver Israel. They both were handed over to Gentiles, suffered, and died to bring deliverance to Israel. But we must also note some extreme differences. Samson would not be faithful in obeying the Nazarite vow whereas Jesus was faithful to death. Samson was betrayed by his own passions and not by the treachery of a friend. Samson’s death only brought a temporary deliverance to Israel. Jesus brings eternal deliverance from a greater enemy than the Philistines to a much broader idea of Israel. We need to look at verse 5 which says that Samson would begin the deliverance, not finish it.
Nevertheless, this passage points to Christ in many ways. First of all, the text begins with the sad note that Israel was wicked yet again. As a consequence, the Lord put them in bondage to the Philistines. This pattern repeats itself throughout the Book of Judges. Judges, starts well with the Israelites remaining faithful to the covenant all the days of Joshua as well as the days of the elders who outlived Joshua (Joshua 24:31). They went out and continued the conquest after Joshua’s death. Then we read in Judges 1:21 that the Benjaminites failed to drive out the Jebusites from Jerusalem. Things go quickly downhill from there with backsliding Israel being delivered into the hands of foreign captives and groaning in their bondage. God would send a deliverer, and they would do right for a while. But inevitably they would backslide again. Judges is a very depressing book which ends in Judges 21:25 with the words that “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”
In this passage, the part of Israel which Manoah, the father of Samson came from had been oppressed for the long period of forty years. God in His mercy acted in behalf of Israel as it does not mention here and repentance on the part of Israel. He comes to Manoah’s wife, whose name is known only to God. This woman was beyond childbearing years, so this announcement by the Angel of Yahweh was a promise of a miracle birth. The miracle birth theme shows up again and again throughout the Old Testament. We think of Sarah giving birth to Isaac, or Rebekkah giving birth to Jacob and Esau. We read of God causing Hannah to conceive. We read of it here. In the New Testament. The birth of John the Baptist is a miracle. These all point to the miracle birth of Jesus from a virgin womb.