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Summary: We have lots of questions...one is why try to get close to God?

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18The angel of GOD said, “What’s this? You ask for my name?

You wouldn’t understand—it’s sheer wonder.” Judges 13:18 (TMSG)

Decades ago Oswald Chambers wrote about spiritual perseverance, defining it as… not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated. The Bible is full of examples of men and women who didn’t “just-hang-on” but rather “hung-in” with God, pressing for illumination, inspiration and insight. [1]

• Abraham pressed the angel of God to not destroy Sodom if he could find just ten righteous people in that wicked city.

• Moses stood in the gap for the disobedient children of Israel, pressing God to save them rather than annihilate them.

• Paul pressed God to remove a thorn from his flesh.

• Peter nearly fainted, but stammered a faint “You know that I love you” in response to Jesus’ question; it was a pressing of his hope to yet serve, even though he’d failed.

In today’s text, poor Manoah, unfortunately, cannot be counted among these heroes of the faith; he didn’t even have a clue he was speaking to God.

The details of this chapter of Israel’s history are straight-forward:

Manoah and his wife had no children. In that time and culture, not having children was thought to be punishment for sin. At the very least it put the future in question for the couple, as they’d have no one to care for them in old age.

They had also been born into a world where wickedness and godlessness were the norm. Israel had forgotten their whole mission was to serve Yahweh, and they were about to enter 40 years of punishment – domination by their arch enemies, the Philistines. But the LORD also decided to send a deliverer…a child born to Manoah and his wife, whom she would name Samson. Samson would grow up in the midst of Israel’s punishment and shame to become the national judge to lead a rout of the Philistines, ending God’s judgment on his disobedient children.

The incident of chapter 13:

• An “angel of the LORD ” visits Manoah’s wife alone, giving her the news. [2]

• The wife informs Manoah, who may have been somewhat frustrated and jealous that an angel came to the woman, not him – or simply disbelieving that a mere woman got it right. He prays God would send the angel back to clarify a few details. God consents and the angel reappears, but only to Mrs. Manoah, who runs to get her husband, who then meets him.

• Manoah asks (as did Moses at the burning bush) “what’s your name?” The angel informs him not to worry about it. Spiritually blind-as-a-bat, Manoah could never really comprehend; it’s a name “too wonderful”.

• Manoah wants the angel to stay for dinner, but the angel refuses, telling him if he wanted to make a roast, to offer it as a sacrifice to the LORD. When Manoah does this the angel joins the sparks of the offering as they float heavenward.

• In that moment Manoah finally gets the picture that this “angel” was no ordinary man – “Holy Cow, woman, we’ve seen God; we’re gonna die!”

• Mrs. Manoah says: “Get a grip, Manny, if God was going to fry our souls He wouldn’t have told us we’re going to have a son; quit yer whining – we’ve got to go shopping for nursery furniture!”

Why Press God?

The word “press” (in the sense I’m intending to convey) is used sparingly in the New Testament. Paul used it in describing his pursuit of God:

14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (NRSV)

The word “press” literally shows somebody in hot, passionate pursuit after someone else. There is no obstacle or fear that gets in the way to distract the pursuer from his target. That target is salvation, rescue from everything that is an enemy to life and truth.

And the target of the heavenly call is Jesus Christ. In ancient times a name meant so much more than how you were called to dinner. A name told people about your character. Babies were commonly not named for the first several years of life, until the personality began to emerge – then the parents could call a child by his character.

Often, as in the case of Abraham, Jacob, and even Paul the Apostle, when there was a change of lifestyle and character, there would be a new name given to reflect the new nature. Paul pointed to why we press God; there is no other worthy name than Jesus:

12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NRSV)

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