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As was said, we learn from the reactions of Manoah to what his wife told him, that he, too, was of that number in Israel who feared God. Had he been an unbeliever he would have made light of her words. But he was deeply interested and concerned, believing and hopeful, for he turned to the Lord in prayer. If only the messenger would appear unto them once more and teach them what they shall do unto the child that is to be born. As was said, the prayer was superfluous for the instruction for which Manoah prays had already been given. It shows that the prayer rises not from the need of more instruction as to how the child is to be treated but from the need of the confirmation of his faith through the appearance of the messenger. The man of God—Manoah knew not that the man of God who had appeared unto his wife was the angel of the Lord—came again and worked a sign that was plainly indicative of his true identity. He did so because, as was remarked, the Lord always stands ready to bring to full fruition the faith of such who by His mercy want to believe.

The messenger, who appeared unto Manoah as his wife, was not an ordinary man. He was not an ordinary angel but the Angel of the Lord, the second person in the blessed trinity, in His office of Mediator, thus He whom we now worship as our God and Savior Christ Jesus. There can be no doubt that the Angel of the Lord is Christ, the Son of God. The Old Testament Scriptures over and over identify Him with the triune Jehovah. On the other hand, they clearly distinguish between this angel and Jehovah. This is conclusive proof that this angel is Christ. For Christ, being as He is of one and the same essence with God, is the only one who can be identified with God. On the other hand, being as be is the Christ, the Mediator of God and man, the incarnate Word, He in this capacity, is also distinct from God. The distinction here is not between the Son on the one hand and the Father and the Holy Spirit on the other, but between the Son in His office of Mediator and the triune Jehovah. Thus long before His incarnation in the fullness of time the Son of God in His office of Mediator was manifesting Himself to the church—to Hagar and Abraham and now again to the parents of Samson in a real human form; to Moses in the burning bush; to the people of Israel in the snake and fire that enveloped the summit of the mount of God; and to this same people in the pillar of cloud. Thus the angel whom Abraham called Jehovah and for whom he fetched bread, was verily Christ. It was Christ who called to Moses out of the burning bush and sent him to deliver Israel. It was Christ who met him by the way in the inn and threatened to kill him on account of his negligence in the matter of the circumcision of his son. It was Christ who communicated to him the law and spake to him out of the tabernacle of the congregation. When the people of Israel took their journey from Egypt it was none other than Christ who went before them by day in a pillar of fire to give them light. The word of the Lord that came to all the prophets, was a word that was communicated to them by Christ. Through all the centuries of the Old Dispensation, Christ functioned personally.

There can be no doubt that the angel who appeared to the parents of Samson was the Angel of the Lord. Manoah asked him to divulge his name. “What is thy name,” he said to him, “that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honor.” And he answers, “Why asketh thou thus my name, seeing it is wonderful.” In Isa. 9:5 it is said, “Unto us a child is born and his name is wonderful, wonder-worker. Isa. 29:14 explains our present passage. It says, “I will continue to show myself doing wonders to this people, wonder upon wonder.” A wonder is a new work of God. Ex. 33:10, “And he said, Behold I make a covenant: before all the people I will do wonders, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom thou art shall see the work of the Lord.” Isa. 43:9, “Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth.” The wonder is a working of God according to which He redeems His people from their sins and leads them to their everlasting destination. Thus the wonder is the divine working of grace; and it demonstrates that with God all things are possible. Hence, in the Old Testament Dispensation, God performed His miracles at those junctures in the history of the church when from the point of view of man and of nature His people and with them His cause was doomed to extinction. Only Jehovah performs wonders. Thus the messenger who appeared unto Manoah is Christ. For He said that His name was wonder, wonderworker. Christ Himself is the wonder.

The narrative contains still other evidence that the messenger is Christ the Lord. Manoah petitioned his visitor to tarry until he should have made ready for him a kid, prepared for him some food. He wanted to make certain who his visitor was. If he partook of food, he would know that he was a real man of flesh and blood and not an angel. But the visitor told him that he would not eat of his bread and that, if he would offer him a burnt offering be must offer it unto the Lord. Manoah was puzzled. Regarding his visitor he now asked him his name that he might do him honor when his saying came to pass. The reply of the visitor was mysterious, thought-provoking. He says to Manoah, “Why asketh thou after my name, seeing it is wonderful.” He means to say that he cannot reveal his name because it is wonderful. Manoah now offered his offering upon a rock unto the Lord, as the visitor, whose identity was still hidden from him, had instructed. And the visitor, who had just said that his name was wonderful, did wondrously and thus made plain that it was proper that he should be called by such a name. With Manoah and his wife looking on, he ascended in the flame of the altar. Then Manoah knew that he was the Angel of the Lord and they both fell on their faces to the ground. Manoah thought that they must die, because they had seen God. But his wife, who at that moment was more capable than he of clear thinking, reassured him. If the Lord were pleased to kill them, he would not have received a burnt-offering and a meat offering at their hands, neither would He have showed them all these things, nor would at this time have told them such things as these. This was what she said to her husband. It is plain even beyond the shadow of a doubt that the visitor was the Angel of the Lord, Christ Jesus, the Son of God. His name was wonderful. (The Hebrew text has wonderful and not secret). And he did wondrously. He spake with the authority of God. The woman and her husband knew that He was God, knew by divine revelation which was given them in connection with the wondrous doing of their visitor.

The things here reported call for closer inspection and fuller explanation. Manoah inquired after the name of his visitor, unaware whom he was addressing. Had the request been granted the Lord would have given Manoah a full revelation of the glories of God, such as the church now possesses in the face of the incarnate son of God. The request, unbeknown to Manoah, was identical to that once voiced by Moses when he said to the Lord, “Show me thy glory/’ God’s glory is the radiance of His goodness; and the latter is comprehensive of the totality of His glories. And this is His name. Its unobscured radiance would have destroyed Moses. It would have destroyed Manoah. For, like Moses, he was a sinful man; and, besides, he moved among the shadows of the Dispensation of the promise. In his vision John saw one like unto the Son of man with hair white like wool, as white as snow, and with eyes as a flame of fire. It was the glorified Christ. And John fell as dead at His feet. Paul knew a man in Christ, whether in the body he could not tell, or whether out of the body he could not tell, caught up in the third heaven in paradise, where for an instant he stood face to face with the heavenly. And he heard words not lawful for a man to utter and that no man can utter who still bears the image of the earthy and is occupied in his mind with earthy images of the heavenly, who now sees through a glass darkly. Thus the Lord’s reply to Manoah, “Why dost thou inquire after my name,” is understandable. But He does nevertheless give the man a revelation, one that he could receive and that met the requirement of his need and the need of all his spiritual kin of that day. He tells him that

His name is wonderful and that, such being His name, He is the Lord of wonderworking power, with whom all things are possible. Manoah, the people of God of his day whom he represented, and to whom he would certainly communicate the good news, had need of hearing this. For, as was said, at this juncture in sacred history all things again united to proclaim that if the cause of God depended on man, it was doomed to failure, that thus Israel’s hope was solely the God of wonderworking power. All things at this time combined to proclaim this—the spiritual barrenness of Israel, its impenitence, as also the unfruitfulness of the woman from whom the promised deliverer was to be born.

The Lord also did wondrously. He received the burnt-offering and the meat offering that Manoah offered unto the Lord and thus received the person of Manoah and the person of his wife. It means that he was merciful unto them and in His mercy sanctified unto their hearts the truth symbolized by their offering—the truth and fact that their sins were covered and that in their penitence and contrition of heart, their praise and thanksgiving and consecration to their God they were pleasing in His sight. The Lord continued to do wondrously. Before their eyes He ascended in the flame of the altar. That was a mysterious doing. It pre-indicated the wholehearted and perfect consecration of Christ unto God in His suffering and dying on the cross in behalf of His people. But it also pre-indicated the consecration unto God of the Christ resurrected and exalted. This then was the word of God to Manoah: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that by no means will clear the guilty; visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” This was the word of God to Moses. But it was a word that rose from every sacrifice by blood that was offered. Thus it was the word of God also to Manoah and to the true church in those fearful times. The woman was right. They had seen God and would live even because they had seen Him.

Why did the Lord go to all this work in the preparation of this particular deliverer called Samson. This may be a strange question and it also may be strangely put. But of several of these deliverers we read only that they were raised up and that they delivered and judged Israel. But Samson must be a Nazarite. He must be born of one who was barren. The mother had to observe the Nazarite rules in her own person all during the time of her pregnancy. She hears all this from the very mouth of God and not from God through one of His servants. The Lord appears first to the woman, then to her husband in answer to the latter’s prayer. He does wondrously in both their presence. And all this is reported to us in the Scriptures in minutest detail. There can be but one reason. The matter was of great importance. The Lord had something especially great to say to His people through the sign that He now brought into being. And that sign was Samson. Through this sign the Lord speaks with great emphasis and with clarity. Samson as a sign was unique. His Nazariteship was unique and never repeated itself. As was said, the significance of Samson is that he so strikingly exhibits the connection between holiness expressing itself in covenant fidelity and power to war God’s warfare. What was demonstrated through him in a striking way is that God is the strength of His people in the way of their obedience to Him.