Wonderful, wonderful . . .

Judges 13:17-20 “And Manoah said to the angel of the Lord, ‘What is your name, so that, when your words come true, we may honor you?’ And the angel of the Lord said to him, ‘Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?’ So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering, and offered it on the rock to the Lord, to the one who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching. And when the flame went up toward heaven from the altar, the angel of the Lord went up in the flame of the altar. Now Manoah and his wife were watching, and they fell on their faces to the ground.”

Have you ever seen something that is so wonderful that words can’t adequately describe it?  Beautiful sunrises and sunsets are like this.  Unless you are there to see it, it’s impossible to adequately put into words. The birth of a child is another such thing.  For those of us who have witnessed the wonder of our own son or daughter entering this world, it’s something to which words can never do justice.  It’s such an awesome and wonderful thing. 

It’s a similar thing, though even more overwhelming, to consider the wonders of God in terms of His being, His attributes, and His works.  In fact, both the wonders of the sunset and the wonders of a child being born are bound up in Him, for it is from Him that these things and any other wonderful things that exist came to be.

In the verses above we have the account of the prophesy of Samson’s birth.  Samson’s father was a man named Manoah.  We find here the account of Manoah’s conversation with “the angel of the Lord,” who came to Manoah and his wife to tell them that Samson would be born to them.  From the very beginning of this account, we are struck with the awe and wonder of it all.  I don’t know if you’ve ever pondered what it would be like for an angel to appear to you, but in almost every account of such appearances in Scripture it is a wondrous, even a fearful thing.  When Manoah’s wife described her encounter with this angel to her husband (for the angel had initially appeared only to her), she said, “A man of God came to me, and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome” (Judges 13:6).  It was later that the angel also appeared to Manoah, and it is that encounter that is recorded above.  

One of the things that Manoah asks the angel is “What is your name?”.  Notice the answer that the angel gives: “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?”  The Hebrew word translated “wonderful” here is actually the superlative form of the word, i.e., it is repeated – “wonderful, wonderful.”  It is because of these words that most theologians believe that “the angel of the Lord” (as opposed to “an” angle of the Lord), is a reference to an appearance of the preincarnate Jesus.  This is because in Isaiah 9:6, which is one of the prophesies of Jesus’ incarnation, we are told “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be calledWonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Wonderful: it’s one of the names of Jesus.  Throughout the New Testament people were astonished at the words and miracles of Jesus.  From the very beginning of His ministry, we are told that “all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth (Luke 4:22).”  And when Jesus spoke and quieted the storm on the Sea of Galilee, we are told that the disciples who were with him “were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?’” (Luke 8:25).   

And so back to the account of the prophesy of Samson’s birth. We are told that as Manoah and his wife offered a sacrifice to God as an expression of worship, they offered it “to the One who works wonders, and Manoah and his wife were watching.”  The New King James version (as opposed to the English Standard version translation above) puts it this way: “And He (i.e., the angel of the Lord) did a wondrous thing while Manoah and his wife looked on— it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar!”  And so, the story of Samson’s life begins. It is a story filled with wonder, for it’s a story of the wonderful works of God in His life.  I hope to explore this in the next few days, but I am praying for the ability to express the wonder of it all even a little bit with my feeble words. 

The wonder and power of God – the Scriptures are filled with these things.   It’s no surprise that the psalmist prays in Psalm 119:18 “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law.”  May that be our prayer as well every time we open the wonderful Word of God, for it’s the only place we can go to learn about our God, whose very name is “Wonderful, Wonderful.”

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