Wonder–Where is the Focus of Your Offering?

Happy New Year!

We ended last year, celebrating the wonder of Jesus–A Wonder–as displayed in the Judges 13 story of the Old Testament. It would do us well to begin a new year–a year many look forward to as being different than the last…a year many fear will be the same, with so many unknowns and changes–with a constant: Jesus is the same today as He was in Bible times, and He will forever be the same (Hebrews 13:8). Let that soak in. I know I’m different than I was when I was younger. I’ve grown up. I’m into different things, like many different foods, think different things are funny or worth thinking about, am at a different place spiritually, etc. I would assume you are different, too. It’s not just the year 2020! Circumstances grow and change us…yet Jesus is still a Wonder…He was…and He will be! What He can do is still the same and can still make us drop to our knees or stand in awe; Who He is hasn’t changed; and what and whom He values remains unchanged. While we know that, we still seem to want our circumstances to change, instead of resting in Who He is, trusting in Him and His plan. When will we rest in the One Who does wonders and wait patiently, anticipating the unfolding of His works, and yielding to His will over our own?

Photo by Isabella Christina on Unsplash

In the last post, we looked at the meaning of Manoah wanting to delay the Angel of the LORD by his and his wife preparing a goat for Him…This was a way of giving an offering of appreciation, celebrating the promise of their child, and displaying hospitality. I suppose we could also consider that, by the use of the word “detain,” Manoah may have intended on asking the Angel of the LORD some additional questions during their meal, since he didn’t really get the answers he was looking for when he asked the Angel of the LORD the questions he did in Verse 12. Today, we are going to look at the reply of the Angel of the LORD (mind you, Manoah didn’t know that’s Who He was).

The Angel of the LORD acknowledged that Manoah was detaining Him; however He told Manoah He wouldn’t eat their food. He wasn’t rude, leaving it at just that; He suggested a better way: He said that if Manoah offered a burnt offering, he MUST offer it to the LORD. Since He knew Manoah didn’t know Who He was, He wanted to make it clear to Manoah that the One to offer his appreciation to, the One to celebrate for this wonder of the pregnancy in the midst of his wife’s barrenness, was the LORD alone!

Photo by Keem Ibarra on Unsplash

Ponder that for a bit…When have you had someone do something that meets a need they didn’t know you had (or maybe they did), and you want to offer them your appreciation? It could’ve been financial, material, emotional, or just showing you support when you really needed it. Did you see that person as an extension of God’s hand, God’s provision, to you, or did you merely see them? Were you celebrating their generosity, kindness, or support, or did you let them know you saw God’s character and help through them…that they were used greatly in your life by Him? If you were the giver, and the receiver was thanking you, did you make sure the attention was focused on the LORD…that He was the One Who led you to do whatever you did, or did you say, “I’m so glad I could be there for you?” or “I’m so glad I could help?” When we redirect the offering to the appropriate One, I can guarantee the blessings are so much greater, and the LORD’s kingdom is definitely impacted!

The Angel of the LORD told Manoah to still “prepare” something, as your text might read, which means “do, make” in the original text. It’s an action, rather than just sitting there, doing nothing. Yet the focus of the action, in Verse 16, is different for Manoah, since he didn’t know Who the Angel of the LORD was; the focus was directed to the LORD. To “offer” the burnt offering to the LORD is to communicate with the LORD…to have a relationship with Him. The literal meaning of the word “offer” in Verse 16 is “to go up, rise.” In this instance, it’s referring to the flame and the smoke from the offering, as the entire animal, besides the skin, was to be consumed in the fire (Leviticus 1); this kind of offering was a “soothing or pleasing aroma” (Leviticus 1:9) to the LORD.

Photo by Paul Schafer on Unsplash

It’s interesting to me that the same Hebrew word used for “offer” here in Judges 13:16 is the same word used for “shall come” in Verse 5 of the same chapter; in Verse 5, it refers to no razor coming on the baby’s head, since he was set apart to serve God. This use, in Verse 5, is an absolute phrase, which adds a deeper meaning to the whole idea of “offering” or “setting apart” this baby to the LORD. He wasn’t just ceremonially set apart; He was visibly different. The LORD doesn’t want a partial offering when it comes to His relationship with us. He wants ALL of us…every part. It includes all that we do, all that we make. Our relationship with Him is shown by our actions, the way we live, and how we are visibly different than the world around us…how we are set apart to actively serve Him!

“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating ALL of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to Godwhich is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.”

Romans 12:1 AB

“It’s the same way with the Son of Man. He didn’t come, so that others could serve Him. He came to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many people.”

Mark 10:45 GWT

So, here are a couple questions to consider:

  1. Do you focus your offerings of wonder and appreciation up to God, to others, or nowhere (you’re just glad blessings came)?
  2. Is your offering complete or partial (in other words, are you holding anything or any part of you back from God)? Remember, complete communication, a full relationship, is what is pleasing and soothing to God.
  3. Are you actively serving (worshipping) God today? Are you serving the way Jesus–A Wonder–showed us how…and how He designed you to?
  4. How are you visibly different than the world around you, as you set yourself apart to the LORD?

Feel free to reply with any of the answers you are willing to share. I would love to hear how (or if) the truths in this verse speak to you on a practical level.

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