I looked up in the sky as I drove out of the school parking lot one morning this past week. It was beautiful, filled with light blues and variegated pinks. Sugary stretched clouds were pulled across the sky. It was the most perfect cotton candy sky I had ever seen! I wish I could have captured the view in a photo for you, but since I was driving, it was better for all that I just watched and admired!
Do you remember how we talked about the word “offer,” in Judges 13:16, meaning “to go up, rise” (check out the post, “Wonder–Where is the Focus of Your Offering,” if you haven’t had a chance to read that one, yet)? In Verse 16, it was referring to the flame and the smoke from a burnt 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 to the LORD” (Leviticus 1:9). The same Hebrew word used for “offer” (“alah”) was also used for “shall come” earlier in the same chapter, in Verse 5, referring to a razor not coming on, or being used on, the child as a way of offering him to God’s service. What excites me is this same word is used other times in this chapter, as well, which we are going to look at today.
Last post, we touched on the fact that Manoah brought a grain offering in addition to a goat for a burnt offering. Today, we see the word “alah,” or “offer,” again, as Manoah offered both offerings on the rock to the LORD. Remember, Manoah still didn’t know that the Angel of the LORD, Whom he had been communicating with, was Who He was, yet the Angel of the LORD decided to show Manoah and his wife, while they were watching the offerings burn, how much of A Wonder He was by what He could (and can) do!
In the post “Wonder–Where is the Focus of Your Offering?” we saw how 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, was different for Manoah, since he didn’t know Who the Angel of the LORD was; the focus of his action (offering) was directed to the LORD. We touched on the point that to “offer” the burnt offering to the LORD is to communicate with the LORD…to have a relationship with Him.
In Verse 19, we see the other side of the relationship (the Angel of the LORD) doing the action…to communicate something more to Manoah and His wife! The same Hebrew word for “prepare” (meaning “do, make”) in Verse 15, “asah,” is the same word used to say “performed” or “did” in Verse 19! In Verse 15, Manoah was the one preparing the offering…doing the action…communicating. In Verse 19, the Angel of the LORD is the One performing a wondrous thing…a jaw-dropping action, communicating something extraordinary!
What I love about this is that it shows us that our relationship with the LORD is not just a one-way street; we aren’t the ones being expected to do all the work, and neither is He! It’s an exchange. As we, most likely, know too well, many relationships have died that are one-sided. There are many who offer and offer to immobile gods who can’t move or do anything for the one who is offering; yet, the LORD God is active, present, works on our behalf, and accomplishes His will! He communicates with us, and we often hear Him more clearly when we offer and communicate our dedication to Him.
So, as the flame of the fire went up (yup, this is yet another use of the same Hebrew word, “alah”) toward the sky from the altar, the Angel of the LORD ascended (you guessed it…”alah,” again!) in the flame!!! Can you imagine?!? The man you were just talking with just goes up in the air…and not just that; He went up in a flame! That’s not a David Copperfield moment; that’s our wonder-working God!! No wonder Manoah and His wife fell on their faces on the ground when they saw Him do this! They literally fell flat on the ground with their faces down, as they submitted to and respected Him. When they lifted their faces, and the Angel of the LORD no longer caused them to see Him, it finally hit Manoah Who the Angel of the LORD was!