Judges 14 & Acts 18

Judges 14

    Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”

    His father and mother did not know that it was from the LORD, for he was seeking an opportunity against the Philistines. At that time the Philistines ruled over Israel.

    Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and she was right in Samson's eyes.

    After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

    His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” And he said to them,

    “Out of the eater came something to eat.
    Out of the strong came something sweet.”
        And in three days they could not solve the riddle.

    On the fourth day they said to Samson's wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father's house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” And Samson's wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,

    “What is sweeter than honey?
    What is stronger than a lion?”
        And he said to them,

    “If you had not plowed with my heifer,
    you would not have found out my riddle.”
        And the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father's house. And Samson's wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

(Judges 14 ESV)

Acts 18

    After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

    When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

    But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal, saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.” But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint. But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the tribunal. And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this.

    After this, Paul stayed many days longer and then took leave of the brothers and set sail for Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had cut his hair, for he was under a vow. And they came to Ephesus, and he left them there, but he himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. When they asked him to stay for a longer period, he declined. But on taking leave of them he said, “I will return to you if God wills,” and he set sail from Ephesus.

    When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

    Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

(Acts 18 ESV)

Something to Consider

Acts 18: Sharing the gospel with others can get really frustrating. You find yourself more times than not trying to persuade people who are indifferent or at times come across bitter about the message you're proclaiming. It’s frustrating because you have discovered 'The Way' to eternal life with a loving God, but when you point others toward this narrow path they seem to prefer the comforts of their current path which leads toward destruction. 

What do we do when we hope for what seems hopeless?

Well, there are two things we can learn from the apostle Paul's time in Corinth:

1. We have a responsibility to share but not to save. 

We read that Paul was occupied with the word, reasoned with the people, tried to persuade them and testified that Jesus was the promised Lord and Savior of the world. He poured his heart out in pursuit of saving the souls of those around him, but in the end, the majority of the people opposed and mocked his message. It is our job to passionately pursue the salvation of others through sharing the truth of the gospel, but in the end, it’s a work of the Spirit that actually uses what we say and what we do to revive and regenerate people’s hearts and lives. This is why Paul can dust off his hands and walk away from those who have rejected him declaring their blood is no longer on his hands. He was willing to spend more time with people that expressed some interest or some sort of response to his message even if they didn't commit to following Jesus right away. However, he refused to spend extra time with those who were hostile and directly opposed to his message. It is our responsibility to share but not in our power to save.

2. We can find encouragement in God's providence and predestination.

Although the idea of God’s predestination can be a difficult thing to grasp, it brings great hope that sharing the gospel will eventually reach the ears of those that God has determined to respond to it. Paul understood this well. Although God indicated that many in Corinth were predestined to put their faith in Jesus, Paul did not make the false assumption that he now had no further part to play. Instead, Paul stayed for another year continuing to preach and teach in order that through his sharing of the gospel those whom God had chosen would come to faith. God’s sovereignty should never discourage us from continuing to share but should always motivate us to keep on sharing in hope that we reach those intended to be reached.

Let’s persist in our responsibility to reason with people and to persuade them that Jesus is the promised Lord and Savior of the world, but then leave the people’s response in the hands of a sovereign God who works out salvation in accordance with His plans and purposes. Or as a wise man once told me, “lets just focus on being the messenger and not the Messiah.”