Praying For God’s Mission in Light of the Old Testament-Part 5
This Takes Jumping
It is time that I jump ahead. The last I left you in this series, I was talking about who God is and what sin is with the story of Moses with the Burning Bush and the Ten Commandments. In this journey I have decided to jump ahead to the book of Judges. This isn’t because I don’t think Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua are unimportant. I want to keep this series to 10 hubs, so I had to make some hard choices.
Here is a recap of Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua to help you with the context of this hub. Numbers is about Israel wandering around the wilderness. They wandered because they didn’t trust God that they could take the Promise Land. A notable story is when they are grumbling for water. Moses prays and God tells him to speak to the rock. Instead of speaking to the rock, he strikes it and is prevented from entering the promised land because of his disobedience. He does see the Promise Land on top of a mountain right before he dies.
Deuteronomy is the second giving of the law before Moses hikes up the mountain again, dies, and gives leadership to Joshua. In the book of Joshua, Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua is told by God not to be afraid, but to be courageous. He has the privilege of meeting the Commander of the Yahweh’s Army (God). You also have the story of Rahab and the walls of Jericho falling before Joshua, with God’s help, and Israel's assault against this city is successful.
Strange Battle Plan
Then There are the Judges
You see in this book Israel struggles to do what God wants them to do. They sin, a foreign nation rules over them, Israel prays, God rises up a Judge to lead them and bring deliverance, and the cycle starts over. Right now what screams to me is a prayer request that we as Christians will not fall into this cycle. That we will pray to seek God always, when things are bad and when things are good. This way, we won’t fall into a cyclical prayer and behavioral pattern.
This hub is going to focus on the story of the announcement of the birth of Samson. I share this passage because of the phrase, the Angel of the LORD (or Yahweh). We find him in Exodus 3 from the burning bush. The interesting thing here is, as the story unfolds, --God speaks to Moses from the burning bush. Then with the story of when Joshua meets the Commander of the LORD’s Army, it’s the same thing. Joshua meets the Commander, but it is the LORD that speaks to him later in the story. It is because of these stories and the wording of them all that has me asking, who is the Angel of the LORD? That leads me to Judges 13.
Talking to the Angel of the LORD
The Birth of Samson
Israel once again is being ruled by another nation. This time the Angel of Yahweh (or LORD) appears to Zorah, Samson’s mother, that she is going to have a son. What you need to know is that Zorah is barren. She tells her husband, Manoah, and he responds in prayer. He prays because he wants to meet the man who told his wife that she will be pregnant. I love this response! It shows his commitment to following God. His wife’s story got him intrigued and he wants to know more and make sure that he does exactly what God wants him to do.
I love what happens when Manoah gets to meet the Angel of Yahweh. Manoah and Zorah offer a sacrifice to the LORD. The Angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the offering. This must have been quite the sight because Manoah responds with fear saying he saw God and that they are doomed to die. On top of that, Angel of Yahweh says his name is beyond understanding. These things make me believe that the Angel of Yahweh is the pre-incarnation of Jesus. If you read other Angel of Yahweh passages, they start with the Angel of the LORD and then switches it to the LORD. These stories make me think the same thing about this being the pre-incarnate Jesus.
I have to add that God spoke to Moses in the Burning Bush. And then the Angel of Yahweh leaves in flames. Again, to me this points to the Angel of Yahweh being Jesus before he became man.
Leaving in the Flames
What this Means for Prayer
First, I want to say that this idea that the Angel of the LORD as the pre-incarnate Jesus theology isn’t something that is hard and fast and that needs to be believed by all believers without question. Some of you are going to disagree with me and others will agree. I think that what we need to take away from this is the desire to pray for one another and our mission even when we disagree on these issues of interpretation. When I worked for InterVarsity I worked closely with staff that had his children baptized as infants. I disagree with this practice, but he is sold out to God’s mission and so we prayed for each other and we worked well together.
Here are some other ideas to help us pray for God’s mission in light of this passage:
Worship: They offered a sacrifice to God, so I think this passage is leading us to worship God as part of our praying.
Ask Your Questions: Manoah had a question and he wasn’t afraid to ask. He even made a request and God was willing to grant it. Let’s make requests of God that has something to do with His mission.
Tell Others: God is going to tell you things if you are willing to listen. When He does, tell others. They might become your allies in prayer and they can help you discern what it is that God is speaking to you.
Don't forget to pray that we will not fall into a Judges-like pattern.
No Matter What, We are All the Body of Christ
Now it is time to get out there and pray for God’s mission. If you have a thought on how to pray for God’s mission in light of this passage, please share in the comments section below. I really want to hear what you to have to say. In the meantime, don’t forget to pray, pray, and pray. Of course, early and often.