We’ve all heard the stories of little children attempting to baptize their dolls or animals. Having seen and heard the ceremony performed by adults, they feel like they know what needs to be done. They just need some water, something or someone to dunk and the right words to say. It seems so simple to them. So they get their doll or a pet or even another child and a litte water and seem to be performing the ritual quite well until they say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and in the hole you go.” The children, not knowing about the Holy Ghost, aren’t even aware of the problem, but an adult overhearing those words immediately realizes they lack understanding. Because it’s done by children, in innocense, it’s funny. But, on the serious side, it reveals just how important it is to know names and their meanings.
As human beings, apart from special revelation, we just don’t know God. We don’t know who He really is, what He can do, or what He wants from us. So, throughout history, He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through supernatural activities linked to Divine Names. In the Old Testament, God primarily revealed Himself as Yahweh, The Existing One, The Great I AM! However, He also revealed Himself as I AM Who Sees, I AM Who Heals, I AM Who Provides, I AM your Peace, I AM your Banner, I AM your Righteousness, etc. And finally, in New Testament times God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is just like Him, to give us the clearest revelation of God that it is possible. He Is the ultimate fulfillment of all the names of God.
In this lesson, Manoah asks God, “What is your name?” And God responds with a question, “Why do you ask my name?” It’s a very personal question that applies to all of us. Are we just curious and eager for more head knowledge or do we truly want a closer relationship with our Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Let’s look at the story.
Again the Israelites did what was evil in the LORD’S sight, so Yahweh handed them over to the Philistines, who kept them in subjection for forty years. In those days, a man named Manoah from the tribe of Dan lived in the town of Zorah. His wife was unable to become pregnant, and they had no children. The angel of Yahweh appeared to Manoah’s wife and said, “Even though you have been unable to have children, you will soon become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink or eat any forbidden food. You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and his hair must never be cut. For he will be dedicated to God as a Nazarite from birth. He will (begin to) rescue Israel from the Philistines.”
In this passage, we find Israel in need of a deliverer. God will provide for them so the wife of Manoah is visited by the Angel of Yahweh. She is given instructions for Samson’s care and prophetic insight into his required lifestyle and accomplishments.
The woman ran and told her husband, “A man of God appeared to me! He was like one of God’s angels, terrifying to look at. I didn’t ask where he was from, and he didn’t tell me his name. But he told me, “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must not drink wine or any other alcoholic drink or eat any forbidden food. For your son will be dedicated to God as a Nazarite from the moment of his birth until the day of his death.”
Then Manoah prayed to Yahweh. He said, “Yahweh, please let the man of God come back to us again and give us more instructions about this son who is to be born.”
Manoah displayed no lack of faith in his wife’s word or God’s promise so he responded more appropriately then the priest, Zechariah, who was personally visited by the angel Gabriel concerning the coming birth of his son, John the Baptist! The difference is, Elizabeth didn’t ask for more instructions when Zechariah gave her Gabriel’s report but Manoah wanted to hear it first hand, possibly because he thought it was the man’s place to hear from God, not the womans.
God answered his prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field. But her husband, Manoah, was not with her.
So she quickly ran and told her husband, “The man who appeared to me the other day is here again!”
Manoah ran back with his wife and asked, “Are you the man who talked to my wife the other day?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I am.”
So Manoah asked him, “When your words come true, what kind of rules should govern the boy’s life and work?”
This is a rather humorous passage seeing that God answered Manoah’s request for another visit but met with his wife again when he wasn’t there. (It was apparently the only way He could speak directly with her.) Was God trying to show Manoah He knew what He was doing the first time? Perhaps. At any rate, his wife knew how anxious he was about the situation so she ran to get him. And, when he arrived, he took control and asked all the questions. He expressed a simple, surface kind of faith, and then he asked for more rules. But he received nothing new, just a repeat of what his wife had already told him.
A desire for rules always indicates a lack of desire for relationship. Rules seem safe but they aren’t dynamic and vital. The letter of the law deprives of spiritual life and the Holy Spirit makes alive. But the Lord worked with him as he was.
[See 2 Cor 3:6]
The angel of Yahweh replied, “Be sure your wife follows the instructions I gave her. She must not eat grapes or raisins, drink wine or any other alcoholic drink, or eat any forbidden food.”
Then Manoah said… “Please stay here until we can prepare a young goat for you to eat.”
“I will stay…but I will not eat anything. However, you may prepare a burnt offering as a sacrifice to Yahweh.”
Sadly, Manoah didn’t realize he was talking with God– the Pre-incarnate Jesus. Even when he was told he could make a sacrifice for God, he still didn’t get it.
Then Manoah asked … “What is your name? For when all this comes true, we want to honor you.”
His spiritual dullness is appalling. He doesn’t exhibit a reverential fear of the angel of Yahweh. He doesn’t fall down before Him and try to worship Him as others in scriptural accounts did. He just asks, in a casual way, “What’s your name?” Which, of course, revealed that he had no idea with whom he was speaking.
“Why do you ask my name?” the angel of Yahweh replied. “You wouldn’t understand if I told you.” NLT
King James says ‘Why do you ask My name, seeing it is secret?’
New King James says, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?”
The New Living Translation actually tells you what the angel of Yahweh meant, not what he said. Whereas, the King James and New King James tell you what he said. The angel of Yahweh actually said His name was secret or wonderful because God, in Himself, is impossible to understand. He is Incomprehensible! He has no limits or bounds. He works Wonders. Everything about Him is Extraordinary and thus beyond the comprehension of mortals. And, more particularly, mortals who are spiritually dull– not in close relationship with Him.
Does this sound like a conversation between two people who are struggling to communicate with one another? The relationship is so shallow that a real depth of understanding is unlikely, so the angel of Yahweh simply stated the truth.
Manoah lacked the ability to understand His name. Why? There are at least two reasons.
1. God’s name is Wonderfully Incomprehensible– even for those Who have a personal relationship with Him.
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations–- “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-©imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Col 2:20-23(NKJV)
2. Manoah had a shallow relationship with God which was based on ritual behavior (rules). In other words, he lacked the intimacy with God that only comes from mutual personal revelations and shared experiences. How can we tell that?
Then Manoah took a young goat and a grain offering and offered it on a rock as a sacrifice to Yahweh.
Notice Manoah’s response. Instead of pleading with the Angel, “Help Me! I really want to know you.” He just offered a ritual sacrifice. He fulfilled the letter of the law but lacked the Spirit of it. He is no Moses, no Abraham, no Job, no Jacob. We see no change wrought in him by this encounter. He just believed. He didn’t expect much from His God. He certainly didn’t expect great things.
What a tragedy! What a missed opportunity! If Manoah had known God better, Samson’s life might have turned out differently.You remember Samson grew up as a Nazarite. He was not to cut his hair or partake of the vine or come in contact with the dead. He started out trying to live by those rules but he failed because rules have no power to restrain the fleshly nature. Samuel and John the Baptist each fulfilled their lifetime Nazarite vow, but we are clearly told they had devout parents whose personal relationship with God mentored them. Because Samson failed to maintain a personal relationship with Yahweh, he lived an immoral life and eventually broke all the Nazarite rules and literally brought destruction on his own head and he only partially delivered Israel from the Philistines.
Note: God’s people often live in a state of partial deliverance because they don’t really know God. They have a ritual relationship which leads to a ‘whited sepulchre’ existence and an avoidance of wholeheartedly pursuing God. They wither on the vine and their children often perish.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being a priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6
“If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me (with all your heart). I will be found by you, says Yahweh. I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes.” Jeremiah 29:13 -14a NLT
And as Manoah and his wife watched, Yahweh did an amazing thing. As the flames from the altar shot up toward the sky, the angel of Yahweh ascended in the fire. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell with their faces to the ground. The angel did not appear again to Manoah and his wife.
Rather than tell them His name, He gave them a small exhibition of His power. It was only a little sample of the wonders He can perform; but, it left an impact on them.
Manoah finally realized it was the angel of Yahweh, and he said to his wife, “We will die, for we have seen God!”
Maybe this response was why Jesus didn’t clearly reveal Himself – lest Manoah die of fright!
But his wife said, “If Yahweh were going to kill us, he wouldn’t have accepted our burnt offering and grain offering. He wouldn’t have appeared to us and told us this wonderful thing and done these miracles.”
Here’s another passage of encouragement for women! Hers was the voice of faith and reason.
When her son was born, they named him Samson. And Yahweh blessed him as he grew up. And in Mahaneh-dan, which is located between the towns of Zorah and Eshtaol, the Spirit of Yahweh began to take hold of him. Judges 13:1 – 25(NLT)
Let’s Review What We’ve Learned from this Story.
1. God truly reveals Himself (Who and How He Is) only to His intimates.
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. Psalm 103:7 NKJ
He revealed His character to Moses and His deeds to the people of Israel. Psa 103:7 NLT
2. God can only be even partially understood in the context of a personal relationship with Him because He’s incomprehensible, but revealed in Jesus.
“All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it. Luke 10:22-24
3. God wants a heart relationship with His people.
And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. And their worship of me amounts to nothing more than human laws learned by rote.” Isa 29:13
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Matt 22:37 KJV
“Why Do YOU Ask My Name?”