Mezuzot (The Doorposts) Part 1 of 2
Mezuzot (The Doorposts) Part 1 of 2
by James Jacob Prasch
Reading from Judges chapter 14: “Then Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines. So he came back and told his father and mother, ‘I saw a woman in Timnah, one of the daughters of the Philistines; now, therefore, give her to me as my wife.’ Then his father and his mother said to him, ‘Is there no woman among the daughters of your relatives or among your own people, that you would go and take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?’ But Samson said to his father, ‘Get her for me, for she looks good to me.'”
The sin that so easily besets: Samson had a weakness for unbelieving women. Understand that the issue here was not the woman’s race; females are not circumcised, except in certain Islamic tribes of Central Africa. However, the issue was her belief. At that time, a Jew marrying a non-Jew would have been equivalent to a believer today marrying a non-believer. The issue, in other words, was her belief.
Samson had a predisposition toward being attracted to unbelieving women. By the time we reach chapter 15, we see that it has gotten him into a real mess. Although God worked in the relationship for His purposes in terms of Providence, it got Samson into real trouble. In verse 18 of chapter 15 we read: “Then he (Samson) became very thirsty, and he called out to the LORD and said, ‘Thou hast given this great deliverance by the hand of Thy servant, and now shall I die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?'” Samson’s relationship with this woman eventually landed him in trouble, first with her father and then with the Philistines; and God rescued him. That was his first recorded bout with an unbelieving woman.
We have other teachings on Samson, one of which is ‘The Vow of the Nazirite’, which deals with the midrash, including the typology of the hair. It also deals with the wicked woman of Proverbs chapter 5, which speaks of giving one’s strength to the adulteress. This was the Pesher meaning, the deeper spiritual meaning; now, however, let us look at the Peshet, the straightforward, clear meaning of the text as we read chapter 16 of the book of Judges:
“Now Samson went to Gaza, and saw a harlot there, and he went in to her.” He does it again; he finds another unbelieving woman. ‘The sin that so easily besets’ – “. . . and he went in to her” – in Hebrew, bow l’ah. As you may know from other messages, one person is inside of another person, and a third person is procreated: we are created in the image of God – Imago Dei – we are theopomorphic men and women. This aspect of God’s image in us is the main reason that adultery and fornication are so serious in His sight; these sexual sins cause us to pollute and obscure the image of God in which we were created. On the doorposts of my house in England, there is a small box called a ‘mezuzah’, which has on it the Hebrew letter ‘shem’. Shem is also the first letter of the Hebrew confession of faith. In the Gospels, when they asked Jesus what the greatest commandment is, He said, “Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu Adonai ekhad baruch Ha Shem; “Hear O Israel, the LORD your God is oneness; you shall love the LORD your God with all your soul, all your heart, and all your strength.” That word akhad means a plural oneness; the word for the oneness of God is the same word for Adam and Eve becoming one flesh – akhad. Again, this reproduces His image and His likeness.
The small box on my doorposts is called a mezuzah; but what a mezuzah actually was in ancient Hebrew culture was the doorpost itself; so the little box is named after that upon which it rests; a doorpost. In the Book of Exodus when the hyssop was taken and dipped into the blood of the Paschal lamb, they were to put it onto the mezuzot, the doorposts, in the form of a bloody cross. More about that in a moment.
The husband shall cling to his wife, and they shall be akhad. The Hebrew word translated there as ‘cling to’ is daveq. Clinging to God in Judaism is called devequt. When you see Orthodox Jews with the payoot, the ear-curls, you may observe them making a certain gesture, which to them indicates clinging to God. They are trying to capture something called zumzumim, or ‘holy sparks’. In modern Hebrew, daveq is the word for glue, and cellotape in Hebrew is nyr daveq, literally meaning ‘glue-ribbon’. In the Bible, however, the idea conveyed by that word is not glue, but rather superglue. What is the difference, then, between glue and superglue? Glue sticks, but superglue bonds. Superglue forms a polymer; you have an exchange of electrons. Once the superglue comes into contact with atmospheric pressure, the change of electrons begins and forms the bond. The polymer bonds; it is not merely sticking now, but actually bonding on a molecular level. There is a co-valency established by polymerization. In this way, Samson clings to this unbelieving woman.
Let us go on: “When it was told to the Gazaites, saying, ‘Samson has come here,’ they surrounded the place and lay all night in wait for him at the gate of the city. And they kept silent all night, saying, ‘Let us wait until the morning light, and then we will kill him.’ Now Samson lay until midnight, and at midnight he arose and took hold of the mezuzot – the doorposts – of the city gate, and the posts, and pulled them up along with the bars. Then he put them on his shoulder and carried them up to the top of the mountain which is opposite Hebron.” The bars here are made of iron – in Hebrew barzel. Samson’s burden, like the Cross, is made of wood and iron.
This is not the first time he got himself into a mess because of his weakness: Paul calls this ‘the sin that so easily besets’. Thanks to the advertising industry, which has reduced human sexuality to a means of selling anything from spring fashion to toothpaste, I do not know anybody under the age of 87 who is not vexed by sexual temptation. The world and Satan have combined in the advertising industry to make everything from MTV to magazine adverts degrade human sexuality to an animalistic level.
In Samson’s situation, however, we simply know what his weakness was. For you and me, it may or may not be something sexual, but everyone has a weak spot. Not only do you have one, and I have one, but also the enemy knows what they are. Although I knew better, when I was in University my life was based on cocaine, sex, dope, rock’n’roll, and classical music. Although I professed to be a Marxist, I realized that because cocaine costs money, I needed a good education in order to get a good job with which I could subsidize my decadence. What a hypocrite! If you had asked me as a young believer what I thought would be the weakness that would hold me back, what would be the enemy’s main weapon against me, I would have said it would be cocaine and cannabis. Yet in hindsight, I cannot think of anything that the Lord has given me a more total deliverance from than substance abuse. I cannot even stay in the same room with someone who smokes a cigarette, let alone a joint. I have been to parties at which people were taking this stuff, getting stoned, and not only have I had no temptation, I have even been able to witness to these people and tell them how God gave me power over the addictions and delivered me from them, giving me something better. Substance abuse is something over which God has given me complete victory, although that was the thing that I thought would drag me down. I have no issue with it, although other people do struggle with it. That is not my weakness; my weakness is this:
In England we have a lot of traffic. So one day I will be on my way to a church to speak to a hundred people, and there’s a lorry driver up ahead with an 18- or 22-wheeler with a European license plate, tying up traffic for miles. When I finally manage to overtake him, now that I’m forty minutes late, I see him with a mobile phone in one hand and a cigarette in another, and I want to shoot him. My indignation may itself be righteous, but wanting to put the man in his grave is certainly not.
My weakness is explosive anger: there is a big difference between holy anger and being wholly angry. When Moses took the tablets with the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – and threw them down from the mountain because Israel had made and worshiped golden calves, he told them they had broken the Law of God; that was holy anger. When I want to shoot the lorry driver, however, that is not holy anger. Being right in what you say does not automatically translate to having a righteous indignation or holy anger. We speak of this further on the ‘Sons of Zadok’ tape. That is my personal weakness.
Let me give you an example of another weakness: I know people who are saved Christians to whom alcohol is not a beverage, but a drug. Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with lunch is not possible for them. These believers should never go near alcohol in any form, because that is their personal weakness.
Insurance companies may not know anything about medical science, but they certainly do know about money. Therefore they know about statistics. When you fill out an insurance form, you will notice that one of the first questions they ask is whether or not you smoke. The instant a person quits smoking cigarettes, they automatically go into a lower-risk category. Conversely, the moment you pick up a cigarette and begin smoking you enter a higher-risk category statistically. It is said that for every minute someone smokes, a minute is subtracted from his lifespan. Every cigarette, in other words, is a nail in your coffin. Yet I know saved Christians for whom cigarettes are a weakness. They may go for a day – maybe two days – without one, yet they consistently return to the habit. Some Christians scoff at the idea that this should be an issue, yet when you walk outside of a church and an unsaved person happens to see you light up a cigarette, there goes your testimony. “Yeah, Jesus changed my life. Gotta match?”
“Thou shalt not covet” – How, then, can Christians gamble? I honestly do not know. There are things today that are facilitated by technology. Sin by proxy, as it were, as if that makes it less sinful. For example, there are Christians who would never actually go out and have an affair, betraying their spouses, yet I assure you that tonight there are thousands of born-again Christians in chat rooms committing adultery by cyber-proxy. They will do things over the Internet that they would never actually go out and perform, thinking that this somehow makes it better. But God has said that if you so much as lust for someone else’s wife or husband you have already done it. There are thousands of Christians involved in ungodly chat lines. I know one Christian in particular who got herself into very serious trouble in this way.
‘The sin that so easily besets’; maybe it is sexual for you, or maybe it is not. Maybe it is substance abuse, maybe not. Maybe it is violence or temperament, maybe it isn’t. Whatever it may be, however, every Christian has one thing that they continue falling into. The godliest people I have ever met had a weakness that became conspicuous. In looking to Scripture, we find that the patriarchs had basic defects in character even into their old age. We see God trying to work these defects – these ‘sins that so easily beset’, as Paul calls them – out of their lives, even until their deaths. In the Greek, when Paul spoke of this besetting sin, he did not speak in the past tense. He said, “I am the chief of all sinners” – present tense, even as a believer.
Samson’s besetting sin was his lust for unbelieving women; earlier we saw in Judges 15 that this sin lands him in trouble, but God delivers him from it. Now in chapter 16, however, we find him doing it again: the more you give in to that sin, the deeper you get caught in it, and the more dangerous it becomes. This time, he’s up to his eyeballs in quicksand; he is surrounded by his enemies who have laid a trap for him.
The devil is not interested in carnal pleasure; not even in the fleeting pleasures associated with sin. If you read ‘The Screwtape Letters’, you will find that C.S. Lewis was quite correct: he recounted an old demon’s advice to a young demon regarding how to tempt a Christian to sin, warning him to be careful of pleasure because it was something that had been created by their Enemy, God. The older demon points out that if they corrupt pleasure in order to use it in luring their victim, they should do so cautiously. You see, to the devil the fleeting pleasures of sin are only the bait he must use. Satan does not wish anyone to have any pleasure whatsoever – he only wants people to go to Hell. On this side of eternity, the human mind can comprehend neither the love of God in its totality nor the depravity of Satan in its totality.
To return once more to Samson’s plight in Judges 16, again we note that he is surrounded. What does he do? In other words, what should you and I do when we find ourselves in a mess because we have fallen into doing the same stupid thing once again? Samson’s enemies were waiting to ambush him when? Not at midnight, but at dawn. Samson was comfortably in bed; but he jumped up at midnight. If he had waited until dawn, his enemies would have had him.
To apply this to our own lives: the very instant you realize that you have fallen once again into the same mess and are in trouble, this time even worse than before, you must not wait to put it right. Put it right immediately! To hesitate is to make yourself a sitting target; your enemies are waiting to get you and to get me – demons are real. Samson immediately put his situation right, though he had to jump out of bed to do it. The moment you allow yourself to be comfortable in the sin, you have set yourself up.
So we see that Samson jumped up; however, he was still surrounded. How did he get himself out of the trap? And how do we get ourselves out when we are thick enough in the head to get ourselves into it to begin with? Samson grabbed hold of the mezuzot; the Cross of Jesus Christ, the wood and the iron. There are a million ways into that mess, but there is only one way out of it. Samson put the Cross on his shoulder and carried it with him as he went. Put it right immediately – pick up the Cross at once.
You hear a fiery preacher, but let me tell you about this fiery preacher: Once when I was a young believer – before I was married, before I entered the ministry or went to seminary, even before I was in Israel (I was still in New York) – I met a woman on the East Side of Manhattan who was a bit older than I and rather good-looking. I responded to her advances in the wrong way: instead of witnessing to her, I reacted to her flirtatious invitations. Before I knew it, I was in a taxi with her; not long after that, I found myself in a bath with her; and finally, I was in her bed with her. I was so very close to taking the situation to its natural conclusion, continuing to act in the way I had before I knew Jesus. Yet at the last minute I asked myself what on earth I was doing, and began to wonder how I would get myself out of the situation. My flesh wanted its way, but I began to pray, saying, “Lord Jesus, look what I’ve done! I am stupid, but Lord, please get me out of this somehow.” Well, I don’t know what I said, but it must have gotten right up her nose. While I don’t remember exactly what I said, I’ll never forget what she said: she began running around the room screaming at me to get out, get out, get out! My old creation wanted the sin, but my new creation only wanted to get out of there. To delay is to make yourself a target. There is only one way out: crucify the flesh.
God was gracious to me as He was to Samson: Samson lifted the mezuzot – iron and wood – and to the mountain he went. What happens next? Let us read on to find out: “After this it came about that he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah.” Sure enough, Samson does it again! He goes out and finds another one! We do not know how many times Samson actually did this, but we know it was at least as many times as
the Bible records. The first time we’re told about, he got himself in up to his neck; the second time, up to his eyeballs; what will he do this time?
Your besetting sin may or may not be sexual, as Samson’s was; but never doubt – you have one, and I have one. You know what yours is, and so does God, and not least of all, so does the enemy. That one thing, that stupid, idiotic, moronic thing you just keep going back to. What will Samson do now?
“And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, ‘Entice him, and see where his great strength lies, that we may overpower him, that we might bind him to afflict him. Then we will each give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.'” Unsaved people care about one thing: Money. Unbelievers will do almost anything if the price is right. Here we see that Delilah is being offered money to entice Samson. Things have now changed: the enemy changes strategy. Up until now, their attempts on Samson were opportunistic; now they are seeking to set him up and trap him. As it says in Ecclesiastes, because the consequences of an iniquity are not instant, people are deceived into thinking they will get away with it. The Bible tells us something remarkable about sin: it personifies sin, saying that it can deceive us. Not only can Satan deceive us, not only can other people deceive us if we fail to be discerning, not only can we deceive ourselves, but sin itself can deceive us. That besetting sin can deceive you into thinking that you can continue pulling it off.
The strategy of Samson’s enemies changes now, because they have realized they will not get him through happenstance. When you do something wrong and get yourself into trouble by doing it, that’s good, relatively speaking. Once we begin pulling it off and not reaping the consequences of our sins, that’s when we’re in real trouble – only we don’t know it.
This can be very much likened to the first time a person picks up a cigarette and tries to smoke it: he will cough violently because his body is trying to tell him something; the repercussions of inhaling the nicotine and tar are instant. After he has become metabolically acclimated to it, the coughing stops and he is led to believe he is all right, when the diametric opposite is the actual truth. He has in reality become a statistical candidate for respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and all kinds of cancer. Cigarettes contain carcinogens; yet it becomes easy to think there’s no problem or danger once the coughing stops. The smoker was better off coughing; at least then he knew it was no good.
Continuing with verse 6: “So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Please tell me where your great strength lies, and how you may be bound to afflict you.’ And Samson said to her, ‘If they bind me with seven fresh cords that have not been dried, then I shall become weak and be like any other man.’ Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to Delilah seven fresh cords that had not been dried, and she bound him with them. Now she had men who were lying in wait in another room, and she said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ But he snapped the cords as a string of yarn snaps when it is touched by fire. So his strength was not discovered. Then Delilah said to Samson, ‘Behold, you have deceived me, and told me lies! Now please tell me how you may be bound!'”
Samson is playing with fire; he’s in bed with an $1100.00/night hooker, the pimp’s in the next room with a loaded gun, and he’s playing bedroom games. In the same way we often get flirtatious with the sin we think we can keep on getting away with; it becomes a game to us. Russian Roulette is also a game: you drop the bullet into the barrel and you spin it; only the person you’re playing against knows which cylinder the bullet is in. Click, click, click – but sooner or later, probably sooner than later – bang.
Verse 11: “So he said to her, ‘If they bind me tightly with new ropes that have not been used, then I shall be weak and be like any other man.’ So Delilah took new ropes and bound him with them, and said to him, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ Men were lying in wait in the inner room, but he snapped the ropes from his arms like a thread.” Notice that the strategy only changes very slightly the second time. “So Delilah said to Samson, ‘Up to now you have deceived me and told me lies;'”- Here she is, trying to get Samson killed, yet reproaching him for his immorality. This is like the Pope saying it is immoral to bomb Iraq, while he is the head of the pedophile religion that protects its sexually perverted clergy who destroy the lives of children. He wants to tell others how to be moral, while his own church is a cesspool of depravity. “‘. . . tell me how you may be bound.’ And he said to her, ‘If you weave the seven locks of my hair in a loom and fasten it with a pin, I shall be weak and be like any other man.'” Do you notice what is happening here? Step by step Samson is getting lured into the trap; now he lets Delilah know that the secret has to do with his hair. The stakes are raised; in our lives, when we successfully get away with the sin a few times, we get confident and careless, and we raise the stakes just as he did. It’s like going to a casino or a racetrack; the house always has the odds, or they wouldn’t be in business.
Understand what is happening here: why is he beginning to tell this unbelieving woman intimate things about his relationship with God? She isn’t the girl next door, she’s a femme fatale, and a shichah to boot. Couldn’t he find a nice Jewish girl? He begins sharing with her intimate things that should not be shared outside of holy wedlock. Why? Because of deveq; bound. You cannot sleep with someone and avoid being covered with superglue.
I used to live across the street from the United Nations in New York City during my younger days as a believer. I was cohabitating there with an attractive Italian girl, who was a great cook as well as being great at a few other things. The relationship was based on two things, the first of which was Fettuccine Alfredo; the second I will leave to your imagination. When I began following Jesus, the leader of Jews for Jesus at that time told me that I either had to get married or get out; so I told her to get out. I then took the rest of my drugs, as some of you know, and threw them out the window, where they landed twenty stories down on First Avenue. As I often point out, it is a good thing the Polish Ambassador had diplomatic immunity, or he’d still be in the birdcage singin’ the blues. I led the woman to the Lord: I can now go to a church almost anywhere in the world, and the women in these churches are sisters in faith, nothing more nor less. Yet if I saw that Italian woman, there would always in this life be something there that should not be there. If you talk to people who have endured the agony of a divorce, they will tell you that it does irreparable damage.