Life, Carry, Take
When someone’s character and/or integrity is called into question by report or rumor, there is a process that was devised in order to prove guilt or innocence. The process is called the ‘swallowing of the waters’.
An unfaithful person (in our reading the specifc example is a woman) would be accused of an infidelity that was not seen by anyone who can testify the truth. However, the husband feels the presence of something (which he considers to be another man) and it causes him to be jealous of her actions (works). He can not determine whether they are works of the flesh, or fruits of the spirit at work.
The only way that the woman can prove herself and disprove the accusation is to stand before her husband and the priest and undergo an examination. This examination is no ordinary test. She is given a glass of special water that has the ability to bring forth and/or up the truth by manifesting itself through the body’s reaction.
If the woman is guilty, the waters will cause her womb to work against her and she will be unable to carry seed that she conceives: thus proving that her body rejects seed from her husband because she has held the seed of another man. If the woman is innocent, however, her body will be able to carry the seed through its entire term proving that her husband has brought a false witness against her and his jealousy is unmerited.
This exam is completely voluntary. The faithful wife has nothing to fear in drinking the bitter waters because her body can swallow up whatever lie is brought before her. But it is forced upon the woman who refuses to be examined. The truth will be manifested regardless. If the woman is fearful of the exam, there is good reason to believe that there is something that she is hiding that will be brought out. A faithful wife withstands the test and leaves her husband with the results.
When the Israelites needed a savior to rescue them from the Philistines, God sent an angel to deliver a word to a chosen woman. The word was that she would conceive and bring forth a special son.
This special son would have extraordinary strength and unusual power to release his people. His methods would be unprecedented. It was imperative that no one would confuse his-story. God gave special instruction to Samson’s mother, through an angel, as to how she should care for the pregnancy; giving her the terms by which she must keep in order to carry through and follow through with providing a righteous judge for Israel. He was going to be a judge born into a vow; not even one that he could make for himself, but one that was a burden placed on him.
If she had not followed through with the instructions, Samson’s tale would have been one of great tragedy. But because she did follow through, though Samson’s life ending would look tragic, he fulfilled God’s mandate for his life. He brought the Philistines down along with himself.
The woman could have worried that some would accuse her of having been unfaithful to God by delivering a son who was destroyed, though he was suppose to be a savior; but because she followed through with the given instructions, Samson proved that the ending of his life was the fulfillment of prohecy. He was created to destroy the Philistines when he destroyed himself.
The apostle Paul knew that he had conceived something phenomanol from God. However, the vision was so big that none of his own people could understand his ministry. It looked to many as if Paul had been unfaithful to the Jews. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Paul loved the Jews more than he loved his own soul, but God had called him to go in a new direction in order to witness to the world. Paul was preparing for what was coming. God had called Paul to bring the answer to the question that the world would be asking. It was the same question Esau had asked of Isaac, “Is there a blessing left for me?”
But Israel saw it as a betrayal.
Those who were companions of Paul, standing with him in the faith, also stood as mediators between the two camps. They were the believeing Jews who were also burdened for the new converted gentiles. However, because of the way his “new” life looked, they had to both address and protect Paul in the form of a test. It was true that Paul’s new philosophy would require complete commitment to the gentile world, but one thing had to be proven, did he still stand for Israel?
Paul, usually known for defending himself and arguing his point, submitted graciously because he understood the dilemma. He underwent an examination completely voluntarily. He committed to a vow and went through with the customs of the other four Jews in order to prove his innocence.
Paul had to prove that that which he gave birth to (a love for Israel) was not an enemy to that which he had recently conceived (a love for the world) and was now carrying. He had to prove that the children were conceived by the same Father and that they were in fact siblings; working together and not enemies tearing one another apart. For Paul, it seems, this proof never came in his lifetime. Many actually used his teachings to destroy both sides. Because the vision that God created was bigger than one generation, many simply didn’t have the capacity to understand. They couldn’t see it.
However, the results of the test itself , his willingness to undergo the scrutiny of the other Jews in the vow, spoke to his innocence. On the final judgement day when all books are opened and all hearts are judged publicly then they who accused him will all see clearly.
But as for Paul, he did not miscarry. He delivered one and conceived another at the same time. Despite how it looked he was clean. He submitted to the DNA testing of the children, both the one delivered and the one he carried. It was an examination of his fruit. The bitter waters did not cause Paul to miscarry. He swallowed them up because his fruit was at peace with him. They were fruits of the spirit, not works of the flesh. Works of the flesh would have told on him by spilling out of his mouth. When you conceive good judgment you have to protect it by carrying through with a self examination.