We have 3 really challenging sections of Scripture to read today. In Judges we learn how God allowed human desires to be fulfilled, although unspiritual, but he then weaves them into his purpose: this is observable in several parts of Scripture. The ‘superman’ Samson, possessed of remarkable physical strength, desires a Philistine as a wife. He needs his parents to arrange this – they object and say, “Is there not a woman among our own people.” [ch.14 v.3]

But Samson is adamant, he wants the Philistine woman – “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.” We learn from this that God usually allows the human will to take its course – yet he can weave this into his purpose – as he did here. The rest of this chapter and the next illustrate this. In the resultant destruction the woman and her parents die and more than a 1,000 Philistines: some of it is civil war – are present events in Syria and on the mountains of Israel a parallel example in working out the, as yet unseen, will of the LORD?

In Isaiah we have a somewhat similar situation. King Hezekiah is told by the prophet, “Thus says the LORD; set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” [38 v.1]The King prays and “weeps bitterly” and the LORD responds, “Behold I will add 15 years to your life”[v.5] – but, as we shall see, those 15 years have a big effect on Israel’s subsequent history.

Our 2 chapters in 2 Peter are awesome in their description of God’s ultimate purpose in bringing great judgements on the world because it becomes totally godless. Yet, at the same time, says Peter, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” [2 v.9]. Paul wrote, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” [1 Cor. 10 v.13] It is evident Paul is writing from personal experience.

How wonderful that God provides “a way of escape” for the godly! But we must each ask ourselves, ‘Does God count me as godly?’ We look at the ‘godly’ in the scriptures, they all had blemishes, Samson is a particular example – and suffered for it – but was listed among the men of faith in Hebrews 11 v.32.

Peter’s words warning of the coming evil are most appropriate to the way the world is now developing. Human beings have “eyes full of adultery insatiable for sin … hearts trained in greed … they are slaves of corruption” [v.14, 19] How tragic for believers, “if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world, they are again entangled in them and overcome … it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness.” [v.20,21]. A warning we must heed. In all this, we see glimpses of events that are “from the Lord” for events are “according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” [Ephes. 1 v.11]