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As we have seen already, Samson’s ministry as a Judge was fulfilled almost exclusively among the Philistines, not in Israel itself. In doing so, he prophesies of the end-time Judges of the latter days, who will minister beyond borders to the nations of the world.
The primary difference, of course, is that Samson ministered in the context of the Old Covenant, which brought much death and destruction through divine judgment. The end-time Judges now minister under the New Covenant, which brings death to the flesh so that men may be justified and be given life (Rom. 6:4, 7).
This end-time ministry properly began on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1, when the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire descended upon the disciples in the upper room. Samson’s real ministry as a Judge of the Philistines was established at the time of Pentecost as well, when he burned the ripe wheat of the Philistines (Judges 15:1, 4, 5). After that, he faced one battle after another until his tragic death.
Samson was strong enough to overcome the male Philistine god, Dagon, who was portrayed as a god of strength and power. But he was overcome by the wiles of Atargatis, the female Philistine goddess, who proved to be more powerful through her seduction than her male counterpart with his strength. Samson was a man of great strength, but I believe that his inner bitterness against Eli and his corrupt sons in Shiloh eroded his moral strength and seeded him with an inner weakness for their female goddess.
When the Philistines took the Ark to Ashdod and put it in their temple, it was a disaster to Israel on the surface, but in the long-term divine plan, it represented the day when the glory of God would be sent beyond borders to overthrow the false gods of the nations. This idea coincides well with Samson’s entire ministry which was spent among the Philistines. The fulfillment of this prophecy actually began with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19, 20) under the power of Pentecost, but it concludes in our time under the power of Tabernacles.
Pentecost was allotted 40 Jubilees (1,960 years) in which to fulfill the Great Commission and bring righteousness to the earth. It started out well but failed to complete the mission, as all of the Pentecostal types and shadows predicted.
Likewise, the 40 years of Israel in the wilderness failed to bring most of the Israelites into the Promised Land, for that cycle ended with the death of all but Caleb and Joshua.
The 40 years of King Saul ended with his death at the hands of the Philistines.
The 40 years of the high priest Eli ended with his death, along with his corrupt sons that he refused to correct.
Finally, the 40 Jubilees of the Church in the Age of Pentecost also failed to bring righteousness to the earth, for in the end it has succumbed to the same rebellious spirit of Israel in the wilderness, the half-hearted obedience of Saul, and the corruption of Eli. The modern Philistines have blinded the Church and enslaved it to grind their wheat, as with Samson. The Saul church has been killed by the Philistines as well.
Many good Pentecostals are hoping for a second Pentecost to renew their attempts to establish righteousness in the earth. However, something greater is coming. It is a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is greater than what was seen in Acts 2. The Age of Pentecost must give way to a new anointing that is on the horizon—the anointing of Tabernacles, led by the overcomers.
The sequence of Judges’ names portrays the Ark being opened to release the light of the sun as it transfigures the overcomers.
We are told in 1 Sam. 7:1, 2 that after the Ark was given back to Israel, it was taken to nearby Kiriath-jearim after it was sent back to Israel, because Shiloh had been destroyed by the Philistines (Psalm 78:59-64). Furthermore, the glory had departed from Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:22), never to return to that location.
Years later, David moved the Ark to Jerusalem, and Solomon placed it in the temple that he built. There the glory returned on the eighth day of Tabernacles (2 Chron. 7:1-3).
But the priests in Jerusalem soon corrupted themselves, and so that city met a similar fate. Jeremiah prophesied that the glory would depart from Jerusalem as it had departed from Shiloh (Jer. 7:12, 14). But it was left to Ezekiel to see the glory leave the temple. We read in Ezekiel 11:22, 23,
22 Then the cherubim lifted up their wings with the wheels beside them, and the glory of the God of Israel hovered over them. 23 And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood over the mountain which is east of the city.
Ezekiel saw the glory go to the Mount of Olives, where it remained until Jesus ascended to heaven from that spot. It was needful for Him to take the glory back to heaven in order to send it back to a new temple made of living stones (1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Peter 2:5; Rev. 22:4). The glory thus returned at Pentecost, and the tongues of fire appeared on the disciples’ heads.
Each of us is a temple (1 Cor. 3:16), but collectively, we are just living stones in a greater temple (1 Peter 2:5). That collective temple has been built during the interim between the two comings of Christ, for we read in Eph. 2:21, 22,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
For a longer study of this greater temple, see my book: Haggai, Prophet of the Greater Temple.
After the Ark was returned and secured in the Gibeonite town of Kirjiath-jearim, Samuel gathered the Israelites at Mizpah, where the people repented of the sin which had caused their captivity 40 years earlier (1 Sam. 7:5, 6). This was not the “Mizpah of Gilead” where Jephthah had mustered the army of Israel. It was another Mizpah.
We are given no clue as to when this gathering occurred. Some may think it occurred 20 years later, based on the statement in 1 Sam. 7:2 that the Ark remained in Kirjiath-jearim for the next 20 years. However, that 20-year period describes only the length of time the Ark remained in that town. It did not refer to the last half of Israel’s 40-year captivity.
In my view, which certainly cannot be proven by any biblical text, the gathering took place as the feast of Tabernacles was approaching. This was a few months after the Ark had been sent back at Pentecost. It is possible that the people were at Mizpah for the Day of Atonement and that this is the occasion for their fast in 1 Sam. 7:6. At the very least, their fast prophesied of the Day of Atonement, which was a day prophesying repentance.
We are also told specifically that “Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah,” which indicates that Samuel was elected as Israel’s next Judge to replace the late great Samson. Because a Judge was also a military commander to set Israel free from captivity, it is plain that the people expected Samuel to act in that role in addition to his duties as priest and prophet.
When the Philistines heard of the gathering at Mizpah and got wind of the talk about revolt, they gathered an army to put down the revolt. 1 Sam. 7:7 says,
7 Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
God brought deliverance through Samuel, because the presence of God had returned to them. Because the people had repented at the word of the prophet, they were now eligible for deliverance, and the captivity was about to end.
We read in 1 Samuel 7:10,
10 Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.
Notice the comparison between this rain and the rain that came some years later on the day of Pentecost when Saul was anointed as king. 1 Sam. 12:17, 18 says,
17 Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord by asking for yourselves a king. 18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
Notice that on both occasions, the people were afraid. The two rainstorms speak of the early and latter rains prophesied in Joel 2:23. The early rains came in October and November to prepare the soil for planting, while the latter rains came in April and May to ripen the wheat for harvest. These rains prophesy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on two occasions.
On Pentecost in Acts 2, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was the latter rain at the time of wheat harvest. The 120 disciples represented the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and after they were offered to God, the general harvest began in order to fulfill the Great Commission.
The second outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the early rain that is associated with the feast of Tabernacles. The timing of the two rains appear to be inverted chronologically, for it seems strange that the latter rain would come before the early rain. The terms apply to the beginning and end of the growing season. Wheat was planted in October or November during the early rain and harvested in May or June after the latter rain.
The Pentecostal latter rain that God sent at the coronation of Saul was designed to cause the Israelites to repent of their desire for a man to displace God’s direct rule. That rain was again poured out upon the Church to teach them that having a vicar of Christ is not the same as being ruled directly by Jesus Christ. The Tabernacles rain, on the other hand, was directed at the Philistines after the Church had repented on the Day of Atonement.
What does this tell us in prophecy?
While the latter rain at Pentecost was designed for the Church, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early rain will be for the benefit of the nations. The nations will be set free from the unrighteous rule of their carnal leaders and their unjust laws that keep them in bondage. This may appear to be a disaster to their carnal minds, but in reality, it will be the extension of God’s mercy to them.
The nations then will be brought into the Kingdom, for the great Stone Kingdom will grow until it fills the whole earth (Dan. 2:35). This rain, when interpreted through New Covenant eyes, builds upon the earlier prophecy that the Ark (glory of God) was to go beyond borders to overthrow idols and false gods.
At the feast of Tabernacles, the early rain hit the Philistines as they marched toward Mizpah to subdue the Israelite revolt. This rain caused great “confusion” among the Philistines, because that is what happens when the carnal mind encounters the Spirit of God.
Samuel’s name is derived from two Hebrew words: shama and el. The word shama means “to hear or obey.” El is “God.” As a child, Samuel heard the word of the Lord and obeyed (1 Sam. 3:10). His obedience should be seen in contrast to Eli, who refused to obey God.
Hence, in the sequence of the Judges’ names, we must view Samuel as representing the overcomers who hear and obey God’s voice. They are the ones who have the promise of transfiguration as the body of the transfigured Christ. They are the ones through whom the glory of God will be revealed and through whom the rain of the Holy Spirit will be sent forth. These are “the priests of God and of Christ” who will reign with Christ for a thousand years in the great Tabernacles Age, the Sabbath Millennium that is soon to come (Rev. 20:6).
So we may now make the final addition to the revelation of the Judges’ names:
“The voice of God united in His sons (in an orderly manner that is subject to God’s Word) will fell the enemy by the power of the blood of Christ and by the light of transfiguration and will open the Ark, revealing the splendor of the indwelling Christ, the Lamb of God, seated on His throne, judging the nations as the great Servant, working through the overcoming priests of God who hear and obey His voice, and showing forth the light of the Sun.”