Launching Out With God
Grace Community Church
May 27, 2018
Launching Into Battle Part Two
As part of our launching series we are picking up this morning with the second part of last week’s message, launching into battle. Let’s read portions of 1 Sam 17.
David is a foreshadow of Christ
The most important thing to in order to understand God’s purpose in the account of David and Goliath is that David is not a picture of us, he is a picture of Christ: a young man from the tribe of Judah, who has been anointed king by Samuel, though almost no one knows it yet, steps out as Israel’s champion, singlehandedly winning victory for God’s people. David is a foreshadow of Christ. So we don’t begin by reading ourselves into the story as David. We’re the Jews – the people of God oppressed and fearful in need of a Champion.
If we get that right, I think we can then apply David’s example to our lives, but always with this in mind: Jesus is our champion. Jesus defeated Satan, sin, and death, for us, routing the enemy so we can go forward in Christ’s victory. You and I don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory. Christ has won the victory! Praise him!
The battle against sin
The battle for lost souls
This morning we’re going to look at two more battles that we as believers need to fight:
The battle against the Goliaths that try to sideline us with their taunts
Every morning for 40 days the armies would square off for battle and then this giant named Goliath would come out and call for a man to man, hand to hand combat to settle the war. If the Jew won, the Philistines would serve Israel as slaves. If Goliath won, then all of Israel would become the Philistine’s slaves. Have you ever wondered why they let this crazy routine go on for 40 days? I think it was for two reasons: first, Goliath and the Philistines were enjoying it. What a way to start the day – they’d all grab their coffee and get front row seats to watch Goliath come out to insult and taunt and challenge the Jews, and then they’d laugh as the Jews all hid fearfully behind their tents. This was more entertaining than a Netflix subscription! They let it go on because it was so much fun!
But I think the other reason they let it go on is that they knew it was a lower risk than an all out battle. They knew Goliath could easily dispatch anyone the Jews put forward – no risk there. But if the armies engaged, well, the Jews were known to be pretty scrappy fighters and you never know what can happen in all out battle. So for 40 days this went on and life basically came to a standstill for the Israelites. They couldn’t go forward and they couldn’t retreat. They were stuck in the valley of Elah.
I want to talk to you about the Goliaths that want to sideline us from the ways God wants to use our lives and get us stuck in our own valley of Elah. They taunt and defy God’s work in our lives in order to paralyze us and bring us to a standstill. These Goliaths can take on many shapes: sometimes they come in the form of trials and challenging circumstances that enter our lives. Hardship, setbacks, obstacles, even suffering faces off with us, and in them we can hear mocking taunts like: “Where is your God now?” “If He loves you, why’d He let this happen?” Sometimes the Goliaths we face come in the shape of challenging circumstances.
Sometimes it’s other people who speak words that are aimed at sidelining us from the battle. The first taunting, paralyzing words that David encountered on the battle field weren’t from Goliath, they were from his older brother Eliab:
Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” Jealous of his younger brother’s courage, Eliab accused David of having horrible motives. If David had paid attention to him, he would have been paralyzed in his tracks. There are people like Eliab who seem to specialize in speaking discouraging and demoralizing words over our lives. “You’ll never amount to anything!” “Why even try? You know you’re going to fail like you fail everything!” Those words can go deep and bam! We’re sidelined from going forward in all that God wants us to do.
A lot of times the Goliaths we face are inside of us. Things like discouragement, fear, hopelessness, guilt, comparing ourselves unfavorably to others and feeling that we’ll never measure up, struggling with a lack of confidence, and so on. Morning after morning we wake up to inner Goliaths who taunt us and if we listen to them we’re gonna get stuck at the valley of Elah.
The Israelites went to the valley of Elah to do battle, but fear of Goliath stuck them in a daily rut of listening to taunts, believing those taunts, and hiding from battle, only to do it all again the next day. Maybe there are taunts that have sidelined you from pursuing what you felt God had called you to do. These Goliath voices are so much a part of your life that you brew an extra cup of coffee for them. “You can’t do that, what are you crazy?” “Yeah, you’re probably right. Cream or sugar?” “If God loved you, He wouldn’t have let that thing happen to you. He probably isn’t able to do help you.” “Can’t argue with you on that one. Would you like a donut with that coffee?” We start thinking these Goliaths are just a part of our lives and we rent them a room in our brains!
My goal this morning is to stir up in us a warrior spirit again! David came and heard the exact same words that all the Israelites had been hearing for 40 days, but it had the opposite effect on him. It didn’t sideline him, it angered him. It energized him: Who is this uncircumcised Philistine who is defying the armies of the living God? How do we keep from being sidelined by the Goliaths -internal or external – that we face? Simple: stop listening and start fighting! Do what David did:
Trust as if the battle is totally God’s…fight as if the battle is totally yours
As David stepped unto the battlefield, Goliath stopped with his general taunts and aimed his contempt directly at David: am I a dog that they would send a little kid with a stick out to square off with me? There might easily have been a part of David that was asking the same question: “who am I? What am I doing? How can I face a giant warrior armored to the hilt with a little sling and five stones?” But David kept his eyes on God as he ran to battle.
David didn’t try to convince Goliath that he was more than a kid with a stick. He compared Goliath’s weapons with his ultimate weapon (verse 45): “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Goliath wanted to make this all about David, David wanted to make it all about God. Goliath wanted to get David focused on how big he was and how puny David was, but all David saw was how great God is and how puny Goliath was.
Then in verse 47 is a biblical paradox that is true for us as well: For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.” David’s not being super-spiritual here. He really means the battle is the Lords. Goliath, you picked a fight with the wrong Guy. You have defied God, insulted God, and mocked God. And God is the One who’s going to take you out. I’m just here to deliver His message, which is this: say goodbye to your head, because I’m going to separate it from your shoulders!
God is with you. He is with me. The battle belongs to the Lord. But like David, that should not lead us to passivity, it should embolden us to fight. The Lord wants us to fight. As He did with the Jews, God leaves enemies in our land so that we learn how to fight. He allows circumstances to come into our lives so that we learn how to fight. He allows voices to taunt us, not so we get stuck in a valley but so we learn how to fight our way out of it. Because the way we fight is by trusting in our God, the living God, to deliver us.
All the wars we fight in life really come down to a fight for faith and trust in the faithfulness, power, love, and wisdom of our God. If you find yourself paralyzed by fear or discouragement or guilt or feeling like you don’t measure up or whatever it is, the Lord has two messages for you. First, He loves you. Your listening to that taunting voice doesn’t affect His love for you. Second message: get up and fight! That discouragement, fear, guilt, inferiority, jealousy, whatever, isn’t about you. It’s about God. God made you, God saved you, God redeemed you, and God wants to use you – warts and all – as an instrument in His hands.
Young people, I want to talk to you for a minute. Cause David was a young man. Goliath looked at him and disdained him – had contempt for him – because he was just a youth. But David didn’t allow that contempt to define who he was. He didn’t let his own brother’s mischaracterization of him to define him. And – and this is important – David didn’t allow his own pride to define him. He didn’t try to puff himself up with a lot of self-inflating talk. He was a young man who knew his God and was zealous for God’s honor.
Sometimes the world will talk you down, sometimes it will puff you up. Both voices will sideline you – one with paralyzation and the other with pride. Let the saving work of Jesus define you, let your walk with God define you, let His call on your life define you, let the battle for His glory and for the good of others define you.
Whatever your age, when you wake up to the taunts of Goliath: “you don’t measure up. You’re guilty of this and nothing can change that. You will never amount to anything. You’re not smart enough, good looking enough, personable enough. You’re hopeless, you’re a failure, you’re a kid who brings a stick to a gun fight” don’t let these taunts define you! Whatever you do, when Goliath shows up morning after morning, don’t just listen as if there’s nothing else you can do. Don’t brew that extra cup of coffee. Fight it in the name of the Lord! Stir up a warrior’s spirit and move out to meet that Goliath in the name of the Lord. Meditate on scripture and find a smooth stone of biblical truth that you can hurl right at the enemy.
Fear? Isaiah 41:10 is a giant-killer: [God says] fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Guilt? Jer. 33:8 - I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.
Feel like you don’t have what it takes to do what God calls you to do? Hurl Phil. 4:13 right between the eyes of that Goliath: I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Has suffering entered your life and it feels like it’s crushing you with hopelessness. Let Rom. 8:18 redefine your perspective on suffering: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Feel like God made a mistake in how He made you? Ps. 139:13-14 - For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[
Don’t be a passive bystander helplessly listening to Goliath’s taunts. Trust the battle belongs to God, fight as if the battle belongs to you. Rise up and fight! And watch what God does!
The battle for the helpless, oppressed and abused
The Bible has a lot to say about God’s call for us to fight this fight:
Psalm 82:3-4 - Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Proverbs 31:8-9 - Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Isaiah 1:17 - Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.
Proverbs 24:11-12 - Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
Zechariah 7:10 - Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”
Proverbs 14:31 - Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
James 1:27 - Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
There are many battlefields out there where we can launch out to protect the weak and oppressed:
STPRC does this by protecting not only the unborn baby, but also the young unwed mom who is vulnerable to those who have an agenda of abortion.
The Potter’s Hands Foundation does this by protecting and helping victims of sex trafficking.
Adoption and foster care does this by taking in a helpless, needy child and providing them with a loving home.
On this subject of protecting and fighting for the needy, over the past couple years the Lord has been revealing a significant way that sadly far too many churches, denominations, and Christian organizations have failed to protect and stand with those who can’t protect themselves. It has troubled my heart to see examples of the evangelical community covering up abuse in order to protect a high profile leader or to protect the church/organization from bad publicity. Thankfully, I believe the Lord is getting the church’s attention. There are countless examples, let me just mention three recent cases by way of example. I’m not mentioning names because it’s the pattern I want us to be aware of:
20 years ago, a youth pastor sexually assaulted a teenage girl. At the time she told the associate pastor but rather than report it to the police he covered it. That youth pastor went on to leave the church with a goodbye party and became a nationally known pastor and author. Meanwhile the young girl felt abandoned, ashamed, and guilted by the church she had trusted to protect her.
A ministry that we used to be associated with has had several dozens of allegations of mishandling child abuse. It is alleged, and in the one case that did go to court, it was established that church leaders counseled victims not to go to police but leave it to them. This allowed the perpetrators to continue to abuse children for years. I am disappointed to say this ministry has continued to resist growing calls to have an outside third party specializing in protecting children examine the accusations and their practices to see what happened and how it can be prevented in the future. I hope for their sake that they will do this soon.
Two weeks ago a very influential leader in the Southern Baptist denomination was finally removed from his position after a great public outcry when it was learned that, among other things, he had:
Made inappropriate remarks about a 16 year old girl
Counseled battered women to remain with their husband, keep quiet, and pray
Counseled at least one 22 year old rape victim not to report it to the police, but to forgive the man who raped her and allow the Bible college to deal with the issue.
For years this man was covered and lauded by a system and a leadership that ignored these serious issues until it became impossible to continue ignoring them. There are many such examples of a systemic failure in the church to protect the weak and abused in favor of covering the guilty and protecting the reputation of the church or denomination by covering up issues rather than dealing with them.
When David’s brother accuses him of having evil motives for wanting to do battle with Goliath. David says, “Is there not a cause?” Isn’t there a reason for speaking out? Isn’t the Lord’s glory a cause worth fighting for?” I believe that it is an integral part of the gospel to protect the abused, the weak, the defenseless, even when – especially when - it is within our own Christian community. If we are unwilling to do that, then in my opinion it doesn’t matter how pure our doctrine is, we’re misrepresenting the gospel and the heart of God. If we’re hiding in tents when we should be willing to stand up for the helpless, for the weak, for the abused then we are acting cowardly. We need to run out to the battlefield even if it costs us personally. When we see someone being abused, a child, a young woman, an elderly person, a widow, is there not a cause?
Please know that I’m not advocating for knee jerk reactions. A lot of harm can be done by a rush to judgment. We need to be loving and gracious and seek to hear the facts and understand accurately what happened. We should extend grace to a perpetrator, but not a grace that skips over righteous consequences or fails to bring justice to bear. Our first responsibility as a church is to care for and protect the abused and victimized not the perpetrator and that begins by reporting credible allegations of physical or sexual abuse to the proper authorities. Churches should not and must not try to deal with such things in house. As I said, there are too many examples recently of the evangelical community failing in this area but the Lord is graciously getting our attention and of repentance and change taking place and that’s a good thing.
As we close: Where is your battlefield? The good news is that Jesus has already routed the enemy – he has already won the victory. Step onto the battlefield and run to meet the enemy in the name of the Lord, trusting God to fight for you. Let’s pray.