Israel

From zero to Hero


“God can use anyone to do big things, regardless of age, gender, race, importance, popularity, or notoriety.”

David was just a shepherd boy when God used him to defeat the mighty giant, Goliath. Armed with only a sling and some stones, David did the unthinkable. He dueled and slew Goliath, the most feared man in the world at the time. This spectacular performance would catapult David from zero importance to super hero. Thereby giving credence to the general argument that God can use anyone to do great things. Who would have thought a small axe like David could have fallen such a big tree like Goliath.

According to 1 Samuel 17,

The Philistine army had gathered for war against Israel. The two armies lined up across from each other. A Philistine giant named Goliath, measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor came out each day for forty days, taunting and daring the Israelite to fight. But Saul, the King of Israel, and the army were too terrified of this giant to make a move.

One day David’s father, Jesse, sent him to the battle lines to see how his brothers were doing. David was the youngest of eight sons and probably just a young teenager at the time. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his daily rants and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?”

So David volunteered to fight Goliath. It took some persuasion, but King Saul finally agreed to let David fight against the giant. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying his shepherd’s staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed at him, hurling threats and insults.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied … today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air … and the world will know that there is a God in Israel … it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath’s head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant’s forehead, and he fell face down on the ground. David then took Goliath’s sword, killed him and then cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.

He (God) is with us


Psalm 121:1-8

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
 My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

 The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
 The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

 The Lord shall keep you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

You are I AM


Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

 So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”

 And God said to Moses,I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:10-14).

Lord, shield me against complacency


It is extremely easy for any Christian to get distracted by the glamour and glitz of this world. This is especially true when things are going smoothly. He tends to take his eyes off the Christian journey and gravitate towards secular norms, thus becoming complacent. Whereas before, he thanked God for everything; now he takes all the credit, look in the mirror and pat himself on the shoulders.

Still, while I think complacency is preventable, living in a materialistic society such as America, makes it all too easy to get lulled into complacency. The Patriarch David knew a thing or two about this. Acts 13:22 states the following: “After removing Saul, God made David king over Israel. God testified about him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’” However, success would change David. Despite all the accolades and admiration from God, David, like Adam and, Eve got distracted by the lust of his eyes and sinned.

It seems the key to keep focus on the path God mapped out for us is to be lowly before Him at all times–in feast and famine. Whenever a human being acknowledges that he is nothing without God, then it is not hard to be humble. It is not surprising that some of the most loyal members in the body of Christ are those who are humble, mostly the poor. These are people who more often than not do not know from where the next meal comes, yet their steadfastness and commitment to serve God is unyielding. They know what it is to trust and depend on God for everything.

Father in heaven, I pray thou will shield me against complacency. Let me be like Job, a man who never faltered in plenty or want. Lord, help me to focus on the path your father have mapped out for me and let me be humble at all times. Amen!

Might does not always make right.


David with the Head of Goliath

David with the Head of Goliath (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recently concluded Presidential election campaign reminds me of the story of the duel between David and Goliath. (Romney was Goliath and Obama was David). Goliath on one hand, was tall and brawny, one of the most feared in the mighty Philistine army. He had a reputation of tearing his victims apart. (Romney blew away his opponents in the primary). David, however, was just a boy in a frail body with a sling and a stone and an extremely weak Israeli army to back him up. At least, that was what Goliath and his army thought. (Romney underestimated the Obama campaign). Here, is what Goliath said when David approached him:

“Am I a dog that thou comes to me with staves?” The Bible says the Philistine curse David by his gods. He then entreats David: “Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field” (1 Samuel 17:44). Then David said to the Philistine, “Thou comes to me with a sword and a spear and a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Samuel 17:45)

David had a secret weapon–his faith in God. He knew that the battle was not his. It was the Lord’s. Therefore, if he allowed God to fight the battle for him, he would be victorious.

Similarly, Mr. Romney is perceives as the stronger of the two candidates. He had the power of his millionaire donors behind him. Like Goliath, he was confident that he would rip his opponent apart. However, as we have learned in the David and Goliath story. Might does not always make right. Mr. Obama had the small donors–the people on his side. He knew that the greatest asset in any election was the people. Money is crucial, but money do not vote. People do.

In the end, David overcame the mighty Goliath and his Philistine army and did what he promised. He cut off Goliath’s head and gave it to the fowls. Likewise, Mr. Obama prevails over Mr. Romney. As I have said before, “Might does not always make right”.

The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong


David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osma...

David and Goliath, a colour lithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“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. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).

Those are the words of David, a shepherd boy staring in the eyes of Goliath, the mighty Philistine. Goliath was a strong and powerful member of the Philistine army that was lining up to do battle with King Saul‘s army.

Cocky and bubbling with confidence, Goliath shouted to the ranks of the Israeli army and requested a duel. “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you, not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. However, if I prevail against him and kill him, there after you shall be our servants and serve us.” And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and extremely afraid” (1 Samuel 17:8-11).

But God had a plan for Goliath and his army. He chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; likewise, He chose the weak things of the world to confound the things which are strong. He would use David to destroy Goliath.

The mighty Goliath was furious when David appeared before him. He disdained David for he was just a youth who had kept  his father’s sheep. “Am I a dog that you come to me with sticks?” He asked David. “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” He exclaimed. Nevertheless, all that cheap talk, never ruffle David. Just like Daniel in the lion’s den, He was calm cool and collected.

The bloodthirsty Goliath was confident he would tear David to pieces. He was wrong. The battle was not David’s. It was the Lord’s. David did not rely on his strength. He knew he was no match for Goliath. However, with God fighting the battle for him, victory was assured. David slew Goliath with a sling and a stone.

Like David and Daniel and so many others in the Old and New Testament, victory is guaranteed for you and I my friends; but only if we allow God to fight our battles for us.

How do you deal with your sordid past?


Atheology ; Jacob fighting the angel, by Delac...

Atheology ; Jacob fighting the angel, by Delacroix inspired the bookcover of traité d’athéologie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creäture: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You have heard the clichés, “What goes around comes around.” And, “Do good and good will follow you.” Like many of us, Jacob wrestled with his sordid past. All the white lies, scheming, and scandalizing came back to haunt him. He tried to run away, yet he could not do so. He was like a spider trapped in its own web of deceit and craftiness. Still, more than anything, Jacob wrestled with God. The Bible tells us that Jacob wrestled with God a whole night along the banks of the Jabbok river. He rolled in the mud of his mistakes, but he was determined to change.

Sick of his past and in desperate need of a fresh start, he met his Redeemer in person. And because Jacob wanted to change so badly, God honored his determination. He gave him a new name (Israel) and a fresh promise. However, Jacob did not leave God’s presence unscathed. God gave him a wrenched hip as a reminder of that mysterious night on the banks of the Jabbok river.

 “And Jacob arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons and crossed over the ford of Jabbok.  He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had.  Then Jacob was left alone, probably to have a quiet talk with God, and an Angel wrestled with him until the breaking of the day.  Now when the angel saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of the joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

However, Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”  So the angel said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”  And the Angel said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.

 So Jacob called the name of the place Penuel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he crossed the Penuel, limping because of his hip.  Therefore, to this day, the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank” (Genesis 32:28-32).

Like Jacob, we should unmask our stained hearts and grimy souls and be honest with the One who knows our most secret sins. The result could be refreshing. We know it was for Jacob. After his encounter with God, Jacob was a new man.