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Rocks, Giants and Forty Days – Lessons From David and Goliath

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Rocks, Giants and Forty Days – Lessons From David and Goliath

Why did David take five stones and why smooth stones? What are smooth stones and how are they made? Why had the armies faced each other on opposite sides of the valley for forty days? How does the five smooth stones apply to our lives? How do they apply to the church body?

Short Version of David and Goliath
Jessie sent his son David to check on his brothers who were at war with the Philistine army. The Israelites and the Philistine army faced each other on opposite sides of a steep valley. Each day for forty days a giant, name Goliath, would stand in the valley and mock and challenge the Israelites. All of the Israelites were afraid of Goliath.

As David arrived at the battlefield he heard Goliath uttering negative things about God. Deep within David he was moved with a holy anger. He asked the men, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?” David knew that he could defeat this giant with God’s help so he asked for permission to fight Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:40 NKJV
“Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.”

After receiving permission to fight, David gathered five smooth stones from a brook. With only his pocket of rocks and a slingshot, David ran down into the valley. He prepared for battle by placing one stone in his slingshot. As Goliath and David approached each other, Goliath mocked David. The taunts did not intimate David. He was confident that God would deliver him and the Israelites.

David slung the stone in his sling, hitting the giant between the eyes. The stone sunk into Goliath forehead causing him to fall to the ground. David quickly grabbed Goliath’s sword and cut off the giant’s head. Upon seeing Goliath dead the Philistine army fled. The Israelites chased and killed them, then plundered their camp.

Smooth Stones
Smooth stones are made from rocks rolling with the flow of water on the riverbed. When you see a smooth rock sitting in a river bed they’ve been transported over a long distance from their origin point. While on their journey they have be subjected to intense weathering, friction with sand, soil, water and collisions with other stones. All these things within the body of water erodes the sharp edges off the pebbles, rocks and boulders giving them a smooth shape.

1 Samuel 17:40 NKJV
“Then he took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in a shepherd’s bag, in a pouch which he had, and his sling was in his hand. And he drew near to the Philistine.”

David chose stones that were smooth to use to defeat the giant, Goliath. When God has a job to do or wants to defeat a giant He also chooses smooth stones. Believers are like the rocks rolling with the flow of water on the riverbed. We are a work in process, ever changing as we flow in the river of God. In that river we are on a journey as we are being transported from our origin point to our destination. While on our journey we are subjected to elements of the world and to collisions with other believers. These things while we are in the river of God erodes the sharp edges off of us, giving them a smooth shape. Only after we are smoothed out will God reach down into His river and pull us out to defeat a giant.

If you’ve been beaten, bruised or hurt while in the river, keep on rolling and let go of the hurt because just maybe God will reach down and pull you out to slay a giant. People hurt pastors…pastors hurt people…people hurt people…pastors hurt pastors….that’s just a fact of life. Whatever you do don’t get out of the river. Let God continue to take you to your destination.

Luke 17:1 NKJV
“Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”

Jesus Himself said that it was impossible for there to be no offenses. He did not say for us to get out of the river because of it though. He said woe to him through whom they (offenses) do come. The word woe in the Greek is ouai and is more than just an expression of a feeling – it is a judgment. It is not our place to try to get back at someone because of an offense. God will take care of it, that’s not our job. If we keep our hands clean and our hearts pure God can use the collisions with other believers ( offenses) to mature, refine and strengthen us.

Sometimes the river you are rolling around in branches off to a different tributary. Just keep on rolling wherever the flow of the river of God takes you. People will change churches for many different reasons and that’s okay. In the natural, if a river never branched off the majority of the world would be dry and desolate. The same is true with the river of God.

Other Giants
Could the other four stones represent the other Philistine giants that the Israelites had to defeat? David and his mighty men killed giants named Ishbi-Benob, Saph (Sippai), and Lahmi, as well as an unnamed giant with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.

2 Samuel 21:15-22 NKJV
“When the Philistines were at war again with Israel, David and his servants with him went down and fought against the Philistines; and David grew faint. Then Ishbi-Benob, who was one of the sons of the giant, the weight of whose bronze spear was three hundred shekels, who was bearing a new sword, thought he could kill David. But Abishai the son of Zeruiah came to his aid, and struck the Philistine and killed him. Then the men of David swore to him, saying, “You shall go out no more with us to battle, lest you quench the lamp of Israel.” Now it happened afterward that there was again a battle with the Philistines at Gob. Then Sibbechai the Hushathite killed Saph, who was one of the sons of the giant. Again there was war at Gob with the Philistines, where Elhanan the son of Jaare-Oregim the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, the shaft of whose spear was like a weaver’s beam. Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant. So when he defied Israel, Jonathan the son of Shimea, David’s brother, killed him. These four were born to the giant in Gath, and fell by the hand of David and by the hand of his servants.”

Not everyone is called to fight the same giant. There are different anointings on each person and each church. Fight the giant God gives you. Don’t try to fight someone else’s giant.

Forty Days
For forty days the Israelites and the Philistine armies faced each other on opposite sides of a steep valley. Each and every day Goliath would stand in the valley and make fun of God and of them. His size and words were very intimating to the Israelites. As they stood there day in and day out listening to Goliath fear filled their hearts. Their actions showed that they had forgotten who they were (God’s chosen people) and His promises to them.

In the Bible many times the number forty represents a time of testing or judgment. A few examples are:
It rained for forty days and nights.
Moses was in the backside of the desert for forty years.
Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights.
Moses sent spies out to investigate the land God.
The Israelites were in desert forty years.
Jonah was warned for forty days that God was going to judge Nineveh.
Ezekiel laid on His right side for forty days to symbolize Judah’s sins.
Elijah went forty days without food or water
Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness for forty days.

Like the Israelites, when we go through a time of testing (especially if it is prolonged) uncertainty and fear will try to creep into our hearts. We too, can hear the voice of the enemy taunting us. During these time we must remember who we are – We are a child of God, the very Creator of the entire universe. We must also remember all the promises that God has given us.

When we are going through a time of testing God we can rest assured that God will send the help we need at the very moment we need it. However, that help often shows up in a form that we would not expect. It just might be someone who you can’t stand, or someone you have a bad attitude toward. It might be someone who brags a lot, talks a lot or a knows it all. You can never tell who God will use to bring deliverance to you.

1 Samuel 17:28 NKJV
“Now Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was aroused against David, and he said, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

David’s brother Eliab, was not happy to see David. In fact, he was very angry with David. He definitely didn’t like it when David spoke up concerning the battle. Maybe Eliab thought David had disobeyed their father by leaving the sheep to come see what was going on. Or maybe he thought David was full of pride. And just maybe…Eliab didn’t like David because God had rejected him and had anointed David as the future king.

1 Samuel 16:4-7 NKJV
“So Samuel did what the Lord said, and went to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” And he said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice. So it was, when they came, that he looked at Eliab and said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 God is faithful and He will send help, but He will be the one to decide what form the help comes in. David knew that the battle was not theirs – it belonged to God. And that is exactly the type of person you need when you are going through a trial – someone who knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the BATTLE BELONGS TO GOD!

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Feast of Tabernacles – One Christian’s Perspective

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Feast of Tabernacles – One Christian’s Perspective

The Feast of Tabernacles is a week long autumn harvest festival. It is also known as: The Feast of Ingathering, The Feast of Booths, Sukkoth, Succoth, or Sukkot (pronounced as “Sue-coat”). In Biblical times this feast was the final and most important holiday of the year. Some Bible scholars believe The Feast of Tabernacles points to the millennium reign of Jesus Christ

Leviticus 23:39-43 NKJV
“Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

SUKKOTH
The word Sukkoth means booths, and refers to the temporary dwelling that the Jewish people were commanded to live in during this holiday, just as the Jewish people did in the wilderness after they left Egypt. This holiday commemorates the desert wanderings of the Jewish people on their way to the Promised Land. The people were caused to wander about through disobedience, but God was still with them. God still protected them and provided for them. The people were commanded to build temporary dwellings (tabernacles or booths) each year to live in during Sukkot, so that they could remember God’s presence and His faithfulness as a provider and protector. Today many Jewish people still build a sukkot for the festival. Almost any building material will do for the sides as long as they are not of a permanent nature. The top is loosely covered with branches so that you can still see the stars through parts of it. They are decorated with fruit, tinsel, paper chains, streamers and pictures of Bible stories. Meals are eaten in the sukkot, accompanied by singing and rejoicing. Some families sleep in their sukkot. It is a place to discuss and meditate on God’s goodness. God has redeemed us from a life of bondage to sin and brought us into His freedom in the Kingdom of God.

When the Israelites were wanderers in the desert they all lived in tents. It did not matter if you were rich or poor. During sukkot all men are equal before God and one another. Each one sits in his flimsy sukkah and considers God, not his own status. The Feast of Tabernacles gives a person an opportunity to reflect on God’s great love and majesty, and how they treat others. We too are flimsy tabernacles that should reflect God’s majesty.

CITRON AND LULAV
Sukkot is a season of joy and rejoicing. The men carry a citron and a lulav to the synagogue to wave as they rejoice before the Lord. The lulav has three branches tied together ( a palm, a willow, and a myrtle branch), and the citron is a citrus fruit that smells like a lemon. The lulav and the citron point to how our life should be spiritually.

The people took great care in picking out the citron and the items for the lulav. They were careful with what they offered to God. We too should be careful with the quality of the fruit that we are offering to God.

Palm – We should not be like the palm. It can only bears fruit (deeds / works). It is not fragrant (spiritual blessings). These people live by the letter of the law but they have no love or compassion, for themselves or others.

Myrtle – We should not be like the myrtle. It is only fragrant, but does not bear fruit. These people are sweet people, but their lives do not produce any real lasting fruit.

Willow – We should not be like the willow. It does not produce fruit or fragrance. These people are blown around by every wind of doctrine and never really know where they are spiritually.

Citron – We should be like the citron. It produces fruit and fragrance. These are God’s steadfast believers who live a balanced life in wisdom before God and man.

THIS IS NOT OUR HOME
You can learn many lessons from the sukkah. Five important lessons are:

(1) We are strangers in this land.

1 Peter 2:11 NKJV
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul”

Inside of our houses it is easy to begin to feel permanent and self-sufficient and lose sight of our brief time on the earth. The sukkah also speaks of our frailty while we are here–we are but flesh. One day that will all change. Peter referred to our earthly bodies as tents. We live for only a short while and we must use every opportunity to encourage others toward Jesus Christ and toward His heavenly kingdom.

2 Peter 1:12-14 NKJV
“For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me”

(2) This world is not our permanent home – it is only temporary.
As people in a land temporary, we must not hold on to things too tightly. Things control and manipulate us. Things can become our gods ( idols) when we begin to hold on to them too tightly. When things become your god, you turn away from the only true and living God.

Our life here is short, but our hope is not in this world. God has provided a better place for the believers.

John 14:2-3 NKJV
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”

(3) God provides for our needs.
God gave the Feast of Tabernacle as a reminder to the people of who He is. We need to seek God’s kingdom, not earthly comfort. As we seek first the kingdom of God, our material needs are provided for by the Lord.

Luke 12:31 NKJV
“But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you”

(4) We must be able to move when God moves.
We should not get so involved with things of the world that it prevents us from moving when God tells us to. The tabernacle (sukkah) is a flimsy structure and can be taken down and put up in a very short period of time. It is sensitive to the wind, just as we are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.

(5) We must not close God out.
The sukkah is open to the heavens–it cannot be closed off. We too are to be open to God. We should never close God out of our lives.

Amos 9:11 NKJV
“On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down. And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins; and rebuild it as in the days of old”

The Tabernacle of David was a flimsy tent where glorious worship and fellowship with God took place. It may have been fragile and unsightly, but it enabled the Israelites to look out the door and see the glory of the Lord hovering over them. Throughout Christian history, many great revivals were held in tents and brush arbors closely resembling the sukkah (tabernacle).

When the sukkah is first put up it is fresh and green. As the days of the Feast of Tabernacles progresses, the leaves begin to dry. Soon they are falling as the wind blows.

Isaiah 64:6 NKJV
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away”

LIVING SACRIFICE
During this feast the people were to bring a sacrifice each day. Preparing the sacrifices was costly and time-consuming. It required much commitment to God. It required faith and obedience. Without faith and obedience the work of Jesus Christ on the cross is of no avail. It is not enough to know the facts of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We must have a personal relationship with Him.

James 2:17 NKJV
“Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead”

We must personally act upon it by faith, then we will have the promised salvation. We have to receive it and live it.

Romans 12:1 NKJV
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”

Each of us has much that we can give to the Lord:
1. We can give our lives to Him in service.
2. We can use what God gives us (income, food, clothing, shelter) for use in His service.
3. We can use our talents for God’s service.
4. We can share the message of God’s love and salvation with others.
5. We can allow the fruit of the Spirit to overflow on others.

Sukkot is a time to consider that we are God’s creation. We are to gather up our personal, spiritual fruits of faith and celebrate by giving ourselves in God’s service. The message of Sukkot is total commitment to the Lord and His service.

THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF JESUS CHRIST
At the end of the Great Tribulation Jesus will return to earth (Second Coming Of Christ). Jesus’ feet will stand on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. He will defeat the antichrist and throw Satan into a bottomless pit for 1000 years. Jesus will reign over the earth for 1000 years (millennial reign).

Zechariah 14:4
“And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two…”

When the millennial reign is over, Satan will again be loosed on earth for a short period of time. He will gather an army to fight against Jesus. Jesus will defeat Satan and his army. The earth will be destroyed by fire and sinners will be judged (The Great White Throne Judgment). Those who died as sinners will be resurrected (removed from Hell / Hades), to stand before God to be judged for what they did (or did not do) while they were here on earth. Every person whose name is not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is described several times in the Bible. It is an eternal fire. It is a fire that never goes out. It is black and dark . There will be constant torment with no end – it will NEVER stop.

Revelation 20:11-15 NKJV
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place found for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

After the final judgment, God promised a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus will give His millennial kingdom to God the Father, the Supreme Ruler. All Christians will live with God forever in a beautiful new universe. God will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death, sickness or pain. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, will come down from heaven and will shine with the glory of the Lord. The city will be made of gold and will be decorated with precious jewels.

Down the middle of the city will flow the river of life, and on each side of the river will grow trees of life. The throne of God will be in the city, and people will worship God forever and ever. Heaven will be far better than we can imagine. As we draw close to God here on earth, we can experience the same wonderful presence of God that we will experience when we stand before His throne.

1 Corinthians 15:25 NKJV
“Then the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.”

Revelation 21:1-2 NKJV
“Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”