(Reading: 1 Samuel 17:1-11, 31-51)
In these days God is calling for His church to go out and to take the promised land afresh. This is a call to move into the new thing the Lord is calling us in to, but in many ways, we are following ancient paths. However, like the Israelites we can become fearful of the giants in the land and shrink back. Deciding not to advance, and preferring to go back to the old ways which just sends us around in circles for 40 years in the wilderness.
The giants are here today, as they were in the times of Moses and David. These giants can seem overwhelming, belittling our dreams and stature. Some simply occupy or inhabit the place where God seems to be sending us, and they really don’t need to do too much, we just turn away at the sight of them. Others are bellicose, and confront the people of God, and dare us to do battle, using their apparent size to bring us to a place of fear.
Giants, by definition, are large, or so they appear. Let’s consider Goliath. The spear of Goliath (who was 9 ft. 9 in., 2.97m, tall) is said to have been 12 ft. 7in (3.8 metres) long and weighed in at 33lbs. 12 oz. (15.3kg). His armour weighed 125 lbs (56.7kg), and his sword 15lbs (which is almost 7kg and about 5 times the weight of most). He was big, and yet, all that was needed to take him down was the faith in God of a teenage boy, the Spirit, a slingshot and five stones…well actually just one stone. Goliath was certainly a formidable foe; however, he was no match for God’s chosen.
Today, these giants are no less real, and can appear even larger. The world is full of voices now confronting God’s truth and those carrying it. Pushing our voice to the periphery, rulers in this world (both natural and spiritual) seem to have no fear of God, and who His people are in Him. In Australia media channels are some of the best carriers of the giant’s boasts and threats. These giants tell us we are not relevant, just a small part of society, or out-of-date. They use past abuses and so-called modern science to try and silence us, ably aided by the prevailing desire of society that seems to allow others to do whatever they like as long as it doesn’t affect their back yard. Their reproach to those carrying the good news can be, “How dare someone try and tell us how to live”! And yet, Christ and the Holy Spirit compels us to share the good news!
[Note: Goliath means Exposer and Exile, perhaps hinting that the giants that seek to exploit our weaknesses, are using those who were once in the church to attack it by exposing its failures. Certainly, the world is using the voices speaking out against past wrongs of the church to diminish it, mistaking the messenger with the message and it Author. Ironically it is the failure of the church to deal with these past abuses that gives these giants a foothold. Goliath, came from Gath, which means wine press, these giants certainly lay on the pressure, and drink from its output. All from Philistine, meaning greater, burrowed, weakener – say no more.]
We should not be surprised about the apparent growing apathy to God, for Christ Himself warned us of this, and the Apostles doubled down on the challenges of the latter days. People’s love for themselves, and cold hearts, sees the church persecuted. However, while in the last days there will be great forces of darkness, so to there will be great armies of light. Jesus paints this picture so clearly in the gospels (see Matthew 18,24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21). The Old Testament prophets speak of this, such as through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah (see Chpt 14), or Malachi (3 and 4), and through the prophetic testimony of the nation of Israel. Until the second coming of Christ there is great tumult and tribulation, but also great advancements of His kingdom.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
In the last days before Christ’s return, it might be said, ‘it ain’t pretty Mavis, but it is glorious.’ Christ is looking for those who will persevere, and He continues to expand His kingdom in the souls of those who are chosen by Him, so that in every tribe and every tongue there are those who believe, and while many will hide at His appearing, others will meet Christ in His glorious image.
And so, Jesus continues to send us in to the promised land with its giants.
Fortunately, the Lord has revealed to us several times that there is an antidote to the giant, that is the heart of David, and the weapons of His warfare. Let us look at both. For God is calling HIs church back to the heart of David, and to learn to use these weapons of warfare well.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical 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.”
And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’
First the heart
First the heart of David. This forefather of Christ was said to have a heart after God and that is what qualified him to be the king rather his brothers, being anointed by the prophet Samuel. This heart above all seeks to do God’s will, is full of worship and reverence for the Lord, and understands that even in the darkest hour the solution is to trust in God. As the psalms of David reveal, this heart is also real about its state and fears but speaks to its soul to encourage it to trust in the faithfulness and power of God, and believe He is for us and not against us.
This heart knows to seek God first, and thus prayer is core to its being, and hearing God’s voice.
This heart is both of a priest and a king, that is understanding what it is to minister to God in prayers and worship, while also carrying God’s authority when going into battle, or leading His people. A servant king, this heart models Christ’s heart toward his people. Sure, many of us may not end up leading people into war, business, or in a church, but all us will need to lead in to the thing God has called us in to, which inevitably speaks into the lives of others. And according to Jesus, when we are called and sent by Him we are given authority over all the power of the enemy.
“Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”
The heart of David was perfected in Christ, and as followers and believers in Christ, He dwells in us, and so to His heart. As we allow His Spirit to move and motivate us, we can learn to carry this same heart into all that we do. It starts with faith, hope, and love, resulting in obedience.
Sure, David made a mistake or two, and it can be easy to focus on this, but the heart of David is one of repentance, and knowing that God forgives and draws us back closer to Him. David was indeed a king after God’s heart, and the one chosen through whose line Christ would come. This is the heart of a warrior, worshipper, son, (or daughter), and, obedient servant, who loves to dwell in God’s presence.
The five stones
Let’s look at the weapons that David used to strike the giant and bring Him down! A few stones (5 in fact) and a slingshot.
1 Samuel 17:40
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.
[From the Strong’s Concordance: ‘Stones’ from H68: אבן (eh’-ben) from the root of 1129 through the meaning to build; a stone:–+ carbuncle, + mason, + plummet, (chalk-, hail-, head-, sling-)stone(-ny), (divers) weight(-s).]
In the ancient Hebrew, the word (eh’-ben) used for stones in the passage about Goliath and David, has a meaning that also speaks of building blocks, the stones of a building. The New Testament speaks of us being the church, the living stones of Christ’s construction, with Him as the corner stone, and the foundations being the apostles and prophets.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
I believe in the context of the church, the five stones are the five office equipping gifts of Christ as revealed in Ephesians, and touched on in other letters of Paul, and revealed in the book of Acts. These are those gifted by Christ to equip the saints for the works of ministry. Turning a people in to fully equipped soldiers in the Lord’s army. Christ slings these gifts into the body of Christ, and in doing so enables us to defeat the giants in the land.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Let’s take a quick look at these gifts, the so-called office gifts of Christ to His body.
Apostles – The powerful sent ones, who pull on heaven to bring it to earth. These move across the body of Christ carrying an authority through the power of God. Known for miracles and new works, they help us to be sent ones, and to be those who can go believing God will do miracles, and to have a heart to see God kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Fathers and mothers of the faith, they are pioneers, and look to raise up sons and daughters in the faith. They help make soldiers who know what it is to have the power of God, to carry authority that brings the resources for His work. [e.g. The 12 Apostles, Barnabus, Andronicus and Junia]
Prophets – These carry the word of God with great authority and speak it into our lives to shape destinies and to pave the way for the future. Their lives are ones of prophecy, for it is not just what they say or do, but their story that speaks the messages of God. Their ministry is to equip us to speak the prophetic words of God and enable us to move in this most desired gift as described by Paul. Their presence encourages prophecy in others. These often stretch our mindsets as the reveal to us what can be seen in heaven. They make us soldiers who carry the powerful word of God. [e.g. Agabus, John, Apostle John, Isaiah]
Evangelist – These have a hunger to see souls saved, and carry their good news deep within, it burns in their bones, and they are not satisfied unless they are preaching Christ to a dying world. The ultimate born salesperson, they are driven by the need to see conversion. These equip us to do the same, and under their anointing and instruction we to learn to be bold for the gospel in whatever way we are called. They make us solider who have and share the good news that saves. [e.g. Apostles Philip and Paul]
Teacher – These bring the knowledge of God, drawing it down from heaven, not trying to project it from earth to heaven. Coming from the position at the right hand of God, these gifted ones bring the instruction of God through His word and enable us to know how to move as citizens of heaven. Equipping us to be the same, we learn to instruct others in the ways of God, even our children, and they reveal to us that by His Spirit we can know what we need to know in the moment it is needed. This makes us soldiers with the knowledge of God, training others up in the ways of the Lord. How great it would be to see these gifts equipping families to be loving families again. [e.g. Apostle Paul, Apollos, Timothy, Priscilla and Aquila]
Pastors – These carry the heart of God, and even the Father’s heart, and naturally shepherd and protect, and somehow just know how to love at the right moment and understand the affairs of the heart. These understand what it is to be moved by compassion, as Christ did, rather than empathy…the latter burdens you, the former gives you God’s power to love. They equip us to love as God loves and reveal to us His heart that we may care as He does. These makes us soldiers of the love of God. [e.g. James, Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila]
The sling shot of God scatters these gifts of God to equip us all. Sometimes hidden away in the Shepherd’s bag, in due season Christ throws them in our midst knowing that in doing so He can equip us to take the new promised land. They have been probably hidden amongst us, but for some reason we seem to not see some of them…because they are just a little bit different, or we have our focus on other areas.
And while it is tempting to like and focus on the teacher and pastor as these often seem nicer and less offensive, and are very good at relating to people, we are to be equipped by them all. As if to recognise our natural tendency that gravitates us to pastoral hearts, Christ in His wisdom reminds us that first comes Apostles and Prophets, not to Lord it over us, but to be the foundation, with Christ as the cornerstone, on which He build His church.
1 Corinthians 12:28
And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
Perhaps a good example of how this slingshot of Christ’s works can be found in Acts 3 & 4. Here we see the Apostles Peter and John going to the temple as part of the daily ritual of many for prayer. However, one day, rather than pass by the beggar (who has been lame since birth) and had been there for years, they stop. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, and with boldness Peter and John speak healing in the name of Jesus over the lame man, he is healed, and a great many (5000) are drawn to Christ as they boldly declare the work of Christ. This action infuriates the religious people of the day, and yet in apostolic boldness and authority they continue to declare the one way to the Father, which further encourages others to be bold for Jesus. A lesson here is they often cause heaven to meet earth, and great movements of God, but will also confront the establishment and religious behaviours that are not consistent with the way of the Holy Spirit.
We are to encourage these gifts amongst us, sometimes they are in other parts of the body of Christ so we are to invite them in. The blessing is that while not many will carry these office gifts, by the Holy Spirit we will be given these capabilities as spiritual gifts or anointings.
1 Corinthians 12:7-10
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
What’s the difference between the office gifts, spiritual gifts, and anointings?
When a true apostle comes to town, he starts to turn it upside down. These humble souls carry a type of authority and power that turn hearts and create a holy mess. Often polarising, the miracles and signs and wonders that follow them can galvanise us into faith but can also upset the religious and civil authorities. They don’t need a business card that says they are apostle! Whereas there are those who can be gifted with spiritual gifts of leadership and miracles, that may not turn a town upside down, but in the midst of a church can see heaven move in power, and embolden us to pioneer new works. Under the influence of those with the office gift of Apostle some can carry this apostolic anointing and behave in a similar means as long as the Apostle is in our midst.
When a prophet carries the office gift, when he comes into your midst you start dreaming, having visions, prophecies increase, and the prophetic word is proclaimed. Whereas, those carrying the gift of prophecy will prophecy with amazing accuracy, and build up and edify the church, but won’t necessarily shift the atmosphere of the church to become more prophetic. When both these gifts are present (those with the office gift of prophecy, or the Holy Spirit gift of prophecy (see 1 Corinthian 12), then the anointing of prophecy flows. And people everywhere start to prophecy, even crazy old kings like Saul in the Old Testament…hopefully though we will not strip off like he did!
And the same is true for the three other office gifts. The Apostle Philip evangelises a senior eunuch official from Ethiopian, and before you know it, he is sharing the same good news in his own country. Consider Bill Graham the famous evangelist, and some of his descendants, a born evangelist who saw millions of souls come to Christ, and in their presence, we see a rising tide of those who are embolden to share the good news to see lives saved. No wonder the recent Will Graham visit saw teaching on how to do the work of the evangelist. And we all know someone who might not have a presence like Franklin Graham or Reinhard Bonnke, but they just seem to have the gift to evangelise.
We need all 5 office gifts to be equipped fully to do the work of God, and to enable us all to move out with power, the word of God, the good news of Christ, knowledge from heaven, and the heart of God that causes the giants to fall. It is beholding on us as a church to pray in these gifts, and to invite them in. These gifts are meant for the whole body of Christ, so don’t expect them to only focus on your local congregation. They’re too few in number to do so, and in reality they are just body of Christ minded. These same gifts are not limited to working with in the church setting, and so will minister into the different realms of life, including, business, government, community, and family.
As we spend time with them, their anointing rubs off on us, through their actions, words, instructions, ministry, laying on of hands, and the Spirit they carry with them. Like rubbing in oil to restore wood, the more you sit under their anointing the more it saturates your being, and you become more like the gifting of God on them.
As a church we need to learn to honour and trust these gifts. For it is through their equipping we rise above our fear of the unknown or the apparent giants in the land before us. God has brought a fresh vision to His church, speaking to us about moving out in the power of the Holy Spirit, expanding our tent pegs, taking Christ into the community around us, and stirring us up as agents of transformations as sons and daughters of God…for which this land groans, and so we need this equipping.
Key for us is knowing that the 5-fold gifts are dispersed amongst the us, the body of Christ, to equip us to do the work of the ministry.
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We His weapons
We are the ones who are to also flung in to the world by Christ with His slingshot, being equipped as agents of faith in Christ to be the light and salt amongst the community. We then become the stones Jesus uses to cast down the giants in the land. This is a work empowered by the Holy Spirit, knowing we are not to do this in our own strength, but by His Spirit.
As we move through our life, equipped by these gifts from God, we then move in like ability. Inspired to pull on heaven like the apostles when needed, or to speak the word of God like the prophet. Perhaps to speak the good news that brings salvation or bring the understanding of God word in the right situation, or share the love of God in the right moment to heal the broken-hearted.
But this can seem scary, it means change, and it also means contending with the spirit of this age. We might be willing to go out and love the community, and to teach each other about the things of God, but it is another thing to go out believing we can move in His power, prophecy His word, and share the good news. We should do the last three, without forsaking the other two. It is tempting to leave it to those office holders of the 5-fold gifts to do all this, but this is not the plan of Christ, for in Him we are all the royal priesthood of God, called to minister to a dying world. We are given Christ’s authority and Spirit to go, and we need to trust in that rather than how we feel or what others say. We also go and do knowing it is not us that does the work, but by the Holy Spirit, Christ in us, as we walk by faith not sight. Acknowledging that if we suffer for Christ, it is an eternal blessing.
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
I believe in this season we will see much bigger moves of God outside the four walls of what we call church as we go in God’s power, equipped by Jesus, and simply obey His leading. At my own workplace we are seeing people with addictions and long-term homelessness asking for Bibles and streaming church services…not in the church but in the places of service. Globally we are seeing revivals occurring in colleges in the US, or in pubs in the UK. God is also raising up Christians in key roles across different spheres of society, politics, business, community sector, engineering companies, and so on.
To finish. Having hearts after God, and the five shiny stones that not only equip us to take down the spiritual giants in the land, but embolden others to pursue God’s kingdom, we can advance forward.
And so, to summarise, we need to:
- Encourage each other to pursue the heart of God and pray the Lord would embolden us to have the heart after our Lord, by the Spirit of Christ.
- Call in and honour the fivefold office gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, and pastor to equip us in the work of the ministry of God.
- And go in whatever direction our Lord Jesus casts us letting His light and power shine through us, and by the Spirit of God with boldness and love use the equipment given to us as God leads.
Christ’s shiny stones to cast down the giants in our lands…are these with the 5-fold gifts AND you.
Bible reading: 1 Samuel 17:1-11, 31-51
- 2 Timothy 3:1-5
- 1 Samuel 16:7
- Acts 13:22
- Luke 10:18-20
- 1 Samuel 17:40
- Ephesians 2:19-22
- Ephesians 4:11-12
- 1 Corinthians 12:28
- 1 Corinthians 12:7-10
- Matthew 5:13-16
- 1 Peter 3:13-15
 Acts 14:14
 Romans 16:7
 1 Peter 2:19-23; 3:14-18