The Hero and The Helpless.

Many times we read the bible with pre-filtered lenses. Some stories we hear so many times that the true meaning has been lost in a sea of application, and the story no longer has any appeal. These stories need to be heard with ears that are hearing them as though it is for the first time. And some times we have to put ourselves into the original audiences’ shoes. We have to think as they thought. We have to feel the pain and joy that the ancient people felt when first hearing the words in the Word of God for the first time.

So let’s take a moment to look at a popular story with new eyes. Maybe if we can see a story from the perspective that the people heard it, it would bring to light more of what the author and God intended. This story will be about a man who we will call “Nathan.”

Nathan was a soldier. And in a time of great conquest, he fought often. Israel’s army had taken on foe after foe, and they were continually reigning victorious. Nathan was just relieved he had survived for so long. Israel had just gotten its first king, and they had been victorious and successful with him. This also made Nathan happy. Saul had done a remarkable job at making Israel a nation not to reckon with.

Nathan’s perspective, however, changed after Israel’s fight against the Moabites. God directed Saul – through Israel’s last leader, Samuel – to kill every living thing associated with Moab. So, battle broke, the Israelites were victorious, and it was now time for Saul to kill the Moabites’ king and their precious animals. The soldiers however, with Nathan included, thought that it wouldn’t be a good idea to kill them. It wasn’t civil, and it wasn’t what other nations did.

When Samuel came, he was furious. And all Saul could say was that he did what the people wanted. He was truly a king of the people, and he was afraid of them. But Saul was so caught up in pleasing the people, that he didn’t do what was best for them. Ultimately, it was Saul’s insecurities that did him in.

From that moment on, neither Nathan nor God saw Saul fit to be the leader of the People of God.

Some time later, Israel was again at war, this time against a group called the Philistines. The Philistines didn’t want to fight like the Moabites did. So they made a suggestion. The Philistines and the Israelites would each bring out one fighter to act as a representative for the people. One fight between two men would make the decision of who would be victorious.

The Philistines choice was simple. Goliath was a giant. He towered over the people. His shield alone weighed more than most men’s entire armor. And because of his stature, the Israelites struggled to find someone to go against him. The people cowered in fear.

Nathan thought that Saul would step up to fight the battle against Goliath. Saul himself was a whole foot taller than any other Israelite. Why not have a Clash of the Giants? But Saul stayed in his tent. He would not come out. And again Nathan, this soldier, saw Saul behave not like their leader… but like the rest of the men. Goliath came out day after day, and like routine, all the people, including Saul, would hide in fear.

It wasn’t until a stubborn boy visited one of his brothers that the situation changed.

This boy’s name was David. David looked at Goliath, and he didn’t see a giant. David saw a man. And Goliath was a man with the ignorance and arrogance to blaspheme against God. David decided that he would be the representative for the people of Israel. He couldn’t let anyone say anything against his God! Nathan and the other soldiers didn’t think this was a good idea, but what else were they to do? No one else would stand up to Goliath. Nathan’s friend and David’s brother Eliab actually mocked David for coming in the first place. What difference was this boy going to make? He didn’t even go out to battle wearing armor.

There they stood: face-to-face. David and Goliath. Nathan, Saul, and the other soldiers stood with anticipation along the side of the battlefield. How would the fight end? Would Israel have to accept defeat against the Philistines? It was time for the battle to begin between these brutes. But, before the giant could even get a swing out of his sword or throw his spear, David rushed at him and sunk a stone deep into Goliath’s forehead with his slingshot. It wasn’t long before Goliath’s head was disassembled from its frame, and David was holding it high up in the air with victorious acclamation.

It was at this moment that Nathan knew two things:

He knew the battle was won. He and the rest of the Israelites stormed the Philistines because they knew the giant was defeated, and they knew that God was with them. When Goliath stood, the people hid in fear. But now that Goliath was defeated, there was nothing to be afraid of.

Nathan also knew now who the true representative of the people was. David was the true leader of the people. When the people were cowering, David held his ground. When the people feared, David stood up for them. He stood up for God. He was willing to be their representative. And Nathan would follow David into any battle, because he knew God would be with him.

David was the king the people didn’t deserve.

He didn’t cower with the rest of them.

He stood against the giant.

He acted as their representative.

Jesus is also a King we didn’t deserve. And unlike any earthly king, Jesus allows man the choice to serve him. When the monster of Sin-and-Death reared its ominous head towards humanities’ way, Jesus decided to be their representative. Jesus would fight the Giant of Death.

We are so pretentious to think that the story of David is our own. We aren’t the heroes in this story. We aren’t the ones who fight the giants. We are the helpless. We are the ones who hide in the shadows day-in and day-out, waiting for someone to come to our rescue. We are the ones who storm the enemy after the Giant is slain and the victory is won.

We are Nathan.


Moses, the Messiah, and the Mountain.

Chuck had a tough decision on his hands. As a juvenile probation officer, Chuck played a major role in the growth and discipline of youth in the area. He was tough, yet somehow he was also compassionate. Maybe it was because he himself had children. With kids of his own, it was easy for him to put his own offspring in delinquents’ shoes.

So, when kids who were friends with one of his sons came into the courtroom, the sight of them came as sort of a shock.

These were kids who were in the same class as his son in elementary school. They were kids who played on the same sports teams and did the same extracurricular activities. Their parents and him would small talk at school events or if they saw each other in public. These weren’t kids with drug problems. They weren’t from a bad neighborhood. These were good kids, and their actions did not reflect their characters.

Moses also had a tough decision on his hands. His people were being held as slaves, and he was called by God to deliver them. Moses was educated in the ways of the Egyptians, who were holding the Israelites captive. Moses was even raised by them. So you could imagine the shock from the Pharaoh to hear that Moses was threatening to plague the land if the Israelites were not set free.

After God used Moses to set His people free, He brought Moses to Mount Sinai. This is where God gave Moses “the Law.” The Law was a contract between God and the Israelites. If the Israelites were to be God’s people, they had to obey certain rules. This also meant that God had stipulations He would follow. If the Israelites obeyed their end of the deal, God promised He would never leave them. He would be with them forever. Mount Sinai was where this all happened. It was where God presented the Ten Commandments to Moses.

Throughout the years, the Israelites failed to keep the Law. When it said not to marry people who weren’t Israelites, they married them anyway. Where the Law said not to worship other gods, the people put up altars to Baal. Time and time again, the Israelites would be disobedient, and God would remain gracious and not punish them. Eventually, through their own disobedience, the Israelites became slaves once again.

They were again slaves, and they again needed a Deliverer. This time they were determined that they weren’t going to break any of the rules of the Law. So, they tried to obey the Law as closely as possible, because they did not want to upset God. They tried to figure out all the rules God wanted them to keep, so that God would look down on them and deliver them from their captivity. And despite the fact that the Israelites didn’t keep up their end of the contract, God still kept up His.

This is when Jesus came.

Jesus arrived to the scene when the Israelites were under Roman captivity. And like Moses, he was sent by God to deliver the people. But, Jesus came to present the people a NEW Law – a New Covenant. He didn’t come to do away with Moses’ Law. Jesus came to fulfill it. Like Moses on Mount Sinai, Jesus went up on a mountain and shared what is now known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” This is where Jesus presented his message of grace and truth. Where the Law of Moses pointed to the world’s problems, Jesus was offering the solution – himself.

Because of Chuck, I didn’t have to go to prison. When some friends and I broke into a house on my fourteenth birthday, we thought it was a pillar pointing to the end of our lives. I imagined myself going to jail. I imagined all of my friends and family looking at me as though I were a terrible person… because I acted terribly. But Chuck delivered me from a future that was looking grim. He was able to talk to the judge. I’m sure it was Chuck’s testimony to the judge which brought our sentencing down to a small fine. After everything, my charges were removed. It was through that experience, I gave my life to Christ.

It was Christ who delivered me, along with the rest of the world, from spiritual slavery.

Where Moses presented the people with the Law, Jesus perfected it. This is why Moses is the only Old Testament figure whom Jesus ever compared himself. Jesus fulfilled the Law in its entirety. We no longer follow the Law. We follow the One who fulfilled it. Does that mean that we still have to obey rules that were once a part of the Law? Yes. But we do it out of obedience to Christ, because of the grace and power he has given.

We do it because we are following Christ.

“And the LORD said to me… ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” – Deuteronomy 18:17-18

The Day That Death Was Defeated

Imagine a Jew living during the time of the Second Temple. Nehemiah might have brought some of the Jewish people back to their Promised Land, but the Jews were still in disarray. A Temple might have been built to replace the former one, but the Israelites were no longer a nation of God – they weren’t a nation at all. The Israelite people were floating from nation to nation – Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans. They might have been “post-exilic”, but they were definitely not out of exile.

Imagine an Israelite who was alive amidst the captivity in Egypt. Their ancestors might have freely come to the land, but that isn’t the case for them now. People through whom God said he would bless the world are now captives in a foreign land. The Israelite people weren’t “people” at all – they were slaves. They might have been promised a blessing, but their children were still getting slaughtered by the hundreds.

Moses was sent by God to deliver the Israelites in Egypt from their physical bondage. God parted the Red Sea, and from Mount Sinai Moses presented to the people of God how they should live according to the Law.

They were to be God’s chosen people.

Through them the whole world was to be blessed.

But they took the Law and saw it as a way in which to separate them selves from the world they were supposed to bless – a Law they couldn’t even keep. They needed a truly Faithful Jew through which Abraham’s covenant could be fulfilled. But they were looking for a way out of their physical bondage of exile during the Second Temple Period. They lost sight of the promise that God made to them. They lost sight of their purpose as the People of God.

Jesus was sent by God to deliver all of mankind from their spiritual bondage of sin. God’s Spirit fell on Jesus during his baptism, and from there Jesus presented the Sermon on the Mount, where he showed the people what it meant to live by faith.

He was God’s Chosen One.

Through him the whole world had been blessed.

But the people crucified him. When given the chance to free this man who knew no sin, the people chose an insurrectionist instead… How fitting. They took an innocent man and gave him a death sentence expected for the worst of people. Just as Moses and his people were the first to celebrate the Passover, Jesus was presented as the final Passover Lamb the day he was crucified during that Passover week.

The Passover. The Passion.

Moses. The Messiah.

Physical Bondage. Spiritual Bondage.

God’s Deliverance.

If Christ’s story ended there, then this wouldn’t be a story worth being told. When Jesus was taken to be crucified, the disciples fled. After his death they left in shame believing that they were merely following an allusion of grandeur that he was there to set them free from Roman rule.

But Christ’s story didn’t end there. When Jesus rose from the dead, he proved his reign as King! Christ didn’t ignore death; he defeated it! And by defeating death, Christ showed how he was the Ultimate Deliverer. He isn’t just Christ – but he is Lord! He is the I Am! And though the Jewish people were expecting their Messiah to come and deliver them from their bondage from Rome, he came and delivered all people from their spiritual bondage of sin.

This is the day in which death was defeated.

We now know that there will be a day when we are resurrected.

We now know that there will be a day when all things will be reconciled to him.

We now can go to the world knowing that he has ALL authority.

We can now go bringing this news of reconciliation.

Because this is the day in which death is defeated.