Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.
This is episode 170 of Missions on Point. We are beginning a new series on missions insights from the Old Testament. Today's little insight comes from 1 Samuel 17:46. It's in the story of David and Goliath. Practically every Sunday school kid knows the story of David and Goliath, but different than most people think, it's not about the little guy winning against the big guy.
So, what I want to show you today, is how this story and its purpose as recorded in scripture has implications for many other stories through the Old Testament, and we'll just take a peek at a few of those. I won't go into detail about all the elements of the story, but just remember the scene. The Philistines gathered their armies for battle against those of Israel. Saul gathered the men of Israel to encamp across the valley. Out from the camp of the Philistines, on a daily basis, came this giant of a man named Goliath. He was nine feet, four inches tall, and had huge and heavy armor and weapons. He comes out from the camp and yells across the valley to the Israelites to have someone meet him in a duel, and the winner wins the whole battle.
Young David is visiting his brothers and bringing them some food, and hangs around and hears this great challenge from the Philistine, Goliath. David rightly recognized that Goliath was defying God himself. After a conversation with King Saul, and trying on some of Saul's armor that wasn't going to work, David gives up the armor and goes out just in the name of the Lord. Here's what he says. "This day, the Lord will deliver you, Goliath, 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 the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel."
It's that last phrase that I want you to see. That is the purposive phrase of the entire narrative. David understood that this challenge was not against an army, it was against God, and he says that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, this is what's going to happen. And it did happen. David understood that the battle was not just one army against another. He understood it to be defying the one true God, and the one true God making himself known by this crazy victory of a young lad over a giant warrior.
I'm so glad that that phrase is recorded in inspired scripture for us to see the purpose of this whole scene. I think that's why it's included in the scripture. Jesus himself, in His ministry, says the same kind of thing. He says that these Old Testament stories were written to show us that God had a heart for the nations and wanted all the nations to worship and revere Him as the one true God.
In Luke 4, near the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was in His hometown, and He said to them who were marveling at His words, "Truly I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, that there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman, the Syrian."
There are a couple of observations about this that you need to understand. First, Jesus seems to be saying that the exact record of the inspired stories recorded in scripture point out that God had a heart for people of other nations, even while He was focusing on the people of Israel. He gives two examples, but there are many more. Jesus seems to be indicating that the very selection of the stories that we have in our Bible are an illustration of God's desire to see people from other nations worship Him and have a relationship with Him.
Jesus spent much of His ministry around the area called Galilee of the Gentiles. That is, there were people from many nations scattered around in this territory that was dominated by the Romans, who themselves were not Israelites. We see many stories in the gospels where Jesus reached out to someone who was a foreigner, by Jewish standards, to the centurion servant, the Samaritan woman. Just think back to the genealogy of Jesus in the Book of Matthew, and we saw these four women who were foreigners in the line of Christ himself, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba.
After David died, his son, Solomon, was compelled to build a temple for God in Jerusalem. In 1 Kings 8, Solomon has a long prayer of dedication that is recorded in the Bible. Solomon understood that the law of God was to attract people from other nations to come and know and worship God himself. There are many hints in the Old Testament law, and here in Solomon's prayer, in 1 Kings 8. Verse 41, he prays, "Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name's sake, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name." We read this clearly as an invitation for people from all nations to come and worship the one true God.
Later, in Verse 60, he says this in wrapping up his prayer. "It is that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God. There is no other." It sure seems that when God's people recognize God's purpose is to have people from all nations worship Him and glorify His name, then things go well for them. They are blessed. They are rescued and saved.
One of the later kings in Israel, Hezekiah, was confronted with a huge army from the Assyrians. This army of conquest was renowned for their brutality and destruction in the wake of their conquest. So Hezekiah repents and goes before the Lord and prays, and this is the end of his prayer. He says, in 2 Kings 19:19, "So now, O Lord, our God, save us please from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone." This, friends, is a missionary prayer. We happen to also have the results of that prayer, as God answered.
Isaiah tells about the fall of Sennacherib, this army leader, and by night, the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. Though there is a mixture of politics and history in the stories of the Old Testament, note how consistently God wants to protect His people, but He does it so that His name is held high and glorified, even in the midst of the nations. Stories like the whole Book of Ruth and Esther, for instance. The Book of Hezekiah shows God's great providence and provision for rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and eventually the Temple, as well as being a testimony to the king of the Empire.
The story of David and Goliath give us a clue of what to look for in the scriptures to show God's heart for the nations. We'll see it from some other Old Testament passages, but I've tallied 1,000 times that terms like, all nations, all peoples, all the earth, or all families of the earth, are recorded in the Old Testament, that are not specifically aimed at judgment of those nations. It's true that the Old Testament prophets spoke often of judgment against surrounding nations and called for their repentance, but their repentance was for the purpose of establishing a relationship with the Lord as God, the one true God, the one who actually knows and understands their sin and their sinful heart. Even those passages where there's judgment involved are for the purpose of calling people to repent and come into right relationship with the one true God.
Stay tuned as we look at some more missions insights from the Old Testament in the next few episodes. Hey, and if you have comments or questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about the new book I'm writing, called Missions on Point - The Local Church's Role in Missions, on the propempo.com website.
Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at propempo.com and missioserve.org. We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.
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