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The One Between (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
April 17, 2023 4:00 am

The One Between (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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April 17, 2023 4:00 am

For forty days, King Saul and his soldiers trembled in fear at Goliath’s taunting threats. Nobody in the army wanted to go up against the Philistine giant. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg examines God’s surprising choice for Israel’s champion.


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Just about everyone has heard of the giant named Goliath Today in our study of 1 Samuel we'll learn that for 40 days no one in the Israelite army wanted to go up against this enormous Philistine soldier in battle. God however used an unlikely young shepherd as his chosen champion. The message is titled The One Between. This is Truth for Life and Alistair Begg is teaching from the opening verses in chapter 17. So, not only is he described for us so that we can get a picture of him, but then he speaks for us, and we have the record of what he said.

Verse 8. He taunts and challenges Israel. … He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, Why have you come out to draw up for battle? That was a very good question, wasn't it? Why have you actually come out here to draw up for battle? That was the question that some of the soldiers in the camp of Israel must have been asking themselves.

You know, every morning we get up, put the shoes on and everything, and then out we come and we just stand there. Why have you come out here? If you're not planning on fighting, why do you even show up?

You know, just in passing, if we're very clear that the story is not about finding ourselves in the story as David—he was the hero, and we want to be the hero too—setting that aside, if we want to find ourselves anywhere, then I think the church can find itself as a rather neutralized bunch of soldiers standing around holding weapons, and the world is going, Why don't you guys fight? Why don't you actually say something? Why don't you do something? Don't you have a man?

Don't you have someone? And that's exactly what is happening to them. And then he says, Am I not a Philistine? Well, of course they knew he was a Philistine. What he's basically saying is, I am the Philistine. I am the embodiment of those who oppose you. Look at me, dressed to kill, ready for battle, and look at you.

Are you not servants of Saul? And what he's really saying is simple. Surely you can put on a better show than this, can't you?

Don't you have something? So he says, Here's my challenge. Choose a man for yourselves. Choose a man for yourselves. Choose somebody who will come and stand in between. That's actually what the word champion means—the man in the between. What you need is a man who will be the man in the between. And then if he comes down, then we'll settle the matter.

Now, this ought to ring bells for those of us who've been studying along the way. Because among, again, the ranks of the army, there surely would be some of them who, in response to this challenge, Choose for yourselves a man, would have nudged one another and said, We tried that. And how did that plan go? Because that's exactly what they had done. Remember, they had chosen for themselves a king. And who was it they had chosen? They had chosen Saul, who stood head and shoulders above all the other people, who was handsome, who was apparently dynamic and influential. And after their choice, they had to dig him out of the baggage room. But he seemed to be the best shot. Now he is conspicuous once again by his absence. We chose a man. He's back here with us, somewhere back here.

Yeah. What had happened? The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul. Verse 14 of chapter 16.

There was no fight left in him. You see, God is not in need of the big, tall, handsome quarterback. The advance of his church is not that he picks out amongst the cheerleaders from school. They have a place.

Some have a significant place. But the story of God's redemptive purpose is not a story of might triumphing over might, but it is a story of weakness triumphing over strength. And it is that which is being set up here in the battle lines, in the emergence of the Philistine, and in his cries of defiance. This went on for forty days.

Forty days! And verse 10, the Philistines said, I defy the ranks of Israel this day. I defy you. I mock you.

My very presence every day when I come out here is a testimony to the fact that you folks are absolutely useless. And what is the response in verse 11? When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid. In other words, they got together and said, What are we gonna do about this? We can't deal with this.

It's not uncommon, actually, to hear the soldiers in the army of Jesus mouthing the same kind of stuff in relationship to the affairs of our day. Oh dear, oh dear, what are we going to do now? Look at the forces of darkness. Look at the forces of evil. Look at this.

Look at that. Now, in fairness, if you remember in the prayer of Hannah, which takes us all the way back to chapter 2, Hannah's prayer, which was in some measure prophetic, announced the fact in verse 10 of 1 Samuel 2 that the adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces. But in actual fact, the reverse was apparently the case. It seemed that the soldiers of the Lord were at least psychologically and emotionally broken to pieces. They were a threadbare outfit. They were neutralized on the side of the mountain.

And not just for a moment or two, but for, what, almost six solid weeks. And still the taunt, still the cry, I defy you. I defy you. You see, what you're really dealing with in Goliath is in the words of Luther's hymn that we've been referencing now ever since Reformation Sunday, what you really have in Goliath is the Prince of Darkness Grimm. And you remember, when we sing that great triumphant song, we say, The Prince of Darkness Grimm, we tremble not for him. But in this historic context, the Prince of Darkness Grimm stands up before them, taunts them, and they have to say, We do tremble for him. And we had thought that all of the adversaries were going to be crushed. Well, my friends, this is why I said to you what I said at the beginning—that the story has to be understood on these different levels.

It is in terms of the personal unfolding of history as it is described. It is leading to the inevitable question, Is there somebody who is going to step forward who will be the man in the between? And if victory is going to come, the thought would be, Surely we're going to need somebody taller, stronger, braver, more menacing, more terrifying—somebody who will beat this Philistine at his own game. Might against might. We will take it on, and we will defeat it. Now, of course, you know the end of the story, and I don't want to steal all of our own thunder. We will come to it later on. But if you allow yourself one little sneak into the future, look at verse 17 and ponder—ponder this—ponder how, in the providence of God, the answer starts with an assignment involving sandwiches.

It does! And Jesse said to the boy who was not in the battle, Take these sandwiches to your brothers, and take some cheese for the quartermaster, and get on with you. And make sure you come back. Because, as chapter 16 says, he was going and coming between the fields and the court. Now, of course, what we're about to discover is no surprise to us if we know our Bibles, and that is that God saves his people not by might but through weakness. Personally, we're about to see that in the victory of David over Goliath. On the first floor, we're about to discover that God's purposes for his people Israel are going to prevail.

The story is nowhere close to being finished. But also, what we are about to discover is that not simply on the level of the personal or the national, but on the level of the international—let's just stay with the idea—but of the whole redemptive purpose of God, we're about to see that the power of darkness, which appears to prevail, is going to be defeated. Now, the encouragement that this contained for the people of the day is an encouragement that was then enjoyed by the generations that followed. And it is an encouragement that is here for us today. In our cities, in our homes, in our nation, in our world, God is defied. God is defied. God's law is defied.

On multiple levels. You don't need me to articulate the ways in which the defiance of our world opposes Almighty God. And the church—this little group here in the midst of the vast area of Greater Cleveland—seems to be so insignificant, so impoverished, so unable to do anything about it at all, tempted to stand aside and simply be dismayed. And the reason that we have 1 Samuel—the reason that it is there, if you like—the message of 1 Samuel is to teach us that God triumphs and saves not through might but through weakness. In other words, it brings us inevitably and wonderfully to the Lord Jesus. See, what is the great challenge that is to be faced by us all? Well, it is the challenge of darkness—the darkness into which Jesus came as the light of the world. People love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil, but the darkness seems to be so prevailing. It seems to be so successful. It seems that it's about forty-seven-nothing, and we're only in the first quarter of the game.

That's how it feels. And we're confronted by sin, we're confronted by death, and we're confronted by hell. Goliath was, if you like, the embodiment of the evil one's attempt to destroy God's plan from all of eternity. In other words, he's in line with, for example, the Pharaoh of Egypt, who wanted all the boys killed. He's in line with Herod the Great, who wanted in Bethlehem all the children killed. That, on a personal level, is tragic.

On a national level, it's significant. And in terms of God's ultimate redemptive purpose, it makes perfect sense that God now is going to triumph through this apparent weakness. God will accomplish his purposes in the world. That's the message of 1 Samuel, if you like—that he will do what he has planned to do. And so, when the army, in verse 11, finds itself dismayed and greatly afraid, the music just changes ever so slightly. And as the story is about to unfold, now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem and Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons in the days of—oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, what's that gotta do with anything? It's got everything to do with everything. Because he is about to step his feet onto the valley as heaven's champion.

Heaven's champion? Now, let me end in this way, perhaps a little strangely, but purposefully. Let's leave that aside. We're gonna come back to that. But some of you are here this morning, and you understand that the great enemy that faces you is death.

We do not like to talk about it in polite conversation. Every fear known to a man or a woman, I believe, is ultimately grounded in this great fear, which is the fear of death. Because we know that one out of one dies. And death is as a result of sin. Death is the punishment for sin. Therefore, we are rebels before the God who made us, and we are incapable of extricating ourselves from the predicament which yields ultimately our own death.

Which ought to cause us to ask the question, Is there a man between? Is there one, is there a champion, who deals with the great ultimate onslaught upon our souls—namely, the implications of our own indifference and our own rebellious hearts? And the wonderful story of the gospel is that just in the same way as David was raised up in that personal historical context, so David's greater son, the Lord Jesus, was being raised up and being set aside. He was going to die in weakness. Nothing looked less like a Messiah than the bloody story of the man on the tree. People mocked him.

Is this your best you can do? That's what they were saying. The answer is, of course, it was God's plan. He was doing what no one else could do. In his sinlessness, he bore sin.

The fact that he was Almighty God allowed him to triumph over death itself and to arise victorious, so that those who are caught up in his victory, like at the end of the story—and I can't resist getting to it—like at the end of the story, you've got all these soldiers in the army all running down the street going, This is great! This is great! Look at this!

This is fantastic! Who did that? Well, God did it.

How did he do it? Through David. How do the people of God run out in triumph? Not because we become heroes as a result of our own doing, but because we have one in Jesus. Now, here's my question. Let me ask you, as if I was talking straight to you over a coffee, can I ask you, who or what stands between you and an eternity in which you have decided that you're going to have it your own way? That is why you refuse to believe in Jesus.

That is why you dismiss stories like this. That is why you stand up on the side of Goliath and say, pox on all of this stuff. Oh, you come along!

I never understand why, but it's mysterious to me. But there you are. Listen. Here's what hell is. You say, I'm gonna have it my own way, and God says, Go ahead and have it. Now, let me ask you, who or what stands between you and your grave?

Good deeds? Religious attendance? Multiple religious notions?

Spirituality? My dear friends, there is only one who has triumphed over the grave. There is only one Savior.

There is only one who is able to save. The hymn writer puts it majestically when describing the way in which God keeps all of his appointments at the cross of Jesus Christ. And he paints the picture of the cross, and in the third verse of the hymn, he says, there lies beneath its shadow— that's the shadow of the cross—but on the farther side, the darkness of an awful grave that gapes both deep and wide. And there, between us, stands the cross, two arms outstretched to save, like a watchman set to guard the way from that eternal grave. The cross of Jesus Christ stands there saying, Don't go there. I died so that you don't go there. Turn from yourself. Don't be such a proud, arrogant, dressed-up Goliath.

Receive all that comes by way of my torn body and my nail-pierced hands. And the story of 1 Samuel, on level three, is that story. Do you believe it? I have just a PS before the benediction. I want to speak. It might be to one person in this room. It may be three.

I don't know. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, even though he die, yet shall he live. And whosoever lives and believes in me will never die. And then he said, Do you believe this?

That was his question. Do you believe this? That is the question—quoting the book now—that every person must answer. Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you believe that he died on the cross to free you from guilt and the judgment of sin? Do you believe that he rose from the grave, breaking the power of death and making a way for you to have eternal life in heaven? If so, you may express your faith in him in these words. Heavenly Father, I believe that Jesus Christ is your Son, that he died on the cross to save me from my sin.

I believe that he rose again to life and that he invites me to live forever with him in heaven as part of your family. Because of what Jesus has done, I ask you to forgive me of my sin and give me eternal life and enable me to live in a way that pleases and honors you. Amen. I wonder, have you ever personally prayed a prayer along those lines? And if not, hurry up. You have no guarantee of another day when the movement within your own heart and the stirring in your own mind will even come close to this very moment.

And I may be speaking just to one individual. Gracious God, we commend ourselves to your loving care. Thank you that you have provided in Jesus the one who is in between. Thank you that he bids us come and trust in him. And as we go out into a world that continues to defy your truth, we pray that you will save us from cowardice, that you will fire us up, that you will make us prayerful in our calling upon you, and then that you will enable us to take arms spiritually against the darkness. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the Father, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, rest upon and remain with all who believe, now and forevermore.

Amen. You're listening to Truth for Life. That is Alistair Begg with an impassioned plea to believe in Jesus, to trust him alone as your Savior. And that's our prayer as you study with us each day, that you will come to know Jesus in a life-saving way. Here at Truth for Life, we are all about proclaiming that good news, the gospel.

We know that God uses the faithful teaching of his word to convert unbelievers, to establish believers more firmly in their faith, and to strengthen local churches. Part of our mission here at Truth for Life is to select books to help strengthen your faith, bolster your confidence in the reliability of Scripture. Today, we want to recommend to you a book titled Assurance, Resting in God's Salvation. This is a terrific 31-day devotional that addresses the doubts many of us face at one time or another about the certainty of our salvation. Each daily reading begins with a question that expresses doubt, maybe something you've wondered about or been confused by. And then the entry for that day presents Scripture to show us how our doubts are unfounded. Whether you are new, entrusting Jesus, or you've been following him for a long time, you'll find a great deal of comfort in this book. Request your copy today when you give a donation to Truth for Life. Go to slash donate. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for starting the week off with us. Tomorrow, we'll find out how God's remarkable accomplishments are often done through ordinary people in the midst of ordinary tasks. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-17 05:04:29 / 2023-04-17 05:12:31 / 8

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