Mountain Moving Faith
Mom asks Joey what he learned in Sunday school. “Our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across. Then he radioed headquarters and they sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.” “Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked. “Well, no. But if I told it the way the she did, you’d never believe it!”[i]
The Bible tells some pretty incredible stories, doesn’t it? Moses parting the Red Sea, Jesus feeding over 5000 people with a few loaves and fishes, Peter walking on water. Some of the stories you read in the Bible almost seem too good to be true.
But some stories are too good not to be true.
The story of David and Goliath is one of these. It’s a favorite story of kids in Sunday School: a young boy bravely facing the big bad bully and winning! I remember getting my first slingshot and pretending to be David. Later, I learned it wasn’t a slingshot but just a sling, so I got an old piece of cloth and made a sling, but it was little harder to use.
Even adults enjoy this story. How many movies or stories are about a small, unimportant person who takes on the bully at school, or the big bully boss, or the big bully corporation and wins? We boo the bully and cheer on the David, whatever his/her name happens to be.
The point is too good not to be true: little guys can take on big bullies and win.
You can enjoy the story on that level, but the real focus of the story is faith, or more specifically, mountain moving faith. This phrase comes from the words of Christ in
Mark 11:23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
Jesus isn’t telling us how to rearrange the geography. He’s stressing the power of our faith in God. He puts into words what David puts into action: the power of mountain moving faith.
Can you and I have this kind of faith in God? How? Let’s talk about it. (v. 1-16)
Warren Wiersbe writes: The people who jest about faith don't realize how big a part it plays in everyday affairs. It takes faith to get married... It takes faith to send children off to school. It takes faith to get a prescription filled. It takes faith to eat in a restaurant, deposit money in a bank, sign a contract, drive on the highway, or get on an airplane or an elevator. Faith isn't some kind of religious experience for the elite; it's the glue that helps hold people's lives together. [ii]
To some degree we all faith. But not all faith is equal. It takes a lot more faith to get married than it does to eat in a restaurant. There’s a huge difference between faith that says I believe there is a God and faith in Christ that saves us from our sins. There is a huge difference between faith that prays for rain and faith that moves mountains. This story shows some important truths about mountain moving faith, beginning with the inescapable fact that
1. Mountains happen. (v. 1-6)
Have you ever noticed how routine life gets? “How was your day?” “Fine. How was your day?” “Fine.” “Anything special happen to you today?” “Nope. You?” “Nope. Same old same old.” “Me, too; same old same old.”Some people long for something different. Then they get more than they bargained for when a mountain rises right in the middle of their path.
It may be a medical mountain like cancer, or a money mountain from a bad economy. It could be a mountain of doubt or worry or temptation. It may be a mountain of hurt or a mountain of depression. I’m not talking about hills here, but high mountains, too high to climb and too wide to go around. It’s true for all of us: mountains happen.
For King Saul and the nation of Israel, the mountain was a giant. In this corner, standing 9’9” tall, weighing in at c. 650-700 lbs., ladies and gentlemen, I give you Goliath of Gath and the Philistine crowd roars with cheers. He is their champion, and he issues a champion’s challenge to Saul and his army in vs. 8-9.
There’s no cheering on the Israelite side, because Saul and his men are terrified out of their wits. The logical choice to send out would be King Saul, who is described this way in 1 Sam. 9:2 ...From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
But Saul’s not volunteering. Neither are his soldiers. This mountain of a man is too huge to try and tackle alone. The king and his army just huddle together like frightened mice, not knowing what to do.
Mountains happen. One minute you’re walking on level ground, nothing special going on, and then before you know it, you’re staring up at a mountain in fear, wondering how you will ever make it past this insurmountable obstacle. The mountain is too dangerous to climb, too wide to go around. The only way to keep going is to find some way to move the mountain. Is that possible? It is if you possess a faith like David’s with 2 important characteristics:
2. Mountain moving faith sees from God’s perspective. (v. 7-31)
One quiet Saturday afternoon several men are sitting in a saloon, when suddenly Ol' Jeb comes racing in hollering, "Big John is coming to town! Big John is coming to town!" Everybody clears out except the saloon keeper, who’s trying to lock up when a man comes galloping down Main Street on a huge bull buffalo. He dismounts, grabs the buffalo by the horns, bites down on its upper lip, kicks it in the ribs, and orders "Stay!" The buffalo cowers submissively.
The man rips the saloon's bat-wing doors from their hinges, stomps in, and catches the bartender. "Hold up!" the stranger orders. "I got a hankering for a drink!" The saloonkeeper is paralyzed with fear: the stranger is 7 ½ feet tall, and outweighs a full-grown grizzly. He wears rattlesnake chaps, a greasy rawhide shirt, a filthy torn Stetson, and steel-tipped fighting boots. On one hip he's carrying a sawed-off shotgun and on the other is a 32-inch Arkansas toothpick. On his scarred face is a look of cruel, insane meanness. "Right away, sir." The trembling bartender fetches a bottle. The stranger seizes the bottle, smashes off the neck on the edge of the bar, tilts it back, and drains the contents in one gulp."W-would you like another, sir?" the bartender stammers. The stranger wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. "I don’t have time! I got to get out of here! Haven’t you heard? Big John is coming to town!"
Size is a matter of perspective. You may be a giant in a child’s eyes, but a dwarf compared to a professional wrestler. Mountain moving faith is also a matter of perspective. You see how big the mountain is, but you always see God as bigger than any mountain. This is David’s perspective. For some reason David doesn’t go with his brothers to fight the Philistines. I wonder if maybe Jesse wouldn’t allow it because of David’s age. But he does send the shepherd boy to bring food to his brothers and their friends, and so David obeys.
David arrives with the welcome food, and they’re all making small talk when Goliath makes his daily appearance. But notice David doesn’t see what they see.
They see a Man with a capital M, an immovable mountain too big and strong to handle. David sees an uncircumcised Philistine who dares to defy the armies of the living God. (v. 26.) They see the killing of this giant as an opportunity to win the favor of the king, but David sees the man who kills this big bully as one who will take away the reproach of Israel. Later when David meets Goliath on the battlefield, he says in v. 45 I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
These soldiers see how much bigger Goliath is than they are; David sees how much bigger God is than Goliath. These soldiers believe in God, but their God is not big enough to handle Goliath; David believes in a God that makes Goliath look like a sick scrawny gnat.
They look at Goliath and say he’s too big to hit! David looks at Goliath and says he’s too big to miss! These soldiers look high and see Goliath; David looks higher and sees God.
David has the perspective of mountain moving faith: God is bigger than any mountain!
Probably every person sitting here believes in God, but do you believe in a God bigger than your mountain?
Do you believe God is bigger than your circumstances, bigger than your problems? Is God bigger than your boss or your scheming enemies? Bigger than the economy, bigger than disease or age or temptation, bigger than life and bigger than death?
Whether you believe it or not, He is bigger. We just need to see Him as bigger.
Have you ever looked through a telescope at the night sky? The telescope doesn’t make a star larger—it just helps us see the star as larger. The telescope magnifies what we see.
Many years after David met Goliath, he wrote the words of
Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.
You cannot make God any bigger, but by faith you can see Him as bigger. If there is a God (and there is) and if He’s the God of the Bible (and He is) then He is bigger than any mountain in your life or mine. We can depend on that by faith, as surely as David did. Mountain moving faith sees the mountain from God’s perspective.
That’s all well and good, but does seeing God this way do anything to move the mountain? Let’s finish up the story.
3. Mountain moving faith gets the job done. (v. 31-54)
Many people, including Christians, underestimate the power of faith. Faith is one of those
virtues that is admirable, but not very practical. Faith may inspire us, faith may motivate us, but faith doesn’t really accomplish anything. David’s story proves otherwise.
Saul orders this young shepherd with the brave words to be brought to him. David walks into Saul’s tent, kneels and says Your worries are over your majesty. I’ll go slay this giant.
Is that a smile on Saul’s face? This young man is certainly brave enough. But common sense takes over. Son, you can’t fight this giant. You’re just a boy, and he’s been killing since he was your age! He’ll tear you limb from limb!
David looks up with a blazing fire in his eyes. He tells the king how God strengthened him to protect his flock of sheep from a bear and from a lion. The same God Who gave me strength to kill them will give me strength to kill this giant! David’s faith is not in his own power, but in God’s power.
Saul responds, OK, son, if you’re bent on fighting, go. But at least let me fit you with armor to protect you. But instead of helping, Saul’s armor hinders David, so he leaves it behind.
Instead he choose five smooth stones from the brook and his sling—the weapons of a shepherd-- to go and face Goliath.
Picture the scene: two armies face one another, as the young shepherd begins to make his way down into the valley. The Philistine lookout says hey guys! The cowards are finally sending some fool out! Everybody’s attention is suddenly fixed. Laughter erupts, as somebody realizes it’s just a shepherd boy! They’re sending a shepherd boy to fight Goliath!
The laughter dies down, as Goliath parts their ranks, and steps out. He sees the same
thing: just a boy. Am I a dog that you throw sticks at me? he calls out to the Israelite army.
Every heart on the Israeli side sinks: this is going to be bad—really bad. Jesse’s sons think what are we going to tell dad about his baby boy?
Goliath curses David in the name of his gods, but finally decides this is for real. Boy, if you come any closer, you’ll be nothing but buzzard chow when I get through with you!
Now it’s David’s turn. Without a hint of fear, he calls out I see your weapons, but they will not help you. I come in the Name of the Lord, and you don’t stand a chance against Him! It’s you who’ll feed the buzzards today, and everybody will know that the God of Israel is the true God! This battle is His, and He’ll get all the glory when I win it!
Each army is transfixed. They watch David load his sling with a stone, watch him launch it, watch the rock hit Goliath in the head, watch Goliath stagger for a moment, then crash to the ground. David runs up, pulls out the giant’s sword and chunk! lops off his head. The Philistines go running, and the Israelite army pursues.
Now let me ask you: who’s the hero here? Who deserves the credit? The nation of Israel celebrates David’s victory, but David will be the first to tell you he doesn’t deserve any of the glory. His faith was focused on God’s glory. Mountain moving faith gets the job done only through God’s power for God’s glory!
I get frustrated when I listen to people talk about moving mountains through their own strength. Have you heard about positive confession? Declare what you want, and it’s yours. Confess it and possess it, blab it and grab it, name it, claim it, put it on the wall and frame it.
I get frustrated when I listen to people talk about moving mountains out of their way—as if keeping the road smooth for us is the point! The only mountains He promises to move are those who are in His way, for His purpose for His glory.
You can have all the faith you want, but if your faith isn’t in God, if your heart isn’t focused on His praise, His purpose, you’ll never move the smallest stone from any mountain.
Psalm 115:1 Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory…
If your faith is focused on anybody but God, your faith will fail you. If your faith is focused on God and His glory, your faith will get the job done; your faith will move mountains.
This morning, God wants to move some mountains in your life.
He wants to remove the mountain of sin and guilt that separates you from Him. He makes this possible through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. Come just as you are this morning, believe in Him, and He will forgive and cleanse you from all your sins.
Child of God, He wants to move the mountains in your life that hinder you from experiencing His peace, from fulfilling His purpose in your life. Whether it’s the mountain of fear, or worry or discouragement, you can believe Him to help you see those mountains moved for His glory.
What mountain does God want to move in your life?
[i]Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter
[ii] Warren Wiersbe, author and speaker. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2