The Shaken Leaf
As the children of Israel journeyed from Egypt to Canaan, they overcame large armies and defied nature. They were vectors of the supernatural, a platform for omnipotent displays of a God intent on global domination. Seas split before them. Walls crumbled before them. Rock gushed water to satiate their famished souls. No mountain was high enough, no valley too low, for as Moses told them, the angel of the divine presence went ahead of them and made stuff happen.1Exodus 23:21
However, these folks for whose sakes God had brought down empires, caused mountains to spit fire and dispossessed giants, shook and shivered at the prospect of fighting flesh and blood – Goliath!
It gets worse.
In a previous post on Goliath, we explored factors that rendered Goliath a lame target for any adversary. For the people of God, Goliath ought not to be an issue. Moses had told the people to confront every challenge without fear because:
“…the Lord your God he shall fight for you”.2Deuteronomy 3:22
So why did the elects of God quake and tremble before a human being, worse, one with the sort of disability that plagued Goliath?
The shaken leaf syndrome is a symptom of a breach of the covenant between God and His covenant partners.
For context, Goliath was visually impaired. That was probably the reason he did not see that David had in his hands, one of ancient near Eastern deadliest weaponry, a sling. Yet the people of God cowed before this mass of nothingness! It surely boggles the mind!
In the book of Leviticus, God had warned the children of Israel about what I call the ‘shaken leaf’ syndrome – the fear of nothingness. In that scripture the Lord said:
“…I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; and the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase them; and they shall flee, as fleeing from a sword; and they shall fall when none pursueth.”3Leviticus 26:36
The shaken leaf syndrome is a symptom of a breach of the covenant between God and His covenant partners. That covenant places upon God, a duty of care for his partners. When God’s place in the lives of His people is not sanctified, God sometimes relieves himself of his covenant obligations.4Numbers 14:34 It takes two to make a covenant work.
The friction between the people and God started when they rejected God as king51 Samuel 8:7 and opted to be led by humans much to the manner of the nations around them.61 Samuel 8:4-5 The desire of the children of Israel to have a system of government that was similar to the nations around them was problematic at several levels.
In setting up the nations as their models, the people of God appeared to not appreciate their peculiar standing before God
At one level it was a slippery slope to idolatry. That theme ran through Leviticus 20:23, Deuteronomy 12:29-30, Jeremiah 10:2 and lots more: the children of Israel were forbidden from learning the cultures of the nations around them in order to shield them from temptations.
At another level, it was akin to setting inferior cultures up as models. It was retrograde.
“And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee….And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.”7Deuteronomy 26:18-19
How could they be above nations that they envied and to whose form of government they aspired?
In addition, it amounted to a corruption of the divine vision. God’s plan was for other nations to aspire to the wisdom of the Jewish divine culture and not the other way round:
“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments….Keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”8Deuteronomy 4:5-6
Not to mention the subversion of a divine calling. The world is supposed to seek to be assimilated to the Jewish faith community, as Zechariah prophesied:
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”9Zechariah 8:23
In setting up the nations as their models, the people of God appeared to not appreciate their peculiar standing before God and exalted cultures they were summonsed to overthrow. Their paths led contrarywise to divine exhortation to not learn the way of the nations10Jeremiah 10:2 and acquired tastes and cultures that dumbed down their relationship with God and missional standards.
Wherever there’s a dumbing down of divine instructions, there’s consequently a dumbing down of divine grace.11Judges 2:1-3 The inversion of their sense of whom they were in the world led to an erosion of their assuredness that God had their backs. Divine protection could no longer be taken for granted. A whiff threw them. A shaken leaf made them scamper.
The desire for a king, just like the nations, was to lead to unforeseen complications. Be careful what you wish for. 12Isaiah 9:16
The first King, Saul, disobeyed divine instruction and was promptly rejected by God. Whereas he ceased to be king spiritually, he remained king temporally. The loss of grace drove Saul to necromancy. For the people, that was a double whammy! When the leader and the led walked contrary to God, God said he would make them fall one upon another as though before a sword, yet with none pursuing them. And they would lose the power to stand before their enemies.13Leviticus 26:27
One born of the spirit need not set up flesh and blood, no matter the level of greatness and glory, as a model.
The above were some the factors that rendered the people of Israel feeble in the face of a wind bag. Children of God in Christ Jesus must work assiduously to avoid such experience. Our calling before God is similar to that of Israel.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”, 14Matthew 5:16 said the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are created and called to show forth the praise of God.15Isaiah 43:21 The vision for our lives are God’s and the instruments for achieving them are divine. God alone can bring to life that which He has put in us for His purposes and for His glory.16Jeremiah 1:5
One born of the spirit need not set up flesh and blood, no matter the level of greatness and glory, as a model. Joshua did not succeed simply because he was mentored by Moses. He succeeded because God was with him as He was with Moses.17Joshua 1:5
“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”18Isaiah 43:7
We are anointed to set God’s agenda in the earth. Let’s not run with the Joneses. Let’s diligently seek the face of God for every step of the journey ahead of us. Let’s follow His lead and obey His every instruction. It’s in God’s interest that we succeed in this journey.19Isaiah 43:21 We’re too big to fail.20Isaiah 42:4 For that reason He will split seas for us, He will cleave rocks for us. The angel of His presence will go before us and Goliath will not be able to stand before us.
|↑5||1 Samuel 8:7|
|↑6||1 Samuel 8:4-5|
|↑15, ↑19||Isaiah 43:21|