“ON SHOULDERS OF GIANTS” By Pastor YAU
Text: Joshua 1:1-9 May 9, 2010.
1) Contemporary giants: Giants hold a special place in our lore---both historical and literary. From the real giant Goliath to ordinary people who had done extraordinary things, we use the word giant to honor their achievements. One example is the 17th-century physicist Sir Isaac Newton. A committed Christian, he credited his success to other giants who had gone before him. “If I have seen a little further,” Newton said, “it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton became a giant on his shoulders later scientists stood---as they used his observation in the conquest of space flight.
2) Ancient time giants: When God commanded Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua certainly had a giant’s shoulders to stand on. He had watched Moses, his life and his work, for 40 years, and now he would put what he had learned into actions. Joshua also had the shoulders of the Super Giant, the Almighty God from whom he had observed and learned. On God’s shoulders, he received power and support to carry out the command God had for him. Very few people live and work all by their own efforts. Many who had gone before us had set the stage, cleared the path, laid the foundation or made the bricks so we may build what God wants us to do in our lives.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN GIANTS: These are my favorites:
1) A selfless advocate: “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father. He said to him: Let not the king do wrong to his servant David. He has not wronged you and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?” (1 Samuel 19:4-5) How many people today would risk his life and the prospect of losing a throne to advocate for an innocent and vulnerable man for justice’ sake as did Jonathan for David? It is certainly a fresh air to see people using their influence, position and opportunity to defense the innocent, the weak when most people just keep silent to protect their own benefit and interests.
2) A willing messenger: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying: Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said: Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Although this is a familiar Bible story millions have read, heard and told, it is still a story of a giant in self giving for the sake of others. Being part of the royal family in the palace and high official in the temple, Isaiah was willing to surrender all he had in order to become a voice of God for a message to Israel in exile. Today most Christians may pray and give to missions instead of giving up their comfort and life dreams to bring the gospel message of life to the lost.
3) A man dared to risk: “When Paul came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey has seen the Lord and that the Lord has spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 9:26-27)While all the disciples were afraid of Saul and stayed away from him, it was Barnabas who dared to break the ring to bring Paul to the leaders of the early church. From here Paul was sent to his first missionary trip to bring the gospel to the Gentile world. No one would know what history might be like if there were no someone like Barnabas to do what he did.
4) A prisoner’s company: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings.” (Philemon 1:23)Epaphras was from Colossia, sent by the church to bring their support to Paul when he was in prison at Rome. (Colossians 4:12)Instead to returning home after completing his mission, he volunteered to stay with Paul in his prison to keep him company and provide his needs. This is an excellent model example of love and sacrifice for a brother in Christ and a servant of God. Loneliness is the worst enemy for those who serve the Lord. Keeping them connected and supported is the best gift we can give them.
WHY ON GIANT’S SHOULDERS?
1) Recognize the facts of life: No one lives absolutely by himself in this world. Everyone lives his life intertwined with that of many others. Most of the things we do or have, if not all, are results of many elements contributed by countless others. God is the only one who created everything from nothing. It is good and necessary to recognize the fact that each one of us is a part of a much larger picture in all the things of our life. This is true in family, in career, in education and in church life. Without the shoulders of others, your life won’t be the same.
2) Recognize their achievements: In all the things your do, all your successes and achievements, at least part of them are built on the foundations and elements left behind by others who had gone before you that make your job possible. Even Isaac Newton recognized that he saw a little further because he stood on the shoulders of his giants. Recognizing the contributions of others in your success doesn’t take anything away from you. It only adds to the quality of your character as a thankful person.
3) Recognize our inadequacy: To recognize the fact that none of us is all-powerful or self-sufficient is an important step to improve our potential of success. We need to know that there are things we cannot do, do not know and are impossible to achieve with out the shoulders of others. This mindset will greatly expand the outlook of life, increase the potential of external assistance and the level of achievement possible. We have to recognize our inability before we will go out to seek help from others.
4) Recognize the ultimate giant: While there are many giants on their shoulders we learn, know, build and live, the ultimate Giant we need to seek, recognize and build our life and work on is the shoulders of the Almighty God. As much as Moses, the giant on his shoulders Joshua would build his faith, leadership skills and character, it was God who promised to provide courage, support and His presence wherever Joshua may go. No human shoulders may come close to the shoulders of God on which we all may go to seek and find and stand. God in Jesus had promised us that he would be with us to the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20)
LOOK FOR YOUR SHOULDERS: (Joshua 1:1-9)
1) When facing a huge crisis: “After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord.” (1:1a) In the last chapter of Deuteronomy, the Bible described the life of Moses like this: Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt. No one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel. (Deut. 34:10-12)When you face a crisis this big like losing such a great leader in the middle of your mission, you need to seek and find shoulders you could stand.
2) When called to awesome duties: “The Lord said the Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: Moses my servant is dead, Now, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them, the Israelites.” (1:1-2)With all the power God had given to Moses and the mighty wonders he had performed, he wasn’t able to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land as God had intended. Why would anyone believe Joshua could do what Moses couldn’t? It is at this moment of awesome responsibility God places in your hands, you need to find all the shoulders of all the giants you can find to face the mission.
3) When you recognize the connection: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (1:5) God didn’t call Joshua to begin a new journey. He called him to continue and finish a journey Moses had started but unfinished. Whatever Joshua would do, it was going to be built on what Moses had done before him. There is a connection between the job of Joshua and that of Moses. Don’t be afraid to seek for help from others, especially those have gone before you. Their life and experience are shoulders you could continue to build on. Do not be afraid to stand on their shoulders to do your job.
4) When offered the best shoulders: “Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (1:9)God offered Joshua the best and the strongest shoulders anyone could find. God will never call anyone to do His work without providing adequate support, His support. God never promises an easy task or a rosy path. But He will always go with us and hold our hands along the way.
1) Look for giant shoulders: In all the paths of life, there are few originals. King Solomon says: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9)We need to lean on the shoulders of those who had gone before us: their experience, successes and failures. Never say that you can handle everything by yourself.
2) Give them proper credits: Regardless of what you are doing you are not all-powerful or smart of lucky to achieve anything. What you have done won’t be done without contributions from many others: your parents, teachers, colleagues, friends, mentors and others who laid foundations on which you built. Never forget to give them credit they deserve. Above all, it is God who give you grace, protection, opportunity and wisdom so you have today. Do not take all the credit as yours. Share some with God and others.
3) Do not launch out alone: Never launch out to deep waters all by yourself. If you think no one you may trust, how about trusting God? Let God go through life with you. Ask Him to be your best mentor or shoulders you may lean on. Anyone who truly seek Him will find him and he will never turn anyone away. (John 6:37)