Where I grew up, it was said a good horse will find its way back to the barn. It does not require directions or a GPS, it just knows the way back home. I think my wife believes me when I jokingly tell her my pickup truck knows the way to Home Depot. I have always enjoyed building things, and over the years have gathered no small collection of tools in my toolbox with which to build. Home Depot loves to see me coming. Nothing makes the project go easier and faster, and gives the best finished look than the right tool. A pocket knife, a hand saw, and a power saw will all cut wood. The question is which one will cut faster, cut straighter, and give the best look to the finished project? I not only appreciate having the right tool for the job, but also tools of good quality that will perform over a long period of time without breaking or wearing out.
I once watched a crew of masons install a granite counter top in a kitchen. The head of the crew was an older gentleman, who obviously was quite experienced in working with stone. He did all the detail work at every joint and seam to ensure the finished product was of the highest quality. His tools were simple yet so specialized, and were worn slick with use. He had just the right tool to move each piece of the heavy granite into just the right position to form seamless joints and connections. The impact of the beautiful granite would have been minimized without the right tools in the right hands to perfectly complete the installation.
God has given us a number of tools to live a victorious Christian life, defeat the devil and accomplish the purpose and destiny He has planned for our lives. Here are some, but not all of them:
- His Word-Hebrews 4:12-13 says “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…” The Scriptures say His Word is Truth, Fire and Light. Jesus quoted the Word of God when confronted by the devil in the desert in Matthew 4. His Word is full of promises He says He is diligent to perform, as He puts His Word above His name. John 1:4 says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” in the person of Jesus. In Ephesians 6:17, the Word of God is called the sword of the Spirit. The Word of God is a very powerful tool.
- His Spirit- In John 14, the Holy Spirit is described as the Counselor, the Spirit of Truth, and the teacher. In Romans 8:11, the Bible says the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in me, and gives life to my mortal body. Romans 8:26 says the Spirit himself intercedes for us. The Spirit of God is with us today, and living inside us.
- Prayer- John 14:14 says “you may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 16:23 says “my Father will give you whatever you ask in my Name…ask and you will receive”. I do not know how we could make it through this life without prayer as a tool.
- The Church, the Body of Christ- the corporate gathering of believers for support, sharing, worship, accountability, and encouragement. Ephesians 5:23 says Jesus Himself is the head of the church, and Colossians 1:24 says the church is the body of Christ. This is a significant tool.
These are probably the obvious tools, but there are other tools God has given us to live a victorious life. I want to examine the “shout” as a key tool. The Hebrew word is ru’a, and it means to raise a battle cry; sound a trumpet blast; shout in triumph or exaltation. I consider the best approach is to look at the circumstances under which the shout was used as a tool in Scripture, and apply it to our lives today. I found six such circumstances in my study. Here again, these may not be all, but these do present creditable evidence of the shout as a tool. We will cover three of these in this article, and the final three in my next article.
- Shout when you have the victory. (Shout when you’re ahead.) This is the easy one. Everyone knows how to act when you have the victory: we do the dance, give high fives, spike the ball, and shout at the top of our lungs. In 2 Samuel 6: 14, 15 David danced before the Lord. He had defeated the Philistines, and had brought the Ark of the Lord (representing God’s presence) back into Jerusalem. David danced before the Lord with all his might while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. This was uncontrollable, joyful bedlam. Psalm 100:1 says “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” The shout is a tool to say thanks to God for giving us the victory.
- Shout when you need the victory. (Shout when you’re behind.) This one is more difficult. If the visiting team gets ahead, and the hometown fans go quiet, the hometown fans are said “to have been taken out of the game.” Great fans shout when their team is ahead, because they have the victory, but they also shout when their team is behind, because they need the victory. In Judges, chapters 6 and 7, consider the story of Gideon. The Israelites were doing evil in the eyes of the Lord. For seven years, God turned them over to the Midianites, who ruined their crops and killed their livestock. The Israelites were living in mountain clefts and caves. They were quite desperate for a long period of time. They needed a breakthrough, a victory over their oppressors. The angel of the Lord (Jesus) appeared to Gideon and told him to rescue Israel, and said “I am sending you”. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon. He raised a large army that had to be trimmed back 99% to only 300 men. The Lord was going to give them the victory; it would not come from the size or strength of the army. In Judges 7: 18, they received their instructions. They were to surround the Midianites at night, blow their trumpets, smash the jars they carried containing torches (light), and shout “For the Lord and for Gideon”. The Midianites were routed, and the head of their king was brought to Gideon. With eyes of faith, it is very important to see the victory before the battle. In 2 Kings 6: 15-17, Elisha’s servant wakes up one morning very concerned that he and Elisha are surrounded by the army of the king of Aram. Elisha was not concerned at all, but it did occur to him that his servant could not see what Elisha saw. Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant would be opened to see the horses and chariots of fire (of the Lord) all around them. Elisha could see that “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” When we are outnumbered and surrounded, and the devil is ruining everything we are working for, our shout and our cries to the Lord can be the tool that brings victory.
- Shout when you need to encourage/help yourself. The story in 1 Samuel 30: 1-8 tells of a time when David encouraged himself and found strength in the Lord. The Amalekites attacked the unattended camp of David at Ziklag and captured and carried off the women, children and all the possessions of David and his men. David and his men wept aloud-they bitterly wailed, sobbed and cried out (amplified-they “lifted up their voices” and wept until they had no more strength to weep). Crying about the situation is not nearly as productive as crying out to Lord about the situation. In doing so, we are in effect telling the situation that we are taking the matter to a higher authority. David turned his cries to the Lord. He inquired of the Lord to know if he should go after the raiders. God told him to pursue them and overtake them. He told David he would be successful in rescuing his people and possessions. In verse 18, we learn that David and his men recovered everything-nothing was missing. His cries to the Lord turned a heart-breaking situation into a complete victory. Expressing grief over a situation may be an initial and natural human response, but ultimately the question becomes what does God have to say about the situation? What does He want to do about the situation?
These three instances all talk about a shout and/or a trumpet blast, or a loud cry out to the Lord. One was after the victory, and was more of a celebration. The other two were before the victory was certain, but ultimately preceded or precipitated the victory that was handed to those involved by God Himself. We are created in the image of God, who created all things by the words that came out of His mouth. Could it be that the shouts that come from our mouth create an outcome that otherwise would not be expected? In these instances, the shout was a key tool in turning around a dire situation. Check out Part 2 of this article as we continue to examine the Biblical evidence.