Bible Study : H. E. Alexander, 1950_01_02 translated from French
Revival in the Valley of Rephaim with David
Bible Study : H. E. Alexander, 1950_01_02 translated from French
“When you hear the sound of footsteps in the tops of the mulberry trees, then make haste, for it is the Lord who goes before you to defeat the army of the Philistines” (2 Samuel 5: 24 ). If I speak of revival in this valley, it is because of a timely intervention of God in a battle. This verse of Scripture is often quoted to demonstrate in a few words the secret work of God before his open and definitive action. Every revival is preceded by warning signs—characterized here by the sound of footsteps—which can only be recognized by genuine, Spirit-filled Christians who are sensitive to the things of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9-11 ). In the last study it was about the sound of rain (1 Kings 18: 41 ), here it is a sound of footsteps. Every revival is the effect of some prior spiritual cause where God has placed a burden on one man or on a group of believers. Humble and consecrated, they cooperate with him in prayer.
The circumstances of this story deserve to be recalled. This is the coronation of David established over the whole kingdom in the fortress of Zion, after the last resistance of the Jebusites had been broken. Very quickly the opposition of the Philistines resurfaced. This coronation prefigures the return in glory of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, a return that no enemy can prevent. Then the deliverer will come out of Zion to deliver all the oppressed, and his kingdom will extend from one end of the earth to the other (cf. Romans 11:26 ). This event will be accompanied by a worldwide outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17 ).
All the revivals in the history of the Church are a foretaste of this fact which will transform the world for the coming of its King. Today, those who pray for revival and speak sincerely on this subject must be careful that their desires conceal no selfish, limited, and sectarian purpose. If we ask God to grant a revival to his Church, it is not only that multitudes may be converted to Jesus Christ, but that the Church itself may be delivered from its selfishness and sanctified for God in view of the last battle before the rapture to heaven.
The sound of footsteps
Depending on the Bible version, there is a sound of footsteps or the sound of “people walking”. This same word is used in the books of Moses, Joshua and in the Psalms to define the sound of the trumpet which arrests, gathers and commands. In the area that concerns us, this noise captures our attention, imposes itself with authority and compels us to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches (cf. Revelation 2: 7 ). Alas, how slow we are still to hear this sound…and slower still to understand its meaning, for we run the risk of being struck with a judgment of blindness and deafness towards God because of of our disobedience (cf. Isaiah 6:9-10 ).
We find the same term in Ezekiel 1:24 and 10:5. It characterizes the sound of the wings of the cherubim, those angelic creatures who do the will of God, manifest his holiness and judge evil among his own. We also find this word in Isaiah 13 when the prophet announces the defeat of the tyrants of humanity: “I have given orders to my holy army, I have called the heroes of my anger, those who rejoice in my greatness . A rumor is heard on the mountains… The Lord of hosts reviews the army that is going to fight” (13: 3-4).
This same term is found in the text of 2 Kings 7 when the powerful Syrians who camp around Samaria hear the noise of chariots and horses; a panic terror seizes them and they flee to save their life. Elisha was aware of these spiritual forces when he said to his frightened servant, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:16 ). It is the same divine omnipotence that explains Asa’s victory when the Lord put the immense Ethiopian army to flight (cf. 2 Chronicles 14: 8-14 ).
We also find this expression when Ezekiel challenges God and himself in the valley of the bones. The Lord gives him the order to prophesy about the dry bones so that they live again; “There was a noise, and behold, there was a movement, and the bones came near to each other” (Ezekiel 37:7). This striking picture illustrates the present state of the Church of God: drought, divisions, suffering and barrenness. Blessed are those who recognize themselves in this vision and who, freed from all mental narrowness and all ecclesiastical pride, accept God’s revelation on the state of the people, pray and act accordingly!
A resolved fight
How painful it is to see the lack of discernment among those who bear the name of Christians. The spiritual level is so low, the horizon so limited that the true knowledge of God is lost.
When the apostle Paul speaks of satanic powers affecting the Church of God, he urges believers to have their minds brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ). It is the power of the cross that will order our thoughts so often rebellious and wandering, independent of God and his Word. Then we will be delivered from our preconceived ideas and we will receive his instruction (cf. Matthew 11:29 ).
Then he will be able to show us an attitude in harmony with the Spirit, to detach our gaze from visible things to attach them to invisible things, those which seem unattainable to us (cf. 2 Corinthians 4: 18 ). Happy is the Church, the congregation that has members “seeking the things that are on high” (cf. Colossians 3:1-2 ), and to whom God reveals the cause of difficult situations. The lives of these believers are often thankless, misunderstood, but they are truly the priests of God’s people. It is in response to their priesthood that the spiritual movement for which they pray will be unleashed. They knew how to discern the illusion of the forms of piety which paralyzed the work of God.
Every revival requires a preparation that God knows will last. Perhaps long years during which he educates those who will understand his thoughts. Thus faithful service continues while many Christians are content with deceptive appearances. He escapes the eyes of men, but not of the Lord. Those who pray thus stand firm “as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27 ). They intercede, alone or with those who have the same Spirit and the same desires. Like the Levites they inherit the Lord Himself, and like Elijah they bow to his presence in prayer. How many children of God, bedridden, prisoners of the Lord in a sick room, or held back by advanced age, invoke him without anyone knowing it. But the Lord knows their life of prayer, the secret source of revival. We don’t pay much attention to it; yet they participate in these tremendous spiritual battles in heavenly places. Appearing little before the public, more before God, they know how to pray, ask, insist a second time and persevere “until the rain falls”.
An enemy on the front
In 2 Samuel 5:20 , David cried out, “The Lord has scattered my enemies before me like flowing waters.” The word translated by dispersed is a term used in military communiqués. It is rendered elsewhere by broken in the sense of a break in the enemy front. The same word is found in Isaiah 54:3 : “Thou shalt spread thyself to the right and to the left…” This means that after the sacrifice of the cross (cf. Isaiah 53:10 ) the front of resistance to the work of God will be broken and the deserted cities will be occupied by the representatives of the Gospel. What vision and what hope these passages give us! All believers are called to break the front of resistance to divide themselves into bearers of the Word of God, into messengers of the cross. This is the purpose of revival.
What does this enemy front consist of? It is formed by the activity of Satan, not only in the world, of which he is the prince, but also in the Church which he hates. What breaches, destruction, damage, painful situations caused by him. How many humiliating and tragic defeats we are slowly getting used to. Let’s be true with God and straight with ourselves: some say that Christians cannot be deceived or attacked by the devil, and they turn a blind eye. Others recognize the facts, but ignore the root cause and resign themselves. These ravages are the work of Satan who resists God and opposes prayer (cf. Daniel 10:13 ).
This enemy front is also the work of the “accuser of the brethren” (cf. Revelation 12: 10 ), a work constructed by lies between Christians and against other Christians… This vast work of the devil can make some detractors insensitive to any feeling of guilt to the point that they forget the evil done with disconcerting lightness. As Scripture says, their conscience is withered (cf. 1 Timothy 4:2 ), chloroformed by untouchable traditions. This enemy front will be broken by the intense combat of effective prayer. Then consciences will awaken, wrongs will be recognized and hearts will be opened.
The will of the enemy is still manifested in lives paralyzed by all kinds of bonds: error, sin, bigotry, bad habits, the power of men. So many enslaved people who would like to give themselves to God and to his service! It is the result of a specific cause and here is the remedy: “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed. in the sky. I tell you again that if two of you agree on earth to ask for anything, it will be granted to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am in their midst” (Matthew 18:18-20 ). This is why we then witness amazing things: spirits come together, situations are resolved, misunderstandings are dispelled, the works of the devil are destroyed here below and victory is won in heaven by the name and power of our beloved Saviour.
A personal decision
Let’s finish with the story of 2 Samuel 5: 23-24 : “David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord said… When you hear the sound of footsteps in the tops of the mulberry trees, then make haste, for it is the Lord who goes before you to defeat the army of the Philistines.” The term hurry means: move, act, soar. Since God is there we can go out before men, preach and announce the Word and fight the Philistines of today. Let’s look around us: the field has been left open to the enemy for too long, his authority is little disputed, he does what he wants, he acts in the world as he sees fit. How can it be said that the Church of the living God—against which the gates of Hades will not prevail—is still here? Let’s wake up, step out of our comfort zone, let go of old routines, take responsibility, and obey the law of the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus in our families and places of worship! The Lord is present, he passes in front and he expects us to follow him. Hurry means: don’t waste your time, come together, have one goal, be ready for battle! “David did as the Lord had commanded him, and he defeated the Philistines from Geba to Gezer” (2 Samuel 5:25 ).
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Bible References : Basic English Bible : 2 Samuel 5 (old testament)
17. And when the Philistines had news that David had been made king over Israel, they all went up in search of David; and David, hearing of it, went down to the strong place.
18. And when the Philistines came, they went in every direction in the valley of Rephaim.
19. And David, desiring directions from the Lord, said, Am I to go up against the Philistines? will you give them up into my hands? And the Lord said, Go up, for I will certainly give up the Philistines into your hands.
20. And David went to Baal-perazim, and overcame them there; and he said, The Lord has let the forces fighting against me be broken before me as a wall is broken by rushing waters. So that place was named Baal-perazim.
21. And the Philistines, when they went in flight, did not take their images with them, and David and his men took them away.
22. And the Philistines came up again, and went in every direction in the valley of Rephaim.
23. And when David went for directions to the Lord, he said, You are not to go up against them in front; but make a circle round them from the back and come on them opposite the spice-trees.
24. Then at the sound of footsteps in the tops of the trees, go forward quickly, for the Lord has gone out before you to overcome the army of the Philistines.
25. And David did as the Lord had said; and he overcame the Philistines, attacking them from Gibeon to near Gezer.