Sunday 30 August 2015
“But the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has accomplished this great deliverance in Israel? Certainly not! As the Lord lives, not one hair of his head shall fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people rescued Jonathan, and he did not die.” 1 SAMUEL 14:45
You probably have heard the statement: “Without God we can’t.” That is very true. Jesus said “…for without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b). But the converse is also true: “Without us God won’t.” There are people who say that they are waiting on God but really, God is waiting for them. While it is true that sometimes God sovereignly acts to bring about His purposes on the earth but more often, it is the divine/human partnership that produces the greatest results. “As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.” (2 Corinthians 6:1 NLT)
One way we partner with God is through our faith. Faith attracts the supernatural. Wherever God finds faith, He is willing and ready to display His power. Faith releases God to act on our behalf.
CONFRONTING THE PHILISTINES
“Now it happened one day that Jonathan the son of Saul said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison that is on the other side.” But he did not tell his father.” (1 Samuel 14:1). This was a most reckless decision for anyone to make at this time, no wonder Jonathan didn’t tell Saul about what he wanted to do. The Philistines were the dominant power at this time.
In fact, it was the fear of the Philistines that made Israel demand for a king (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Now, Saul had been made their king but he had commenced his reign with series of missteps. Moreover, the moral crises that preceded his reign had made Israel weak and vulnerable. The Philistines took full advantage of the situation and rendered Israel’s military impotent. On the day of a major battle as this, Israel’s army was without weapons, only Saul and Jonathan were fully equipped for the battle (1 Samuel 13:22). But the Philistines had horses, chariots and a formidable infantry (1 Samuel 13:5). Many Israelites even deserted and joined the enemy while others hid themselves in caves.
That was the condition of Israel during this battle. We don’t know how long the stalemate lasted before Jonathan decided to do something. Jonathan was embarking on a dangerous adventure. He only had his armour bearer with him. Besides, there was a physical obstacle that would have made it impossible for him to proceed with his plan. “Between the passes, by which Jonathan sought to go over to the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on one side and a sharp rock on the other side. And the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.” (1 Samuel 14:4). This obstacle could not deter Jonathan. In moments of crisis, a person’s faith in God will distinguish him.
BASES OF FAITH
Faith is often spelled RISK! But what is it that gave Jonathan the confidence to take such a huge risk? “Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.”” (1 Samuel 14:6). Jonathan had a proper perspective of God and a proper perspective of the enemy.
Jonathan knew that God is almighty, all powerful. Impossibility is unknown to God. There is no army that God cannot defeat. After all, Samson was a ‘one man army’ yet he defeated the entire Philistine army (Judges 15). Jonathan knew that nothing could restrain God and if a person has God on his side he is invincible.
Jonathan also had a proper perspective of the enemy. He described them as ‘uncircumcised,’ which is a derogatory word that points to the fact that the philistines were not a covenant people. But Israel had a special relationship with God based on the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:10-14). Part of the provisions of that covenant was that He would be God to Abraham’s descendants, that is, if they ever faced a situation that would need God, He would show up for them. Jonathan was confident that ‘one with God is majority.’
A positive attitude to any challenge we face is to magnify the solution and minimize the problem. That is what we find Jonathan doing. But unfortunately, these days we do the reverse. The concept of the devil that some Christians have nowadays is unknown to the Scriptures! We magnify the problem (read Satan) and minimize the solution (read God). No wonder we are often intimidated, fearful and defeated. A person that has proper perspective of God and the enemy will act differently in a moment of crisis. That’s why while Saul and Israel’s army cowered before the enemy Jonathan and his armour bearer were different.
COMPANION OF FAITH
Jonathan had a good company, a companion of faith. “So his armorbearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Go then; here I am with you, according to your heart.”” (1 Samuel 14:7). The people you hang out with can affect your faith. Be careful whom you associate with especially in times of crisis. Associate with people who nudge you on the path of faith; who encourage you to do what God has put in your heart; who are willing to walk with you in the direction that God is taking you.
Jonathan was not presumptuous. “Then Jonathan said, “Very well, let us cross over to these men, and we will show ourselves to them. 9 If they say thus to us, ‘Wait until we come to you,’ then we will stand still in our place and not go up to them. 10 But if they say thus, ‘Come up to us,’ then we will go up. For the Lord has delivered them into our hand, and this will be a sign to us.”” (1 Samuel 14:9-10). He took a risk but it was not an unmitigated risk. Faith is not presumption. Genuine faith is always anchored in the will of God for our lives.
Jonathan wanted a clear sign that he was in the will of God and would only act after he has received it. You need to receive your own word too before you act, don’t act on God’s word to someone else. You could fail because you presumed to act on the word you did not receive directly from God. When Jesus told Peter ‘Come!’ It was a specific word to a specific person. If everyone in the boat had jumped into the water there would have been a mass burial!
When Israel presumed on God’s will they got a shocking result (Numbers 14:39-45). They thought they could arm twist God by making a reckless move. It didn’t work then, and it still doesn’t work today. Some people have stopped taking their drugs because they heard someone testify that they did so. The consequences have been disastrous in some instances. They thought they were acting in faith but it was all presumption.
ACTS OF FAITH
Once God’s will is known it is then time to act. Courage goes with faith. In fact, they are cousins! Once Jonathan knew God’s will, he was ready to take the next step. He knew God was in the battle and he was ready to make the necessary move to go over to the Philistines. It is sad that some people ask God to speak to them, give them a sign etc, but after God has revealed to them what they should do then they draw back.
But not so with Jonathan. The obstacle before him was daunting but he couldn’t be deterred. “And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them.” (1 Samuel 14:13). The path of faith, like love, is not always smooth, but every sacrifice made would be justified by the results that follow.
Nothing moves the hand of God like faith. It puts God’s power on display. Jonathan’s faith stirred up God’s intervention. Sometimes, all that God requires from us is for us to just show up. God told Elijah to show himself to Ahab and then He would send rain (1 Kings 18:1). God may well be waiting for you to just show up and then He will do the rest.
It is amazing how God amplifies small steps of faith. When Jonathan and his armour bearer moved in obedience, God also moved to back up their effort. When we do that which we can do, God will do that which we cannot do. All God wants is for us to take that crucial first step of faith and He will unleash the supernatural
The first supernatural manifestation was that God threw the camp of the philistines into a panic. “Suddenly, panic broke out in the Philistine army, both in the camp and in the field, including even the outposts and raiding parties. And just then an earthquake struck, and everyone was terrified.” (1 Samuel 14:15 NLT). There was no way any man could have generated these effects.
Secondly, there was confusion and turmoil among the philistines. “Saul’s sentries posted back at Geba (Gibeah) in Benjamin saw the confusion and turmoil raging in the camp.” (1 Samuel 14:16 MSG). It was at this time that Saul noticed that something was happening in the enemy’s camp. Up till this moment nobody knew about the escapades of Jonathan and his armour bearer.
Thirdly, God caused the philistines to turn on each other. “Then Saul and all his men rushed out to the battle and found the Philistines killing each other. There was terrible confusion everywhere.” (1 Samuel 14:20 NLT).
God’s eyes scan the earth, He looks out for those whose hearts are loyal to Him, who are ready to partner with Him by their faith. He uses them to accomplish great things: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…” (2 Chronicles 16:9a). When there was famine in Israel, four lepers decided to take a step of faith and God magnified their footsteps: “For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army; so they said to one another, “Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!”” (2 Kings 7:6). The Syrians forgot it was faster to flee with their horses than by foot! They abandoned everything.
Until we are discontented with the status quo and take a crucial step of faith nothing will change in our lives and circumstances. The grace for change is available but we must cooperate with grace, we must partner with God through acts of faith. Your little step of faith will be magnified by God to bring about that deliverance that is needed.
OUTCOME OF FAITH
It is interesting how one person’s step of faith can generate a ‘multiplier effect’ in other people’s lives. The deserters from Israel’s army decided to return. “Hebrews who had earlier defected to the Philistine camp came back. They now wanted to be with Israel under Saul and Jonathan.” (1 Samuel 14:21 MSG). Who doesn’t want to be with a winning team! The cowards also regained their courage: “Not only that, but when all the Israelites who had been hiding out in the backwoods of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were running for their lives, they came out and joined the chase.” (1 Samuel 14:22 MSG). Your little step of faith can affect your entire family, the church, and even the nation.
So, imagine how weird it was to the soldiers when Saul wanted to kill Jonathan for tasting a little honey. For the first time, they stood up to Saul and challenged him. “The soldiers rose up: “Jonathan––die? Never! He’s just carried out this stunning salvation victory for Israel. As surely as God lives, not a hair on his head is going to be harmed. Why, he’s been working hand–in–hand with God all day!” The soldiers rescued Jonathan and he didn’t die. (1 Samuel 14:45). They knew that it was Jonathan’s partnership with God that gave Israel victory over the philistines.
We can see the outcome of a man’s partnership with God. Jonathan knew God unlike the rest of the people. He knew the capabilities of God: “For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.” People like Jonathan will always stand out in their generation: “…but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” (Daniel 11:32b). God wants to display His power, He wants to ‘show Himself strong’ on our behalf but we must partner with Him in faith. Faith invites God into our affairs. Other kinds of partnerships may fail but partnership with God through faith is one that guarantees success.