If you are facing a seemingly insurmountable problem, then this is for you. I pray that it blesses and encourages you.
1 Samuel 14:6
Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”
Nothing can hinder God…
1 Samuel 13 describes in detail the pickle that Israel had gotten themselves into. In the first place, their God-anointed leader, Saul, had disobeyed God’s direct instruction through Samuel bringing judgment both on him and on the nation that he represented before God. In the second, with an army of only three thousand fighting men, Israel had managed to provoke the Philistine army, which was now making preparations to annihilate them. This army, we are told, consisted of six thousand charioteers, two to a chariot, and soldiers on foot ‘as numerous as the sand on the seashore. But the equation only got worse. When Israel saw the position they were in, the army went into hiding in “caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.” Most simply ran away in fear. In the end, there were only 600 men left facing a foe of tens of thousands. In the third place, only two men among those 600 carried with them weapons of war. The oppression of the Philistines was such that Israel had been prevented from amassing the necessary arms for the battle. Things could not have gotten much worse. Indeed their situation, had it not been so desperate would have been almost comical. It could only have ended with their doom, were it not for the miraculous power of God. And yet, not even those circumstances could hinder God from what he had chosen to do.
I challenge you today to line up your own circumstances with those Israel was facing. Let faith arise. Let hope arise. Let boldness arise. If God did it then, he can do it now. Nothing can prevent God from saving because saving is essential to his character. Its not about how big your circumstances are. Its not even about how much God loves you (though he loves you more than you can possibly imagine). When it comes to saving, its about God remaining true to his character.
God is into saving because he is a saviour. God is into delivering because he is a deliverer. God is into granting victory over impossible circumstances. Watch how he does it:
1. Audacious faith arises.
Despite all that had happened to Israel, Jonathan still believed that Yahweh is a God who saves. So do we by the way. The very name of Jesus (Yeshua) upon which we call for our salvation literally means “Yahweh saves.” Indeed this was the purpose of the mission of Jesus to the earth: to reveal God as saviour by effecting our deliverance from the oppressive enemies of sin and death.
But notice that Jonathan’s faith, while audacious, is not presumptious. It does not manifest as a manipulative insistence on a particular outcome. Indeed, it begins only as a flicker of hope—”perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf”. Rather, his faith is manifest in a dogged refusal to allow the present circumstances to compromise the revelation of God as deliverer—”nothing can hinder the Lord from saving…”. This is the same kind of faith that his close friend David will show three chapters later when he confronts the giant Goliath. Like Jonathan, he has no way of knowing whether God would act in a particular way at that particular time. Like Jonathan, David takes what seems to be a reckless punt on God’s unchangeable character. And just as here with Jonathan, God responds, proving true to his character, and delivering not only David, delivering the nation through him.
2. Contagious boldness replaces fear.
Light is stronger than darkness. And in the same way that a little light dispels a lot of darkness, it only takes a little boldness to dispel a lot of fear. The few that were left of the army of Israel, were so afraid that they had taken to hiding in caves and pits and cisterns. And yet as Jonathan decares his faith in God’s character, boldness takes hold. It spreads first to his armour bearer who says in response “Do all that you have in mind…Go ahead. I am with you heart and soul.” It then spreads to the entire army who, emboldened by Jonathan’s success join in the pursuit.
At any point the Philistines could have woken up to the situation and realised that logically they were the superior army. Their pursuers were far less in number and weaponless. But fear is a funny thing. A little boldness can turn the weapon of fear back on itself. Have you ever thought about that? Fear is one of our enemy’s most effective weapons. Have you ever stopped to consider why? Your enemy fears you. Because he knows that if you will but realise who you are—a son or daughter of the King of kings and thus invested with his full authority and resources; if you will but confess your faith in God’s unchangeable character—an all powerfull God of deliverance who cannot be hindered from delivering from our enemies; if you will but step out in obedient action, your enemy will be utterly defeated. All of the fear and intimidation that keeps you bound and keeps you from pursuing God’s purposes is nothing but a con. Its bluff. Powerful though he may wish you to think him, he knows well what we would do well to remember. He is a defeated foe. Let boldness arise!
3. A supernatural strategy/solution emerges.
The idea was so ridiculous that it just might have come from God. But he still wasn’t sure. Jonathan’s plan was to come out of hiding and show himself to an outpost of the Philistines. If the Philistines called out to them to “come up,” that would be the sign that God would give him victory over them. But notice that if they decided to come down to him, that would have meant destruction for him and his armour bearer since they had already given away their hiding place. In other words, once he had committed, there was no safe option. He and his armour bearer would fight for their lives either way.
To follow the traditional route of “inquiring of the Lord” before the battle would have required alerting others to his plan, which would certainly have prevented its execution. Sometimes faith requires us to commit to a course of action and ask God to direct rather than just sitting around and asking God what to do next. And sometimes faith requires us to put ourselves in a position where God has to ‘show up’ or we’re done for.
4. God brings supernatural multiplication.
So Jonathan and his armour bearer did exactly what Jonathan had suggested. They stepped out of their hiding place and challenged the enemy. From this point there was no turning back. And their enemies called out to them to “come up”—the sign. And so, with growing boldness, that’s exactly what they did. They had to climb with hands and feet to reach the Philistine outpost, which in itself would have been exhausting, and as soon as they got to the top, they had to engage in a battle where they were outnumbered at least ten to one. And yet, as they simply spent the energy that they had, God brought a multiplication to their efforts. He supplied what they needed for the climb and for the assault—surely no small miracle in itself—but then God brought a panic on the Philistines. They were in total confusion and began killing each other. Another miracle. And then there was a great multiplication of the resources as the other Israelites came out of hiding and joined in the pursuit.
…by many or by few
And so God brought about a great deliverance for Israel. It was miraculous from start to finish, but in order to accomplish it, he needed somebody to respond to him in faith; to declare the truth of God’s unchanging character, and then to prove that truth by his faith filled action.
Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. In other words, God always acts in a way that is consistent with God’s character. And he is not limited by what we perceive as limitations. If your enemy is debt and you only have a few dollars, if your enemy is stress and you only have a few hours, if your enemy is the godlessness of a city or region and you only have a few people, nothing can hinder God from bringing victory over your enemies. God will deliever by many or by few. The question is, will he do it by you?