Taking the Next Step of Faith

1 Samuel 14:1-23

1-2 Saul had started with 3,000 men (13:1); his forces were down 80%. Israelis were hiding in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and pits (13:6). Some Israelis even crossed over the Jordan River to go into hiding (13:7). The Israelis were severely disadvantaged militarily and technologically (13:5,19-21), and had no weapons (13:22). Only Saul and Jonathan had weapons.

3 Ahijah, one of the offspring of Eli, should not have been wearing a priestly ephod. Eli’s family had been removed from the priesthood by God (2:27-36). Saul was clearly not walking in the ‘Spirit’. But in the midst of his weakness and dysfunction, his son Jonathan was being stirred by the ‘Spirit’. Sometimes it is during the most confusing, ungodly of times that the Lord determines to do a new thing, in order to show the world that there is a better road to follow, and that He is the Almighty King.

4-5 ‘Bozez’ means ‘surpassing white, glistening’. Jesus appeared that way on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:3). ‘Seneh’ means ‘thorny / to prick, a bramble’. Both of these Hebrew words only occur once in the Bible.

In Acts 9:5, when Jesus made Himself known to Paul, He said “…It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Apparently God had been ‘pricking’ or ‘goading’ Paul for some time; perhaps Jonathan was now being divinely ‘pricked’ in order to ‘see’ God and experience His power in a new and deeper way.

6 “…It may be…” Over the years, some have been willing to take a step of faith, in order to move from “it may be” to either “it is” or “it isn’t”. Guys like Caleb (Joshua 14:12); and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3:18) took steps of faith without any full assurance that they would meet with earthly success. Our steps of faith carry no guarantee of earthly success, only heavenly success. Our goal is not supposed to be our earthy gain, but God’s eternal gain. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

For a man of God, it doesn’t really matter what the world says. It only matters what Jesus says. In order for our faith to grow, we need to take the steps of faith which God has ordained for us. If we don’t, we’ll stop growing. Lack of growth in us will have far-reaching consequences, not only to us, but to others. By setting personal ‘comfort limits’ on whether or not we will obey (or even dare to listen), we are essentially asking God to work through someone else that is willing to walk in the faith that we are no longer willing to walk in.

“For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few.” The Lord is certainly able to do anything. If we are following His prompting in obedience, then so are we. “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

7 God in His wisdom provided a like-minded man to stand with Jonathan. One of the signs that God is in something is when He raises up like-minded men and women to rally around the cause. These people don’t necessarily need to be ‘mighty and powerful’ according to the world’s standards. The armorbearer was a “…young man…” according to verse

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

Psalm 33:16-19 “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”

8 Jonathan made the decision that he was willing to take a step of faith.

9-10 He ‘put a fleece’ before the LORD in order to acquire confirmation of the direction he should go.

We never want to run ahead of the Lord in presumption; nor fall behind Him in fear. We want to be exactly where He wants us to be. May we have such fellowship with Him that we can discern when He says to ‘Move forward’, ‘Stand still’, or ‘Fall back’.

11 Jonathan and his armorbearer were just jokes to the Philistines. Likewise, a powerless ‘faith’ is a joke to the world.

12 God gave Jonathan the confirmation he requested. Now, Jonathan ‘knew that he knew’ it was time to advance. May God give us this same discernment when it is time for us to step forward in faith.

13 “And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees…” It must have been a pretty steep hill. Our challenges of faith are steep hills, not effortless plains. There are no escalators to carry us up without sweat or struggle. But yet, when we look back, we’ll see that in fact God was carrying us up the whole way.

Perhaps, as Jonathan ascended the hill, it showed symbolically that the way ‘up’ is on one’s knees, in sincere, passionate prayer and humility towards God.

Before we take a major step of faith, it should be bathed in prayer. If we are led by our emotions, we will fail. If we are led by God, we will succeed. The only way to know is to be in prayer, and then to be looking for confirmations from Him. God’s plan will always line up with the Bible. Seeking counsel from other godly believers is helpful, for “…in a multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 24:6). But beyond these things, we need to ‘know that we know’, and only God can show us that. Only God can give us the courage and wisdom to obey what He has truly placed into our heart.

14-15 Jonathan and his young armorbearer were doing great. Some people might have thought that they were operating in their own strength – a couple of ‘supermen’. But when the earth quaked, there was no more doubt that God was the force behind their success. No human could have made the earth quake. It’s so exciting when a person can look back, and realize that although they worked really hard, the results could have only occurred because of God.

The armorbearer is never named. But although he didn’t receive the ‘prominence’ of Jonathan in this record, he was just as much a faithful man of God. May our pride never demand that we must be ‘prominent’ as a condition of service; because if that’s our prerequisite then we won’t be given the opportunity in the first place. God’s spiritual challenges and fruit will not be attained through our pride. God is not looking for self-made ‘shining stars’; He’s looking to create ‘shining stars’ (Daniel 12:3). Those who are willing to serve Him in the role which He ordained before time began are the true God-made ‘stars’.

16-20 The results of Jonathan’s step of faith had far-reaching consequences. Many were affected. Saul, who it seems was no longer hearing from the Lord (v3,19), and the 600 weary men that stood with him, were affected.

21 Jewish traitors (‘backsliders’) that had sided with the Philistines and would have fought against their own people were affected, and now found the courage to side with Israel.

22 Those who were fearfully hiding were affected; they left their hiding places and found the courage to openly side with Israel.

23 Although Jonathan and his unnamed armorbearer were used mightily by God, it was in actuality “…the LORD [that] saved Israel that day…”. God brought the victory.

Lord Jesus, please give us the ears to hear Your commands, the discernment to understand them, and the courage to step forward in faith in order to obey them. When we do so, the consequences of our actions will affect many, many lives for Your glory – many more than we will ever know this side of heaven.

May God lead your next step of faith.

With His Love,

Pastor Mark

Categories Sermons | Tags: | Posted on June 10, 2015

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