The journey of the Christian is a journey of faith. We begin our relationship with the invisible God by faith. By faith, we bow before a King who is alive in another realm and, in complete abandon, we pledge our lives and eternities to Him. We give significant portions of our income to a mission by faith. We devote intentional time and energy to serve within a supernatural Kingdom – we do this, again, by faith. It is through faith that we await fulfillment of glorious promises that will bring about the most dramatic shift in reality that the world has ever known, namely, the manifestation of the visible Kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth. Sometimes we can lose the sense of this foundational truth: we are a people whose entire existence is robed with an unwavering confidence that a God we have never seen will do what He has promised to do.
“Jonathan said to the young man who carried 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 can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” – 1 Samuel 14:6-7
Nestled away in the often-neglected book of 1st Samuel is the account of Jonathan, the son of King Saul. Israel was faltering under Saul, and the enemy army of the Philistines had been successfully assaulting and intimidating the people of Israel. On a certain day, Jonathan seems to have gotten fed-up with watching God’s people quake, while God’s enemy continued to win. It was on this day that Jonathan looked at the young man who was assigned to bear his armor and said, “I think we should walk straight into the enemy territory and ask God if He will permit us to whip up on them.” Notice that Jonathan did not necessarily have some clear indication that God was assigning this mission to him. He was motivated by the fact that “these uncircumcised” Philistines had gained an upper hand that they were not entitled to have. His words to his armor bearer could be paraphrased, “I want to crush these guys. Let’s head in their direction and see if God might work in our favor.” In my opinion, that is fairly robust faith. Let me tell you why.
Jonathan was sensing a violation of a Kingdom principle. He was one of God’s children. Israel was God’s elect nation to whom priceless covenant had been granted by the Almighty. The Philistines were a nation of pagan goons, losers, and pillaging thugs who had been operating in arrogance against Israel…and winning. Jonathan’s father was the king of Israel, but he was not a godly man, so the nation often floundered under his leadership. The Philistines were in a position of power over Israel, and the injustice of this season became too much for the king’s son. Jonathan felt compelled to take action. In essence, he put his hand to a mission that would not only hazard his life, but also the life of his servant who would accompany him into the enemy territory. Some may think that it was presumptuous for Jonathan to take on this initiative without a clear command from the Lord. The bible does not give a single critique to what he did. You can read all of 1st Samuel 14, and you will see that Jonathan ensured that God was with them once they arrived near to the camp of the Philistines, and then he climbed up a rocky cliff on his hands and feet, stepped into the elevated and advantageous position of the enemy, powerfully executed twenty Philistine soldiers with the aid of his armor bearer, and consequently induced terror and confusion into the entire camp of the Philistines. Big win for J-dog.
Jonathan reclaimed surrendered ground by faith.
Sometimes faith is localized in the mind as we believe rightly about God. Sometimes faith is in the emotions as we sense within the confidence that God is good and worthy to be trusted. Sometimes faith is on the lips as we unhesitatingly declare what is true. But much of the time, faith is on our hands and knees as we ascend difficult-to-climb hills in order to take back something that the enemy stole from us. That is what Jonathan did that day…and he didn’t wait on a clarified, special invitation from God to get it done. There was not a specific plan which the Almighty downloaded into Jonathan’s spirit. There seems to have been no consultation by Jonathan with the military experts in Israel. That is likely a good thing because no expert would have encouraged Jonathan to place himself underneath the enemy’s elevated position, climb up a rocky cliff in open view, and single-handedly take on an unknown number of godless killers. Jonathan seems to have simply reached a point where enough was enough, and he committed to a mission to take back what was rightfully his as a citizen of Israel whose God was the glorious Yahweh.
The summary statement found in 1st Samuel 14:23 reads, “So the Lord saved Israel that day.” What had been denied the people of Israel for too long was reclaimed in a day. It never would have happened if Jonathan hadn’t been stirred enough to put the competency of God to the test. He had told his armor bearer that God was able to save by many or by few. God likes it when we say things like that. When we intentionally defy the odds, and engage in something that we cannot accomplish without Him, His infinite heart is stirred on our behalf. We reverently engage in something that, unless He comes through for us, will end poorly. He loves that kind of faith in His children, possibly because it is extremely rare. We ignore the odds, we don’t consult the experts, we don’t approach it with professional micro-tedium over every possible outcome, and we don’t let fear or logic talk us off the hill.
We climb up. We take the scrapes. We breathe in the dust. We ignore the taunts of the opposition as we approach the unavoidable crest of the hill. And then we swing the sword because we want to glorify our great God by taking back what He says is ours.
So where is your hill? What is your opposition? What are you tired of seeing in your enemy’s hand instead of yours? How big is your God? Better question, how big is your own view of God? It is time to take back what He says is yours. Your Father is likely granting you more permission than you think to begin to boldly step up and reclaim that surrendered ground. This is a season for the people of faith to live as demonstrators of faith. That hill of indecision is all that stands between you and what He says is yours. It’s time to get up and climb that dusty, rocky sucker. You might have been waiting on Him longer than you should.
It could be that He is waiting on you.
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