Sunday, August 2, 2009

Perhaps God Will ...

One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing. Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron. Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of the Lord who had served at Shiloh. No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp. To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba. “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.” ““All right then,” Jonathan told him. “We will cross over and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Stay where you are or we’ll kill you,’ then we will stop and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come on up and fight,’ then we will go up. That will be the Lord’s sign that he will help us defeat them.” (1 Samuel 14:1-10, NLT)
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In this passage, we find a stark contrast between the reigning king of Israel (Saul) and the crowned prince (Jonathan). The king and has rag-tag army are hiding out a valley under the cover of some rocks and trees … perhaps a crag or small cave. They are under constant torment from the Philistines and they don’t have nearly enough food, weapons, or hope. Their appointed leader is cowering under the tree, bemoaning the fact that the enemy constantly beats up on them.

It is from this stark scene of despair that we see Jonathan emerge. Jonathan is getting sick and tired of the barrage of fighting, insults, and everything else the Philistines throw their way. He’s read his Scriptures and he has made a decision. God never promised to rescue by might. In fact, Jonathan quite emphatically states God does what He wants however He wants to do it. In this vein and with a renewed courage and trust in the Almighty, Jonathan grabs is armor bearer and utters the phrase “Perhaps the Lord will help us.” He realizes there are no guarantees. God cannot be ordered around one way or the other. But he knows for certain that God will go with them. Jonathan’s armor bearer swallows hard and sees the faith of his master … he’s determined to follow Jonathan, even if it means death. Together, the two of them put the hurt on an entire Philistine garrison.

We know from subsequent passages, that David enters the scene and kills the giant Goliath. David and Jonathan become fast friends, even through some very trying times, because they shared a heart for the God of “perhaps” from this passage. Jonathan was eventually killed by these same Philistines while David continued a successful campaign and went on to rule a relatively powerful Israel.

A recent message by a visiting missionary prompted these thoughts. He spoke from this passage and emphasized the “perhaps” factor in our lives. He had been working contentedly as a pastor in a church when he was asked to go to Russia and teach classes in a bible school. Then he was asked to go for a year while a permanent missionary was home on furlough. Then another year was offered to cover for a second missionary. The request moved on to a short-term position and, before he and his family ever left the States, the mission board asked him to consider a career position. Perhaps God was just moving him along the path and showing him the possibilities. He and his family are serving in Russia in that career position precisely because they were willing to consider what God might have in mind.

Too often, I have the tendency to hold back my commitment and take my time considering one opportunity or another. I want guarantees and concrete evidence. I want assurances that I am “called” to do this or that. I’m not willing to step out on faith like Jonathan did and consider the “perhaps” of God. And, in my hesitation, I miss out on the richest of blessings that my Father would shower on me. I miss the joy of serving and stretching beyond what I consider my comfort zone. I miss the opportunity to be a blessing to someone else and to pass on the wonder of trusting in God to “perhaps” do something far beyond what anyone would have expected.
May God constantly remind us, as we travel on this crooked path, that the only guarantee He has made is wrapped up in the person of Jesus. Beyond that, we are called to be faithful followers who are open to the world of possibilities and plans He has for us. They are, after all, His plans and not mine. I don’t need to act out rashly, but I do need to act rather than sit passively and miss out on “perhaps”.
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  1. When was the last time you considered the “perhaps” of God and acted based on what He was able to do?
  2. Have you experienced the remorse and regret of missed opportunities because you were waiting for a more definitive call? Does the possibility exist that you were using that wait as an excuse?
  3. Are you willing to step out in faith, not in some “name-it-claim-it” way that runs contrary to Scriptures, but after the manner Jonathan did in this passage? If you are willing to do so, what do you expect God to do through you?

NLT – Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Mark. Thank you for challenging me to read this. God does want me to act and not just sit here and ring my hands. I need to put more trust in him and go from there. I can't be scared because fear doesn't come from God. This is what I will be praying this week!