The situation in Israel at this time is not good. In verse 22 we see that many of the people of Israel are in hiding. Chapter 13 tells us that they don’t have good weapons. The Philistines are in control of the region and do not allow the Israelites to own many weapons. Israel did have a king, Saul. But he wasn’t doing much. Verse 2 tells us he was “staying.” He was “staying” under a tree. What we see is someone who is passive and lethargic.
That brings us to our first point from this passage.
I. The person God uses is willing to go.
While everyone else is hiding or “staying,” Jonathan had a different attitude. Jonathan was active where they were passive. Jonathan says “Come, let’s go.” Others were afraid. Others were waiting for someone else to do something. Others were waiting for something to happen. Jonathan takes initiative. No one made him do it. But he sees what needs to be done, and he does something about it.
Throughout the Bible we see that the primary characteristic God is looking for in His messengers is willingness.
In Isaiah 6:8-9 it says, “ 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
9 He said, “Go and tell this people:”
God doesn’t always choose the most educated people, the people with the highest IQ, or the most talented. He is looking for people who are willing. He says “who will go?” Jonathan was willing to go.
So each of us needs to answer two questions:
1. Are you willing? Are you willing to be used by God?
Sometimes we are reluctant. We may think that we don’t know enough. We may think that we are not good enough yet. We may think that no one will listen to us. But God can overcome all of these issues. The real question is are we willing to say “yes” to God and to be used by Him. If we are willing, then He will help us. Moses made many excuses to God about not going. One of them was that he wasn’t good at talking. Another is that he was afraid people wouldn’t listen to him. Finally he said, “send someone else.” To all of these, God’s answer was “I will be with you.” If you are willing to be used by God, then He promises to be with you each step of the way.
2. Will you go?
Not only should we be willing, but we should also take action. How many of you have ever had someone knock on your door and say, “Please share the gospel with me. I want to believe in Jesus.” This is very rare. Jonathan said “let’s go.” In Isaiah God asks, “who will go?” The Great Commission says, “Go!” God wants you to take initiative.
We go out of our houses. We go out of our comfort zones. This means we take initiative to start conversations. Ask your friend, “Would you like to meet me for lunch? I would like to share about the Bible with you.” Share your testimonies. Go to your sick friend and say, “may I pray for you?”
I had a co-worker who was going through a hard time. She had never expressed any interest in Christ. But I asked her “can I pray for you?” She let me and she was so touched that I would be willing to pray for her. Tears were streaming down her face. I had to leave my comfort zone. I was afraid “what if God did not answer according to what she hoped for?” I knew God wanted me to go out of my comfort zone and take initiative to pray for her.
If you are willing to be used by God, would you just pray silently in your heart to Him now and say “God I am willing to be your tool. I am willing to go. Just show me where.”
II. The person God uses has a big vision.
William Carey once said “Attempt great things for God, expect great things of God.”
We see that Jonathan is doing that in this passage. Jonathan had a big vision; he had a high goal. He wasn’t out to catch a straggler or perhaps steal a sheep or carry a raid and get a few weapons. He wanted to take out a fortified outpost defended by many men. What do you think Saul would have said if Jonathan had told him this plan? Probably something along the lines of “your crazy!” Apparently there is a reason Jonathan didn’t tell him about it. Most people’s goals were very low “survive, live.” Jonathan attempted something that most people would laugh at.
But he didn’t attempt this in his own strength. He didn’t think his own military prowess would give him the victory. Instead he places his faith in God. He says, “perhaps the Lord will act on our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving.” He believed that God would be with them and give them the victory. He knew it was God’s power.
Our view of God is directly correlated to the steps of faith we take. Let me say that again. Our view of God is directly correlated to the steps of faith we take. What does that mean?
If you believe in a big God you will attempt big things for God. If you believe in a little God, you will be afraid of trying in fear that He will let you down.
For example, some of you have relatives who are hostile to the gospel and seem very hard hearted. Do you believe God is big and powerful enough to change their hearts or are they a lost cause? If you believe in a big God, you will keep praying and you will keep sharing with this person. If you believe in a little God, you will give up and say “you don’t know my uncle, there is no way someone like him would ever believe the gospel.”
Will you believe God is big enough to do something great? God is big enough to change the heart of the most skeptical unbeliever. God is big enough to help you start a Bible study on a campus where there are no other believers. God is big enough to reach your school for the gospel, to reach your city, to save your government leaders.
Do you have goals for how you can be used by God? If not, then setting goals is a good first step. But maybe today is the day we need to set our goals higher. Are you praying for one person to trust Christ in your school? Maybe you need to pray for 5, for 50, for 5000. Are you hoping that one Bible study will start in your district? Maybe we should pray for 100 or 1000 or 10000.
Jesus told the disciples that even faith as small as a mustard seed can grow into a great tree. Will you have that faith to set what to you might seem like a huge goal and then to work toward it and pray toward it and believe that perhaps, maybe, God will do the impossible?
III. The person God uses has great faith.
One of the most memorable phrases in this chapter is Jonathan’s amazing statement of faith in God where he says “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.” Jonathan knew that it wasn’t about the number of soldiers. It was all about God’s power. He had an almost insurmountable challenge, but he believed in God’s power to bring about victory.
Likewise God has given us a huge task, telling us to make disciples of all nations, to reach the world for Christ.
The current population of the world is roughly 7,699,102,112. That is increasing by about 82 million per year, which is about 224,000 per day.
There are 17,703 distinct people groups in the world. Over 7000 of these are unreached, which is about 40% of the world. That means that they need outside assistance to reach them with the gospel.
This is a big task. But God can use one willing person in a great way. Through Jonathan Israel’s enemies were defeated. Just the twelve disciples “turned the world upside down.” Through the efforts of William Wilberforce the slave trade was ended.
When Adiniram Judson started sharing the gospel in Burma there was no church, no Bible, and virtually no believers. When he died there were 100 churches, 8,000 believers, and a finished Bible in their language.
The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. The good news is that God can use only a few to accomplish great things. He is not restrained to save by many or by few. In today’s world people seek ease, comfort, safety, convenience and avoid trouble, worry, difficulty. God does not call us to a life of ease. God does not call us to a life of comfort! God does not call us to a life of pleasure! He calls us to make disciples. This is not easy. This is not comfortable. This is not safe.
There are two kinds of people. Zealous goers. And the disobedient. Which kind of person are you?
IV. The people God use have their own unique role.
We have focused on Jonathan so far. Jonathan stepped up. He took initiative. He took the lead. He served as a model. At the same time, there are two key people in this story. The armor bearer is also very important. He is not as famous. We don’t even know his name.
But he too was willing to go. He too was brave. He too had faith. Sometimes you may be the first one to step out and take initiative to build God’s kingdom and that is good. Other times you may see others step out and follow them. That is good too.
Every person has a role in building God’s kingdom. Our roles are not necessarily the same, but they are important and we work together in unity for a common person.
Do you know what your role in building God’s kingdom is? Are you willing to take it up? I hope that at the end of the day today, the answer to both of those questions will be a resounding “yes.”
V. The person God uses recognizes it is God’s victory.
In verse 12 Jonathan claims that “the Lord has given them into the hands of Israel.” In verse 15 we see that God sends a panic which engulfs the entire Philistine army.
These verses remind us of the fact that God is the one who gives victory.
Proverbs 21:31 – The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.
Jonathan gave all the credit and all the glory to God who is the one who deserved it. Whenever and wherever we serve God we need to embrace that same attitude of humility. Once we start becoming prideful and start trusting in ourselves, our own logic, our own reasoning, our own strength, we will not be effective.
Can you persuade someone to believe in Jesus? I have tried before. I gave the best evidences and arguments I could (the other guy was a lawyer). In the end, as far as I know, he never believed. Knowing that we cannot persuade people forces us to rely on God and to pray for His Spirit to work in their hearts. At the same time though, I find it is very calming. If I say the wrong word or stumble over my words it is not going to be my fault that a person goes to hell. God can overcome my own weaknesses. This is not an excuse not share the gospel, but it does give us a calm confidence in the Lord.
VI. The person God uses can be a catalyst for a movement.
Before Jonathan took action the people were hiding in caves and resting under trees. No one was doing anything. Everyone was waiting for someone else to do something. Into this vacuum of vision, Jonathan steps up. He doesn’t wait for someone else to make the first move. That takes a lot of bravery!
Have you ever heard the Chinese idiom “di yi ge chi pang xie de ren?” It means “the first person to eat a crab.” The first person to eat a crab must have been quite brave. Now crabs are one of the world’s favorite delicacies.
When Jonathan stepped up, God gave the victory. But then notice what happens to the rest of the Israelites. They all come out of their caves and join the fight! They are inspired. They are motivated. A movement starts which sweeps through the land. And the Philistines are swept away.
Luke 10:2 – “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”
My hope is simple. I hope that each one of you will become a worker in God’s harvest field. I hope that you will be a person that God uses. I hope that you will work in the harvest field around you. I pray that movements will start with you which will change the world.
If you are willing to make a commitment before God pray right now and tell Him, “I am willing to be a worker for you please stand and pray with me.” Pray in your own heart that God will make you into a person that He uses. Pray that He will help you be willing to go and show you where to go. Pray that He will give you a big vision, a giant vision, His vision. Pray that He will give you faith. Pray that He will show you your role. Pray that you will always rely on Him and not your own strength. Pray for a movement.