Friday, February 20, 2015

February 20 – When sacrifice is wrong + disobeying orders is godly

Jonathan said to the attendant who carried his weapons, “Come on, let’s cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will help us. Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.  (1 Samuel 14:6 HCSB)

This is one of those passages that just makes you want to stand up and cheer. It’s the underdog who risks it all and beats off a mighty army, all in the power of the Lord. King Saul had been anointed king over Israel when his heart had been pure and humble. But when he became selfish and sloppy in his obedience to God, the Spirit of God left him and instead chose young David to become king. Yet King Saul’s son Jonathan, had the same pure heart as his best friend David, and had a burning desire to see God’s name glorified.  

In chapter 13, Saul had given 1000 soldiers to Jonathan, who won a big battle against the Philistines. Interestingly, Saul boasts about the victory and takes the credit for himself. He calls Jonathan to join him to prepare for another battle, but meanwhile the Philistine army amasses more horsemen and soldiers, and King Saul’s men begin to desert in terror. In desperation, Saul disobeys God’s orders and offers a sacrifice to God before Samuel the prophet arrives. Samuel sternly warns him how God is displeased and that another will take his place as king. 

So lesson one: prayer and sacrifice offered out of wrong motives and self-centered ambition is seen as rebellion to God. He was using sacrifice to manipulate God into letting him win, not as an act of honor or submission to his Lord.

In chapter 14 the Philistines position themselves on a high hill across from the much smaller Israelite army. Where is Saul? Waiting around under a pomegranate tree with the high priest. Jonathan lived to defend God’s name and His people, and when he saw that his father the king wasn’t listening to God, he took action. He and his attendant snuck away in secret and decided to fight the Philistines alone, just the two of them. “Perhaps the Lord will help us,” was his mindset. If God saves us, great, but if not, let’s die for Him. This action pleased God so much, that He gave them great strength and courage to kill 20 men, and then sent confusion into the camp of the Philistines so that they killed each other off, leaving the Israelite army as the victors.  

Lesson two: when no one around you is listening to God, honor God anyway and He will honor you. Jonathan seemed to disobey Saul’s orders to stay and wait. But Jonathan had a higher calling, to obey the Spirit of God, and God proved that He was with Him in the end. Read the chapters 13-15 for the full story.

God will deliver even if it’s by your small act of faith, as insignificant as you may feel you are. If you have a burning desire to honor God and stand up for His name, He will honor you as well and come rushing in with His heavenly armies to give you victory. The truth is that with God, you are never in the minority.

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