When someone speaks from a heart of absolute trust in God in a trying situation, it does something inside us. It is heart-stirring. Reassuring. We say to ourselves, If they can do it, so can I.
There was an incident like this in the life of Jonathan.
A son of Saul, he certainly didn’t get that quality from his dad. But he had it. Absolute. Strong.
At this time there was war between the Philistines and Israel. The Philistines were holding a pass through the mountains that Jonathan felt could be conquered. Problem: the Philistines were heavily armed.
1 Samuel 14:1 (NEB) 1One day Saul’s son Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, ‘Come, let us go over to the Philistine post beyond that ridge’; but he did not tell his father.
Saul had 600 men with him, but no one knew Jonathan had gone. The challenge was to get through a narrow pass that was guarded by the Philistines.
1 Samuel 14:4–5 (NEB) 4On either side of the pass through which Jonathan tried to make his way over to the Philistine post stood two sharp columns of rock, called Bozez and Seneh; 5one of them was on the north towards Michmash, and the other on the south towards Geba.
Jonathan’s armour bearer questioned the wisdom of the move. Was it safe enough to try? Were the two of them strong enough to go against all those Philistines who would be backing up the armed men at the pass?
The Philistines were a powerful enemy!
Jonathan’s reply shows his absolute confidence in God.
1 Samuel 14:6-7 (NEB) 6‘Now we will visit the post of those uncircumcised rascals. Perhaps the Lord will take a hand in it, and if he will, nothing can stop him. He can bring us safe through, 7whether we are few or many.’
If the Lord takes a hand in it, says Jonathan, the Lord can save “by many or by few.” Yes, they were only two, but that didn’t limit God’s power! That was a non-issue with God!
The reply of the young man reflected the confidence of Jonathan:
1 Samuel 14:7–8 (NEB) The young man answered, ‘Do what you will, 8Go forward; I am with you whatever you do.’
God is able to save “by many or by few.” He doesn’t need many to work His plan!
This is one major difference between God’s way and man’s. For men, numbers are the measure of success. They want the multitude to laud and applaud. How many motivational speakers, or ministers, or ambassadors would stand up and address a mere handful of people? Yet all the way through the history of God’s people, they were few. And the really attentive, obedient, responding ones were even fewer. What did Jesus say?
Matthew 22:14 14“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Israel itself was a small nation, and God said of them through His prophet Amos,
Amos 3:2 2“You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”
“You only”—Israel, a tiny nation, not even “reckoned among the nations.”
In the words of God spoken by His erstwhile prophet Balaam, hear the tiny nation described:
Numbers 23:9 9For from the top of the rocks I see him, And from the hills I behold him; There! A people dwelling alone, Not reckoning itself among the nations.
Yet how important in the divine scheme! When God was first working with the family of Israel on the way to Canaan, Moses said,
Deuteronomy 7:6–7 6“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.
Should this fact make them feel proud and “special”? Hear Moses through, verse 7:
7The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples;
It wasn’t that they were so good, but only that the other nations were worse!
The rest of Moses’ statement shows God’s way of dealing with His people.
Deuteronomy 7:8 8but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Why did God love them? Because of the committed, dedicated, loyal few he could foresee coming from that family. Only a few, but they were priceless. Looking ahead hundreds of years by divine foreknowledge, God could see prophets like Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Elijah, and a handful of Kings like David, and Hezekiah, and Josiah. And of course, long term, Jesus Christ. Even the most of the apostles would come from this family—Peter, James, John, Andrew, Nathanael, Philip, and those we know little about. And don’t forget the great apostle Paul. That is why Moses could say,
Deuteronomy 7:9 9Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
A thousand generations—do you realize that is 20,000 years? It is God’s way of working all through the vastness of His universes, where time immemorial. Time is of no consequence to the everlasting God!
But all the way God’s people have been few. Few. Few. Why? Because most people will not see the worth of it. Most will not believe. Most will not commit to something that looks so unpopular.
Jesus put this warning into His very first sermon:
Matthew 7:13–14 13“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Few would be attracted by the way to life. Why? Because the road leading there is narrow, restricted, with so few travelers.
When the apostles asked how many would be saved, did Jesus say, Oh, they will come crowding in, arm in arm!? No, hear what He said:
Luke 13:23–24 23Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
Many will THINK they should be welcome, that they are qualified, but will find out themselves shut out. Jesus says,
Luke 13:25–28 25When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’
What will Jesus say?
27But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’
No admittance. Door closed. The result: overwhelming disappointment and grief.
28There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.
Yet there will be those pre-approved to enter. Jesus says,
Luke 13:29 29They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God.
A precious few, pre-approved. That is where we want to be. And where we CAN be.
Now is the time to get our admission certified. Now, while this tarrying time lasts. Now, while the narrow gate is still open.
God is not about quantity. He is after quality. He doesn’t need many. Like Jonathan said, The Lord is able to save “by many or by few.” He doesn’t need many, but He wants every dedicated, committed, faithful heart. He wants you and me IF WE will come to His standard. If we won’t, He can find others who will. He has plenty of resource.
But it is our opportunity now, to be among those few whom He will choose, the few who will be the “seed royal,” co-rulers with the King. They will be the means of bringing blessing to the people of the earth worldwide, and then go on to bless other inhabitants on other worlds, world without end.
Remember, the Lord keeps His covenant and His mercy with those who love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations. And when those generations are exhausted, it is only the beginning of His mercy, because…
Psalm 103:17–18 17… the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
Just ponder that: Why will so few believe, why will so few accept the challenge to keep the covenant and do the commands of a loving, gracious, merciful God? Remember, His mercy extends “from everlasting to everlasting” in a plan that will continue through the cycles of Eternity, on and on, world without end!
Hold fast to the evidence! Grasp it firmly. NOW!
“The just will LIVE by faith.”