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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:Jonathan: Meet Him As A Man
Text:1 Samuel 13:23 - 14:15 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

1 SAMUEL 13:23-14:15 (Reading: 1 Samuel 13:16-14:15) Jonathan: Meet Him As A Man Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ… This passage reads like one of the stories out of the ‘Boy’s Own’ books. That series of books, and others like it, were the diet of school boys sixty years ago. Because those heroes could do amazing things. And it was all true! They were gripping and incredible tales! That was like the War Comics that I grew up on. Who could ever forget those? With publisher’s names like Commando Library, War Picture Library, and Battle Picture Library; and titles like ‘Blood of Heroes’, ‘Lone Wolf Pilot’, and ‘Dogfight Dixon’, it was black and white who was good and who was bad. And how good could the goodies be! Man, they could wipe out whole enemy platoons, with a single grenade, or rush a dozen machine guns in one super-human charge! Mind you, those stories did stretch the truth a little! In fact, unlike the ‘Boy’s Own’ books, they were pure fiction. In one ‘Boys Own’ story, they told a true story just like this one we’ve read. It was about a battle during the first World War. A battle that was part of the Middle Eastern campaign. You see, the Turks had taken sides with the Germans, and so the Allies were fighting against the Turks in Palestine. Now, a battalion of General Allenby’s London Regiment, in 1917, was in the geographical location where Saul held his six hundred troops in this text. The local place name of Mukmas rang a bell in the Commander’s memory. He remembered something he had been taught. Because he straight away looked up his Bible, and found almost the exact same sounding name Micmash. Then he realised the Turks, who had blocked his position, were in the same position as the Philistines. After sending some scouts out, he knew that the layout of the land was still the same. He could attack the Turks the same Jonathan attacked the Philistines! And he did! A platoon was sent out to occupy the superior position. When dawn showed those British soldiers right there behind them, and above them, the Turkish soldiers withdrew! See, the value of knowing your Bible! You just never know when it’s going to come in handy! Anyhow, back to Jonathan. Let’s look at him. Actually, let’s meet him as a man in this passage. This is no mere boy here. He couldn’t be - anyhow. He had to be certain age before he could be in the army. But there’s more to being a man than how old you are, and all those other physical things we can easily see. There’s more that makes up a man than whether he has a car, or the right clothes, or can pull the girls, or gets on with his mates. Jonathan shows us what really counts. In the words of a first consideration to manhood, we can say... HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S OUT ON HIS OWN. Congregation, see what Jonathan thinks. He says to his armour-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” In the situation the Israelite army was in, this idea just doesn’t make sense. There was only 600 men with Saul and Jonathan. The Philistine army, in contrast, was described as being as numerous as the sand on the sea-shore. This is what we read of earlier in verse 5 of chapter 13. And this huge army was divided up into three huge divisions. Three major forces working in this seemingly invincible pincer movement against this insignificant Israelite force. Anyhow, what could the Israelites fight with? The last time the Philistines had ruled the Israelites, they had seized all the weapons they could find. They had even killed the Israelites blacksmiths to make sure no more could be made! It was only Saul and Jonathan who actually had any weapons at all. Jonathan shows, though, that... HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S OUT ON HIS OWN. He didn’t see a huge and steep cliff confronting him. He’s sees an opportunity! For God’s enemies are there! And where God’s enemies are, God’s people must battle the good fight of faith. There is nothing fool-hardy about what he did. True, he didn’t follow standing army rules and check with the commander first. He couldn’t risk being over-ruled on this. It was the time to turn things around - not to sit down! “No one was aware that Jonathan had left,” verse 3 says. And so wrapped up in their situation were Saul and those with him, that it wasn’t until a while later Saul counts up his troops, and finds Jonathan and his armour-bearer missing. Hey boys, you can be brave when you’re with your friends - can’t you? Then you can tell them all sorts of stories about what you’ve done and how you did it. And together with them you’re not scared. But how daring are you on your own? Then aren’t you quite different to what you tell your friends, and to what you do with your friends? You see, Jonathan has what it takes on the inside. He’s got the faith in His LORD God that he just can’t hide! So, we have a second aspect to this true hero, Jonathan. Congregation, not only is it that HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S OUT ON HIS OWN, it’s even truer that... HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S NOT ALONE. There is no doubt Who is right there helping him. This battle is a spiritual one. These are God’s enemies - and He’s on the Lord’s side! This is already shown in the meaning of Jonathan’s name. It means, “The LORD has given.” So right from birth, he knew whose side he was on. Boys and girls, when they show really dangerous stunts on television, what do you often hear the reporter say? As Evel Knievel flies on his motorbike over all those buses on fire, there’s always a warning isn’t there? You will be told quite seriously: “Boys and girls, don’t try this stunt at home!” And you think, “D-oh!” But the hospitals get filled up with boys and girls who’ve hurt themselves after each new Superman or Batman movie comes out. Those children - and usually they’re boys! - try to be like their super-hero. Why do I say that here? Well, you can’t be like Jonathan. He might not have the stunt men and the special effects of Hollywood, but he can do this incredible thing because God helps him! That’s what we read from Hebrews 11. Through faith those saints did great and amazing things. And Jonathan’s one of them. Like it says in verse 34 of Hebrews 11, he “became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.” But let’s not forget it was what God gave them the strength and the skill to do then. It’s quite different now. In fact, one reason why it is different now is because of what Hebrews chapter 11 ends with. You see, they were in the time before Jesus came. God gave them what they needed so that His Son would come. And we don’t need that today, because Jesus has come. That’s why we can say of Jonathan, HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S NOT ALONE. That’s why he does what he does in the verses 8 till 10. He’s asking for a sign from the LORD. It’s a sign which seems to expect the unexpected. Because if you would get that kind of reaction from the enemy’s soldiers wouldn’t that make you even more scared? You might think it’s only sticks and stones that can break your bones, but when you’re up against a powerful enemy, and they tease you like this, your knees won’t stop knocking together! Jonathan lays this before the LORD, though, as the way the Lord can show him that he can go forward. Something which seems quite the opposite, something against him, is to be the sign that he’s going to win. It’s strange alright, but not completely illogical. Jonathan understands human nature. He’s been a boy himself. He had told all those exaggerated stories to his friends at school. He had tried to make himself seem tough by what he had said then. So he knows that if the enemy says those words, it’s really only hot air! And he’s the one to knock it out of them right then and there! HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S NOT ALONE. And, still, there’s another part to this point as well. We’ve seen how this applies to Jonathan’s faith in God. But it also draws in the faith of others in Jonathan. For, in response to what he says to his young armour bearer, he receives this reply, “Do all that you have in mind. “Go ahead; I’m with you heart and soul.” Great men inspire confidence. They emanate this assurance. Whether it was Winston Churchill during World War II, or William of Orange in the Eighty Year War, there’s something in them. People then can even say, “We have faith in them! Dear believer, do others sometimes have that faith in you? Can you inspire confidence - the confidence which is the assurance you yourself have in God. Because you so believe in Him at such a time, others can’t help but believe in Him, too - through you! I don’t believe I’m preaching a gospel by works here. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the faith that works! HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S NOT ALONE! Which all leads us to the third aspect from this text that makes up the man of God. Congregation, we note about Jonathan, that, HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S MADE HIMSELF KNOWN. In verse 11 he does the deed - “both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost.” ‘The moment of truth’, they say. The point in time which brings out what you’re truly like the rest of the time! Jonathan stands out! He’s up there, in a most vulnerable place. And he’s scared! But he’s not afraid! “Look!” cry out those Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” It’s not the Lord’s sign yet, is it? In fact, they are even more taunting words than Jonathan is expecting as the Lord’s sign. They’re words which show so much of Israel’s shame - words that tell of God’s people failing to keep to him. Exactly the words Satan uses when we fight the fight of faith. Because he knows where we’ve failed before. And he’s going to bring it all up again. Whether it’s by tempting us to stumble that way again, or simply to be scared that we are going to fail that way again. And then we can just crumble up and give up! “Why do I try?” “The Lord can’t expect me to do that.” “I don’t think I can go on anymore.” Dear believer, how did you try? How many times doesn’t the LORD challenge us in His Word to simply trust, and see what He will do! In Malachi chapter 3:10, the LORD says to His people, after He’s told them about giving him the tenth of their income, “Test me in this, and see if I won’t throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won’t have room enough for it.” Jonathan took the LORD God at His Word - the Word he had received at that time through the sign - and he believed it! Because in the same breathe those Philistines say the magic words, “Come up to us.” “Come up to us, and we’ll teach you a lesson.” Those Philistines taught Jonathan and his armour-bearer a lesson alright. The lesson that God delivers His people, when they trust in Him! Even though they had to crawl up on their hands and knees, Jonathan and his armour-bearer had the victory! The LORD beat their bluff! And that was enough! For these two Hebrews did come up, and they came charging up! And they didn’t expect it. They had only heard stories of what those Israelites didn’t have. And armour and courage weren’t what they were expecting! That’s why in verse 14 there are so many killed. They panicked. And panic was the Philistines’ one major weakness. You see, they had to feel that control. But upset it just a little, and they’d crumble. Jonathan would have known the stories of when that had happened in the past. HE’S A MAN BECAUSE HE’S MADE HIMSELF KNOWN. And then the devil flees. Because then we know that the HIMSELF MADE KNOWN is not Jonathan at all. He’s the Saviour God! The same LORD who brought them by mighty acts out of Egypt has done it again. He’s routing those Philistines. By their own shaking and by the added power of His quaking, the LORD confirms the victory is all His! What an assurance for Jonathan. He becomes the spearhead of the break-out from their pincer movement. By cutting right though their unprotected under-belly he turns the tide. And what a tide that has been. Years of subjection and humiliation. Decades of despair and defeat. It’s all changed around! A man of God has been found! Congregation, our time is different than Jonathan’s. Then Israel needed her leaders to be godly. As the king was, so followed the nation. But the amazing thing is, that, because of Jesus Christ, each one of us can be such a leader as Jonathan. God’s Spirit doesn’t now only specially empower a few - He’s in the heart of every believer. The tide in the battle against the devil begins within! E.M. Blaiklock says about this passage, “So Jonathan, ill-starred and shadowed by his passionate father, enters the story. “He is not destined to stay in it long, or to play the part he might, in happier circumstances have played. “But he is good to know.” Congregation, let’s go away today knowing that we have met a true man: Jonathan. A man who it’s good to know. A man who foreshadows the best man we can and we do know - the Lord Jesus Christ! Jonathan is God’s man. And so are you, too. Amen. PRAYER: Let’s pray... LORD, we thank You for such a man of faith. We thank You for raising Jonathan up, to fight for You against the enemy. LORD, we ask that You may also make us follow that prince through the power of the greatest Prince of all - the Prince of Peace Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ. In His all-conquering name we pray, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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