May 28, 2020
Occidental Community Church family,
1 Samuel 14:6. "Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few."
These words were spoken by Jonathan, the son of King Saul, during a battle against Israel's perpetual enemy the Philistines. He was speaking to encourage his armor-bearer who was going with him to fight an enemy who vastly out numbered them. We are told in 1 Samuel 13:5. "The Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore." Israel's army, on the other hand, which had begun with three thousand men, now numbered only six hundred. Fear had caused many to flee back to their homes, and some had even gone over to join the enemy. 1 Samuel 13:6. "When the men of Israel saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7.Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops were quaking with fear."
To add to Israel's disadvantage, their soldiers didn't even have proper weapons. The Philistines had managed to get rid of all the blacksmiths in Israel, so that Saul's soldiers were forced to go to war with tools and implements they used in their farming. 1 Samuel 13:22. "So on the day of the battle, not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them." It was under these dire circumstances that Jonathan announced to his armor-bearer that the two of them would attack one of the Philistine outposts.
Jonathan and his armor-bearer developed a strategy whereby the two of them would attack and defeat the Philistines. It worked, and they killed twenty men in their assault. But what was that against such an overwhelming enemy? Here is where God steps in and where Jonathan's prophetic words are realized, "Nothing can keep the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few." We read in 1 Samuel 14:15. "Then panic struck the whole army - those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties - and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God." Once the panic started, Saul and his small army cleaned up. 1 Samuel 14:20. "Then Saul and all his men assembled and went to the battle. They found the Philistines in total confusion, striking each other with their swords. 21.Those Hebrews who had previously been with the Philistines and had gone with them to their camp went over to the Israelites who were with Saul and Jonathan. 22.When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit. 23.So the Lord rescued Israel that day."
The lesson of how God can save, "whether by many or by few" has been demonstrated throughout history, as God's people have looked to Him in faith. On March 23, 1799, 12,000 soldiers of Napoleon's army led by French General Andre Massena arrived to invade the small village of Feldkirch, Austria. The Austrian forces led by Franz Jellacic were vastly outnumbered, and the citizens of Feldkirch were terrified. Realizing that defeat was inevitable, they met to decide what to do. Since it was Easter Sunday and their death was imminent regardless of heir defensive effort, they went to church to appeal to God. While the small Austrian army engaged the mighty French army, the townspeople worshipped their Maker and rang the church bells loudly in celebration of Easter. It is reported that the French General Massena heard the bells and assumed it was to announce the arrival of the entire Austrian army as reinforcements. Napoleon's army made a hasty retreat, and the village was saved. God had once again shown Himself to the God who saves "whether by many or by few."
The Bible, as well as secular history, is filled with stories that validate this divine principle. We are never to despair when we are faced with difficulties which seem too big for us to resolve. In the life of Occidental Community Church, God has time and time again given us victory over what seemed to be insurmountable odds. I have experienced God's deliverance in my own life in ways I could never have imagined. In fact. it happens so frequently that I can easily fail to recognize or give thanks for His saving grace in my life.
Martin Luther wrote of our tendency to take God's work in our lives for granted.
"God's wonderful works which happen daily are lightly esteemed, not because they are of no import, but because they happen so constantly and without interruption. Man is used to the miracle that God rules the world and upholds all creation, and because things daily run their appointed course it seems insignificant and no man thinks it worth his while to meditate upon it and to regard it as God's wonderful work, and yet it is a greater wonder than that Christ fed five thousand men with five loaves and made wine form water."
We serve a great and powerful God!
Trusting in Him,