TO SAVE BY MANY OR BY FEW
1 Samuel 14:6 And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for [there is] no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
This is our hope today, as a little flock of God. As one despised by the enemy, and as nothing compared to the big churches in our community. If it were not for this very great and wonderful truth concerning our very great and wonderful God, I might be tempted to faint and to quit. This great and wonderful truth of which I speak this evening is; our God is able to save by many or by few. First beloved, we want to just say that salvation is not in our power in the first place. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter whether we are 20 strong or 2000 strong, or even just 2 believers, as in the case of Jonathan and his armor bearer. Unless the Lord goes before us and saves according to His good pleasure, and by His mighty power, then it doesn’t matter how large an army we have. Secondly, our God takes pleasure in doing great things with small things, and with small armies. In this way He gets all the glory. In this way His people must depend on Him to save and to deliver, and not in their own strength and might. In this way His people know that salvation is of the Lord, and not of themselves.
The Lord uses little things to accomplish big things. He used Abraham to build the great nation of Israel. He used Moses and Aaron to deliver Israel out of the hand of Pharaoh and Egypt. He used Gideon and his little army of 300 men to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Midianites. He used Jonathan and his armor bearer in our text to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. He used the 12 apostles to deliver many thousands of souls out of the hand of Satan on the day of Pentecost and in the days following.
We want to notice three points from our text this evening: 1) “Come, let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised”; 2) “It may be that the Lord will work for us”; and 3) “There is no restraint unto the Lord to save by many or by few”.
1. “Come, let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised”.
We want to consider this portion of our text in two parts. First lets notice the phrase;
This statement implies teamwork and cooperation on the part of God’s people. There were only two of them, yet they worked together in unity and as a team. I believe that if we would really desire to see the Lord work for us, and save sinners, and build up our church, then we must work together in the unity of the spirit and in cooperation. I don’t know if the Lord will bless a church in this way that is not of one mind and of one heart and in one accord. If He did bless a church that was not in unity, it certainly would be in spite of that church.
This statement implies that there was an underlying common cause, which was a great love for their nation and for their God. We preached a message once entitled “is there not a cause” from the story of David and Goliath. Is there not a underlying common cause of our church? Do we not have a love for our church, the Lord’s Church, to see it prosper and to see it blessed of the Lord? Do we not desire to see our church grow? May God help us to love His Church. If we don’t love His church and long for, and strive for her prosperity, can we really say that we love Him? Jesus loved His Church so much that He died for her. Should not we love her enough to live for her, and serve the Lord through her? Yes, beloved, there is a wonderful cause. And Jesus was pleased by His love and grace to make us a part of His cause.
This statement implies great faith in their God, Who they believed was able to do all things whatsoever He pleased. May God increase our faith! I would love to have such faith, that I would go forth into the battle of the Lord believing that He would not only protect me from the enemy, but that He would work for me, and save sinners for His glory, and bring souls to our church for baptism and membership. Lord increase my faith!
This statement implies a spirit of zeal and of courage. Wouldn’t you just love to have the zeal and courage of Jonathan? How many of us feel that we are as zealous for the Lord as we would like to be? May the Lord put in each of us a great zeal for His work, and for His great cause of the gospel, and for the salvation of His elect in our community. May He put in us a zeal for His work that is greater than our love for our necessary food. And may He give us the courage to go forth with the sword of the Lord, and with the power of the gospel of Jesus. May God remove all fear of the enemy from our hearts, that we would not fear their faces, or their hard sayings, and even their mockings and threatenings. May God give us the zeal and courage of Jonathan!
This statement also implies faith in action. This is an example of faith mingled with works. Jonathan and His armor bearer didn’t have a dead faith. They put their faith to the test. They put their faith on the line for the Lord. This is what a healthy, living faith will cause the children of God to do. A living faith will serve. A living faith will fight the Lord’s battles. May God give us the faith of Jonathan!
Jonathan and his armor bearer knew the odds of the conflict. They knew that they were just two men going against a garrison, which was about twenty armed soldiers.
They were going to battle with the uncircumcised. These uncircumcised live and walk after the flesh. They worship and trust in idols, and they are full of pride and self confidence. They are full of wickedness and ungodly sin, and they hate the people of God. They know not the God of Heaven, and they want nothing to do with Him.
Beloved, this is the kind of foe that we face when we go out to fight the Lord’s battles. They are uncircumcised in heart and mind and ears. They are idol worshippers, and they are full of human pride and arrogance. They are wicked and vile sinners. They despise and hate Christians and even God Himself, unless God opens their hearts to repent and believe the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As we go forth to the battle the odds are certainly against us from the human perspective. There are many more of the human foe than there are of us. But the way that we should look at it is, these are all the more that the Lord might slay by His spirit, and bring to salvation through the preaching of the gospel message. “The more the merrier” should be our motto. The more lost sinners we meet with, the more likely there is to be some of God’s elect among them. And if God be with us, and work for us, then so much greater will be the victory. I think that was Jonathan’s sentiments exactly!
May God help us to go over into the garrison of the enemy. There is a great cause. May God give us the faith, and the zeal, and the courage to go forth with the gospel of Jesus.
2. Secondly, “It may be that the Lord will work for us”.
Jonathan was not overconfident that the Lord would do a great work in their behalf, but he was confident that He could do a great work for them.
Jonathan, I believe, recognized both the sovereignty and the providence of God. As we already saw, Jonathan believed that God could do a great work. He knew that his God was the all-powerful, omnipotent God, and that He could do whatsoever He pleased with His creation. Jonathan knew that in God’s eyes “all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35).
Jonathan also knew that his God did all things according to His perfect providential will, and according to His good pleasure, and according to His plan and purpose. He didn’t believe in “name it claim it” theology. He knew that the battle was the Lord’s, and that the time of the battle, and the time of the victory were all in the hands of the sovereign God of Heaven. Therefore, Jonathan was not so presumptuous as to go ahead of the Lord. But on the other hand he was hopeful and sought the Lord to work for them, and give them a great victory. And Jonathan was willing to be used as an instrument of the Lord to accomplish His work. You see, all these things work together in God’s sovereign providential will and purpose. We cannot overlook or neglect either the sovereign power and providence of God, or human instrumentality in the work of the Lord. To do so is to invite failure in the Lord’s work, and to fall short of the victory, and to fall short of the blessings of the Lord.
The words “The Lord may work for us” imply that God does bend down His great ear to hear and to give us our heart’s desire, especially when our desire is His glory and the good of His people. We need to keep in our hearts and minds that He is our God, and we are His people. He chose us and called us to salvation, and called us to a great service. He called us to serve Him, and to fight His battles. It is His design and desire to “work for us” as we work for Him. Thus, the saying is fulfilled, “we are laborers together with God”.
We need to come to Him as the captain of the host, and receive His orders and go forth to the battle. We also need to bring our battle strategies to Him and see if He approves of our designs, and then ask Him to work for us to win the victory. And we are not supposed to quit and give up if He doesn’t approve of our ideas. Often times in the New Testament it was the apostle Paul’s design to do this or that, but the Holy Spirit didn’t allow him go do it, or to go to a certain place to preach. But he kept on seeking, and kept on going, and kept on serving, and kept on fighting the battle for the souls of men. Just because the Holy Spirit doesn’t approve of one idea, doesn’t mean He doesn’t approve of us or our ideas at all. Pray about it, and find out what He does want us do it.
3. Thirdly, “There is no restraint unto the Lord to save by many or by few”.
The words “there is no restraint unto the Lord” imply at least a few things. First, there is no restraint in terms of the Lord’s power, as we have already discussed His omnipotence. There is nothing or no one who can put chains and fetters on our God to bind Him, or hinder Him in anyway from doing any work that He desires to do. He does whatsoever He pleases with no exceptions- if this were not true, then He would not be God.
This phrase also implies something else. It implies that God has not restrained Himself from saving by many or by few. In other words, God could have required a large army of valiant soldiers, as He sometimes did, before He would agree to work for them. Or, he could have required a very small army, as He sometimes did, before He would work for them. God has no set rule in this matter. God has not limited Himself from working in behalf of His people based on there number or size. That is certainly good news for us, as we mentioned in our introduction, being a small church numerically. We have more than twice as many members as the First Baptist Church of Jerusalem had at its inception, and He worked mightily through them and for them! Therefore we can have this same confidence that He can do mighty works for us and through us at Calvary Baptist Church. God has not limited Himself from doing so.
This phrase also implies that God has not restrained Himself from saving by few as in part of the whole army. In other words, He might be pleased to use just 2 or 3 of us in our church to do a great work of salvation in the community, and to start at revival fire that would lead to the salvation of hundreds or even thousands of souls. Don’t think that He couldn’t do it! Every time we go out on visitation we need to believe that God might do a great work for us. Every time you as an individual, witness to people in your sphere of influence, you need to do so believing that God might do a great work for you. I don’t think I’m being fanciful in what I’m saying. I really believe this should be our belief concerning our God and His work for His people. We should go forth in faith, and in hope, and in expectation that this may be the very hour that God is going to do a work.
Discuss the waves of victory that followed.
We want to wage the war of the gospel in behalf of any lost sinners in our midst.
Beloved, may God help us to “go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised”, for it may be that the Lord will work for us”, because we know that “there is no restraint unto the Lord to save by many or by few”.