Bringing Breakthrough

Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.”

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”

Jonathan said, “Come on, then; we will cross over toward them and let them see us. If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.”

1 Samuel 14:6-10

Israel was at war with the Philistines. Jonathan, King Saul’s son, decided to take a special ops mission to attack a Philistine outpost located on the edge of a cliff. No one in the army knew of this special mission.

First, notice that Jonathan went boldly because of his confidence in the Lord. It wasn’t confidence in himself. It wasn’t even confidence in a promise from God or a word from the Lord. Jonathan wasn’t guaranteed victory. His confidence was simply in the nature and character of God. Jonathan’s view of God was that the Lord’s heart was, at all times, inclined to give victory to His people. This bold move of faith, as many are, was grounded in a trust of the goodness of God–the faithful nature of God.

Secondly, notice that while the regular army didn’t know Jonathan was undertaking this special ops mission–even his own dad, the king, didn’t know–Jonathan didn’t go alone. He was stepping out in faith and he needed someone to believe in him. Jonathan needed a partner in this mission who trusted him as much as Jonathan trusted God. His armor-bearer was that person. The armor-bearer didn’t know the outcome of the mission or even all the details, and he didn’t need to. He knew Jonathan and trusted him with his life.

The third noteworthy component of this special mission was that Jonathan and the armor-bearer waited for confirmation before attacking. Though they were not directly sent by a command of the Lord, they still waited for confirmation that the Lord was with them. They knew two men had no chance against a Philistine outpost. Their confidence wasn’t in their fighting ability. Their confidence was in the Lord. If He was with them, they knew they would be okay. If the Philistines invited them to come up, that was their sign that the favor of the Lord was on them for victory. And that is exactly what we see happen.

Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him. In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.

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.

1 Samuel 14:13-15

Jonathan and his armor-bearer were spotted by the Philistines and then given a mocking invitation to come up the cliff so the Philistines could kill them. Little did the Philistines know, this invitation was the sign from the Lord that Jonathan would have the victory that day.

Jonathan was faithful to do his part. He trusted the Lord. He stepped out in faith with great risk to himself. The armor-bearer was faithful to do his part. He trusted Jonathan and followed his lead. Then we see the Lord step in. God was faithful to do His part. Not only did He give Jonathan and his armor-bearer favor as they fought, but He also sent the rest of the Philistine army into a panic.

Saul and the main army saw the chaos and joined the battle. What started as Jonathan’s victory became the whole army’s victory.

This is how breakthrough happens in the Church today! One person is willing to step out in faith–a faith that looks crazy to everyone else–not because they were guaranteed an outcome by a word from the Lord but because of their unyielding trust in the character and nature of God. They have someone by their side who believes in them even when no one else does. And the Lord honors their radical faith in such a way that not only does that person get the victory, but the whole Church then is able to step into that area of faith and experience the victory as well.

We see examples of this throughout church history. Martin Luther looked crazy for his time. He was willing to step out in radical faith and trust that we are saved “by grace through faith…not by works”(Ephesians 2:8-9). This was radical, even dangerous, for his day. His bold faith not only created a breakthrough for himself but for the whole Church. We all now embrace that truth with ease, as if it had always been obvious to all believers at all times, but it took someone with radical faith to pioneer a way forward.

This is also true for those who pray for the sick. There are those who pray for healing for diseases that have never, or have rarely ever, seen healing. When people in our skeptical generation do that, they look foolish. They look crazy. At times, they are even called “dangerous.” But what we are witnessing is radical, pioneering faith. We are witnessing a Jonathan who is willing to climb a cliff that no one else would dare climb. We are witnessing someone with bold faith in the nature and character of our good Father.

When healing comes for that disease, there is often a breakthrough for the whole Church. Suddenly people around the world hear the testimony and begin to believe. Faith rises, and the outpost of the enemy that seemed invincible suddenly looks vulnerable. The enemy panics, and the whole Church begins to see breakthrough in that particular disease.

Burning in my heart is a desire to be a Jonathan (and if not a Jonathan then an armor-bearer to a Jonathan). As the Lord looks throughout the earth for those who would trust Him, I wanted to be counted among them. As the Lord looks for those who might be willing to step out with radical faith, I want to be among those who say, “Yes.”

I Swore

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:5-9

In order to be a leader, it requires strength and courage. Over and over we see God command Joshua as a young leader to be strong and courageous. He is to be obedient, not afraid, and not discouraged because of the awareness of God’s Presence with him. God’s presence, if we are aware of it, has a way of destroying fear and discouragement.

Also notice that this powerful thing that God is about to do through Joshua (take the people into the Promised Land) is not really about Joshua. God will surely use Joshua and God searched for someone ready and willing to be used in this way. It was an honor and a privilege for Joshua to be chosen for this leadership role. But none of this is about the greatness of Joshua.

What we learn from this passage of scripture is that all of this is about the nature of God who is not willing to break His promises. God swore to Joshua’s ancestors that He would give them the Promised Land. Joshua being used powerfully by God is more about them than it is about him. It is more about God’s faithfulness to keep His promise to Abraham. It is more about God’s willingness answer the prayers of the people when they were crying out in Egypt.

For those of us who are in leadership roles in ministry, this is a good reminder. We need to remember that when God uses us powerfully it is not about us at all. We are simply instruments of righteousness in His hands.

It is likely that if God moves powerfully through us to impact someone else, God is simply keeping a promise to someone who has been praying for that person. Maybe He is keeping a promise to that person. Maybe He is keeping a promise to one of their grandparents who prayed for them many decades ago. We won’t know until eternity. Until then, we are to serve and lead faithfully, knowing that God’s power flowing through us by the Holy Spirit is all about Him and not about us. It’s all about His greatness and His nature, not our own.