One day Jonathan son of Saul said to the young man who carried his armour, ‘Come, let us go over to the Philistine garrison on the other side.’ But he did not tell his father…Now the people did not know that Jonathan had gone. In the pass, by which Jonathan tried to go over to the Philistine garrison, there was a rocky crag on one side and a rocky crag on the other; the name of one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. One crag rose on the north in front of Michmash, and the other on the south in front of Geba.
Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armour, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will act for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.’ His armour-bearer said to him, ‘Do all that your mind inclines to. I am with you; as your mind is, so is mine.’ Then Jonathan said, ‘Now we will cross over to those men and will show ourselves to them. If they say to us, “Wait until we come to you”, then we will stand still in our place, and we will not go up to them. But if they say, “Come up to us”, then we will go up; for the Lord has given them into our hand. That will be the sign for us.’ So both of them showed themselves to the garrison of the Philistines; and the Philistines said, ‘Look, Hebrews are coming out of the holes where they have hidden themselves.’ The men of the garrison hailed Jonathan and his armour-bearer, saying, ‘Come up to us, and we will show you something.’ Jonathan said to his armour-bearer, ‘Come up after me; for the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.’ Then Jonathan climbed up on his hands and feet, with his armour-bearer following after him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armour-bearer, coming after him, killed them. In that first slaughter Jonathan and his armour-bearer killed about twenty men within an area about half a furrow long in an acre of land. There was a panic in the camp, in the field, and among all the people; the garrison and even the raiders trembled; the earth quaked; and it became a very great panic.
Jonathan was in no mood for just sitting around waiting to be attacked. Something in his heart sprung him into action: ‘The people did not know that Jonathan had gone’. His trusted armour- bearer was with him: ‘Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold I am with you heart and soul’.
As I read this today’s text I am reminded of two classic lines from the TV series ‘The A Team – today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team.’
We encounter Jonathan with a plan that he has not shared: ‘The people who were with him were about 600 men’]. Here was a bold and daring young man who drew up a plan of action. Jonathan feared failure. To commit and lead the whole army to battle before he had proved the faithfulness of the Lord was a risk he wasn’t prepared to take.
Jonathan with his armour- bearer heads off towards the Philistine garrison with a rocky crag on both sides ‘Bozez’ (Slippery One) and Seneh (thorny one). The reading ends ‘The garrison and even the raiders trembled, the earthed quaked and it became a very great panic’ (and that reminds me of Corporal Jones’ ‘Don’t panic’ when things began to go wrong).
We need the confidence of Jonathan who was prepared to drag himself up on his hands and feet. We need the reliability of those around us as we witness to the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Do all that is in your heart’.
The leader of the A Team would say: ‘I love it when a plan comes together’ – but let our actions be about transformation and not destruction.
Will YOU make it into The A Team for Christ’s sake?
Gracious God, we pray for those who have been inspired, like Jonathan, to go off and prepare the ground for the changes and challenges that you require of us. On our journey through those slippery and thorny places, may we be assured of your strengthening presence, so that your plans may come together through us. Amen
The Rev’d Andrew Royal Minister Maidstone & Staplehurst URC
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