"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Raising The Standard: Courage Is Responding To Danger Without Thought Of Retreat

How Does Scripture Illustrate Courage In Responding To Danger? All that separated the two armies were two steep cliffs and a valley, One group, though, could hardly be called an army. For years the nation was not allowed to have any swords or spears. Even the sharpening of farm implements had been done by the nation that controlled them, whom they now faced in battle.
The prince beckoned to his companion, and they slipped away from the pathetic group of six hundred frightened and ill equipped soldiers. They crept down the slope and looked toward the mighty army camped on the opposite cliff. He said to his companion,"Let us attack the enemy. It may be that the Lord will work for us. For their is no restraint with the Lord to save by many or by few." His companion eagerly agreed, "I will be with you in whatever you want to do." They devised a plan which involved a signal from the Lord. Then they exposed their presence to the enemy. The guards on the opposite cliff mockingly shouted, "Well! Our enemy is coming out of their holes. Come on up here and we will show you a thing or two." That was the invitation they were waiting for - both scrambled over the top of the cliff. After reaching the top, the pair sprang to their feet - one with a sword and the other with a shield to protect him. Their strength and fury so surprised the enemy that, within a few minutes, twenty had fallen within a half-acre of ground. Then God shook the ground with a great earthquake. Those in the tents who were enjoying their plunder, thought a mighty army was approaching. They rushed out of their tents in confusion, and in their haste, they mistook each other for the enemy. The six hundred men, without the two who had precipitated the confusion, rushed to the edge of the cliff when they heard the rumbling. They were astonished to witness the slaughter taking place among their enemies. Eagerly their leader gave a precise command, and they rushed in to join the battle. By the end of the day a great and unexpected victory was theirs. But the rejoicing turned to grief. The courageous hero of the day inadvertently acted in a way which placed him under the curse of the leader of the army. The prince, although acting courageously, had done so without his father's knowledge, and so missed hearing a special command which was given in front of the other men. The king was bound by his word to punish this action and reaffirmed the curse, "Though it be my son who transgressed my command, he shall surely die." The heroic effort was marred. Years later the curse was fulfilled when Jonathan was killed with his father, Saul in a battle against the enemy. (From 1 Samuel 14:1-46)
Why Didn't Jonathan Tell His Father About His Plan?
Jonathan was probably convinced that Saul would not have considered approving his daring plan. It would have been a suicidal mission apart from God's supernatural intervention. Saul remembered his son's last raid against the Philistine's garrison in Geba (1 Samuel 13:3). That battle only succeeded in rallying the Philistines. As a result, Saul's army had dwindled from three thousand to six hundred men (1 Samuel 13:2, 15) largely through desertions. The philistines had ten horsemen to each one of Saul's men, and their foot soldiers were like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance (1 Samuel 13:5). The last thing Saul would have wanted Johnathan to do was precipitate an attack before he could strengthen his reinforcements.
Was Jonathan Testing God or the Philistines Before His Attack?
When the Israelites were thirsty for water at Maasah they tested the Lord saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?" (Exodus 17:7). To test the Lord in this way was strictly forbidden later by the Mosaic Law (Deuteronomy 6:16). Jonathan was not testing God by demanding a miracle but was cleverly testing his opponent and looking for an indication from the Lord. The guards were surprised and had no idea how many more men were behind Jonathan. They did not know if they were outnumbered or not. When the Philistines refused to approach him, Jonathan and his armor-bearer made their courageous charge and killed about twenty men within a distance of roughly forty yards (1 Samuel 14:14).
Why Did God Allow Jonathan To Be So Severely Reproved?
Although Jonathan's courageous act demonstrated a firm trust in the Lord and a strong jealousy for His name, two of this other actions revealed attitudes in his life which God had to reprove. The first is indicated in the short phrase, "But he told not his father." (1 Samuel 14:1) Johnathan revealed the same attitude for which Samuel had just rebuked King Saul. He was taking things into his own hands without receiving direction or permission from the one to whom he was responsible. Because he left camp without informing hi8s father, Jonathan missed hearing Saul's instruction not to eat until sundown. Even though his disobedience was unintentional, Jonathan nevertheless fell under the curse (1 Samuel 14:24). The other attitude was revealed when he justified himself and publicly denounced his father's judgment in prohibiting the people from eating (1 Samuel 14:29-30). He dishonored his own father (cf. Exodus 20:12) and spread seeds of disloyalty and rebellion against the Lord's anointed (cf. 2 Samuel 1:14-16). The people saw Jonathan's outward courage and spared his life, but God saw his heart and gave his throne to one more worthy than he (1 Samuel 13:14; 16:7).
How Does The Weasel Illustrate Courage In Responding To Danger?
The wiry weasel picked up the scent of a white footed mouse and began to tirelessly track it down. It scurried across an open field, its muscular body tense and alert. Making its way through underbrush and over surfaces of stone, it traced the trail to its end and after a brief skirmish captured the mouse. The weasel had left six offspring at its den whose eyes were not yet open. The furless young were kept warm with bits of grass and mouse hair. The male weasel had been bringing home mice and other small rodents to accumulate a storehouse of food. In five weeks the young would be weaned from their mother's milk to eat a diet of meat. Returning from its successful hunt, the weasel approached the den carrying its prey. Concentrating on its burden, the weasel did not see a coiled king snake. A few yards from the burrow, the weasel glanced left, the snake was poised to strike. The weasel could have dropped its catch and run, but that would have exposed its mate and young to an inevitable attack since the snake would follow into the burrow. Instead, it turned to its attacker and with fierce courage initiated the battle. The snake sprang forward as the weasel darted, narrowly escaping its sharp teeth as well as eluding the entrapping coils of the snake's muscular body. Quickly the king snake recoiled and lunged for the weasel again, but with rapid movements the weasel bobbed and weaved, evading each attempt. As the snake lunged again, the weasel was able to maneuver itself and clamp its powerful jaws low on the enemy's neck. It shook the snake, tightening its hold. Furious, the snake struggled and writhed wildly as it both bit and wrapped its muscular body around its assailant. The weasel's teeth sank deeper and deeper into the king snakes neck as the snake also intensified its grip. After agonized thrashing, the struggle finally ended. Although faced with the threat of a deadly enemy, the weasel had responded to the danger without the thought of retreat. The courage of this 5 ounce mammal (the short tailed weasel is also called the ermine)was costly. Courage had not protected the valiant weasel from the snake's crushing strength. Sharp broken bones had punctured vital organs. With fatal wounds, it painfully limped toward the bushes beyond and away from its den to die. Fearless and bold, the weasel does not have a reputation for backing away from danger, this animal will boldly retaliate regardless of the size of its opponent. Known as a "killing machine", the body structure of the weasel enables it to be one of the most effective hunters of it's size...approx 12-14" in length and weighing in at only approx. 5 ounces, it has been said that if a weasel were as large as a collie, it would be the most vicious animal on earth. Highly developed muscles, speed, and sleek structure make the weasel effective in capturing food and protecting itself from predators. Its prey have been known to become paralyzed and even die from fright when faced with a weasel assailant.

No comments: