50/50 Faith is a principle that will help us in areas where indecision has imprisoned us. That’s something we all can relate with.
It’s strange how it happens but when you give up your need for certainty, you can gain true confidence that doesn’t depend on circumstances.
For now, it will not make sense for you but that’s the idea with this teaching where we are going to understand the meaning behind those words.
Actually, this teaching will help us develop the kind of faith that is patient with mystery and uncertainty.
The best way to start this teaching is through Jonathan, let’s see what the scripture says.
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.”1 Samuel 14:6 NIV
Before we continue with the brave story of Jonathan you need to know the context. It’s a period of transition, a negative one for the people of Israel.
King Saul has lost his way and he has abdicated his leadership. Instead of having a relationship with God, Saul chooses to use God as a weapon. Thus, he loses his ability to hear the voice of God.
That’s the context but the story will make more sense if we start reading it from 1 Samuel 13.23 so let’s start there.
Now a detachment of Philistines had gone out to the pass at Mikmash.1 Samuel 13:23 NIV
One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.” But he did not tell his father. Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left. On each side of the pass that Jonathan intended to cross to reach the Philistine outpost was a cliff; one was called Bozez and the other Seneh.1 Samuel 14:1-4 NIV
As a reminder, the story is practically telling us that nobody said it would be easy because God didn’t promise that his will would be convenient.
Therefore, stop thinking that by following the will of God you will feel good because you will get disappointed.
One of the most trustful signs that you are living the will of God is that you would experience warfare.
That’s what we learn by reading the fourth verse where on each side of Jonathan was a cliff.
One cliff stood to the north toward Mikmash, the other to the south toward Geba. 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.1 Samuel 14:5-8 NIV
It seems that they were trying to cheer each other up because the ones who were responsible to fight for Israel were too afraid to do so.
In our society, we think we can make good decisions and be wise through books and courses but the truth is that most times we are just making it up as we go.
A lot of people think that I know what I’m doing and believe me I have read lots of books but yet all that is just theory. Some things work for me and most don’t. Each life and person is different so most of the times we are just trying to do the best as we go.
When we read what Jonathan wanted to do we surely think “that’s dumb” and it is. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of dumb decisions in the Scripture. For example, David who threw rocks to an armed giant or Jesus who decided to die to conquer death.
There are a lot of stories with dumb decisions. Well, the truth is that it seemed dumb to us but for God, it was not.
Let’s see how dumb was the idea of Jonathan because when you want to attack the enemy you expect to be hidden for it:
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.” So both of them showed themselves to the Philistine outpost. “Look!” said the Philistines. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” The men of the outpost shouted to Jonathan and his armor-bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson.” So Jonathan said to his armor-bearer, “Climb up after me; the Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” 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.1 Samuel 14:8-14 NIV
As we read the text we can notice that God gave them the victory even though God said nothing. The only ones who spoke were Jonathan, his armor-bearer, and the enemies.
Victory requires vulnerability as it did for Jonathan in verse 13 when he was climbing up and vulnerable. This vulnerability idea applies to our life in several areas, for example, we need to be vulnerable (open) in order to develop great relationships.
The other thing that I loved about this story is that an idea doesn’t mean much, the real value was in Jonathan’s courage.
You probably have heard to a lot of people who say that they have thought about a business idea before the company itself. For example, some say “I thought about Uber before they did” or others say “how haven’t I thought about it?”. The thing is that having an idea is not enough. Actually, it’s close to nothing.
Do you think that by thinking about an idea you will succeed? Of course not. The hard part is not thinking about it but doing it.
We are going back in the story because there is something more interesting about it besides Jonathan and it is about what the king and priest were doing when all this happened.
Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron. With him were about six hundred men, among whom was Ahijah, who was wearing an ephod. He was a son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the Lord’s priest in Shiloh. No one was aware that Jonathan had left.1 Samuel 14:2-3 NIV
The king and the priest were doing nothing because they were afraid of the Philistines.
You now may have a bad impression of them but it’s going to get worst after I explain to you what an Ephod is.
An Ephod was more than a normal clothing piece, it was an instrument for seeking the will of God.
On the Ephod, the high priest would wear a breast-plate, on the breast-plate would be twelve stones with the names of the tribes of Israel.
The high priest also used the Ephod to make an atonement for the sins of the people so that they could be forgiven once a year.
The first one instructed to use this Ephod was Aaron and it also has a very interesting instruction that we are going to study.
Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.Exodus 28:29-30 NIV
Urim and Thummim mean “light” and “perfection” respectively. A lot of people think that those are material things although it is not clear about what those are. The popular assumption is that those were special stones.
In any case, we do know that those were used to know the will of God which means that the king and the priest had this way of knowing God’s will and they didn’t use it.
You may think that the king and the priest were idiots but we are too. Even if we were able to have the Urim and the Thummim in our hands to know the will of God, probably we wouldn’t follow it because of fear and lack of faith.
Therefore, it’s not a matter of certainty but a matter of faith. Doesn’t matter if you know the will God because you probably don’t have the faith to do it.
Jonathan didn’t have the ephod and didn’t have complete clarity of the situation but what he had was the right person to talk about his idea.
I need you to understand the value not only of what God says to you in your life but also about who you share it with. It’s not only your relationship with God that matters, your relationship with others matters as well.
This is the 50/50 faith which means that it is a divine partnership where there’s something that God can do and there’s something God will not do (that’s what we should do).
Not only Jonathan exemplifies this partnership but James also explains it when he says “the faith without work is dead”. (James 2.14-26)
Let be grateful that salvation is not 50/50 because Jesus as the high priest took the breast-plate of his own righteousness into the holiest place and shed his blood on the mercy seat.
Jesus did all the work and we only have to put in the faith for salvation.
In verse 6 you read that Jonathan said “perhaps the Lord will act” which is again the concept of 50/50. You never know because it’s not a matter of certainty but a matter of faith. Don’t forget that.
There’s something very awesome that Steven Furtick said to his staff: “I think this is what God is doing and I can’t put a now on it but we’re going to find together. Why? Because God won’t reveal the truth if I don’t move toward it”.
Here’s another story I heard from Steven and it’s about a pastor called Eugene Peterson who was trying to preach the scripture to his church until he realized that they weren’t getting it so he sat down to write a translation of the scripture in a way they could understand. That translation is called MSG (The Message translation). He translated the whole scripture because maybe God would use it.
That’s a fascinating story because in my case I can relate to the goodwill and to the uncertainty.
I want to share with you the same verse of 1 Samuel 14.6 but in the MSG translation.
Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on now, let’s go across to these uncircumcised pagans. Maybe GOD will work for us. There’s no rule that says GOD can only deliver by using a big army. No one can stop GOD from saving when he sets his mind to it.”1 Samuel 14:6 MSG
There it is. The title of this series which is Maybe God.
The whole idea with this teaching is that we may not be certain but we should be confident.
A lot of times in our life we are going to live in that maybe moment and it’s in those moments that we need to trust God.
Father, I really don’t know anything about what is happening now and how all of that is going to come out but I do know that you hear me and that you protect me. So I’m confident of the outcome because I know that I will not be alone. My trust is in you and I will act that way every single day. Holy Spirit, remind me these words so my experience doesn’t make me lose my faith. In Jesus name, Amen.
Well, that’s the whole message for now.
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See you in the next post.