Army of Yahweh
In 1Samuel 13 we are thrust into a battle scene in the land of Gibeah. King Saul, Jonathan, and their Israelite army of 4,000 men are fighting the Philistines. They strike a mighty blow to the Philistine garrison, which in turn incites the Philistine army to counter by sending about 36,000 soldiers to the battle.
Being massively outnumbered, most of the Israelite army flees from fear and hides in the mountains and caves, leaving only 600 men who stay by their king’s side. To make matters worse for the Israelite army, a group of spoilers from the Philistine army raid the Israelite camp and steal their weapons. The Philistines, not wanting their enemy to gain any advantage, remove the weaponsmiths from the land so the Israelites cannot make replacement swords or spears. The only weapons they have left are what King Saul and Jonathan have with them. The war effort is starting to look impossible for Israel.
In 1Samuel 14 Jonathan decides it is time to confront his adversaries. Perhaps he sees the lack of courage that afflicted the Israelite army, but for whatever the reason, he chooses to quietly sneak away to the enemy camp, unbeknownst to the others, taking only his armor bearer with him. Upon reaching the enemy camp, Jonathan tells his armor bearer, “Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that Yahweh will work for us: for there is no restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few,” 1Samuel 14:6.
Note what Jonathan said, “There is no restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few.” Although Jonathan was speaking of a military victory, it has much greater application. The Oxford Dictionary defines restraint as, “A measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits.”
This definition makes one think of someone under another’s power with limited decisions and actions, like being a slave to another. In the verse, though, Jonathan says that Yahweh has no restraint, which means that there is no entity with power enough to control Yahweh.
Is Yahweh’s power limited only to military victory? Of course not. If one has power in one area, but not another, then he or she is still limited. Therefore this applies to all things; Yahweh has no restraint on His power from anything.
Jonathan elaborates further by saying that Yahweh’s unlimited power is not held back by numbers. Jonathan proves this when he and his armor bearer attack the Philistines, killing twenty soldiers, thus causing confusion in the camp that leads to fighting among themselves.
This impetus spurs the rest of the Israelite army, and those who had gone into hiding, to fight hard against the Philistines, thus defeating them. All of this happened because of whom? Was it Jonathan and his armor bearer who did it? No, without Yahweh’s causing confusion in the camp and allowing the final victory, the initial attack would have been short lived. So why does Yahweh not want to save by many but rather chooses to save by few?
Gideon and His Few
In Judges 6 the Midianites had overtaken the land of Israel because the people had sinned. The Israelites were so greatly impoverished by their oppressors that they finally cried out to Yahweh to save them. Yahweh, in His infinite mercy instructed Gideon to attack the forces of the Midianites. Gideon reluctantly agreed and gathered a force of 32,000 soldiers to fight. The army camp, pitched beside the well of Harod, waited to attack the host of Midianites on the north side of the hill. Yahweh said to Gideon, “The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” Judges 7:2-3.
Yahweh knew that if Israel had won the victory, they would have attributed their success to themselves and not to Yahweh. So Yahweh had Gideon release from the army all who were too fearful to fight, leaving 10,000 soldiers, which was still too many for Yahweh. The soldiers would probably be even more arrogant in victory because the fewer they were, the more amazing they would think their own skills would be.
Yahweh told Gideon to take his men to a body of water for a test. Those who bowed down to drink would be excluded from fighting, but those who lapped the water would stay. Those who were chosen to stay were only 300 men.
These men were probably the best of the best but even with their skill level, it would have been nearly impossible to beat the entire Midian army with only 300 soldiers. Their enemy was described as being a multitude like the sand of the sea. Yet only 300 was enough for Yahweh.
Yahweh gave Gideon and his 300 the victory. Yahweh would rather save by a few than by many because “by many” puts the glory on the group.
When it’s few facing impossible odds it is hard to not recognize that Yahweh gives the victory. It puts the glory where it belongs, on Yahweh and not us. When you go up against an army with only 300 men and win, it is hard to conclude anything other than divine intervention. Our greatest human strength cannot come close to even His weakness, which is none. He too has an army. And although we may not be able to see it, it is there.
Elisha and the Angels
In 2Kings 6 we find the Syrians battling Israel. Elisha the prophet was assisting the Israelite army. Each time the Syrians would plot an assault, Elisha would warn Israel and thwart the attack. The king of Syria became troubled when Israel always knew his battle plans.
He first wondered if it was a conspiracy within his own ranks, but after inquiry it was made known to him that Elisha the prophet was prophesying to Israel what the Syrian army was about to do.
In 2Kings 6:13-16 we see that the king of Syria had plans to kidnap Elisha, “And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about. And when the servant of the man of Elohim was risen early, and gone forth, behold an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! How shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Yahweh, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see, And Yahweh opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.”
Note his statement, “For they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” We may not be able to see the angelic forces as Elisha and the young man did, but they are there nonetheless. Yahweh’s army fights for those who believe and trust in Him.
Yahweh worked with Jonathan and Gideon to bring about a victory for good, and He wants to do the same for us. He wants us to fight for Him in the battles we all face, and He wants us to realize that it will be won by His strength and not just our own.
Fighting Our Own Battles
We may not have to face an enemy in armed combat as the Israelites did, but we too fight a battle against the moral decline of this nation and much of the world. You just have to watch a small portion of the news to see this trend.
Immorality is becoming legalized, much of the education system is teaching obedience to a system rather than to Yahweh, the love that man once had for his fellow man is growing cold and stale, happiness is based on entertainment rather than living a righteous life – these are the trends of the culture.
We also see the teachers of morality, the churches and religious centers, are many times not preaching the message of repentance from sin, but rather watered down and smooth messages that don’t convict a person to turn from his or her wicked practices and back to Yahweh in obedience to Him. Nature dislikes a vacuum, and it is the same with our minds. Our minds will fill with something, whether good or bad. Correct biblical principles are needed to transform the mind and heart.
Much of the religious scene is changing in the world. The former Archbishop of Canterbury warned that Christianity in England is one generation away from extinction.
And yet as the tide of Christianity seems to be ebbing, we see the strong tide of Islam crashing through the world. This is a scary thought for those who understand that what is taught in the Islamic faith is Sharia law, which is a law of no toleration but rather domination.
We are in a battle for truth. Bible truth is now considered an archaic ideal, replaced by worldly values that inevitably lead to destruction. We fight a battle not only to keep discovering truth ourselves but also to help others learn. It is up to us, with Yahweh’s supreme help, to do it.
Jonathan and the Israelites won the victory because Jonathan knew that numbers mean little to Yahweh in getting things done. Gideon and his army won the victory because they trusted in Yahweh’s power and strength rather than their own. Elisha did not panic when he saw the enemy surrounding him because he knew that good is greater than evil. We must realize the same because much is at stake.
Malachi 4:6 and Matthew 24:14 speak of a restoration back to the truth in the end times. The restoration is of people turning back to Yahweh and away from sin. If this is the end times that we live in now, if this truly is the period spoken of in prophecy, then the time is now to stand for truth. To stand up and live a life of righteousness. To be the example Yahweh wants us to be to the world.
Prophecies spoken of in the Bible will come to pass. As much as our culture wants to deny the Bible and what it teaches, it will not stop the inevitable. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we will just go along with what the world is teaching, to just be like everyone else, or will we be a force for good? We can make a difference, because if Yahweh is with us who can be against us? It is by Yahweh that the victory will be won in our time, but we must still do our part.
The enemy is strong, and seems to be invading all aspects of our culture. What can we do about it? What can we do to fight back against such overwhelming odds? We can do what is right. We can shine our light to a world filled with darkness. We can worship Yahweh rather than man or institutions. We can make a difference. It is always better to do something than nothing at all.
Our acts of kindness, choosing Sabbath rest rather than working, consistent prayer, and other acts may seem small and insignificant. Even small deeds of righteousness, however, impact the world. As the Syrian army was unable to see the angelic host, we may not see the instant benefits of doing a good deed, but they are there.
Those who truly desire to serve Yahweh with all their mind, heart and soul must not lose heart. We have a mission to spread the good news of the Kingdom to the world, to help people come to the truth. And it doesn’t matter how small in number His followers are because with Yahweh, He is more than enough.