The estimated power of destruction bound up in a hydrogen bomb causes us to gasp if we really let the thought penetrate our minds, if we think of bomb matching bomb over some imaginary battlefield. What nation is really properly “equipped”?

Football helmets and suits come with complicated padding these days. Technology provides deep-sea divers with more and more complicated equipment to delve into the depths, and spacemen soar off into the atmosphere surrounded by tested equipment from the skin out. We travel in fully equipped cars and stay home in fully equipped houses.

People press to be equipped at least as well as their friends and colleagues. It takes longer and longer to be prepared for whatever we are preparing for because the preparation gets increasingly complicated, and the future keeps getting pushed further off. One can imagine that before long people will be waddling on through life so weighed down with equipment and bound up in it that they will forget what they were getting ready for and never even arrive at the starting place! The complexity of technical equipment, educational equipment, psychological equipment, makes some people fear to do anything without spending “one more year” getting ready, or earning enough to buy the “latest,” before starting.

It is not only interesting but very important to consider how God has equipped the people to whom he has given especially difficult tasks at crisis moments of history. When men equip men, they attempt to equalize the equipment so as to match the opponent in battle or confrontation. God’s way has been different.

When we are told in First Corinthians 1:27 that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty, and the foolish to confound the wise, we are reminded of many examples of God’s doing exactly that. We see slim young David, a sensitive harpist and a poet, a conscientious shepherd lad refusing to put on the heavy armor and helmet, walking out simply in his ordinary clothing with a little slingshot to pick up five stones. There he stood facing the scornful, jeering Goliath, a giant warrior equipped with the heaviest of armor. What a confrontation! How unequal! After listening to the giant’s taunts and threats, hear David’s confident statement: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied” (1 Sam. 14:45).

Think of Gideon’s equipment against thousands of Midianites: not only did God remove his troops, leaving only 300, but his technical equipment was made up of pitchers, lamps and trumpets! Another unequal confrontation! Remember also Moses going before Pharoah with a stick of wood, and Joseph going before the Pharoah of his time with no study of dreamology or any magic tricks. Think of Jonah’s weakness spiritually as he ran away from God, yet had to retrace his steps and preach to a large city, giving it an opportunity to hear the truth. For that matter, think of the twelve apostles and the first disciples, given the task of telling the whole world the Gospel, as Jesus ascended to heaven. No flashing human equipment was provided to give them special standing in the eyes of men.

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We are in danger of telling God, “Oh, I can’t. I’m not equipped. It would be too unequal for me to stand against professionally trained people.” “Oh, I’d make a fool of myself. I can’t be president, peasant, general, private. I can’t do that—it’s too much for me!” What kind of things hit you, hit me, and cause us to feel that our equipment is outdated and insufficient and that we have to back out? Perhaps it is when Satan attacks us as he did Job, and we feel too weak to love and trust God in the midst of grave illness, flood, famine, depression, loss of bank accounts, spoiled crops, burned-down houses. We feel we are not “noble,” not spiritually strong,” not “emotionally ready” for difficulties Satan has thrown at us. We don’t want to win any spiritual battles or be used to prove anything to angels or demons.

Perhaps God seems to be thrusting upon us competition from a human viewpoint, with “giants” in a variety of fields. Perhaps we are surrounded by scientists and historians with marvelous “equipment” to laugh us to scorn as we defend the Word of God. Perhaps we feel we have not been equipped to fight for a Christian family life, or for a Christian factory setup. Time after time Satan attacks to bring about defeat, and time after time God calls upon the “weak things to confound the mighty.”

Why? Come to David’s explanation of his situation: “This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand … that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands” (1 Sam. 17:46, 47). Stand beside Gideon and listen to God speaking to him: “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” (Judg. 7:2). Listen to Elijah’s prayer as he puts water on the wood and the sacrifice and prays for the fire to fall: “Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again” (1 Ki. 18:37). Come now to First Corinthians again: “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty … that no flesh should glory in his presence … that, according as it is written, He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:27, 29, 31).

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Yes, there is a purpose in the inequality of the equipment. Unequal equipment—time after time in the past, in the present in a diversity of places and people, and in the future until Jesus comes back—serves to demonstrate God’s existence and power and glory. If we pray, “O God, use me so that men may know that you are there,” and God answers us, then we will be involved in various kinds of confrontation through which watching, seeking men will see that the power is God’s and not ours.

What does our God, who promises that his strength is made perfect in weakness, say to us when we begin to tremble, looking down at our feeble equipment? “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isa. 41:13).

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