Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Jeremiah, and more specifically in verses twenty-one through forty-six of the forty-eighth chapter. The entire forty-eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah deals exclusively and specifically with the nation, land and people of Moab. Moab, which bordered Israel and Judah to the east were direct descendants of a son that had been born to one of Lot’s two daughters after she engaged in an incestuous relationship with their father. From the days of the children of Israel and their wandering through the wilderness, the Moabites were present within the earth. Scripture describes a number of times when Moab rise up in direct opposition to the children of Israel—from the time they wandered in the wilderness and prepared to enter into the land of Canaan, and even during unto the times of the kings. When we come to the forty-eighth chapter of the prophetic book of Jeremiah we find this ancient people being addressed by the Lord of hosts, for the Lord would not allow them to go unpunished and not dealt with. This particular passage is one of a number of passages within the prophetic writings of the Hebrew prophets that deal specifically with the Lord’s dealing with Moab. In fact, Moab was one of the surrounding nations which the Lord dealt with immediately following and immediately after He dealt with His own people. The first verse of this chapter contains these words—“Against Moab thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! For it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and simayed” (Jeremiah 48:2). One of the most profound realities surrounding this particular section of Scripture is the Lord’s dealing with those nations, lands and people which weren’t His own. The Lord had indeed dealt with His own people, and had caused the northern kingdom of Israel to be carried captive into the land of the Assyrians, the southern kingdom of Judah to be carried away captive into the land of the Chaldeans. With the inheritance of the people of God lying in complete ruin and rubble, the Lord would direct His attention and focus to the nations and peoples round about His heritage. The Lord would not, the Lord could not deal exclusively and primarily with His people while leaving the nations which surrounded Israel not dealt with and unpunished. The Lord could not judge the sin, transgression and rebellion found within His own people while excusing the sin, transgression and rebellion within and among the nations which surrounded His people. SPOILED! CONFOUNDED! TAKEN! DISMAYED! CUT OFF! CUT DOWN! Within the first two verses of this chapter we find some very strong language concerning this ancient people which dwelt and existed in the earth and bordered the heritage and inheritance of God’s people. Earlier this year I wrote about Leviathan, and the Lord’s dealing with ancient foe and adversary that existed upon the earth. When reading these particular passages contained within the prophetic book of Jeremiah, it’s worth noting that the Lord dealt with ancient nations and peoples as well as His own people. Through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord would declare concerning Moab that it would be spoiled and confounded, that it would be taken and dismayed. Moreover, the Lord declared concerning Moab that it would not only be cut off, but would also be cut down. The Lord would bring the sword upon Moab as much and as surely as He brought the sword upon His own people within their inheritance. What is so interesting is that the Lord didn’t bring these nations and peoples out of their land to deal with them, but dealt with them right where they were. The Lord didn’t bring Israel and Judah out of their inheritance to deal with them, but brought the sword into the land, and against them within that land. Similarly, the Lord brought the sword into, and brought the sword upon the nation and people of Moab, and would cut them off and cut them down. In fact, in the second verse the Lord declared that “the sword shall pursue thee,” which meant that the Lord had raised up and reserved a sword of judgment against Moab to deal with them. The Lord would bring a sword straight into the very heart of the land itself, and would unleash that sword to both cut them off from being a nation, and cut them down. What I find to be incredibly intriguing when reading this passage is the concept of the sword pursuing the one to whom it was raised and brought against. In other words, the sword would not only be brought into, and brought upon the land, but the sword would actually pursue the one to whom it was directed. How incredibly powerful it is to think that the Lord can not only bring the sword against, but the Lord can also cause the sword to pursue that to and for whom it has been directed. The Lord can in fact bring the sword against His adversaries, and can in fact bring the sword against His enemies, but the Lord can also cause the sword to pursue those for whom it has been appointed and reserved.
THE SWORD WHICH PURSUES! THE GOD WHO CAUSES THE SWORD TO PURSUE! When we read the words of the author of the epistle to the Hebrews—“”For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”—I am convinced that very rarely do we consider the word of God as a sword which pursues. When we think of the sword, we consider it in terms of that which is brought in and that which is brought against the enemy and adversary, but we don’t consider it in terms of that which can indeed and can in fact pursue our enemies and adversaries. We think of the Word of God which is sharper than any two-edged sword as being brought against something within our heart and life on a single or particular occasion, yet we don’t consider the sword as being something which can actually pursue within our lives. THE LORD WHO SENDS HIS SWORD WITHIN OUR LIVES! THE LORD WHO CAUSES HIS SWORD TO PENETRATE AND PURSUE! As I’m sitting here right now, I can’t help but think of the fact that the Lord first sends the sword to pierce and to penetrate, but once the sword has pierced and penetrated, it then proceeds to pursue that for which it has been directed. I can’t help but think of how the sword of Joshua pierced and penetrated the land of Canaan, and how that sword proceeded to pursue all the enemies and adversaries that dwelt and existed within the land. I can’t help but think of how the sword of Joshua moved to and fro throughout the land of Canaan as it pursued the enemies and adversaries which dwelt within the land. It’s worth noting that the sword didn’t merely enter into the land of Canaan, but the sword actually proceeded to move within and move throughout the land as it pursued its enemies. One of the fundamental differences between the children of Israel which passed through the Red Sea and those that passed through the Jordan River is that in the case of the first—the adversary and enemy was behind them and pursued them—while in the case of the second—the adversary and enemy was before them, and they pursued them. There is a vast and fundamental difference between our enemy and adversary pursuing us with the sword, and our pursuing our enemy and adversary with the sword. I am convinced and would dare say that there must come a point in our lives when the enemy and adversary is no longer behind us pursuing us, but is before us as we chase after and pursue it.
When I consider the reality of the sword pursuing that for which it was intended, and that for which it was directed, I can’t help but think of the word of God as a sword within my own heart and life. I am becoming increasingly convinced that the Lord doesn’t merely seek to bring the sword into, and the sword against those things and those areas within our lives, but sets the sword to actually pursue that for which it was directed. Did you know that even though the sword is brought against something within our hearts and lives, that doesn’t mean it will accomplish that for which it was set forth to accomplish. I am reminded of the words of the prophet Isaiah which are recorded for us in the fifty-fifth chapter of the book which bears his name: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts then your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:8-11). I mention these words of the prophet Isaiah to illustrate and reveal something incredibly important concerning the word of God—the word which He has released in the earth, and the word which He has released within our lives. I believe and am convinced that even though the Lord releases and sends forth His word, the word which was released must do more than simply be released. The word which the Lord has released must actually move to and fro, and must do more than make an entrance and then exit as quickly as it entered. I am convinced there are many within the house of the Lord who expect the word of God to make an entrance in their lives, accomplish that for which it was sent forth to do, and then exit as quickly as it entered. I am convinced there are men and women among us who expect the word of God to pierce and penetrate our lives and to do a quick work. There are very few who consider the word of God as a sword which pierces and penetrates, as well as a sword which pursues. I believe with everything inside me that there are times when the Lord sends forth His word to pierce and penetrate, and it does in fact make a quick work upon and within that to which it was sent, however, there are other times when the sword must first penetrate and pierce, yet that is only the beginning of the process.
WHEN PIERCING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS! WHEN PENETRATING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS! WHEN PIERCING AND PENETRATING ISN’T ENOUGH! The more I consider, meditate and reflect upon this concept, the more I am convinced that there are times within our lives when it is not enough for the word of God to pierce and penetrate our hearts. There are times within our lives when it is not enough for the word of God to pierce and penetrate our soul and our spirit, or even our minds. I am convinced there are times in our lives when the word of God like a sword must first pierce and penetrate certain areas within our lives, but must then be free and released to pursue that for which it was intended. There are times when we may very well accept the piercing and penetrating the word of God within our hearts and lives, yet when it comes to the word of God pursuing those areas within our lives which are targeted by the Lord, we grow increasingly uncomfortable. Did you know that the Lord can send forth His word within your life as a sword which pursues those things which He seeks to destroy? Did you know that there are times within your life, and times within my life when the word of God as a sword must actively and continually pursue that for which it was directed. There are times within our lives when the word of God as a sword must pursue and continually pursue certain areas within our lives which are displeasing and dishonoring to the Lord of hosts. There are certain areas within our lives that cannot be deal with quickly, but must have the word of God as a sword pursue it continually and repeatedly. There are certain things within our lives which the word of God must pursue over and over again before it can once and for all be defeated and destroyed. I am reminded of the words of David which are recorded for us in the eighteenth chapter of the book of the Psalms—“Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip. I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed. I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet, for thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me. Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me. They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but He answered them not. Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets” (Psalm 18:37-42).
I HAVE PURSUED AND OVERTAKEN! Please don’t miss the significance, the importance, and the tremendous strength and might contained within these words. With these words David described and declared that He pursued his enemies and overtook them, and I am convinced we cannot and should not lightly consider such a reality. I believe that there are certain things within our hearts and lives that cannot be overtaken without being pursued, and not just pursued, but pursued continually and reckless abandon. There are things within our lives that cannot be destroyed with a single blow from the sword, but must be continually pursued by the sword until they are finally destroyed. Consider how David declared that he did not turn again till they were consumed, for with these words, David described a continual pursuit of his enemies until they were consumed. Let us pause for a moment and consider this reality, for how many times do we give up, and how many times have we given up too quickly? How many times have we made an initial pursuit of something within our lives, yet we have given up far too quickly, and as a result have witnessed that thing not be consumed? David declared that he did not turn again until his enemies were consumed before him, which should provide us with an incredibly powerful challenge. I know without a shadow of a doubt that there have been times within my life when I have given up far too quickly, and times within my life when I have not persisted enough until that which is before me has been utterly and completely subdued and destroyed. Notice that David didn’t merely declare that he didn’t turn again till they were consumed, but he also went on to declare that he wounded them that they weren’t able to rise again. How many things within our lives have been permitted to rise again because we have not engaged them until they were consumed? How many things within our lives have been permitted to rise again within our hearts and lives because we have not wounded them to the point where they weren’t able to rise? What are those areas within your life that need to be pursued until they are completely and utterly overtaken? What are those areas within my life that need to be so mortally wounded that they are unable to rise anymore within me? Within this passage we not only notice the pursuit, but we also notice the persistence in the pursuit, for David declared “neither did I turn again.”
THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PURSUIT! When I read and consider the words of David within this passage, I can’t help but think that it’s not even enough to merely pursue our enemies, but there must be a persistence in that pursuit. There are those things within our hearts and lives which must not only be pursued, but must be pursued with complete and total persistence. There are times within our lives when the pursuit is not enough, for the pursuit must be met with persistence. There are times within our lives when the pursuit must be met with the resolve to neither turn to the right nor to the left until our enemies and adversaries are consumed. There are times within our lives when the pursuit must be met with the resolve to not turn back again until that which we are pursuing is utterly and completely consumed. With that being said, I believe that there are times within our lives when the word of God like a sword must not only pursue within us, but must not be turned back or turned against until it has utterly and completely consumed that which it has targeted. The problem with the pursuit of the sword is that the pursuit often takes a longer period of time than we are willing to allow within our hearts and lives. There are times when the pursuit of the sword is not a quick, nor is it a light work, but must be an ongoing and continual process within our lives. I am reminded of chemo and radiation treatments, and how patients which are battling cancer must endure ongoing treatments until the cancer is completely destroyed and removed from within their bodies. Imagine what could and would happen if that patient which needed to undergo chemo and/or radiation treatments only permitted one treatment to take place, and completely disregarded the remaining treatments that were necessary. Consider what would happen if that patient canceled the remaining treatments which were designed to not only treat that which they were dealing with, but destroy it altogether. In a similar manner, there are times within our lives when the sword must continually pursue certain sin(s) which we struggle with until that sin is finally utterly and completely destroyed. The question that must be asked at this juncture is what area within your life needs be pursued by the sword which is the word of God? What areas within your life does the sword of the Spirit not only need to pierce and penetrate, but actively and continually pursue? What’s more, is whether or not you are willing to allow the sword of the Spirit to pursue those areas within your life that need to be utterly and completely destroyed.
What enemy within your life needs to be pursued until it is once and for all overtaken? What enemy within your life needs to be wounded so it can never and will never rise again? Perhaps the better question that must and should be asked is whether or not you are willing to allow such things within your life to be so mortally and fatally wounded that they are unable to rise. Are you and I willing to allow the sword of the Spirit to pursue pride and arrogance within our life until it overtakes and consumes it? Are you and I willing to allow the sword of the Spirit to pursue lust and sexual immorality within our hearts and lives until it is no longer able to rise? If you are willing to be honest with yourself and with the Lord, what would you say needs to be pursued by the sword of the Spirit until it is overtaken, consumed and unable to rise again? OVERTAKEN, CONSUMED AND UNABLE TO RISE! OVERTAKEN, CONSUMED, UNABLE TO RISE, AND FALLEN UNDER YOUR FEET! I absolutely love the language that is found within this passage of Scripture, for it reveals the reality that defeat of certain enemies within our lives must be a continual and ongoing process. What areas within your heart and life Are you willing to allow the sword of the Spirit to pursue bitterness and offense within your life until it is overtaken, consumed and unable to rise anymore? I am reminded of a particular passage in the Old Testament book of Joshua which I believe presents us with a powerful picture of what I believe the Spirit of the Lord desires to speak to us in this hour. In the tenth chapter of the book of Joshua you will find an event taking place within the earth that has never taken place since—an event that is absolutely and utterly remarkable. Consider if you will the text that is found in the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Joshua:
Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed dit; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibson had made peace with Israel, and were among them; that they feared greatly, because Gibson was a great city, one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hohman king of Hebron, and unto Priam king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debbie king of Elon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibson: it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the vie kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Elon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibson, and made war against it. And the men of Gibson sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together agianst us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of velour. And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Giebeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And It came to passs, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibson; and thou , Moon, in the valley of Avalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still int eh midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearken unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal. But else five kings field, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying , The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah. And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them: and stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hand. And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities. And all the people returned to camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none move his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave. And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Elon. And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these things. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong ands of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening” (Joshua 10:1-26).
This passage is absolutely incredible, for we not only find these five kings fleeing into a cave, but we find Joshua instructing stones to be rolled over the mouth of the cave, and a watch set before the cave to prevent those kings from escaping. The time came when Joshua called for these five kings to be brought forth, and when those kings were brought forth, Joshua called all the men of Israel to put their feet upon the necks of those kings. Please don’t miss the significance and importance of this passage, for I can’t help but see these five kings all on their backs with their necks utterly and completely exposed to the feet of the men of Israel. I imagine Joshua lining these five kings next to each other on the ground, and then causing every man of Israel to place the sole of their foot upon the neck of these five kings. I am curious what it was like when the last and final man put the sole of his foot upon the fifth king, for it was at that moment when Joshua smote them, slew them, and hung them upon five trees. This passage is absolutely incredible, for I am convinced that just as Joshua called for the men of Israel to put their feet upon the necks of these five kings, so too the Lord of hosts is calling for us to put the soles of our feet upon the necks of our enemies. David declared of the Lord that He gave him the necks of his enemies, and the single greatest reason the Lord would give you the neck of your enemies is to place the sole of your foot upon it to reveal that it has been subdued before you then take the sword to it, and completely slaughter it. FIRST COMES THE SOLE OF THE FOOT UPON THE NECK TO DECLARE THAT IT HAS BEEN SUBDUED, AND SECOND COMES THE SWORD SLAYING AND STRIKING DOWN THAT WHICH HAS BEEN SUBDUED. STRIKING DOWN THAT WHICH HAS BEEN SUBDUED! This concept and reality of the pursuit of the sword must be recognized and understood by us in this generation, for we must be willing to allow the sword of the Spirit to readily and continually pursue those areas within our hearts and lives which need to be destroyed, conquered and subdued. I recognize there is so much more within this passage of Scripture concerning Moab and its destruction by the Lord of hosts, but I believe the word of the Lord is centered upon the pursuit of the sword within our hearts and lives. I believe the Spirit of the Lord is calling us to open ourselves up to the pursuit of the sword of the Spirit within our lives in order that it might completely overtake and consume those areas within our lives that need to be utterly destroyed never to rise again. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord would reveal to our spirits—not only the pursuit of the sword within our lives, but also that which the sword needs to pursue so it never rises again. Oh that we would open ourselves up to the pursuit of the sword within our hearts and lives, and not only the pursuit of the sword, but also the persistence of the sword until that which it is directed against will be utterly and completely destroyed, never to rise again.