“When Gideon came to the Jordan, he and the three hundred men who were with him crossed over, EXHAUSTED BUT STILL IN PURSUIT” (Judges 8:4).
For you brother, for you sister who might be reading this I am compelled by the Spirit to declare unto you that the LORD knows you and the LORD sees you. The LORD is well aware of your present condition and your current situation. There are those who might be reading these words who are in this very place right now in their lives—exhausted but still in pursuit. I am convinced by and through the Spirit that there are a number of men and women who have been engaged in great spiritual conflicts and great spiritual battles and have found themselves tired, weary and even exhausted from the fight. There are those among us in the pews and chairs of our churches who have been “fighting the good fight of faith” and yet in the midst of that fight they have grown tired, weary and exhausted. Do you want to know what’s funny about fighting the good fight of faith? The LORD never promised us we would and could not grow weary and even exhausted in the midst of the fight. Even though we fight from a place of victory and even though we have gained ground in the Spirit it by no means suggests that we cannot and will not become exhausted from the battle.
Gideon and the three hundred men who were with him came to the Jordan and crossed over “exhausted but still in pursuit.” I believe with all my heart there are men and women among us today who are not only exhausted but still need to cross over the Jordan River and still need to engage in the pursuit of the enemy. There are men and women among us who have been fighting the good fight of faith against the enemy and adversary and yet in the midst of that fight they have become exhausted. It is with this in mind I find it important to declare unto you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being exhausted. There would be those among us who would like us to believe that being spiritually exhausted—perhaps even physically exhausted—is a sin and is somehow offensive in the sight of the living God. They would point your attention to the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus went a stone’s throw into the garden from the disciples and prayed before His Father who was in heaven. We know that Jesus returned to find them sleeping and asked them if they could not watch and pray for one hour. Jesus then acknowledges something we all know far too well—namely that our flesh is oh so very weak but the spirit is willing.
In these last days I am convinced that one of the enemy’s greatest tactics and strategies is to overcome us through a war of attrition. The enemy can and will seek to engage us over and over again in battles and conflicts that seem to wash over the landscape of our like tsunami waves crashing upon the shore. The enemy will continually barrage and bombard us with spiritual conflict after spiritual conflict and spiritual battle after spiritual battle in an attempt to weaken us to the point of exhaustion where we cease pursuing. Samson was a great example of this for it was while he was asleep on the lap of Delilah after revealing the secret of his strength was in his consecration to God through the physical evidence of his unshaven head that his hair was cut. What’s more is that not only did Delilah lull Samson to sleep upon her lap and have the hair of his head cut with a razor but it was also Delilah who aroused and awoke him with the threat of the Philistines. One of the most tragic passages in Scripture concerns Samson when he awoke from his slumber thinking he would defeat the Philistines as before not being aware that the Spirit had departed and with it the strength the Spirit gave him. As a direct result of this Samson was captured by the Philistines, both of his eyes were plucked out and he was forced into a life of slavery, bondage and oppression by the same enemy he had previously defeated over and over again.
Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—please hear me and mark my words well within your heart, within your mind and within your spirit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being spiritual exhausted—particularly and especially after fighting the good fight of faith. It is not a sin to be spiritual exhausted after facing spiritual conflict after spiritual conflict and after facing spiritual battle after spiritual battle. The LORD knows that you are exhausted and the LORD knows that there are and there will be times in your life when exhaustion from the battle can and will settle upon your heart and soul. The LORD is well aware of the fact that you might presently be in a place right now where you feel tired, weary, exhausted and worn out from the fight. The LORD sees right where you are and knows that you have little strength in you left. Perhaps you feel as though you have exhausted all your strength in the battle(s) you have fought and that you have no strength left. The LORD is well aware of the reality that it is not by might, nor by power but by His Spirit. The LORD is well aware of the words which He spoke to Paul in declaring that His strength was made perfect in His weakness. The apostle Paul might very well have been spiritually exhausted from the thorn in his flesh—this messenger of Satan sent to buffet him—and yet the LORD promised Him strength in His weakness and declared that His grace was sufficient for him.
Imagine Gideon and those three hundred men being miraculously and supernaturally used by the LORD to subdue the Midianites, the Amalekites and the people of the East and yet there was still more that needed to be accomplished. Gideon rallied the men of Israel from Naphtali, from Asher, and from Manasseh to pursue the Midianites. Not only this but Gideon sent messengers throughout all the mountains of Ephraim calling them to come down against the MIdianites and seize from them the watering places as far as Beth Barth and the Jordan. It’s interesting that at this time they captured two of the princes of MIdian, however the kings were still at large as they fled with the remnant of the arm. Oh I am absolutely convinced this is a picture of where many men and women find themselves right now in this generation as they have experienced supernatural victory, they have witnessed the miraculous deliverance of the living God in their lives and have even captured and killed princes of darkness and yet there are still kings at large. Gideon know that although these princes had been captured and killed there was still a work which needed to be done—namely, pursuing the kings of MIdian, killing them and putting to death the remaining twelve thousand soldiers of the army.
With this being said I find it important to both encourage and exhort you during this particular time within your life. It is true that you might be exhausted from the battle and still in pursuit, and as a direct result of this you find yourself coming to others for bread. You have been and you are tired and exhausted from the battle and from the pursuit of the enemy and adversary and you come to others asking for bread. Gideon and the three hundred men who were with him came to the men of Succoth in this place of exhaustion and pursuit asking for bread, however, these men refused to give them bread. Oh there is a tremendous picture within this particular passage for there are going to be those whom you will go to in your life asking for some type of sustenance and provision only to find them ridiculing you and rejecting your request. Perhaps you have already gone to others asking for bread and for provision as you continue to pursue despite exhaustion only to find them rejecting you and refusing to offer you anything for the journey.
What’s more is that as you read the words found in this passage you will find that not only did the men of Succoth refuse Gideon’s request for bread but so also did the men of Penuel refuse his request. The men of Penuel answered Gideon and his three hundred men the same way the men of Succoth did. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—I am compelled to make you aware of the fact that there will be those around you whom you think you can turn to for provision, for strength, for sustenance and for support in the midst of your exhaustion and pursuit and yet they will reject your request. They will shut their bowels of compassion toward you and will close off any source of provision you think they might be willing to offer. In fact I would dare say that even in the midst of your exhaustion and pursuit you must needs prepare yourself for certain people—perhaps even people you thought you could trust to close their bowels of compassion to you. Prepare yourself for those whom you thought you could turn to for strength and provision to refuse to offer any to you. There are and there will be those who will deliberately and intentionally choose to close themselves off to you—despite your exhaustion and continued pursuit.
As you continue reading the words which are found in this passage you will find that Gideon and his army were pursuing the two kings of MIdian and fifteen thousand men—all who were left of the army of the people of the East as one hundred and twenty thousand men who drew the sword had fallen. Imagine your exhaustion too having fought and engaged in battle against one-hundred and twenty thousand people in battle knowing there were still two kings to capture and fifteen thousand who remained of the army that needed to be stuck down with the edge of the sword. Gideon and his three hundred men would indeed pursue and overtake these two kings of MIdian and would not only capture them but also put them to death as they struck down Gideon’s brothers. Scripture reveals how Gideon took the two kings of Midiah and routed the whole army thus providing a great hope for us—namely that although we might find ourselves exhausted and still pursuing we can and will rout the foe that is before us and capture those kings who are still on the run.
Beloved you might be exhausted and you might still be pursuing and there might be those you have looked to for strength, for support and for sustenance who have rejected your request and have turned their back on you but know of a certain that the kings you are pursuing will be captured and the remnant of that which you have been fighting can and will be routed. Gideon and those men who were with him had captured and killed two princes of the army and one-hundred and twenty thousand had fallen by the edge of the sword but the battle was not yet won. The living God knows your spiritual exhaustion and knows that you are still in pursuit—even though you might want to stop with the routing of one-hundred and twenty thousand. I feel burdened of the LORD to encourage you to not be satisfied with the capture and death of two princes and the fall of one-hundred and twenty-thousand. You dare not, you cannot and must not allow the two kings to escape and live nor the remnant of that which you have been fighting. Oh you might have experienced certain victory and certain breakthrough in what you have been facing but the work is not yet done. I know you are exhausted and might be tempted to cease fighting, however, you must pursue until you overtake the remnant of what you have been fighting until it is entirely and altogether subdued and put to the edge of the sword. You might be tempted to be content with the victories you have won, however, you cannot allow the remnant of what you’re fighting to remain in the earth for what you refuse to kill and overtake today can regroup and multiply and even come back stronger with greater number and greater force than before.
It is with all of this I find it incredibly important to leave you with the following words which the psalmist David penned in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms as well as the words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of this same Old Testament poetic book. I believe that although you might be spiritually exhausted and tempted to be content in those victories you have won, however, you must continue pursuing until the remnant of what you have been fighting is destroyed. There must not be any room left in your life for the remnant of what you have been fighting to remain. Do not allow those two kings live and flee to where they came from. The enemy might be fleeing before you, however, you must pursue after the enemy with everything that is in you. Oh we have been given the promise that if resist the devil he must flee from us but that doesn’t mean that once he flees from us the battle is won. If you are successful in getting the devil to flee from you as Jesus did in the wilderness then you now have an open door to flee after and pursue the enemy. We have been called to be those who not only make the enemy flee from us but who also chase after and pursue the enemy. Those who chase after and pursue the enemy and adversary can and will be those whom the enemy will find it very difficult to devour them—to steal, to kill and to destroy.
We have a very real adversary—the devil—who walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, however we must resist him steadfast in the faith. We have been given a charge and command to resist the devil and a promise that when we do he will flee from us, however, just because he flees from us doesn’t mean the battle is over. The devil might flee from you today but that doesn’t mean he won’t return. If you are steadfast in the faith and resist the devil and he flees from you then you have been given the upper hand. When the devil flees from you and you have him on the run you must pursue him. Tired and exhausted as you are from the battle(s) you have already fought you must pursue him until he no longer has any place in your life, in your marriage, in your finances, in your family, in your home, in your heart, in your mind, etc. If there one thing we must recognize about the full armor of God is that it was never designed to fight while retreating. The full armor of God is designed for forward mobility and movement as one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—if you have resisted the devil within your life and have experienced him fleeing from you then you must rise up, continue the fight of faith and chase after and pursue him. Much like Benaiah went down into a pit with a lion on a snowy day and killed it there so you must overcome the lion who seeks to devour you. Much like Samson killed the lion that came against him after the Spirit of the LORD came upon him so you must overcome the lion who would seek to come out against you. Much like David who slew the lion that attempted to come against him and the flock of his father so you must overcome the lion that seeks to devour you. Resist the devil and when he flees from you allow the very Spirit of the living God to come upon you and rise up to pursue the lion until you have defeated him in your life. Resisting and resistance carries with it the responsibility of rising up, chasing after and pursuing the enemy who has wreaked havoc in your life for too long. Oh let us be a generation of lion chasers and lion slayers as we not only make the enemy flee from us but also flee after, chase and pursue the enemy until he is utterly defeated and no longer has any place in our lives.
It is with all of this being said I leave you with the words found in the twenty-third chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms and the words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of the same Old Testament poetic book:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23:1-6).
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust. Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the Fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you look, and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, you dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot. Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:1-16).