“Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon?” (Judges 10:18).
“…and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5).
WHO IS WILLING TO BRING THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY? JESUS DECLARED UNTO SIMON PETER THAT THE GATES OF HELL WOULD NOT PREVAIL AGAINST THE CHURCH BUT WHO IS WILLING TO TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE GATES OF HELL? PAUL WROTE THAT WE WRESTLE NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD BUT WHO AMONG US IS WILLING TO WRESTLE WITH THE POWERS AND FORCES OF DARKNESS? WHO IS WILLING TO TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY’S DOORSTEP? WHO IS WILLING TO TAKE THE FIGHT DIRECTLY TO THE ENEMY HIMSELF?
Perhaps one of the greatest truths that surrounds the people of God in any generation is that more often than not we wait until the enemy marches out against us before we engage him in battle. There are far too many people who wait until the enemy and adversary comes against them and attacks them rather than taking the fight and the battle directly to him. Many men and women among us—when thinking about spiritual warfare—think it’s responsive and reactionary. Too many men and women think that spiritual warfare is defense while very few recognize and understand that spiritual warfare is intended to be offensive. There are far too many men and women in our churches who spend their days—even their times of prayer and worship and intercession—on defense against the enemy rather than the enemy. Too many men and women focus on defending the towers and goods within their lives and know very little about going on the offensive against the enemy and adversary. One of the most powerful truths about spiritual warfare is that we were given full armor wherewith we might be able to stand against the enemy and adversary. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written by James as well as the words written in the fourth chapter of the epistle written by James. I would also like to draw your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the second epistle written by the apostle Paul as well as the words which are found in the sixth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Ephesus:
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7-10).
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the death, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Returning back to the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges where the original passage is found you will find a very specific context surrounding these words which were spoken. If you begin reading with the sixth verse of the tenth chapter you will find that the children of Israel AGAIN did evil in the sight of the LORD. Not only did the children of Israel do evil in the sight of the LORD [again] built they served the Baals and the Astshoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines. As if this weren’t enough the author of the book of Judges also wrote that they forsook the LORD and did not serve Him.
As you take the time to read and examine this Old Testament book of Judges—a book which describes the period of time between the death of Joshua and the elders of that generation and the that of Samuel whom the LORD raised up as a prophet in the midst of the nation of Israel—you will find this theme of doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD being a recurring theme. In fact you cannot read this Old Testament book without understanding this as being a core theme and foundational principle within the book. With this being said it is important to note the connection between the children of Israel doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD and what that evil actually looked like. More often than not the author of this Old Testament book described in detail the reality that the children of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and what that evil actually looked like. In addition to this the author of this Old Testament book also described the LORD’s response to the evil which the children of Israel did in His sight—namely delivering them into the hands of those who would oppress them. The pattern and cycle in the Old Testament book of Judges is the children of Israel doing that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, the Lord delivering the children of Israel into the hands of an enemy or adversary who would oppress them, the children of Israel crying out in the midst of their oppression and the LORD raising up and sending a judge who would deliver them out of the hand of their enemy and adversary.
Upon reading the words presented in this passage of Scripture you will find that in response to the children of Israel doing evil in the sight of the LORD again the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel. The LORD would then sell them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. In the eighth verse we begin reading that “from that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel.” What’s more is that not only did the people of Ammon and the people of the Philistines harass and oppress them but they did so for eighteen years. Not only did the LORD sell the children of Israel into the hands of the people of Ammon and the Philistines, and not only did they harass and oppress them but they did so for eighteen years. Oh if there is one thing we must recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage it’s that it is picture of many within the body of Christ today. There are many within our churches today who have done what was evil in the sight of the LORD and whom the LORD has sold into the hands of their enemies and adversaries. On top of all this these enemies and adversaries have harassed and oppressed them as a direct result of that which they have done in the sight of the LORD. We would be incredibly naïve and even somewhat foolish to think that the living and eternal God could not and does not still deliver His people into the hands of their enemies and adversaries. What’s more is we would be incredibly naïve to think that these enemies and adversaries cannot harass and oppress them.
With this being said, however, I find it absolutely necessary to declare to you who might be reading these words that there are many men and women among us in our churches and houses of worship who are being harassed and oppressed by the enemy and adversary. There are countless men and women among us during these days who are being harassed, oppressed and even afflicted by the enemy and adversary. There are men and women among us who are being completely and utterly tormented by the enemy—tormented in their minds, tormented in their thoughts, tormented in their souls, tormented in their emotions, tormented in their emotions, and the like. There are countless men and women among us have been tormented, afflicted and oppressed by the enemy—perhaps because they have opened themselves up to something that has permitted it to be so or simply because the enemy and adversary has risen up against them. We cannot forget the words which our Lord spoke to Simon called Peter when he declared that Satan asked to have him that he might sift him as wheat. What we must recognize, however, is that although Satan asked to have him that he might sift him as wheat Jesus prayed for him that his faith would fail not. Oh this is something we have a great need of understanding within our own lives for it brings us face to face with the fact that there are many among us who are afflicted—even right now as I’m writing these words. Remember the words of the Psalmist who declared that many were the afflictions of the righteous, BUT the LORD delivers them out and from them all.
The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more you will find the continuing of the pattern and cycle which the children of Israel—ultimately the people of God—found themselves in. It would be in the midst of the harassment and oppression of the enemy the children of Israel would cry out to the LORD. The cry which they would cry out before the LORD was actually quite simple: “We have sinned against you, because we have both forsaken our God and served the Baals” (Judges 10:10). The children of Israel cried out to the LORD and the reason for their cry was actually quite simple—the LORD sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. The children of Israel cried out to the LORD because their enemies and adversaries not only harassed and oppressed them but also because they were severely distressed. Oh I can’t help but wonder how many men and women in our generation right now are not only severely distressed but are also greatly harassed and oppressed.
Permit me to ask you who might be reading these words who and/or what is harassing you? Who and/or what is oppressing you? Who and/or what is severely distressing you? Are you finding yourself completely and utterly distressed? Are you finding yourself surrounded by enemies and adversaries—even enemies and adversaries which were stronger, greater and mightier than yourself? Are you finding yourself in a position and place much like the children of Israel who cried out in the midst of their suffering, affliction and bondage in the land of Egypt? Oh I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are men and women among us who are just like the children of Israel who are being afflicted, oppressed and kept in bondage. There are many men and women among us whom the enemy has kept bound—even kept bound for an extended period of time like the woman who was bowed over and could in now wise straighten herself and stand upright. Consider the following words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus as well as the words which are found in the New Testament gospel narrative written by Luke:
“Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” (Exodus 2:23-25).
“And the LORD said: I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites, and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites .Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:7-10).
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity. And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crows, There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day. The LORD then answered him and said, Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath? And when He said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him” (Luke 13:10-17).
A SPIRIT OF INFIRMITY! WHOM SATAN HAS BOUND! FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS! Notice within this passage—not only a spirit of infirmity but also the bondage of Satan. This is important for us to recognize and understand when seeking to understand spiritual warfare for not only are we dealing with spirits but we are also dealing with the bondage of Satan. In addition to this we encounter the length of the bondage of Satan and the length of time this spirit was able to afflict, torment and oppress this woman. It was the bondage of Satan that was indeed manifested by and through this spirit of infirmity and I can’t help but wonder how many men and women Satan is keeping in bondage through different spirits. It was the apostle Paul who wrote unto Timothy that God has not given us a spirit of fear and it was the apostle John who spoke of fear involving torment. Thus within two different passages of Scripture we see two different spirits that are involved in the lives of men and women—the spirit of infirmity and the spirit of fear. What’s more is when Luke wrote of this woman he didn’t speak of “the spirit of infirmity” but rather “ a spirit of infirmity.” This is incredibly significant for I would dare say there is more than one spirit of infirmity. I am absolutely convinced that when we talk about a spirit of infirmity we must needs understand there are multiple spirits of infirmity—each one seeking to keep men and women in bondage in different ways and for different lengths and periods of time. Perhaps one of the questions many within the body of Christ might need to ask themselves is what spirit of infirmity has kept and is keeping you in bondage to Satan. Not just this but how long have you been in bondage to Satan by, through and because of a spirit of infirmity?
The children of Israel in the Book of Judges were harassed and oppressed by the enemy and adversary for eighteen years and were severely distressed as a direct result of this. The children of Israel cried out to the LORD in the midst of their distress, and initially the LORD would rebuke the children of Israel. The LORD would call their mind to the deliverance He wrought for them from the Egyptians, from the Amorites and from the people of the Ammon and from the Philistines. The LORD also reminded them that the Sidonians and Amalekites and Maronite’s oppressed them and when they cried out to Him He delivered them from their hand. The LORD would also warn them that because they had forsaken Him and served other gods He would deliver them no more. Upon hearing these words of the LORD the children of Israel would respond to the LORD acknowledging their sin and asking for deliverance once more. It wasn’t just an acknowledgment of their sin and a plea for deliverance but they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD. In direct response to this the soul of the LORD could no longer endure the misery of Israel and He would prepare to deliver them once more.
It is with this understanding of the soul of the LORD no longer able to endure the misery of the children of Israel we come to the words which are found in the eighteenth verse for within this passage we find the people and the leaders of GIlead saying to one another and asking, “Who is the man who will begin the fight against the people of Ammon?” This is very important for that which the children of Israel and the leaders of GIlead acknowledged was one among them who would bring the fight to the enemy. Their question was one of initiative and assignment for one among them. The question which the leaders of GIlead and the people of Israel asked was one which I believe the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is asking in this generation. I believe that in every church and house of worship the Spirit of the LORD is asking the question “Who is the man who will begin the fight?” And not the fight against flesh and blood as was in this scenario but the fight against principalities, against rulers of the darkness, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Who among us is willing to rise up and go on the offensive instead of always waiting and remaining on the defensive?
As I am sitting here today I believe I am speaking according to the Spirit of Almighty God today and declaring that the single greatest way we can and will be able to truly engage ourselves in spiritual warfare is not to be those who remain on defense but those who live on the offensive. I am convinced that spiritual warfare in this generation is such that requires men and women to take the fight to the enemy rather than waiting for the enemy to take the fight to them. The Spirit of the LORD is looking for men and women who will humble themselves in the sight of God, those who will submit themselves to God, those who will resist the devil knowing that when they do he must flee from them. We are living in perhaps some of—if not the most dark and dangerous days in history—and as a direct result we must be those who live on the offensive. We must be those who always keep the enemy before them rather than the enemy behind them. Oh who are those who are willing to keep the enemy in front of them and thus keeping the enemy running, fleeing and scattering from them? Who are those who are willing to resist the devil in such a way that he flees from them and then continues to pursue the devil—even after he flees from them?
Remember the words which were spoken unto the wife of Manoah concerning Samson for the Angel of the LORD spoke of the son who would be born to her as “beginning to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. This is significant for you will recall in the first verse that the LORD delivered the children of Israel into the hand of the Philistines for forty years. After forty years of oppression and harassment at the hands of the Philistines the LORD was going to raise up one from among them who would begin to deliver them out of the hand of the Philistines. Through Samson the LORD was going to raise up one who was not only going to begin the process of delivering the people of God out of the hand of their enemy but also one who was going to bring the fight directly to the enemy. In fact there was one instance when Samson would bring the fight to the gate of the enemy and would even displace the gate of the enemy and relocate it elsewhere. I am convinced this is significant for it was Jesus who not only spoke of being able to speak to this mountain that it be cast into the sea with just a mustard seed of faith but also His declaring that if we had faith as small as a grain of a mustard seed we could speak to the fig tree to be uprooted and be planted in the midst of the sea. I am convinced the LORD is looking for men and women who will take their faith to the gate(s) of the enemy and possess them—and not only possess them but also displace and uproot them.
My brother, my sister—are you one who is willing to go on the offensive rather than remaining on the defensive? Are you one who is willing to take the fight to the enemy? Are you willing to stop waiting for the enemy to come against you and start coming against him? Scripture speaks of the enemy coming in like a flood and the Spirit raising up a standard against the enemy, however, I can’t help but wonder who among us is willing to bring the flood to the enemy. Oh there is a famous quote I feel is applicable and appropriate here: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm. The warrior whispers back, “I am the storm.’” Oh the enemy would seek to speak to warriors and declare unto them they cannot withstand the storm and the warriors of the living God must respond by emphatically declaring in faith that they are the storm. STORM WARRIORS! WARRIORS OF THE STORM! The devil thought that He could drown the disciples and Jesus in the midst of the sea by causing the storm to come against them—causing the wind and the waves to come against them—and yet they didn’t realize that not only does Jesus exercise authority over and in the midst of the storm but Jesus Himself was and still is a storm.
Oh who among us is willing to be warriors of the storm? Who among us is willing to take the storm to the gates of the enemy? Who among us is willing to take the fire to the gates of the enemy? Who among us is willing to storm the gates of hell, possess them and displace them? Who among us is wiling to take the fire and fight to the gates of the enemy? Who among us is willing to quite waiting for the enemy to come against them and instead come against the enemy? Who among us is willing to take the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith and chase the enemy putting him to flight? Oh one can put a thousand to flight and two can put ten thousand to flight? Who is willing to chase after and pursue the enemy and watch the enemy flee seven ways before them? Let us stop waiting for the enemy to come against and attack us and let us instead wreak havoc against the enemy. No more letting the enemy wreak havoc in our lives, in our homes, in our finances, in our families, in our marriages, in the lives of our children, in our churches, etc. I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of waiting for the enemy to bring the fight to my doorstep. I want to bring the fight to the doorstep of the enemy. Who is with me to take the fight to the enemy? Who is with me to live on the offensive and not waiting on the defensive? Who among us willing to spend our days actively pursuing the enemy instead of the enemy pursuing us? The life of a true believer is never one of retreat from the enemy nor waiting for the enemy to march against us but our marching against the enemy. Let us take up the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith and bring the fight, the fury, the fire, and the flood to the gates of the enemy and let us do so quickly that we might [always] have the upper hand on the enemy rather than the enemy having the upper hand on us. Let us be the hunters and never be the hunted.