Run from the enemy and miss out on the dramatic, victorious promise God has in store for you!
We are in a generation of runners. At the point of crisis, God’s children tend to run from the battle instead of defeating the very enemy that has them fleeing.
People run from church to church, hoping to leave their past behind them. That never works. Their undefeated enemy, whether it’s a spirit of rejection or anger or outright rebellion, shows up the very first day they visit their new church.
Someone visited Revival Church in Detroit a couple of years ago. One of the first things this child of God said to me was, “I’ve been kicked out of every church I’ve been in. I’m determined that this won’t happen here too!”
That was a great plan, but, unfortunately, she was unwilling to battle the demons of old. Sadly, she didn’t last more than several weeks with us.
We so crave freedom from whatever bondage we are experiencing that we often demand an immediate yet premature resolution to our captivity.
In Portland, Oregon, a man was scheduled for release from prison in less than a week after 272 days behind bars. He couldn’t wait. He escaped with six days left on his sentence!
He was caught just hours later.
Sometimes the quickest route to freedom is not the most direct, or the easiest, or the most obvious. In fact, sometimes it’s to back up and entice our enemy to pursue us!
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV)
They were already on the borders of the desert, and a short march would have placed them beyond the reach of pursuit, as the chariots of Egypt could have made little progress over dry and yielding sand. ~Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
The Israelites could have continued in the direction they were heading, and they would have been out of the reach of Pharaoh should he decide to summon his armies and chariots to pursue them.
It surely seemed to be madness for Moses to direct the people to turn back!
Freedom was to be had! It was right in front of them! But, their mandate was to turn back and to face the enemy they fled from.
I propose we embrace leaders like Moses today—those who aren’t trying to lead us into the Land of Promise while avoiding the challenges, struggles and pursuing armies that God desires for us to defeat. We need leaders who lead into trouble for the sake of victory!
It is a valid question: Why would God cause freedom to be delayed? Why would he put people he loves in grave danger? Two simple reasons:
- God will get glory.
- They shall know God is the Lord.
God is interested in our freedom. He’s also interested in his glory.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:6-8 (ESV)
This is such an important lesson for all of us. God’s primary motivation is not to make our lives easier, nor to give us immediate satisfaction as we pursue freedom. As it always has been, and always will be, God is focused on his name being known for the sake of the generations.
We must trust God’s wisdom, his truth, if we desire to experience freedom. His truth will very often violate our own wisdom or common sense:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Note how 250 years later Gideon had an important point of reference as he dealt with his own issue of captivity:
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 (ESV)
Gideon heard of the of Moses and the Hebrews. That story would not have been the same if God hadn’t caused them to turn back and face a fierce enemy.
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)
Instead of taking matters into their own hands, devising plans and strategies and moving according to their own wisdom, God was instructing them to stay put and be silent. How hard this must have been for them! What a lesson in faith this was!
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (ESV)
Quit crying and follow my instructions! Now it was time to advance, in the direction God revealed—right into an impossible sea. What kind of God was leading them? It sure seemed he was a monster, bent on their sure demise. How could any God presume to love anybody if he is pushing people to the limits of their sanity by toying with them as pawns on a great, seemingly demented game board. No wonder they would end up demanding to return to Egypt!
What they needed to understand, and ultimately would, is that freedom isn’t found at the place of safety. It’s found in God’s presence. Where he is there is freedom, even if that means turning back to face the enemy:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV)
The cloud that was moving before them moved to the back. It wasn’t simply a cloud, however. It was a mighty angel of the Lord!
We must learn to trust God’s wisdom as he leads us into threatening, deadly situations. There are angels. There is a Holy Spirit. There is a pillar of cloud and of fire that will go before us and guard behind us.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:21-25 (ESV)
There it is!
The Egyptians acknowledged the Lord! That was one of God’s goals. It took a fearless heart on behalf of Moses and the Hebrews. It took radical obedience. It required a resistance to temptation to make a jailbreak prematurely. Faith was key. God’s name was made great among the Egyptians and the generations to come.
You and I will be much stronger, more free and God’s name will be glorified in our lives if we don’t run from the enemy. We must defeat the demons, the Goliath’s, the Egyptians, our fears, our rebellion, our rejection. Turn back and fight!
A young man named Gideon would pull on this amazing, ancient story at the foot of the Red Sea as God, again, encouraged someone to advance in obedience and in the power of God.
And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14 (ESV)
Go in this might of yours and watch God receive the glory as you advance into supernatural freedom!
Are we are forming a culturally acceptable version of God?
And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Exodus 32:4-6
I’ll begin by affirming that God absolutely is LOVE! He is good, all the time. However, his goodness may not always register as good on our human grid.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14
There is a rapidly growing aversion to any discussion about God that includes anything that feels negative. The problem? Cover to cover in scripture we see endless accounts of God displaying his attributes—many of which would not be defined as positive.
Instead of proclaiming the full counsel of scripture, people today are looking for a buffet Bible when they can load up on chocolate cake and milk shakes while quickly stepping by the peas, carrot and salad.
People want to form a god of their own design as the Israelites did when Moses was meeting with a fearful God. The plan is to sit down to eat and drink, and rise up to play.
Today it’s nearly impossible (not an exaggeration) to find a church that preaches cutting, hard core truths of scripture that break us out of prison and into freedom. If you want to hear about how good God is and little else, than you can pick most any church in the nation.
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” ~Leonard Ravenhill
Sixteen dangers of the positive Christianity movement
False conversions—I could spend a lot of time on this point, and I do address it extensively in my book The Coming Church. For the sake of brevity, we must finally come to the understanding that salvation requires an extreme step, not a casual one. It’s when we understand the great drama that includes God, Satan, eternity, heaven, hell, judgment and abundant life that authentic conversions can occur. Who wouldn’t sign up to follow a God that promises gold coins and butterflies? The question must not be, “How can I benefit from salvation.” It has to be, “Is God worthy of me surrendering all I value to him?” When we truly know him in his fullness, in his grace and wrath, in his mercy and judgment, as a Lion and a Lamb, we will be able to make the fearful decision, “You, Lord are worthy of my entire life.”
Misunderstanding of the fear of the Lord—It’s stunning to me that so many are renouncing any fear whatsoever, even the fear of the Lord! If we have a view of God that is only positive, we will reject anything that feels negative, and this includes the fear of the Lord. Let’s set the record straight—the fear of the Lord is not simply to be in awe of God or to respect him. Fear of the Lord is translated over and over as terror, to be afraid, to dread. The love of God and the dread of God are not mutually exclusive. In fact, his love shines brighter we we realize how fearful he truly is.
That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Romans 11:20-22
God is limited—When we eliminate a major part of God’s personality and character, we greatly limit our revelation of him, and his ability to move in our lives. God is much more than the leader of some euphoric land of fantasy.
Rejection of judgment (that we need so badly)—I believe one of the most important prayers I can pray is, “God, judge me daily.” For those who reject God’s judgment because they perceive it to be negative, their lives will be marked by areas not given access to God’s loving calibration. Additionally, our nation is in desperate need of loving judgment from a righteous judge. Judgment is not hatred, it’s love. It’s deep love. We see this in our own society. We are so touchy/feely that we react in anger when we presume someone to be judging us. However, it’s true love that will judge an issue and help someone break free into healing. We must embrace judgment in these dire end-times.
And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. Acts 10:42
Rejection of God—This is one of the most serious issues. God absolutely still judges in the New Covenant, and those who reject this will be at risk of attributing judgments of God to Satan. God’s wrath is still on the Earth, and we have to understand that much of the trouble we see today has actually been initiated by God—all while many of his followers are rebuking him and calling him Satan.
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit—Even more serious is the risk of blasphemy. I believe we have to be radically opposed to God to fall into this unforgivable sin (I know many wrestle with this, but unpacking it will require more time than we have here), but, the positive Christianity movement can nudge people closer to falling into this. When we attribute an act of God to Satan, that is blasphemy, and this occurs often within positive Christianity.
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30
Ignoring calls to battle—If we think God is mostly interested in our safety and happiness, we will deem unnecessary and invasive any call to battle. It’s time we mature and understand we are already in the midst of a vicious battle, and it’s our calling to fight hard. God really is OK with his children being tortured and killed as martyrs for the sake of other people discovering Jesus, and we should be too. We are end-time soldiers, and this means we have signed up for a life of inconvenience, brokenness and struggle. That negative reality is glorious when we understand what it is unto.
Misinterpretations of negative situations—News flash: it’s not always the devil. How often to people rebuke demons when it’s actually God that caused the situation? If we think that God only functions positively than what are we to do with the fact that God actually demonized Paul and refused his deliverance? What about God striking people with sickness?
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
God actually endorsed an assault of Satan on Paul to keep him humble! Paul embraced a “negative” God, because he was True. He was content with weaknesses, hardships, calamities. He didn't rebuke them, and that didn't cause him to attribute them to Satan. Of course, Satan wouldn't want to keep Paul from becoming conceited, so this wasn't his plan. Just as with Job, God will allow attack of the enemy for our own benefit. In fact, it was Satan who was allowed by God to kill Jesus. He literally had thorns in his flesh as he hung on the cross, and they were not taken away.
Minimized need for intercession—If we think things are getting better and better, as many who support the positive Christianity movement do, than we have no need to intercede. However, if we truly understand some very troubling times are ahead, and God has called us to stand in the gap, then our passion for intercession will skyrocket. We need Abraham’s and Jonah’s who will see the judgment of God ahead and pray with passion and warn those in his direct path. Our God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, totally destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed the earth in a flood. His wrath remains on those who reject him today.
Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” Genesis 18:32
Rejection of call to martyrdom—Martyrdom is the pinnacle of negative experiences for the Christian. Of course, the truth is that it’s not negative at all. It’s glorious!
Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. Acts 7:54-58
How powerful is it that Jesus stood as Stephen died! Not only that, but did you notice what young man was mentioned in the story? A young man who would end up turning the world upside down. Saul. Paul. We need Stephen's to arise and lay down their lives in such a way that a new company of Saul's are awakened into their destinies.
Universalism—You’d be surprised at how many professing Christians reject any thought of eternity in Hell—for anybody! After all, how could a good God cast people into eternal torment? It doesn’t register on the grid of positive Christianity.
Rejection of tenets of the faith—I’m angered at how today’s Christians get sad and withdrawn when core tenets of the faith are preached. The cross, hell, fear of the Lord, surrender, brokenness and repentance are minimized as they prefer to focus on how giddy God is about them! We absolutely need a fresh wave of blood bought fire and brimstone preachers again!
Wrongly discern God’s presence & purpose—The presumption is that whenever God is manifesting that the feelings we experience are to be happy, warm and positive. Any manifestation that includes fear of the Lord, conviction, rebuke, challenge or mourning is soundly rejected. If the atmosphere isn’t electric, many today check out and disengage.
Using God—A spirit of religion is in this positive Christianity movement. The thought is that God is there for our enjoyment and must respond to our cries for satisfaction. We determine the experience instead of letting God use us as he sees fit.
Self-centeredness—Related to using God, instead of focusing on the devastation in the world and our responsibility to bring resolution to it, those in the positive Christianity movement are focused on self.
Forsaking our anointing by always being nice—Boy, we have to stop it. We think God always has perma-smile with a twinkle sparkling off of his grin. If we think of God in this light, we’ll attempt to do the same. It can manifest many different ways. For example, instead of boldly preaching repentance and the terror of Hell, we might just smile and be sweet and sugary by encouraging people to take baby steps toward Jesus. We have become so tentative and passive when dealing with severe threats against the church such as the homosexual agenda, the false-grace movement and others. We need prophets to rise up and preach judgment and repentance again!
Sometimes we need to look someone in the eye, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, and say with no hint of a smile that they are destined for Hell. Repent!
Of course, there are limitless positives about God and our relationship with him. However, we don’t want to stop there. We must trust him enough to embrace him in his fullness.
The judge is coming, and he will start with the church. How many will fall away when he arrives, disappoints and confuses people by looking nothing like the god of their own design?
This week I have had a strong impression to start focusing on three ‘zones’ in regard to prayer and strategic advance:
As we participate rightly with God’s divine plan, we will find ourselves recalibrated with Him locally, regionally and nationally.
There is a large scale move of God in process now, and it in many ways mirrors the Exodus from Egypt. If we can prophetically peer into that story, we will discover some key lessons and strategies.
I also believe there is a financial message in the midst of this story that will help all of us advance as we understand the schemes of the enemy. (2 Cor 2:11)
This story must launch from the same place it launched in the life of Moses—the burning bush. The cry for prophetic messengers to humbly yet boldly declare the potentially offensive, extremely costly and problematic designs of God must come now. There is a burning bush in Michigan and in our nation—but is there anybody there with their shoes removed ready to receive that message?
Exodus 3:4-5 (ESV) 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
God is calling, is anybody responding? I actually believe the answer is at least a limited ‘yes’, but I wonder if any of us realize the severity of the call. We must receive the call from a position of holiness and humility and we must then boldly relay the call to the opposing system that’s keeping a nation in bondage.
Moses did just that. I believe we are also at an initial phase of the mission to break from from a worldly system.
Note what happened immediately after the prophetic word was declared by Moses to Pharaoh:
Exodus 5:1-3 (ESV) 1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”
Of course, Moses’ mandate was met with immediate resistance. However, this resistance to the prophetic wasn’t simply in the form of a dispute between two leaders. The prophetic message, as delivered through the prophetic messenger, caused problems for the whole ‘church’.
The call was to move from an Egyptian system into the wilderness of encounter with God.
Exodus 5:4-5 (ESV) 4 But the king of Egypt said to them, “Moses and Aaron, why do you take the people away from their work? Get back to your burdens.” 5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!”
I believe we are most certainly in a season of transition—from a tiring focus of necessary but unfulfilling production into a miraculous season of supernatural rest and life.
Sarah Palin declared last week in Grand Rapids at the launch of her national “Going Rogue” book tour that something miraculous is coming to the economic structure in Michigan—and I believe this is surely the case.
However, we in Michigan may very well be in the midst of this next part of the Exodus story:
Exodus 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’
The enemy is reacting with anger right now in this early prophetic season. While the church is being called into a new chapter, we have not yet made it there. We’re still in the old system. Reformation has not come yet. The bricks of old, the provision of old has not yet faded away. People need to make bricks, need to produce, need to pay the same bills, etc. However, I believe the enemy has removed the straw.
At a time when people are losing jobs, losing their homes, a time when stress is high and the ability to produce is significantly more difficult than it was just a couple of years ago, we must know that the prophetic message will get the job done—if we don’t relent.
Exodus 5:10-13 (ESV) 10 So the taskmasters and the foremen of the people went out and said to the people, “Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. 11 Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least.’ ” 12 So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw. 13 The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “Complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw.”
The only way to break out of this bondage is to rely on God’s supernatural methods and his decrees. The coming new system’s principles must be applied now, as we are breaking out of the current system.
Are we prepared for the greatest of battles? The church itself will turn on prophetic voices, prophetic strategists. Change will bring significant discomfort and struggle, and most will strike back in anger and accusation. Will we still contend for freedom?
Exodus 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
We will also have opportunity to question ourselves, as Moses did:
Exodus 5:22-23 (ESV) 22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”
I’ve often said that the enemy, who is the accuser, loves it when he convinces children of God to embrace his methods, his giftings, his anointings. He wants us to become accusers, and not just accusers of the brethren, but accusers of God Himself. Moses fell for this in the midst of extreme rebellion and pressure from his own people, and threats from Pharaoh.
Exodus 6:7-9 (ESV) 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’ ” 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.
We see in the above passage that God has a plan, and it’s a big one. However, the extreme process will be difficult and many will turn away.
But, the end of this story is extreme. God wanted it all, without compromise—and he got what he wanted. And the people ultimately realized that they didn’t need straw to make their bricks—because they didn’t need the bricks at all. The old has passed away and the new season was upon them.
They dropped the bricks and picked up the riches of Egypt and moved out into the pursuit of their destiny.
In the beginning I shared a three-fold focus:
- On a small scale, we must individually and as local churches prepare for and lead the way in that spirit of Moses. We must run to the battle with fire from a bush in our mouths.
- Then, we must have a regional understanding—for us, Michigan is our next immediate focus. We must shout to the state the plans of Heaven, and let that prophetic message penetrate the darkness.
- Then, ultimately, we must prepare for a national movement. The Israelites were a nation, that was stepping into their ultimate destiny that hasn’t even fully played out yet.
Again, I feel we are in the place where the message has begun to be proclaimed, the plan of God has been released. The enemy has been enraged and straw has been removed. It’s more difficult to produce in our families, in our city, state and nation.
However, a new system is coming where bricks of old will be dropped and the plunder of Egypt will be picked up.
Proverbs 13:22 (ESV) A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.