John the Baptist, for example, ushered in something new. Coming in the spirit of Elijah, with passion and boldness, he stepped on the scene preaching a fiery message of repentance that prepared others for the One who would come after him, the One who would “baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire,” (Matthew 3:11 KJV ). The Message Bible describes him as “Thunder in the Desert.” But the strategy of this ministry would shift yet again.
Moving ahead to Matthew chapter 11, we find John the Baptist in prison; he was filled with doubt and questions. He’d heard of Jesus’ ministry and His miracles but apparently what John expected of the Kingdom when Messiah would come, was not what was actually happening. So he sent a couple disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one that should come or should we look for another?” Matthew 11:3 Jesus’s response is found in Matthew 11:4-5 KJV. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them." God was doing a new thing.
There are lessons I’m learning especially during this current season, that are proving to me that God’s ways concerning His kingdom are so far above me. Even though John didn’t have all the pieces to what it would look like, nevertheless, he came forcefully, violently, declaring and fighting for the advancement of the kingdom of God, which brings me to Matthew 11:12 KJV. "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
Oh how this word speaks to the church today! There’s no question that the kingdom is suffering violence, and this is why the violent must TAKE IT BY FORCE. The Amplified version reads, “...violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize].”
I have to ask myself, What does this look like for the church? What does this look like for me?
When I think of violent force, I think of a fear of God that produces BOLDNESS. Boldness comes when our eyes are opened to spiritual realities and we’re left in awe and wonder of our God. An example of this is found in 2 Kings 6:15-17 KJV. "And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha."
If we could catch a vision of the reality of our battle, we could pursue our enemy boldly and with authority. Lord, open our eyes to spiritual realities!
I think about how the enemy, just this year, has seemingly made advances and attacks that perhaps we didn’t see coming. We weren’t prepared. Have we become too predictable to our enemy? So how do we get back on top again? What new warfare strategies are God showing us? I believe God is gearing up His church for new war tactics and new strategies for an unpredicted surprise attack on the kingdom of darkness.
In 2 Chronicles 20, Judah was facing a “great multitude” consisting of the people of Moab and the people of Ammon. King Jehoshaphat feared the Lord according to 2 Chronicles 19:3, in that he removed the wooden idols from the land, and prepared his heart to seek God, even before he was faced with battle. His immediate response to the threat of this great multitude is found in 2 Chronicles 20:3-4. "And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord."
Jehoshaphat recognized that his help came from God and God only. He cried out to God on behalf of the people of Judah. "O our God, wilt thou not judge them? for we have no might against this great company that cometh against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee," (vs 12). And God heard and not only did He hear but He also responded by speaking through Jahaziel, a musician. "And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's. To morrow go ye down against them: behold, they come up by the cliff of Ziz; and ye shall find them at the end of the brook, before the wilderness of Jeruel. Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you," (vs 15-17).
This was a different strategy. A new strategy. One that involved no army. No fighting. Just setting themselves and positioning themselves and opening their eyes to God’s salvation, God’s victory!! THIS strategy is one the enemy would never see coming. Unpredicted. Unexpected.
Verses 20- 23 tell us, "And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another."
When we set ourselves before Him, the Lord sets Himself before us! He set ambushments against the enemy. An ambush, a sudden, surprise attack was the means by which GOD won the victory that day.
Scripture goes on to say that this was a victory unlike any they’d ever seen! They were three days gathering the spoil because there was so much!
It’s God’s desire that His kingdom come to earth as it is in Heaven. It comes through His people. How does it look for you to take the kingdom by force? For Judah, it was a matter of setting themselves to see God fight. They just went out and pursued the enemy by singing and praising and GOD brought confusion to the enemy’s camp which ended in their defeat and Judah’s victory. This type of “fighting” caught the enemy off guard. What new strategy is God calling you to? Beyond yourself? Beyond your comfort zone and personality? Beyond people’s opinion and expectation of you? So be it. Could it be that the move that sets us beyond ourselves is the point at which God takes over?
I think it’s high time for a surprise attack on the enemy’s camp.