MLToday: [Judges Chapter Eight]: Keep Seeking the Kingdom. In this chapter Gideon is gaining a massive victory in behalf of the people of God. Yet in the midst of the battle he was not supported or even provided bread by the very people who stood to gain their freedom because of what Gideon was doing. You cannot get distracted in the battle even when you are on the victory side of the circumstance. You have to keep seeking the kingdom and never step out of the love that never fails.

Today: [Judges Chapter Eight]: Keep Seeking the Kingdom. In this chapter Gideon is gaining a massive victory in behalf of the people of God. Yet in the midst of the battle he was not supported or even provided bread by the very people who stood to gain their freedom because of what Gideon was doing. You cannot get distracted in the battle even when you are on the victory side of the circumstance. You have to keep seeking the kingdom and never step out of the love that never fails.

[Jdg 8:1-35 KJV] 1 And the men of Ephraim said unto him, Why hast thou served us thus, that thou calledst us not, when thou wentest to fight with the Midianites? And they did chide with him sharply. 2 And he said unto them, What have I done now in comparison of you? [Is] not the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer? 3 God hath delivered into your hands the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison of you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.

In this chapter the mop up operations of the Midianite defeat continue. The first thing we see is Ephraim coming out and complaining to Gideon that they were not invited to the fight. Remember that from the beginning of the conquest of Canaan Ephraim was reluctant to fight in conflicts not in their territory. They stood by and allowed all twelve tribes to defeat Og king of Bashan and then only after the battle did they ask to be given Og’s territory for their inheritance. Every tribe connected with Ephraim demonstrated the same lack of character. Ruben, Gad and the tribe of Dan all refrained from joining in the battle yet when victory was assured they came out rattling their sabers complaining that they were not included.

In your lifetime if you become a warrior saint you will have experiences like this. In the midst of a spiritual battle when the outcome is anything but certain people will hold back and watch to see if you make it or not. Then when victory is at hand they will burst forth with the exclamation “we were with you all the time …” Notice that Gideon doesn’t deal with them. They are incorrigible. They are very unlikely to change. Gideon’s answer does show the wisdom of God. He in essence tells them that his victory is nothing compared to their previous conquests. They are content with that basically agreeing that as long as Gideon recognizes they are more powerful, more spiritual than they are that’s ok. You will have Ephraimites in your life. Do not contend with them. Do not correct them. They are a distraction sent from the enemy. Remember Midian means “strife and contention”. The Midianites are defeated but the PRINCIPALITY the demon behind them is now raising its head through the tribe of Ephraim. If Satan cannot defeat you through a stranger then he will do it through someone close to you. Don’t give in to this strategy and keep seeking the kingdom.

4 And Gideon came to Jordan, [and] passed over, he, and the three hundred men that [were] with him, faint, yet pursuing [them]. 5 And he said unto the men of Succoth, Give, I pray you, loaves of bread unto the people that follow me; for they [be] faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, kings of Midian. 6 And the princes of Succoth said, [Are] the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thine army? 7 And Gideon said, Therefore when the LORD hath delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into mine hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers. 8 And he went up thence to Penuel, and spake unto them likewise: and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered [him]. 9 And he spake also unto the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.

You will now notice how the enemy uses distraction in spiritual warfare. First Ephraim comes out demanding Gideon’s attention to distract him from the battle. Then as Gideon and the 300 press on they are “faint but pursuing …” It was no doubt evident that they needed supplies but Gideon did not ask the Ephraimites for bread. Had he done so the Ephraimites would have said “you couldn’t have done it without us …” Then he came up against the men of Succoth and Penuel and was likewise mistreated.

The word Succoth means “to cover”. When God is in the process of giving you a great victory there will be those who will distract you by saying “who is your covering”. These are the men of Succuth in your battle. The covering that the word Succuth describes is a booth or lean to as it were made of thorns and briers. Thus Gideon prophesies to them that the “thorn and brier” covering they used as an excuse will become a snare to them. How does this work? Jesus in Matt. 13:22 says that the thorny ground is the ground of representing the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this life. The Succuth influence in a spiritual battle represent those who will say “I see your victory but I have some concerns about ….” You cannot allow them to distract you – God will deal with them.

Then Gideon passes by the men of Penuel who likewise will not support him in the fight. The name Penuel means “face of God”. In other words these are they who will say “no I can’t support you in your fight – I have to seek the face of God …” They don’t want to get involved and throw down the trump card of “I am seeking God instead …” Jesus dealt with this hypocrisy when He said “as much as you have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto Me….” Gideon refused to be offended but he prophesies to them that their tower will be destroyed because of their attitude. Their tower spiritually speaking was the indefensible excuse that they were too spiritual to get involved with Gideon and his 300 men.

10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna [were] in Karkor, and their hosts with them, about fifteen thousand [men], all that were left of all the hosts of the children of the east: for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword. 11 And Gideon went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host: for the host was secure. 12 And when Zebah and Zalmunna fled, he pursued after them, and took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and discomfited all the host. 13 And Gideon the son of Joash returned from battle before the sun [was up], 14 And caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and enquired of him: and he described unto him the princes of Succoth, and the elders thereof, [even] threescore and seventeen men. 15 And he came unto the men of Succoth, and said, Behold Zebah and Zalmunna, with whom ye did upbraid me, saying, [Are] the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in thine hand, that we should give bread unto thy men [that are] weary? 16 And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth. 17 And he beat down the tower of Penuel, and slew the men of the city. 18 Then said he unto Zebah and Zalmunna, What manner of men [were they] whom ye slew at Tabor? And they answered, As thou [art], so [were] they; each one resembled the children of a king. 19 And he said, They [were] my brethren, [even] the sons of my mother: [as] the LORD liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you. 20 And he said unto Jether his firstborn, Up, [and] slay them. But the youth drew not his sword: for he feared, because he [was] yet a youth. 21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise thou, and fall upon us: for as the man [is, so is] his strength. And Gideon arose, and slew Zebah and Zalmunna, and took away the ornaments that [were] on their camels’ necks.

The princes Gideon has been pursuing this whole time were Zebah and Zalmunna. Their names mean “deprived of protection” and “denied comfort”. This is interesting because in pursuing these two princes Gideon was both denied protection AND comfort. Ephraim refused to protect Gideon by join with them in the battle WITHOUT being asked. The men of Succoth and Penuel denied Gideon and his 300 men comfort by refusing to feed them.

When you are in the midst of spiritual conquest and begin to experience victory it is natural to expect others to get on board and show support. I am reminded of a mentor prophet who spoke to us in a private session and said “I hear the Lord say ‘don’t be naïve’.” We were not sure what to make of this as our response has always been the love response to “believe all things” and “hope all things”. We were soon to face a brutal assault of the enemy at the hands of a brother we trusted and had been working to promote his ministry. If there were an alternate to this message it would just that “don’t be naïve”. Likewise you cannot get offended or walk in unforgiveness. If you get offended the anointing will lift and the spirit behind the Midianites you are working to defeat will capture you in your heart. Forgive, release, bless!

22 Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. 23 And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you. 24 And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they [were] Ishmaelites.) 25 And they answered, We will willingly give [them]. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. 26 And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred [shekels] of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that [was] on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that [were] about their camels’ necks. 27 And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, [even] in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house. 28 Thus was Midian subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was in quietness forty years in the days of Gideon. 29 And Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and dwelt in his own house. 30 And Gideon had threescore and ten sons of his body begotten: for he had many wives. 31 And his concubine that [was] in Shechem, she also bare him a son, whose name he called Abimelech. 32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulchre of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites. 33 And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god. 34 And the children of Israel remembered not the LORD their God, who had delivered them out of the hands of all their enemies on every side: 35 Neither shewed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, [namely], Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shewed unto Israel.

In the aftermath of the defeat of the Midianites Gideon is sorely tempted. The people wanted to make him their first king. Gideon refuses saying “…. Nay the LORD will rule over you …” Very few people will give this response in the same temptation. In the prophetic people often come and say “just tell me what to do …” You might be able to hear from God and know EXACTLY what they are to do – but you cannot tell them. You have to point them back to the Holy Ghost in their own heart and life.

The time of the Judges is the time when God offered the people the unparalleled liberty of being ruled not by a king but by God Himself. They never accepted this. They mistook God’s liberality with weakness and turned to idols time and time again. Each time they were enslaved He sends a deliverer and each time they tried to make those deliverers into kings. Above all they want to escape direct accountability to God Himself. Paul made the statement in 2 Cor. 4:5 … we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus …” while at the same time he said in 1 Cor. 11:1 … follow me as I follow Christ… This is the balancing act of spiritual leadership. To lead and be bold yet to never forget to bring the people back to their accountability to God and not to man. Christianity for the most part fails miserably at this.

There will be disappointments even in the midst of great victory. The joy of liberating the people for Gideon was diminished by the frustration of dealing with the distractions of Ephraim, Succoth and Penuel. Not everyone will join with you in the battle. Not every one will be thrilled about what God is doing in your life. They will have very spiritual excuses for why they stand by withholding support and comfort they could easily afford to give. You cannot hesitation for one moment. Refuse to be distracted. Keep pressing on though you are FAINT but PURSUING. Why was Gideon faint? Because those who should have stood with him and supported him did not. You cannot get offended. You cannot get hurt feelings. Even after the victory when Gideon refuses to be king the passage says that Israel didn’t remember their God or show kindness to Gideon. Forgive. Release. Bless. Move on and keep seeking the kingdom.

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