Understanding Spiritual Authority--Part 3
Nov 10, 2011
Neither Saul nor Solomon nor any of the other kings of Israel and Judah received any serious wilderness training in God's Hardknox Bible College. Their lack of training shows in their dismal record. On the other hand, David and Joseph were trained by hardship to hear the voice of God and to submit to His sovereignty. They learned how to utilize authority without overstepping their bounds.
In today's world we see much the same pattern among ministers. Some are more gifted than others. Yet it is easily apparent which ones have never been in the wilderness. These are generally the ones who do not appreciate the value of money, nor the fact that someone actually had to work hard to earn it. Much money is squandered to buy things that merely pamper the flesh unnecessarily or to build monuments to build their reputations. They really believe that they deserve such pampering and that their fund-raising techniques have earned this money.
One could go on and on about such things, but that is not my main point. I can say, however, that I myself did not really comprehend the link between money and work until the Lord put me into the wilderness for ten years. Hence, I am speaking from observation through personal experience.
That wilderness training was more valuable than any formal education at any institution that I ever received. After two years of wilderness training, I finally learned that it had been a time of intercession on behalf of the Church. That was when the Lord told me to "count the days," and I then discovered that I had experienced the same time cycles that Ezekiel had gone through in Ezekiel 4:5 and 6.
On Dec. 30, 1981 I had been forced to leave the church in Las Cruces, NM that I had been pastoring. This began my wilderness experience. I landed on my feet in Batesville, AR on January 23, 1983 to begin a new life with a small group. This was a 390-day period, much like Ezekiel's 390-day intercession in Ezekiel 4,
(4) As for you, lie down on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. (5) For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.
Within two weeks of my arrival in Batesville, the Lord told me to go back and reconcile with those from the past. I asked for confirmation, and the Lord gave me, "yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown." I did not think that this verse had anything to do with the situation, so I discounted it until later when I discovered that this would involve a 40-day period.
I wrote letters asking to come and talk, and received an invitation on February 28. I made the trip and returned on April 9, which was 40 days later. Thus, the second pattern of Ezekiel was fulfilled:
(6) When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year.
I came to understand that Israel represented the Church--that is, the people themselves--while Judah represented the leaders of the Church. For this reason, I was told to go talk to the leaders of the Church who had broken fellowship with me. I did not have to lie on my side, of course, but the principle was that I was constrained by God. God told Ezekiel in verse 8,
(8) Now behold, I will put ropes on you, so that you cannot turn from one side to the other, until you have completed the days of your siege.
Once I had completed these two intercessory time periods (390 and 40), I was then assured that these hardships, in time, would bear fruit. Not only would the Church and its leaders benefit, but I myself would also benefit, because God had brought me a much-needed step higher in spiritual maturity.
If I had but prayed for the Church and its leaders, they might have received benefit; but the fact that I had been called to intercede for them brought as much benefit to me as to them. Perhaps more, because the final result of intercession is spiritual authority. Intercession involves:
2. Bearing iniquity
We see this pattern primarily in Jesus Christ Himself. He identified with Israel by being born of the seed of Abraham (Heb. 2:16). On a deeper level, He identified with all of humanity by coming in flesh and blood form instead of taking upon Himself the nature of angels (Heb. 2:14). Thus, He interceded for us on both levels, not only to redeem the seed of Abraham but also to redeem humanity itself from Adam's sin.
Second, He bore our iniquity as the Lamb of God. Isaiah 53:11 prophesies of Him, "My Servant will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities."
The chief priests helped in this regard by imputing their own sin and the sin of the people to His account. And so John 11:49-52 says,
(49) But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, (50) nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." (51) Now this he did not say on his own initiative; but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, (52) and not for the nation only, but that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
The timing of the crucifixion shows that Jesus Christ was the Passover Lamb who died at the same time that all the lambs were killed that day. Although both the priests and the people violated the will of God by rejecting the Messiah, they acted ignorantly and perfectly according to the divine plan.
Thus, He bore their iniquities. This means He took the penalty for their iniquities upon Himself by real-life experience. Of necessity, He had to be falsely accused, which also every intercessor knows by personal experience. An intercessor loses all reputation (Phil. 2:7) in the process, but like Jesus, he learns to despise the shame (Heb. 12:2).
Ezekiel, too, lost all reputation, for Ez. 4:12 says he was required to eat food cooked with (over) dung. The food was thus rendered unclean in the eyes of the priests and people. They did not realize that as an intercessor, the prophet was identifying with the people. The priests had been feeding them the traditions of men, which are "dung" in the eyes of God. Hence, when they condemned the prophet for eating unclean food, they were imputing their iniquity to the intercessor.
Then the people killed the great Intercessor so that the nation would not have to die for its own iniquity. But God justified Him by raising Him from the dead. Justification is a legal term, indicating that the Divine Court found Him innocent of the charges that the priests had brought before the Supreme Court of God.
Then Christ ascended to the throne, having been given spiritual authority over all those for whom He had interceded. As a result, He brought many sons into glory (Heb. 2:10) by the principle of Headship. It is the same principle that caused all men to die in Adam and to be saved in Christ. Each was the head of creation, and so their actions affected all of creation.
All other intercessors are given authority over those who benefit through their intercession. Anyone who bears the iniquity of men becomes their lawful creditor.
This is the final part of a series titled "Understanding Spiritual Authority." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones