Phase 1 of Intercession: Identification
Phase 1: Identification
Jesus is our ultimate and prime Example of an Intercessor and great High Priest (Heb. 7:25). In order to intercede for us, He first became one with us, identifying with us in our flesh, feeling our infirmities, and being tempted in all things even as we are. Heb. 2:14-17 says,
14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Jesus identified with us in order to be an effective intercessor. But the principle of identification is not limited to Jesus. There are other examples in the Bible, which show us that there are many intercessors who undergo the same type of identification in the conditions and problems of humanity.
Look at Ezekiel 4, where the prophet interceded for Israel, a nation that was going into captivity for its sin. The prophet was instructed to identify with Israel in two ways. First, he was to eat food cooked with (or over) dung (Ez. 4:12). This was to identify him with the people whose priests had fed them with the traditions of men that sprang from the idols of their own hearts. The Hebrew word for “dung” is gelel, which literally means “balls,” and is a reference to sheep or goat dung, which looks like little balls. Ezekiel’s favorite Hebrew word for “idol” is gillul. It literally means “a log,” and is a reference to human dung.
In other words, the priests had been eating the Word of God and after digesting the food, they were feeding the people with dung. The priests were teaching the traditions of men—man’s interpretation of the Word, or what is left of it after man has processed it internally. (See also our book, The Laws of Wormwood and Dung.)
Secondly, the prophet had to lie on his left side for 390 days for the House of Israel (Ez. 4:4, 5) and another 40 days for the House of Judah (Ez. 4:6). In doing this, the prophet identified with the captivities of both Israel and Judah, in which they would be subjected to the dung of human traditions, rather than any real understanding of the Word of God. Of course, the “remnant of grace” among them would always have a better understanding of God, but as Paul says, “the rest were blinded” (Rom. 11:5-7).
The 390-day intercession for the House of Israel set the level of grace for Israel that they would need during their long captivity to ensure their survival. From the beginning of their deportation to Assyria in 745 B.C. to the year 1986 A.D. was 7 x 390 years. The year 1986 was the 120th Jubilee from Adam. That year was pivotal and began a whole new series of events that must culminate in the manifestation of the Sons of God in the earth. We write more of the background of this timing in our book, Secrets of Time.
The 40-day intercession for the House of Judah set the level of Judah’s grace period before their destruction at the hands of Rome. It was 40 years from John’s execution at Passover of 30 A.D. to the day that the Roman armies surrounded Jerusalem at Passover of 70 A.D. It was also 40 years from Jesus’ crucifixion at Passover of 33 A.D. to the fall of Masada at Passover of 73 A.D., ending the Roman war.
Finally, it was 40 Jubilees (40 x 49 years) from the crucifixion to the year 1993 A.D. In this year the Lord led modern-day intercessors to undergo a seven-year time of intercession and spiritual warfare, leading to the year 2000. These were more very important years in the events leading to the manifestation of the sons of God. But these events are not the main focus of our attention in this short study of intercession. We only mention these time cycles to point out the value of Ezekiel’s intercession.
Another example of identification is the prophet Hosea, who was told by God to marry a harlot. Hosea 1:2, 3 says,
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry, and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.’ 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
God’s reason for telling Hosea to marry a harlot is specifically stated. God had married Israel, who had turned out to be a harlot in worshipping false gods. So Hosea was told to IDENTIFY with God in this situation in his call as an intercessor. One can only imagine what the upstanding religious leaders of the day might have said about this. In all of their own self-righteousness, they were not the ones called by God to be the intercessors. They never would have subjected themselves to the ridicule and condemnation required of an intercessor. Hosea was called, and he was willing to pay the price of obedience.
Hosea’s intercession had a happy ending, for after his wife left him, he redeemed her again (Hos. 3:2), establishing the fact that God would also redeem Israel from the bondage that her harlotry caused. This was a word of comfort to the northern House of Israel, whose ten tribes had been carried captive into Assyria and who would not find their way back to the land of Israel (Hos. 2:6). For this reason, these non-Jewish Israelites came to be known as “the ten lost tribes.”
Men may indeed lose them, but God never forgets. The time of physical Israel’s exile was 2,520 years (7 x 360, or “seven times”), dating from the beginning of their exile in 745 B.C. to 1776 A.D. America’s motto: “Out of many, One” is a prophetic reference to the reunification of all the ten tribes of Israel in their place of regathering in North America.
A secondary date for the beginning of this 2,520-year period was in 721 B.C., the year that Israel’s capital city, Samaria, was captured by the Assyrians. Dating from then, 2,520 years later comes to the year 1800 A.D., the year America’s capital, Washington D.C. was completed.
On a more spiritual level, of course, the term “Israel” refers to Jacob’s name given to him by the angel that he wrestled in Gen. 32:28. Jacob was not born with the name “Israel.” He received it after attaining a deeper relationship and understanding of God and His sovereignty. It is the name of the overcomers, the sons of God, who reflect the character of Jesus Christ. On this level, Ezekiel’s time frame is more applicable, where it is 7 x 390 years, bringing us to the year 1986 A.D. That is the year God began to separate the “barley” from the “wheat,” planting the overcomers and the rest of the Church into two separate “fields” according to the law of Deut. 22:9,
9 You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, lest all the produce of the seed which you have sown, and the increase of the vineyard become defiled.
Prior to 1986 God had viewed the overcomers as part of the Church under Pentecost. But after that time, God sowed each in its separate “field” in order that the leaven of Pentecost (Lev. 23:11) would not defile the overcomers, the sons of God, and prevent their manifestation.
Isaiah did some very strange things as an intercessor. Look at the example in Isaiah 20:2-5, where he identifies with Egypt and Ethiopia (or “Cush”). We read,
2 At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah the son of Amos, saying, ‘Go and loosen the sackcloth from your hips, and take your shoes off your feet.’ And he did so, going naked and barefoot. 3 And the Lord said, ‘Even as My servant Isaiah has gone naked and barefoot three years as a sign and token against Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, young and old, naked and barefoot, with buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt. 5 Then they shall be dismayed and ashamed because of Cush their hope and Egypt their boast.
Verse six tells us that Israel was expecting help from Ethiopia and Egypt to protect them from Assyria. Thus, in verse five Ethiopia (Cush) was “their hope” and Egypt “their glory.” They should have turned to God in repentance, rather than to other nations for help in warding off the judgment of the law upon the nation.
It is interesting to note that Jerusalem under King Hezekiah did pray to God for deliverance, and God then destroyed the entire Assyrian army. Since this occurred while Isaiah was prophesying in Jerusalem, it would seem that Isaiah’s prophecies did have the desired effect. It bought them another century or more of national survival.
About 100 years later, however, Egypt put Jerusalem under tribute, deported King Jehoahaz and set up his brother Jehoiakim as a puppet king (2 Chron. 36:1-5). Such an arrangement meant that Egypt was responsible to defend Judah if they came under attack from another foreign nation. It was only natural, then, that Jehoiakim would rely upon Egypt and its ally, Ethiopia (Cush) when king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and conquered Jerusalem (2 Chron. 36:6) a few years later.
And so, Isaiah’s prophecy came to pass. The Israelites were carried into Assyria, as Isaiah specified. But Judah’s judgment was delayed, because King Hezekiah repented and relied only on God for their deliverance. Hence, Judah escaped Assyrian captivity, but a century later, the King of Judah had forgotten how God saved Jerusalem. Instead, they relied upon Egypt once again and so Judah, too, was carried into captivity to Babylon.
Isaiah’s time of intercession lasted three years in this case. The whole point of a limited period of time was that it would lawfully set limits to the time of judgment upon Egypt and Ethiopia. While the focus is upon judgment, we cannot forget that God’s judgments are remedial and corrective in nature. The judgments of the law are designed to restore the lawful order and restore people and entire nations into grace.
And so we see that in Isaiah 19 God had already spoken to Isaiah of a time when God would “heal” Egypt (19:22), and Egypt would be God’s people (19:25). The passage reads,
22 And the Lord will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the Lord, and He will respond to them and will heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance.’
God limited Isaiah’s intercession to three years for Egypt and Ethiopia in order to establish a time limit on their judgment. This is the purpose and end of intercession. Once the prophet put on his clothes and shoes again, it signified that the time of judgment had been completed. So Isaiah’s intercession had a positive side to it. Egypt and Assyria would ultimately be blessed and the people would repent. Their nations would be included in the Kingdom of God during the final Messianic Age. We call it the Age of the Feast of Tabernacles which follows the Age of Pentecost.
Abraham and Isaac
Abraham is called the father of faith, because it is in him that the Scriptures develop the concept of faith. He was called to identify with God Almighty in sacrificing his only son, Isaac, the seed through whom the promise was to come. When Abraham heard the voice tell him to do this awful thing, one can only imagine what went through his mind at that time.
We often think of the great men of the Bible as superhuman creatures who would hear audible voices from heaven and would instantly obey the voice with gladness in their hearts. But these were men and women just like us (James 5:17). God’s tests are very real. First, it is highly doubtful that God spoke audibly to Abraham—at least not normally. Seldom does God speak audibly, for He makes it deliberately difficult to hear His voice. In 1 Kings 19:11, 12 Elijah learned that God spoke to men, not in the tempest, earthquake, and fire, but in “a sound of gentle blowing” (NASB), or in “a still small voice” (KJV).
If God had spoken with a booming voice out of heaven, even the heathen would obey by sacrificing their sons. But God spoke in the innermost being of Abraham’s spirit. This was the real test, and it was not easy, for Abraham had to be absolutely sure that it was God speaking and not merely an evil spirit or his own carnal mind. It is certain that Abraham knew that God did not require human sacrifice. This alone would have caused doubt in Abraham’s mind. We are not told the secrets of how Abraham knew the voice of God, or how he received confirmation of that word. But we are told that Abraham obeyed. He therefore came to reconcile the nature of the command with his understanding of the nature of God as he knew Him.
How easy it would have been for Abraham to rebuff God and then justify it with a treatise on The Satanic Rite of Human Sacrifice. God’s test was primarily to see if Abraham would lean unto His own understanding of the nature and justice of God (Prov. 3:5), or if he would know that voice so well that he knew for certain it was not an imitator.
I have often been faced with this type of test. It is most uncomfortable and tormenting. Yet it ultimately teaches us to trust that God knows what He is doing. It tears us loose from our dependence upon human understanding of the nature of God. It shatters our rigid dogmatism and destroys the wall of our human understanding, laying bare the deepest and most glorious truths once hidden by our narrow assumptions.
Abraham was called to identify with God in his most difficult act, that of sacrificing His only Son, Jesus. Abraham was called to know the heart of God, to feel His pain, to know His love, to glory in His resurrection. And we, the children of Abraham, led by the Holy Spirit, are able to enter into the experience of Abraham and catch a glimpse of the heart of God. It is done by the first principle of intercession: identification.
Intercession (“standing between”) takes two forms. The first form is identifying with sinful men, and secondly, identifying with God. Ezekiel and Isaiah identified with sinful men by eating food cooked with dung and by walking barefoot and naked for three years. Hosea and Abraham identified with God, the prophet by marrying the harlot, and Abraham by sacrificing his son.
The principle of identification makes us actors on a stage who tell a story to the world and teach principles by living out scenes in real-life stories. However, God does not allow us to learn our lines ahead of time. We are instead called to “live it out” and learn as we go. It is like being pushed out onto a stage without knowing the script ahead of time, being expected to ad lib the story as best we can.
This can, of course, be quite stressful. It is hard to understand why it must be this way. But as we will see later, one of the most important features of intercession is that the intercessor must act by faith and not depend upon understanding. Even Jesus on the cross asked His Father why He had forsaken Him. I do not pretend to know why God does it this way, but I know that He does. I also know that He has higher purposes than my little mind can comprehend. And most importantly, I know that no matter what happens, all things will work together for my good (Rom. 8:28). Intercession always does.