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Intercession - So As By Fire
- In Response to the National Conflict Over Gay Marriage, Winter 2004 -
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh ( - he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire).
Jude 23 (I Cor. 3:15)
Four days before the second legislative debate over gay marriage (March 11, 2004), our family conducted a prayer walk around the Massachusetts state house, concluding with a worship session under its cavernous portico. (Many intercessory groups had targeted this location for several weeks.)
I commented then on the significant timing between the film The Passion of the Christ and the nationally explosive tension over gay marriage:
The current intercession on all fronts…is geared toward "saving Sodom" (and is even being offered by churches who harbor sodomy!). This intercession is ignorant and the Lord has had enough of it. The intercession the Lord is awakening under the awareness of this film is a pure Abrahamic intercession that knows the end is decreed for Sodom but in the face of that knowledge is imploring the Lord for final deliverances of select targets of the heart before the Lamb makes His seismic move in the earth.
This article is to clarify what I meant by this and put intercession under a necessary corrective lens.
In the main, our leading prophetic prayer ministries are calling on God to basically put the American "gay genii back into its bottle" (make it retreat and go away), and to—please, at all costs—stop anything bad (ie, judgment) from happening to anybody anywhere as a consequence of this sin.
The churches and groups united in pleading this way are earnest and well meaning. I share their intensity of grief! But on closer look, this union (by-and-large) has not submitted to the inner fire that purges our own lives, clarifies our sense of identity outside the world, and hones our discernment of the times.
Oddly, so many interceding to protect marriage are themselves wracked with adultery, divorce and even—in the extreme—sodomy itself. (Really, what credibility does the gay-infested Roman Catholic Church have lifting up its voice on Boston Common?)
Absent the vision of a circumcised heart, we're failing to perceive the true role of intercession relative to the unavoidable consequences of societal sin that crosses certain lines, as well as what God has plainly spelled out of His plan to burn the harvest of end-time evil.
Discerning the Stages of Intercession
There are two stages of intercession. In the first stage, intercession is able to pre-empt all judgment. But in its second stage, intercession preserves amidst judgment. The first intercession saves from fire. The other saves only "so as by fire." The difference between these stages of intercession depends on the stage of development of sin in the life cycle of a person, a family, a church, an administration, a government, or a nation.
Preemptive intercession can head off all judgment early in the life cycle of a people where sin is committed largely through ignorance. But in the later life cycle, after sin has been repeatedly committed against the mercies of early forgiveness, a line is crossed where intercession can no longer pre-empt judgment. At this point, intercession must re-tool, re-gear, refocus to become a protecting and preserving agent amidst judgment.
Whereas early stage intercession can cancel judgment, late stage intercession labors in the face of certain judgment to distinguish between the salvageable and the unsalvageable, to extend a blanket of mercy over the salvageable and to put limits on the unavoidable wrath of God.
- Samuel's Misapplied Intercession
Once the evidences of late-stage sinfulness manifest, early stage intercession then becomes an affront to the Lord and He rejects it. Samuel's intercession for Saul is the best example of this in scripture.
Samuel had spent the duration of Saul's reign interceding for Saul. Having started with Saul, it was his rightful role to be a continuous intercessor. But Saul crossed lines in the life cycle of his reign that made his kingship indefensible and no longer tenable. Samuel did not recognize this ripening of sin for what it was, and continued applying early stage intercession for Saul. (Perhaps the blindness in him that led Israel to despise the prophetic leadership of his sons was responsible for this blindness also?)
But the Lord made it clear, "How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king …? Fill your horn with oil and go..." It was time for another kind of intercession—an intercession that preserves amid certain judgment. It was time for an intercession that looks forward to inaugurating a new administration at the expense of an old one.
[Note: for related discussion of misapplied intercession please see the articles Clueless to the Invisible: Samuel and the National Prophetic and Part VIII of The Body and the Beast.]
America: The Call to Late Stage Intercession
I don't want to belabor this subject, as it is so distasteful. But Paul indicates (Rom. 1) that the blossoming of homosexuality marks the late stage of the life cycle in a civilized society, being the fruit of a society's repeated rejection of the knowledge of God.
In 1962, America's courts began a steady public rejection of the knowledge of God. Within 10-15 years, homosexuality (and abortion) came out of the closet to confront American society in public. The public rejection of God and the release of the public power of homosexuality have grown together proportionately.
In 2003, we witnessed the simultaneous legalization of sodomy by the United States Supreme Court and the symbolic rejection of the Law of God through the removal of the 10 Commandments monument in Alabama. (See the article "The Day They Rolled the Stone Away.") These facts are not unrelated. Today, America is groaning under the yoke of militant homosexuality, experiencing a chicken pox-like epidemic of sodomy-establishing legislation. The whole nation is festering with lawlessness.
All this dovetails with Paul's general word to Timothy about the end times, and what we see in the world at large. Paul describes the end as a time when societies everywhere cast off restraint of God's law ahead of God's judgment and the inauguration of His fully manifest Kingdom.
If all this is true, what does this mean for intercession? It means that God is calling the church to late stage intercession regarding America. The time for early stage intercession is past. Early stage intercession is no longer acceptable to the Lord. It is weeping for Saul. God is calling the American church and His people throughout the world to begin retooling intercession for targeting objects of preservation and protection amidst inevitable destruction.
Correction Through Biblical Examples
But this is very slowly happening if at all among the chief intercessory voices in the land. American prophetic prayer leaders appear addicted to early stage intercession thinking, seemingly oblivious to the late season of human civilization around us, the nature of what we are confronting, and how God truly feels about it.
Even key biblical stories of late stage intercession are re-interpreted as preempting the wrath of God for today. Any serious understanding of late intercession is missing. For that reason, we need to look at what the scripture shows us about late stage intercession.
- Abraham's Intercession Regarding Sodom
Today's intercessors often take strength from Abraham's prayer to "spare the city" of Sodom as a model for preventing all judgment and for reversing all the effects of sodomy in America—as if we could turn the clock back in America's life. We've been praying to this effect:
"Lord, as Abraham begged you to spare Sodom, we implore you to spare America. Lord, save America. Let no evil befall it for all the society's sinfulness. Cause even all these poor innocently deceived homosexuals victimized by the devil to repent, Lord. Turn back the evil. Turn it back. Make it go away. Make it so not one hair of anyone's head will have to be singed for anything they've done."
But Abraham's intercession is not an example of early stage intercession. If we look closely, we'll see that he wasn't offering a blanket prayer on behalf of Sodom for all its sin, or praying in denial of its due judgment. What we really find is Abraham offering targeted intercession for the sparing of the righteous within Sodom. (II Pt. 2:6-9 bears out that this was also God's purpose.)
Abraham's very first word to the Lord over the issue is "Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?" His concern is not for Sodom as a city, but for preserving the righteous within it. This governs his entire bargaining position going forward and is the reason for it in the first place.
Specifically, Abraham's real concern is for Lot and his family. He knew there weren't that many righteous people to justify saving the city. So, in true oriental [coy, indirect] fashion, he keeps narrowing down the target of his concern, without actually saying who he was really concerned for. (As an oriental, it may have seemed crass to him to just come out and ask the Lord as we would, "Won't you spare the city just to save my nephew's family?")
God does respond to Abraham's intercession for Lot. But not by sparing the city. He responds by getting Lot out of Sodom, which fulfils Abraham's true and only real concern. God has already determined to destroy the city. That is not going to change. But in honor of Abraham's intercession, he sees to it that Lot is removed before the city is destroyed. The angels plainly tell Lot, "Look, we can't do anything to this place til we get you out." THAT is the result of Abraham's intercession.
I'm persuaded that, had it not been for Abraham's praying, even Lot would not have been spared, simply because—though he was intrinsically righteous—his compromised position rendered him unprotectable on the merits of his own spirituality (much like the way believers today who compromise themselves spiritually are unprotectable from demons.)
If Abraham had been concerned for Sodom, then Sodom, not just the righteous, would have been the focus of his intercession. If that were so, he would have no reason for bargaining down. He would have simply prayed, "Please Lord, won't you just give the city a little more time to repent?" That's not what he was praying for.
- Moses, Korah and Aaron's Incense
Two other striking examples of late stage intercession are found back to back in Numbers 16. In the first part of the story, Korah and his elders have rebelled against Moses. As with Sodom, the Lord is now ready to remove Israel as a congregation. But like Abraham, Moses offers a targeted intercession to separate out the wicked for judgment and spare the congregation. The Lord relents and has Moses warn all the people to "get out of the way."
See that Moses is not interceding for Korah and his followers. He doesn't offer a blanket universal intercession that includes Korah. Quite the opposite. He withstands Korah's people throughout the contest. Like Lot's angels, Moses works fast to set the people apart. Again, fire falls, the earth opens, judgment comes. The major part of the people is spared.
Yet the story is not over. For next, the people as a whole now accuse Moses over the destruction of Korah! Does Moses intercede for the entire nation again? No. He knows what is coming and that it's useless to pray to stop it. This time, armed with a censer filled with holy incense (a fore type of prayer) for some kind of atoning, he sends Aaron running to the camp where a death plague has already begun.
Aaron moves up and down among the dying congregation. His presence with the holy incense acts to limit the wrath of God. Nearly 15,000 people die, but the plague is stayed. Here again is an example of late stage intercession. Such intercession does not try to forbid judgment, but, recognizing its inevitability, moves to limit it.
- The Spear of Phinehas: The Intercession of Destruction
The intercession of Phinehas opens us to an entirely different type of intercession, one more extreme than any before it, yet one that Revelation says will mark the final witnesses of this age. It is the Intercession of Destruction.
In Numbers 25, Israel commits an extreme abomination through intermarriage with Moabite women, threatening the very purity of bloodline for which they had been set apart to God. Immediately, a major plague ensues that begins to wipe out the people.
In this case, no prayer can be offered to atone for this sin, nor does Moses attempt to offer any. There's even no hope of a positively redemptive act that will turn God's heart as Aaron did before. Here, there is only one course of action. It's to literally destroy the leaders from the midst of the congregation to prevent the entire wipeout of all the people by a plague.
The exact detail of events is unclear, but Phinehas, Aaron's grandson, is moved to zealous anger when a leader shows up in the meeting tent with one of these women. With a single spear thrust he kills both the man and woman. By this act, Phinehas saves the rest of the congregation (among whom 24,000 died.) In utterly surprising words, God commends an act of destruction as an act of intercession:
"Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy."
- The Final Intercession of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is about earth's transition from mortal government under man to immortal government under the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ and His glorified saints. The book is filled with intercession amidst destruction as the age of man comes to a humiliating close.
The chief intercession seen in Revelation is late stage intercession. It is not the intercession that preempts judgment but that which mitigates it. It is not the intercession that begs God to put the misdeeds of human rule back in the box and "hold your fire," but that works to preserve salvageable men from among the unsalvageable and to actually "guide" the fire into pinpoint accuracy of redemptive destruction. The intercession of Revelation does not save the earth from fire, but saves so as by fire.
Revelation 8 paints a picture of prayer incense ascending to heaven resulting in the casting down of fire to earth. This fire is not sent to preserve man's systems, governments and cultures. It is sent to shake them up in preparation for the Lord's replacement of them. Revelation 11 actually demonstrates the destructive intercession of Phinehas through the targeted calling down of fire on select places.
"What Time Is It In America?"
In view of the maturity of America's life cycle and of all civilization these 2000 years since the cross—in view of the 40-year fruit of the American culture's public rejection of God—in view of the intercessional mandate of John's Revelation regarding the transition of ages—and in view of the near universal sense of the Lord's soon return—it becomes clear that most of our current praying for human societies is misplaced, and that God is calling to an entirely different intercession—one in keeping with the spiritual lateness of our times.
It's time to stop our bleeding heart intercession for Saul and start offering the incense that will provide targeted protection as we move into the next age. The in-your-face spirit of militant homosexuality has crossed a line and is about to be answered by the Lord with fire. He is through with blanket praying to spare American society. It's not going to happen. As with Sodom, the destruction has already been decreed. Interceding to make legal changes in Sodom's marriage codes was not Abraham's answer then. It cannot be our answer now.
God is looking for targeted intercession for preserving the righteous in the face of imminent societal fire. He seeks the clear separating of the sheep from the goats, and of "Goshen" from "Egypt" before He acts. He's looking for us to cover those whose own spirituality might not be enough to protect them from what is coming. Such "bargaining" intercession is what the Lord is after now.
- Remembering the "Civil War"
Personally, as an intercessor with a governmental mandate, I'm really vexed over the tension regarding the evil in this land—evil of never-before-seen magnitude here, and a tension quickly readying to explode. This explosion is going to be very destructive once it occurs and will produce effects at least as devastating as the Civil War.
Many do not stop to realize that America's Civil War 140 years ago did not happen suddenly. From its founding 85 years previous, America was divided over slavery. The tension over that division evolved and increased over time until at last, the time for war was ripe, and the judgment of war was the only means to let out the tension.
The same is true now. I don't know what's coming, but what I do know is that all the same signs of a society culturally divided over evil as resulted in the last Civil War are in place in this generation at this hour. This very year seems pivotal as the society proceeds to cast off its restraint everywhere in the face of those who serve God in the land.
THIS cultural tension is the context for release of the bloody film The Passion of The Christ. The message is, either embrace the violence borne by the Savior on our behalf, or receive the violence that comes of necessary judgment upon your gross societal lawlessness,
"for surely, says the Lord, it is coming, and is even now at hand."
Intercessors, wake up. Stop dreaming. To your true posts!
[Note: for a spiritually reasoned thesis regarding the supposed "right" to gay marriage, please see my article Gay Marriage - The Logical Inevitable Result of the Denial of God.
For larger discussion on the phases of intercession that includes projection toward rebuilding out of national destruction, please see the commentary Intercessory Conflict Over America - Understanding the Three Phases of Intercession.]
New Meadow Neck, RI
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created March 15, 2004
Page updated January 25, 2017