Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saviors on Mount Zion - Reconciling the Creation - Part 2

Joseph Herrin (11-14-09)

More Meat - Get out your fork and a sharp knife

Note: If you have not read part one of this writing, I encourage you to do so before continuing.

Hebrews 7:25
[Yahshua] is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Let me begin part two of this series by sharing a definition of intercession that is greatly different from that in the minds of most Christians. Most Christians that I know equate intercession with prayer. Intercession is much more, however.

Intercession: an interposing or pleading on behalf of another person.

When Christ went to the cross, He manifested the most profound act of intercession the world has ever seen. He interposed Himself between God and man. In effect, Christ invited the Father to lay the sins of the creation upon His back, that the penalty might be paid fully by One who was righteous. The consequences of sin could never be covered by prayer alone. It required an interposition of the life of one on behalf of another.

The Scriptures are filled with examples of this type of intercession. Consider the following example from the life of Moses.

Exodus 32:9-14
Yahweh said to Moses,"I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation." Then Moses pleaded with Yahweh his God, and said: "Yahweh, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them,'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

Exodus 32:31-32
Then Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin - and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!"

This is intercession! Yes, Moses began with prayer and pleading before the Father, but he did not stop there. Moses placed himself between God and the people. He was willing to become a curse in order that he might deliver a people who had been nothing but grief to himself. In this way Moses was figured as a type of Yahshua who would one day place Himself between God and man to effect the salvation of mankind.

We find a similar example in the life of the apostle Paul.

Romans 9:1-3
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh...

This again is the epitome of intercession. Paul was willing to become a curse that others might live. The Scriptures declare, “Cursed is every man who hangs on a tree.” Christ became a curse “for the sake of [His] brethren.” Paul testified that He could wish that God might allow himself to do the same that his brethren might be reconciled to God.

People of God, it is the lowliest of experiences to be accursed, yet it is the highest manifestation of the love and character of God for a man to do so that others might live. Christ was “despised and forsaken of men.” Those hurling insults at the Son of God believed that He was suffering for His own sins. They “esteemed Him smitten and stricken by God.” They did not understand that it was for THEIR sins that He permitted Himself to endure the reproach and shame of the cross.

Will not Christ lead all those who would be mature sons to similar experiences? Consider once more the Scripture with which this writing opened.

He always lives to make intercession for them.”

How does Christ perform this intercession? Is it not through His body? Paul testified, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” It was Christ living vicariously through Paul that produced in the heart of the apostle the desire to become a curse that others might be saved. Christ truly does live to make intercession for the world. He does so through sons who are surrendered to His will and led by His Spirit.

Every time I have heard this Scripture proclaimed, the minister has evoked images of Christ sitting on His throne in heaven offering up prayers to the Father on behalf of mankind. Intercession is much more than this. Christ is alive in HIS BODY. Through surrendered sons He is producing a heart that yearns to see the creation reconciled to the Father, and these sons are willing to endure shame, reproach and suffering that others might be set free.

Every time Paul suffered on his missionary journeys, he was interceding. He was beaten, stoned, shackled, imprisoned, slandered, and he endured many things that are truly considered a curse to mankind. He bore all these things willingly and patiently that others might be reconciled to the Father.

Will you be an intercessor?

There is much more appointed to those who would be mature in Christ than merely proclaiming the gospel and praying for others. It has been appointed to the sons of God to enter into the sufferings of Christ on behalf of the creation.

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

Note that Paul says that his afflictions are actually “Christ’s afflictions.” This is how Christ ever lives to make intercession. He is interceding through His body on earth. Will you permit Christ to suffer affliction through you that others might be delivered from the bonds of sin and Satan? Can you endure reproach and suffering at the hands of men and women willingly, while entreating the Father to forgive them?

The kingdom of Satan will be overturned by a much more profound intercession than mere prayer. We conquer by our willingness to suffer while maintaining an attitude of love and forgiveness. Satan’s kingdom has no defense against such complete selflessness.

Romans 8:36-37
As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

What is it that the people of God are called to conquer? Is it not sin and Satan? What is the means by which this victory is attained? The method appears as a great paradox. We not only conquer, but we are more than conquerors, as we submit willingly to being killed all day long. We plunder the enemy’s camp as we present ourselves as sheep for the slaughter.

It is no wonder that in this sensual age of the Laodicean church that this message is neglected and seldom uttered. Where are those Christians who are willing to suffer shame, reproach, loss and even death for obedience to Christ? My own flesh recoils violently at the sight of the cross. I too cry out, “Father, if there be any other way, please let this cup pass from me.” Yet there is no other way by which intercession can be made on behalf of God’s people. There is no other method except the cross that will destroy the enemy’s camp and set the captives free.

Yahweh is patient in bringing His sons and daughters to a place of maturity where they are willing to become a curse before man that others might be saved. It requires selflessness to enter into this work of intercession. We arise from our mother’s womb altogether selfish. When we are born again of the seed of Christ we have the spark of divine life planted within our members. This divine life, if allowed to mature, will result in the appearing of a new creation. This new creation is in the image of Christ.

Should we then not expect that when the image of Christ begins to be manifest in us that we too will find ourselves being drawn to experiences of intercession where we willingly suffer for the sake of others that they might be set free? Will not Yahweh prove our Christ-likeness by bringing us also to Gethsemane and Calvary experiences?

I can hear the arguments of some now: “You are making yourself to be as Christ. You are saying that salvation is in your hands, when Christ accomplished salvation for us.”

Listen carefully to what I am saying: It is Christ IN US who is ever living to make intercession. It is Christ who continues to reconcile the world to God, and He is doing so through mature sons in His image. Those who enter into such a high calling can only declare as did the apostle Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

People of God, if left to my own Adamic nature, I would never choose to embrace shame, and suffering, and reproaches. I would not eagerly choose these things for my own benefit, much less for the welfare of others, and certainly not for the welfare of my enemies. It can be nothing other than Christ IN HIS SAINTS that would lead any of them to submit themselves to such experiences willingly.

The ways of God are not the ways of the natural man. A carnal church despises the ways of God. A carnal church has replaced the message of the disciple’s cross with a message of worldly blessing and prosperity, of ease and comfort. The result is that the world is not saved. Mankind is not reconciled to the Father, for only through laying down our lives can the ministry of reconciliation be accomplished.

Here, in very plain speech, is the ministry of intercession explained. The apostle Paul reveals the manner by which the sons of God are able to bring forth life in the creation.

II Corinthians 4:7-12
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Yahshua, that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Yahshua’s sake, that the life of Yahshua also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.

We are carriers of Yahshua’s death! What a radical concept! We are “always carrying about in the body the dying of Yahshua." This dying in us results in life in others. Will not Christ (revealed in His body) continue to be in labor pangs until all creation comes forth into the freedom of the sons of God? The apostle Paul declared:

Galatians 4:19
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you...

These words come from the same book from which we read, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). It is therefore Christ who continues in labor as He seeks to see mature sons come forth in His image. We are given the exceedingly high honor and privilege of entering into this work of Christ. As we surrender to death, life is manifest in others, and Christ is fully formed in us.

Let me now make this teaching very practical. You and I do not need to go seeking ways to suffer for others. Christ never did anything of His own initiative. He was always observing the Father, and He did all things precisely as He saw His Father doing them. Our calling is a very simple one. We need only to follow the leading of the Spirit.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

If you will surrender to be led of the Spirit in all things, you will find the Father leading you down a path that will lead to conformity to Christ. The Father will begin by dealing with the sin in our own lives, while leading us ever on toward spiritual maturity. Over time we will find the Spirit leading us into experiences of suffering for our obedience. Some of this suffering will be on behalf of others that they might be reconciled to God.

Most people will not recognize the path you are on as obedience. They will conclude that you are suffering for your own sins, as the Jews did of Christ. Yahweh will intentionally lead His sons and daughters to actions and obedience that they cannot defend to those who are led by the natural mind.

The cross has ever been this way. The Jews did not accuse Christ of being righteous. They accused Him of assorted transgressions, such as heresy and Sabbath breaking. Paul was not subjected to suffering on charges of obedience. He was accused of defaming the Law of Moses and setting aside the traditions of his people. He was often accused of being a rabble rouser. These are not noble charges. They are charges of transgression.

We too will be characterized as transgressors, and the accusations against us will often be false. If we would be conformed to the image of Christ, we will not seek to defend ourselves, or to convince those who judge according to the natural mind of our righteousness. We will be as sheep led to the slaughter. We will endure and forgive, and in doing so we will be accomplishing the work of intercession and reconciling the creation back to God.

For what reason might you be induced to embrace the cross? The apostle Paul exhorted those who were suffering many things with the following words.

Hebrews 12:1-3
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yahshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

Consider Christ! His time of suffering was intense, but brief. He has now entered into reward. He has been given all authority and all power. He has been given the name that is above every other name. He has entered into the joy of the Father.

We are in a race, and there is a finish line and a prize. Not all will attain to the prize. In order to receive the prize, we must compete according to the rules.

I Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

What I have been sharing in these last two posts are the rules by which we are called to compete. Like a runner, we are to set our eyes on the goal before us. We are not to be distracted with the allure of the world and the busy-ness of this life. We are called to take up our cross daily and follow Christ.

Those who are seeking to live at ease while anticipating receiving the prize that belongs to the firstborn and the overcomer will know profound grief. They will realize that they were like Esau, trading away their birthright to satisfy their temporal desires. We cannot go camp out on the field around which only a few runners are competing and have a picnic, play games, and be at ease and then have any expectation that if we walk over and cross the finish line that we will be awarded the prize.

Christ is our pattern-man, and we must walk as He walked. He was fully surrendered to the will of the Father. He was led of the Spirit of His Father in all things. He did not live to please Himself, but rather to please God. He did not shrink back when there was a cross before Him.

Last year the Spirit of Christ led me to write the book Christ in You - The Hope of Glory. This book sets forth the astounding things that await the overcoming sons of God. To receive the portion of the firstborn should be the goal toward which we all strive. I encourage you to read this book if you have no comprehension of the joy that is set before the sons of God.

Paul saw this joy and thought little of his earthly trials in the light of that which was to come.

II Corinthians 4:17-18
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We must take our eyes off of the temporal and look to those things that are eternal. Moses is given as an example of one who was looking ahead to the reward.

Hebrews 11:24-26
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.

Such are the ways of God. We conquer through suffering. We attain the prize by being put to death all day long. And in the process we will see Christ reconciling all things back to His Father in heaven. Hallelujah!

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was a great teaching & so needed. It's very relevant to my life right now. It drove home deeper the understanding of why God allows the suffering in our lives. He is doing a deeper work of death in my life, and I'm finding myself in difficult situations where there's absolutely nothing I can do about them but allow God to have His way in my life. Thank you for taking the time to write part 1 and 2.