In the Footsteps of Abraham
One of the first great intercessors in the Bible was Abraham, and his most famous intercessory prayer was for one of the most sinful places in the ancient world! Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with sin, sexual debauchery, and sodomy, yet the great Patriarch of Israel, the “father of faith,” interceded passionately that those twin cities of sin be spared! I believe it was this kind of compassion that led God to say, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” (Gen. 18:17)
When God told Abraham that He planned to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the patriarch asked God if He planned to destroy the righteous people along with the wicked. Abraham made a counterproposal, “…wilt Thou indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?” (Gen. 18:24b NASV) When God agrees to relent if 50 righteous people were found, Abraham persisted to drive the numbers lower, knowing only Lot and his family could possibly qualify. The patriarch whittled the number down to 20, and in verse 32 he reached a pivotal place that is important for us to see. Abraham said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” (Gen. 18:30 NASV)
God agrees to Abraham’s request, but this passage causes us to wonder, What if Abraham hadn’t stopped at ten? God definitely showed no signs of being angry with Abraham over his persistent intercession and pleading on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, I believe God liked it. I have a hunch that Abraham could have gone even lower. (But then again I wasn’t there and I certainly don’t have all the facts at hand.) However, this incident illustrates one of the fundamental laws governing the relationship between God and man: God quits when man quits.
What did you say, James? Yes, God quits when man quits! God loves a good fight and He calls us to be His tenacious bulldogs in the Holy Spirit, and get hold of the promises of God and not let go until. History-making intercessors just flat out never give up! They continue until! I love it… So will you.
Four Biblical Definitions
There are four biblical definitions of an intercessor that I have used over the years that help paint a clear picture of our amazing calling as effective intercessors, and will bring everything else we study into proper perspective. But the picture is not complete, unless we bring all four of these definitions together. So hold on – you have to get the whole picture – not just a one frame shot. So let’s bring some greater definition…
An Intercessor Is One Who:
- Reminds the Lord of promises and appointments not yet met and fulfilled.
On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth (Isaiah 62:6-7 NASV).
- Takes up the case of justice before God on behalf of another.
Yes, truth is lacking; and he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the Lord saw, and it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and was astonished that there was no one to intercede (Isaiah 59:15-16a NASV).
- Builds up the wall of protection against the demonic enemy forces in time of battle.
O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord (Ezekiel 13:4-5 NASV).
- Stands in the gap between God’s righteous judgment, which is due, and the need for mercy on the people’s behalf.
“And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord God (Ezekiel 22:30-31 NASV).
Bringing all four of these definitions together we see the following: An intercessor is one who relentlessly reminds the Lord of His prophetic promises while identifying the needs for justice in our generation. We do spiritual warfare against the powers of darkness in Jesus’ great name while lifting a cry for mercy upon our spheres of delegated rule for Christ name sake! Whew! That is history making for sure. It makes me want to sign up all over again!
Responding to His Promises
History-making intercessors deal with two kinds of promises: the promises recorded in the Word of God which are yet to be fulfilled or are ongoing promises available to every believer by faith; and the prophetic, revelatory promises given to us in our day through the voice of God and the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are true, but also are yet to be fulfilled (see 1 Tim. 1:18-19). We must contend for the promise!
God tells us in the Book of Jeremiah that He is watching over His Word to perform it (see Jer. 1:12). That means the most valid and effective way to present our case before God is to rehearse and respectfully remind Him of His unchanging Word. When we rehearse a promise from our faithful God, He requires Himself to watch over that Word to perform it. But this entreaty only can be done with the purest of motives from hearts that are clean before God. Even then, we are only authorized to “argue” or present our case for those things and petitions which (1) are in accordance with God’s will; (2) extend His Kingdom; and (3) glorify His name.
Christians who believe in the current-day operation of the gifts of the Spirit need to make sure their arsenal includes one of the foundational evangelical truths: the integrity of the Scriptures as the inspired, infallible Word of God and the final authority in salvation, doctrine, conduct, reproof and correction. Many evangelicals, on the other hand, need to add the fervor, faith and power of the present-day ministry of the Holy Spirit.
We need a wedding between the school of the Word and the school of the Spirit. Then and only then can we proceed with assurance into the fullness of what God has in mind for this generation. Years ago, I once publicly heard the fabled revivalist and statesman Leonard Ravenhill declare, “If you have the Word without the Spirit, you will dry up. If you have the Spirit without the Word, you will blow up. But if you have the Spirit with the Word, you will grow up.” I say amen to this simple declaration.
So let’s kneel on the promises – both written and revelatory – and birth them from the revelatory, spiritual realm into the natural, earthly realm. Kingdom come! Will be done! On earth as it is in Heaven! Impose the heavenly rule of Christ Jesus in our time and space world! Stretch forth your rod of authority and reign!
I trust this simple, yet clear teaching is helpful. This is a portion of my chapter in the compilation book The Reformer’s Pledge hosted by Che Ahn. This is one of my primary messages – History Belongs to the Intercessor!
A watchmen on the walls!
James W. Goll