[Course 35 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

Author: Alison Bowling
Editor: Teresa Seputis

Prayer-School MiniTraining Series

Identificational Repentance

by Alison Bowling

Lesson 3

Becoming An Intercessor With Jesus

Jesus' Intercession

The word translated "advocate" in 1 John 2:1 is "parakletos" which means "an intercessor, consoler: advocate, comforter". The NIV reads, "we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense". Like a lawyer representing a client in a court of law, Jesus represents us before the Father. He is our intercessor.

Jesus always lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34). In his book, "Intercessory Prayer", Dutch Sheets explains that Jesus' intercession does not mean that He is continually petitioning the Father on our behalf but that He is mediating, or going between, to present us to the Father as righteous and one of His own. We came to the Father in the Name of Jesus. Our intercession is based on the completed work of Jesus. Jesus is the one and only mediator between God and man, and the one and only intercessor.

Isaiah 53: 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Our Role

Jesus is the ultimate intercessor, representing mankind before the throne of God. However, we need to apply his finished work of intercession, and he needs men and women who are willing to intercede before the Father to bring into reality that which has already been accomplished. Although Jesus took upon Himself the sins of all humanity, we live in a fallen world, in which sin is rampant. While as Christians, we can go directly to God, there are many that are unable at this time to appropriate Jesus' atonement for themselves, because of unbelief, ignorance or blindness (e.g. 2 Cor. 4.4). Although the blood of Jesus has atoned for all sin, there is much sin, both in the present and the past, for which the blood of Jesus has yet to be appropriated. While this remains unappropriated, the guilt and the consequences of that sin still apply, both for individuals, families and nations.

Our role in intercession then, is to appropriate the finished work of Calvary, on behalf of those who for some reason, are unable to appropriate it for themselves. Just as Jesus is the mediator between God and man, so we are called to be mediators between the person or people for whom we intercede, and God. Just as Moses, the ultimate mediator in the Old Testament, and Jesus, the ultimate Mediator in the New, identified with the people for whom they interceded, so we are called to identify with those for whom we pray. This does not mean that we are to try to make atonement ourselves - to attempt to bear the penalty of the sin ourselves. Jesus has already made the atonement, and borne the penalty for their sin. When Moses offered to do that in Exodus 32:33, God refused, saying, "Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book". Rather, identification means to understand that sin outworks corporately. All the individuals in a community share in the responsibility for the sin and its consequences, and as a member of the community for which we pray, we can represent that community before God's throne, confessing our corporate sin and asking for forgiveness for our community. It means that when we see sin in our community, we do not lay the blame on the groups or organizations concerned. Instead of pointing the finger, we recognize that we are part of the society, and are willing to humble ourselves and pray, and repent of the sin in whatever way the Lord leads as we seek His face.

Pointing The Finger

In Isaiah 58, about fasting, God describes a number of behaviours which must be changed before the fast is acceptable to Him. One of these is "pointing the finger" (Is. 58:9). To point the finger means to accuse someone, to denounce or condemn them. It means to blame someone else - to focus on their sin or wrongdoing. In John 8:2-5, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus whom they had caught in the act of adultery. They were ready to condemn her and stone her to death. But Jesus changed their focus - from the woman's sin, to their own. Each was made to examine his own heart, and to recognize his own guilt. Eventually, no one was left to condemn her, and Jesus, the only blameless one amongst them, did not condemn her either.

Jesus said, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Mat. 7:3-5).

Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it (John 3:17). To those who were far too ready to focus on the sin in the lives of those around them, He recommended a change of focus. Identificational repentance means to have that change of focus - to no longer place the blame on those around us, but to acknowledge our corporate responsibility. It means that we take a totally different stance - not one of condemnation, but of identification, recognizing that we all share the guilt of the sin of our nation.

An illustration of this attitude can be seen in the book of Ezra. Ezra was a priest and a teacher. He understood the ways of God. He had been an exile in Babylon, and led a group of exiles back to Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Babylon. About 80 years previously, during the reign of Cyrus the Persian, a group of exiles had returned and rebuilt the temple under Zerubbabel. Since their return, many of these exiles, including some of the priests, had married women from the surrounding peoples. This resulted in the worship of foreign gods becoming established amongst them. In fact, the leaders and officials had been some of the worst offenders. Ezra was informed of this about 4 months after his return. He was appalled! However, his immediate reaction was not one of condemnation, but of repentance. He began to intercede for the people, humbling himself, and weeping and confessing before the Lord. He identified with his people confessing their sin.....

"O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our forefathers until now, our guilt has been great...... But now, O our God, what can we say after this? For we have disregarded the commands.... O Lord, God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence." (Ezra 9:6,7,10,15).

Ezra was not guilty of marrying a foreign woman. He had only been in the country 4 months, and had every reason to feel that this sin had nothing to do with him. Yet he recognized the seriousness of the sin, that they were liable to the judgement of God because of their unfaithfulness. Ezra intervened between the anger of God and the Jewish remnant, recognizing the guilt that they bore corporately. Because he was part of the remnant God had chosen to return to Israel, this sin affected him and everyone else. His identification with the people and their sin was so complete, that he states in verse 15 that "not one of us (even himself) can stand in your presence".

As Ezra wept and repented before God, the situation began to change. First, a group of people who were also aware of the seriousness of the Jews' unfaithfulness gathered around Ezra, and entered into intercession with him. Subsequently, a large crowd joined them and began to acknowledge their guilt. A means of dealing with the situation was suggested, not by Ezra, but by a member of the crowd. A plan was put into action, which eventuated in the whole assembly confessing their sin, and sending their foreign women and children away. Ezra's intercession changed hearts.

If Ezra had not repented and humbled himself before God, but had denounced those who had been unfaithful, the result might have been very different. Instead of acknowledging their sin, the hearts of the offenders could well have become further hardened and the rebellion that had had such dire consequences in the past, become further established.

This was a crisis situation because the survival of the Jewish race depended upon their total commitment to the Lord, keeping themselves free from any contamination with the corrupt practices of the other inhabitants of the region. (The NIV describes a similar community, the Elephantine settlement in Egypt, who were lax concerning intermarriage. Those who married pagan spouses began to worship pagan gods, and eventually the community was assimilated and disappeared). Ezra, by his identificational repentance, averted a disaster.

[Please Note:
This is intended as a discussion series. Please feel free to send your discussion (comments or questions) to prayer-school@godspeak.net. These discussions will NOT be put on the WWW page.]

-- © GodSpeak International 2000 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

[Course 35 Index] [Prayer-School Index] [Mini-Series Index ] [Prev Lesson] [Next Lesson]