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Author: Alison Bowling <A.Bowling@utas.edu.au>
Editor: Teresa Seputis

Prayer-School MiniTraining Series

Identificational Repentance

by Alison Bowling

Lesson 4

Principles to Apply

Identificational Repentance To Break The Curse On A Nation

The people of Israel had been initially sent into exile as a result of their continued rebellion and disobedience. God had told them He would do this if they disobeyed Him (e.g. Deut. 4:27). The nation had brought down a curse upon itself because of its flagrant rebellion (Lev. 26:33, Dan 9:11). However, He also promised that a remnant would survive, and return to Jerusalem (Jer. 25:11-12). Through his study of the Scriptures, Daniel, an exile in Babylon, recognized the time was approaching for Jerusalem to be restored. Daniel 9:1-19 describes how Daniel entered into a time of prayer and fasting, confessing the rebellion of the people of Israel, and pleading that that the wrath of God would be removed from Jerusalem, and His favor restored to the city. He identified with his people, confessing the sins of the nation as a representative of his people. God heard his prayer of repentance, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe some of the events involved in the rebuilding of Jerusalem. The curse on the nation of Israel was revoked. In addition, Daniel received a much greater revelation of God's purposes for Jerusalem in the centuries to come.

Nehemiah also wept and prayed after hearing about the desolation of Jerusalem, and similarly confessed the rebellion of the people, including himself and his father's house. Again, he recognized that only confession and repentance would bring restoration. However, his prayer had a different focus - he prayed that he might be given favor by the king, so that he could go the Jerusalem and help rebuild its walls.

It can been seen from these examples that sin (including rebellion, disobedience and indulging in corrupt practices) brings the judgement of God upon a nation. This judgement does not go away, but remains until the sin that brought it about is acknowledged, confessed and forgiven by our God who is always ready and waiting to pour out His mercy, grace and steadfast love on those who return to him wholeheartedly.


In Genesis 4, after Cain killed Abel, the Lord said to him, "Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground." The shedding of innocent blood brought bloodguilt on the land and on the people (Deut 19:10). Numbers 35:33-34 says that such shedding of blood pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land, except by the death of the one who shed the blood. In other words, the land was under a curse until the shed blood had been atoned for by a death. This curse does not wear off over time, as shown in 2 Sam 21. During the reign of David there was a famine, and David asked Lord about its cause. The Lord said that there was bloodguilt on the land because Saul had killed some Gibeonites quite a few years ago. Only the death of 7 male descendants of Saul atoned for the bloodguilt, and ended the famine.

The power of the blood of Jesus shed upon the cross is sufficient to atone even for the bloodguilt which may have brought a land or a nation under a curse. But that Blood still needs to be appropriated to release the land from the curse. The Blood could only be applied through confession of sin and repentance. The British intercessors understood this prior to their visit to Australia. God had shown them that all the innocent blood shed by the English during their colonial expansion had brought England under a curse, and that curse could only be removed by repentance. To do that, as representatives of the nation of England, they identified with the nation, confessing the sin, not only before God, but before one of the colonies they had wronged - in this case, Australia.

The only way to deal with sin is through repentance. It involves personal repentance for our own sin, and identificational repentance for the sins of a nation, and for those members of our communities and families who may not have come to the place of repentance for themselves. This involves entering into the sufferings of Jesus. Identificational repentance means humbling ourselves, being willing to mourn and weep as Ezra, Daniel and Nehemiah did. It means going the way of the Cross - laying down our lives, that others may enter into life.

In Col 1:24, Paul wrote, "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church."

A Prayer Of Identificational Repentance

A study of Ezra's prayer in Ezra chapter 10 can give us some understanding of the aspects of a prayer of identificational repentance.

  1. Acknowledgment of guilt and its justified consequences (verses 6-7)
  2. Recognition of God's continued grace, loving kindness and faithfulness to us in spite of all that has happened (verses 8-10).
  3. A confession of the specific sin that has resulted in the current crisis or need. Ezra cited the specific commandments that had been broken (verses 10-12).
  4. A further recognition that although God's anger is warranted and that He is righteous, he is also merciful, and a plea for the judgement to be lifted. (verses 13-15). The tone of Ezra's prayer indicates that he is utterly naked and broken before the Lord, and that all he can do is cast himself and his people onto God's mercy and grace.
  5. A plea to God to act for the sake of His mercy and His Name (Daniel 9:18-19).

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (2 Chron 7:14).

[Please Note:
This is intended as a discussion series. Please feel free to send your discussion (comments or questions) to prayer-school@godspeak.net. We will have online discussion each week, MC'd by Alison Bowling, the author of this series. These discussions will NOT be put on the WWW page.]

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

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