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All are called to pray, but God calls some to intercession. This book explains the three phases of intercession: Identification, Bearing the penalty for another's sin, and Obtaining forgiveness and victory on their behalf. Jesus is the great Example. We are merely called to be like Him and walk as He walked.
Category - General
In normal applications of the principle of dying to the flesh, people are raised at the same time that they “die.” However, with intercessors, there is more of a time lag between the two events. The time depends wholly upon the length of time required in a particular job of intercession. With Ezekiel, it was 390 days for Israel and 40 days for Judah. With Isaiah it was three years. With Hosea, it was for his entire time of married life.
In Jesus' example, it was three-and-a-half years from the time He presented Himself to John for baptism to the time of His resurrection. It culminated in a three-day time in the tomb before resurrection.
Most important to this phase, however, is the result of the intercessory work, for herein is the reward. Of Jesus, we read in Heb. 2:9, 10,
9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
He brought many sons into glory through His sufferings. Eph. 4:8 says that “He led captive a host of captives and He gave gifts to men.” That is, He freed those captivated by death. It was customary in those days that if a man saved another man's life, the man saved owed his life to the one who saved it. If a general conquered a city and led the survivors away captive—and if another general should conquer the first general—the captives became the property of the second general. That is, “he led captive a host of captives.” If he were a generous conqueror, it was customary to release those captives and give them gifts and provisions out of the spoils of war, so that they could return to their homes.
Jesus did this by conquering General Death, who had formerly captivated all men through Adam's sin. In Jesus' conquest of Death, Jesus took all men captive and set them free. Jesus then gave men the gift of the Holy Spirit and the spiritual gifts as their provision whereby they could return to their inheritance, the Promised Land.
What Jesus did on a worldwide scale, Ezekiel did on a national scale for Israel. When the time was completed, he stood up and stopped eating food cooked with dung. In doing so, he ensured that Israel would also stand up one day and shake off their shackles, the bonds that held them bound in darkness for so long. He ensured that they would be fed with the true Manna from heaven, the pure word of God not cooked or prepared with the dung of men's traditions.
This was the reward of intercession. Ezekiel, too, would lead captive a host of captives and give gifts to men. To be sure, Ezekiel was “in Christ,” so Christ gets the ultimate credit for these things. But this does not negate the fact that Ezekiel would get his reward, for God always rewards His servants, even though they can do nothing without His empowerment.
Many Christians wonder why they experience troubles and spiritual battles. They wonder why God does not seem to answer their prayers to release them. The answer might be that they have been called as intercessors, to pay the debt to sin that the law requires, not only for their own sins, but for the sins of others as well. Remember, the high priest of Israel not only had to offer a sacrifice for his own sins, but then he had to offer sacrifices for the sins of the nation as well.
Intercessors have a priestly function in bearing the iniquity of others. If you suspect that you are such a person, called to intercede, here is what to do: trust God; He knows what He is doing. Remember Rom. 8:28. All things will work out for your good. So guard yourself against heart bitterness. Rather than accuse God of child abuse, thank Him for His love and for caring enough about you not to leave you in your present carnal condition. Thank Him in all things.
Know that because Jesus has overcome the world, and He is in you, that you too will be more than a conqueror. Submit to the death of the flesh, that you may be raised to life as well in due time. As you overcome, so shall those you are interceding for, because what you sow, you shall certainly reap at the proper season.