Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let
them have dominion
over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over
the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the
earth." -GENESIS 1:26
When Adam and Eve were created, God gave them authority to manage all matters on the earth. "The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; but the earth He has given to the children of men."111 Their sin in the garden represented a rebellious heart that desired to move from manager to owner. Satan convinced them that God was holding out on them, and he appealed to their pride to be all knowing like God.112 Each of us has an innate sin nature that wants to be the boss, not just a steward of what God has entrusted to us. However, stewardship is man's role, to represent His interests and to execute His will on earth.
When man sinned in the Garden of Eden, that authority was transferred to Satan. Jesus acknowledged that Satan was "ruler of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He was given free rein over the earth because of man's disobedience. God's strategy to reclaim what was lost in the Garden was accomplished by sending His own Son as payment for the sins of mankind. "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). It was not until Jesus came to earth and reclaimed that authority through His death and payment of sin that man could stand against the power of Satan. "For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross."113 However, man has to understand his role in the reclamation process. There is a war going on for control over planet earth. Christians are to be God's redemptive tool on earth to defeat the works of darkness (1 Jn 3:8) and to manifest Heaven on earth (Matt 6:10). This war will continue until Jesus returns to earth.
God Entrusts Man with Authority
God made a very calculated risk when He decided not to exercise full authority over the earth. He refused to require His children to love Him. God is ultimately responsible for what happens on planet earth, but He is not to blame for all that happens, because of man's free will. Unless man exercises his authority to prevent Satan's attack, Satan will exercise his right to steal, kill, and destroy (Jn l0:10).
There are other things that happen on earth that is a result of man exercising the authority God entrusts to him. We are here to enforce the covenants. A covenant is anything God and Jesus have spoken on the earth in the form of a promise. These covenants are enforced through intercessory prayer. God is looking for those He can partner with to accomplish what He wants to do on the earth. "For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."114 "Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind."115 "If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven..."116 God is looking for individuals who are willing to stand in the gap to fulfill His purposes and enforce His covenants on the earth. "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."117 This verse is not just a reference to prayer, but an admonition that believers are to stand for righteousness in the culture so that those in that culture will not be destroyed for their sins. As God's representatives, we enforce His will through intercessory prayer, which activates the covenantal blessings of God on earth.
Planet earth is currently under a 6-7,000 year lease to human beings. Intercession involves a legal appeal process in heaven by those (you and me) who are interceding for a covenant ruling to be enforced by the landlord (God) for what has already been stated (God's covenant promises). What are some of God's covenant promises? Anything that Jesus said or modeled while He was on earth can be expected to be realized through us. These include a right to physical provision, health, peace, a life without fear. He said we would do even greater works than He did (Jn 5.20).
Jesus Lived as a Man
Jesus lived with the same limitations that we live with while He was on earth. However, He appropriated what He needed on earth through His heavenly Father. He always did what He saw the Father doing through Him. He carried out the will of the Father. We are called to do the same. That is how His kingdom is manifested on the earth through each son and daughter. This is why it is so important that we each have a prayer life devoted to praying what we see the Father wanting us to pray through us.120 Jesus is our high priest and intercessor before the Father to enforce His covenants when we pray.
As change agents, we must make this prayer discipline part of our strategy to displace principalities over cultural mountains and repel Satan's activity in our own lives and the lives of others. We have been given the power of attorney on earth to act on His behalf until He returns.
Jesus said we have the keys to release His will upon the earth in matters of which He has already spoken. "And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."122
Death and Life are in the Power of the Tongue
Another area we can exercise authority in is our words. God spoke the world into existence. God is known as God the Word and Jesus the Word. "For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."123 When God told Moses to speak to the rock, He was telling Moses to move in the same dimension as God-through the spoken word. When you pray, pray out loud. This allows your words to be heard by principalities and spirits, and as you speak the words they will be imprinted in your brain. When you read the Word, read it out loud. There is power in the spoken Word of God. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to speak to the mountain! "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them."124
One time God led me to speak to a mountain of books in my basement and tell them to "leave!" That afternoon I received an order for three hundred books from a ministry I had no prior relationship, and this was on a Saturday! I have other friends who have been led by the Holy Spirit to do similar things. The key is to be led by the Holy Spirit to use the authority He gives us. God is not a genie in a bottle. We are led as we have fellowship with His Son and are directed by His Spirit in us. There IS power in your words.125 Faith is what activates the power of God on the earth.
Do you need to see God move on your behalf? Find out what He said in his Word, His covenant, and begin to pray and agree with God that whatever has been done in Heaven will be done on earth. Speak the words you need God to do on your behalf. Declare God's covenant over your situation. As we do this we will begin to see our prayers manifested in the physical realm.
Understanding Your "Inner Court" Responsibility
"So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap
before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.
Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them
with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own
heads," says the Lord GOD. -EZEKIEL 22:30-31
When the children of Israel committed the grievous sin of making the golden calf for an idol, Moses had to play a new role. That role was priest. He stood in the gap on behalf of the people in order to stay the execution of his own people. God was very angry, and was going to wipe them off the planet just as He did in the time of Noah. Sometimes God is looking for the individual to stand in the gap for a situation that requires judgment, which can only be averted by one who is willing to stand on behalf of the offender. Moses was willing to risk his own salvation to thwart a mass judgment. "Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, 'You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.' Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, 'Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin-but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.'"126
Would you be willing to lose your own salvation for the benefit of another? What an amazing level of sacrifice on behalf of the people by Moses. His intercession kept the people from being destroyed. It did not forgive their sin, but it did give them time to repent themselves. This is known as identificational confession, when one person pleads before the throne on behalf of another. We identify with and confess before God the corporate sins of one's nation, people, church, or family.
Every marketplace believer has a calling to be both king and priest. Like Melchizedek who was also a king and priest, we too are called to both assignments.127 Moses' operated as both a king and priest. He operated as a king as the leader of an entire nation. His role as a king was a very public one with the people. But he also operated as priest, going before the people on their behalf spiritually by interceding on their behalf. This does not mean we are called to vocational priestly pastorate ministry; it means we are called to intercede for those we are called to serve. We are called to lay down our lives for that worker next to us in the cubicle, that CEO who operates at the top of your cultural mountain, or that government leader who wants to change your values in your state or nation. We are called to rebuild the ancient ruins.128
Jesus is Our Priestly Advocate
Jesus is our intercessor before His Heavenly Father. The word intercessor comes from the word to intercede-to intervene or mediate on behalf of another. It is a higher form of prayer on behalf of others. When Jesus was on the cross, He said, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." He became sin for us and payment for our sins. "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins."129
When Jesus, the world's greatest change agent, was in the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked the disciples to pray with Him and to intercede on His behalf, but they fell asleep. In many ways, this is a picture of the marketplace church. We want to see victories without doing the intercessory work.
The tabernacle was a moveable house of worship that involved three distinct sections-the outer court, the inner court, and the holy of holies. The ark of the covenant housed the Ten Commandments.
The outer court was for the offering of public sacrifices by the priests for Israel. It was a very public form of ministry unto the Lord. Our work lives are our outer court expression. It is where we work unto the Lord in our calling. It is where people see and experience what we do. It is where we publicly offer what we have to the Lord through the gifting and calling upon our lives.
The inner court was called the holy place. The altar of incense was placed in the inner room of the tabernacle and was located directly in front of the ark of the covenant, separated by the veil at the entrance to the holy of holies, which housed the ark of the covenant where God's presence resided. Once a year, the high priest went into the holy of holies to atone for the sins of the nation of Israel. Our spiritual walk with God is about living in the inner court with God versus the outer court of performance, posturing, and striving. It is there that we carry out our responsibility as intercessors for others.
Oswald Chambers explains:
In intercession you bring the person, or the circumstance that impinges on you before God until you are moved by His attitude towards that person or circumstance. Intercession means filling up "that which is behind the afflictions of Christ," and that is why there are so few intercessors. Intercession is put on the line of-'Put yourself in his place.' Never! Try to put yourself in God's place.130
The apostle Paul understood what it meant to intercede sacrificially for those he was called to minister to: "For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off and banished from Christ for the sake of my brethren and instead of them, my natural kinsmen and my fellow countrymen. For they are Israelites, and to them belong God's adoption [as a nation] and the glorious Presence (Shekinah). With them were the special covenants made, to them was the Law given. To them [the temple] worship was revealed and [God's own] promises announced.131
Paul was willing to stand in the gap for others as their ambassador. Paul was more than a change agent. He understood he had to sacrifice his life for others in order for them to receive from God. Are you prepared to sacrifice on behalf of those God has called you to impact for His name? It starts in the inner court.
When Jesus died on the cross and took His last breath, the veil of the temple was torn.132 There was no longer a barrier to God. He became the bridge. And now He is our high priest who intercedes on our behalf.
If we are weak in prayer, the strongman will come into our homes and our workplaces and take what is rightfully ours.133 A tree best illustrates the outer court and the inner court of our lives. The tree limbs represent the outer court; intercession represents the roots. The fruit represents the degree of abiding in the Vine. Intercession in the inner court allows the roots of our tree to go deep into the soil so that we can withstand the winds that are sure to come. Our tree can only grow bigger if we have a root system to support it. The more influence we have, the greater the storms and the greater the need for deeper roots.
God will lead and be with each of us in our times of intercession. "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God." 134
Intercession is not substitution for sin. Only Jesus, the Son of God qualifies to pay for sin. However, the intercession so identifies the intercessor with the suffering that it gives him a prevailing place with God. He moves the heart of God. He can even cause Him to change His mind, as in the case of Moses and the people of Israel.
The Inner Court represents the work you and I must do in intercession on behalf of those we are called to serve. We fight the spiritual battle on behalf of those who would never make it without our intercession. When I came to an awareness of this fact, I was very convicted of my own prayerlessness for my wife and for the marketplace I am called to serve. I realized I had spent much time during of my years of ministry operating from the outer court. I asked God to help me learn to be His intercessor for those I am called to redeem. If we are going to reshape cultural mountains, it will only happen if we do our inner court ministry of intercession as a priest to our marketplace.
God asks us if we are willing to stand in the gap for another. Do you need to stand in the gap for a spouse, a co-worker, a politician, a business leader, a city leader? Why not identify now who God may call you to intercede for on their behalf.
Our commitment to Intercession allows us to accomplish three things:
1 Intercession allows us to internalize and deepen our ownership of the assignment.
2 Intercession forces us to sit quietly before God to clarify what we are called to.
3 Intercession catalyzes the actions needed for fulfillment of the vision by depending on the Holy Spirit to reveal our action steps.
When Nehemiah heard that the wall in Jerusalem had been torn down, it affected him at a passionate heart level. He mourned along with his people. He fasted and prayed for several days in an effort to gain understanding of what he was to do. He was led to appeal to his king to go and repair the wall. He developed a detailed plan from his prayer time and his professional expertise. He accomplished the task by being aware of the enemy's schemes to thwart his efforts by having his men work with one hand on the wall and a weapon to defend themselves in the other.
Daniel is another great example of a man devoted to prayer and excellence in what he did for a living. He was gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. This supernatural gift allowed him to break through the wall of religion in a very religious culture. God revealed "deep and hidden secrets."135 Each time he was challenged, he went to prayer for the solution to a problem and stood firm to his convictions. On two occasions, God delivered him from death. This is the model for change agents to impact their cultural mountains. Influence will not be achieved by our entrepreneurial skills alone. It must be sourced in heaven, and carried out through a combination of the direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our professional expertise, which gives us the platform to operate on that mountain.
God has called each of us to a purpose greater than ourselves. We are not here to fulfill our agendas or to win a popularity contest; we are here to establish the kingdom of God through our lives. Are you called to reclaim a cultural mountain as a change agent? Are you called to a specific group of people? If so, make intercession a strategic part of your focus to impact that cultural mountain. Interceding for those who control the mountain is important if you expect to gain victory.
111 Psalm 115:16.
112 Genesis 3:5.
113 Colossians 1:19-20.
114 2 Chron 16:9
115 1 Sam 2:35
116 2 Chron 7:14
117 Ezek 22:30-31
118 Matthew 28:18-20.
119 1 John 3:8-9.
120 Romans 8:26-27.
121 Isaiah 53:12.
122 Matthew 16:19.
123 Psalm 33:9. 124
125 Hebrews 11:1-2
126 Exodus 32:30-32.
127 Hebrews 7:23-28.
128 Isaiah 61:4-6.
129 Hebrews 4:14-5:4.
130 Oswald Chambers, Utmost for His Highest, Discover House Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI 1935, Dec 13 message
131 Romans 9:3-4, AMP.
132 Mark 15:38.
133 Luke 11:22,23
134 Romans 8:26-27.
135 Daniel 2:22