These are my observations about intercession. They concern the nature of intercession as against the standing up against what is patently against God's order. Not that one is right and the other is wrong, but that there may be a more appropriate posture in the face of impending judgment. Given the current crisis of morality in the nation and the prospects of continued (and hastened) progress down the road to spiritual anarchy, I will be up front in saying that it is a direct motivation for this blog post. I don't say this as a representative of anyone or anything except one who sees the growing chaos in the land and desires to have established a place of safety. Not a geographical location but one that finds rest in Christ so that the tumults on the horizon do not overcome the one in Him. We have this promise - that those who trust in God will find themselves established even in the midst of spiritual turmoil. Whereas those that do not will not have that rest and provision even when all seems to be going their way (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

First, let it be established that I am of the firm belief that the nation is now openly and aggressively thumbing their collective nose at God. The things that are being protected by law are an abomination to God. But let it also be clear that any nation that pits itself in opposition to that which God has set as right is not only bringing reproach upon itself (Proverbs 14:34) but is courting great judgment (Psalm 9:17). The open activism that not only tolerates but promotes homosexuality is but a symptom of a deeper idolatry that God hates (Romans 1:21-25).

Having established that, what is the appropriate response? There are many who are roundly chastising (and rightly so) our political leaders who are heading the assault on Christian values. And there are also many defections within the broader (nominal) Christian community - people calling themselves Christians that are siding with those supporting sin under the guise of "love" or "acceptance". Love that does not even see sin or make any mention of it. A love that Jesus neither practiced nor tolerated Himself. But this is all activity that has (primarily) the actions of men in view and the raising of a standard against the wickedness. We must do this to maintain the standard God has set. But is that to be our posture towards God?

Which leads me to the thought on intercession. Whether or not we think there is any hope left for this nation, it seems to me that this is the scriptural attitude we are to bear on an ongoing basis in the face of judgment. We see Moses interceding for Israel. In Exodus 32:9-14 we find Moses staying God's hand against idolatrous Israel. But even more importantly, God follows up by promising to go with Israel into the land and Moses gets to see (indirectly) God's glory. The result is his humbling before God and seeking God's forgiveness on behalf of Israel (Exodus 34:9). Moses does intercede on other occasions, but this is probably the most notable one.

Then we have Daniel's intercession for Israel. They are in captivity in Babylon and Daniel has been moved to supplicate on behalf of the nation. This, remember, is the same Daniel who - when legislated against (intentionally) to make his very prayers to God illegal - continued to faithfully and openly obey God instead of men. So he did resist the ungodly dictates, but it did not prevent him from having this attitude :

And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;
We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments:
Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee.
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;

Daniel 9:4-9

The prayer continues on in the same way. What I find most notable here is that Daniel never prays as one looking on - he prays as one for whom this forgiveness is just as necessary as the worst Israelite. He does not separate himself in identification with the sins of the people but cries to God in humility and seeking for forgiveness for the nation as a whole. In other words, he identifies personally with it.

Jesus, as our High Priest, did the same - He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). So this isn't just an OT model. It is the model of intercessors who would prefigure the Great Intercessor to come. And it is certainly in the same spirit as Luke 18:9-14 where the hypocritical prayer tries to justify himself as separate from others but the one who was justified approached God in utter humility and contrition. The hypocrite was called "one who trusted in himself that he was righteous". To the extent that we try to justify ourselves, we are trusting in ourselves.

So it seems to me that the intercessor needs to identify himself (or herself) with those on whose behalf he (or she) is interceding. There is only One who can - on His own merit - approach the throne boldly and without fear of contradiction to his claimed righteousness. Worth is the Lamb. So how much more do we as intercessors need that poverty of spirit before God?

But it doesn't quite end there. This intercession - whether it results in widespread repentance or God's staying His hand - is a part of our own peace. Not that we gain that peace with God by interceding, but that the one who is at peace with God will not use his own righteousness (which is really not his own) to set him apart but rest in Him and His righteousness. That is part of why he can identify with those who are not forgiven - because the only difference between he and they is the salvation of God.

There is a passage in Ezekiel that is a part of the judgment that God brings upon His people for their gross idolatry that has permeated their existence (and seen by Ezekiel in visions of the temple and the idols set up therein - which Romans 1 certainly evokes for those that know this passage). This judgment results in a veritable bloodbath of "young and old" in Israel. But it is telling who is spared this judgment :

And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.
And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity:
Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.

Ezekiel 9:4-6

Remembering what is promised in Jeremiah 17, it is utterly consistent of God to mark out those who will be spared judgment beforehand - who will be kept in the midst of it. And note who it is that is spared : "...the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof". Is this not those that are grieved over sin? Is this not those that would - by that grieving - be moved to intercede on behalf of those who are heaping up judgment for themselves and those who follow them? So that which leads them to grieve for this wickedness also is a sign of their belonging to God and being kept from His judgment.

In summary, then, this model of intercession sees the intercessor identifying directly with those for whom he or she is interceding - in the hopes that they may repent. God alone knows. But even failing that, this intercessory attitude before God is a token of a love and desire for the integrity of His worship and His house. As sinners saved by His Grace, can there be any other response to Him?

ADDENDUM : Because this is not necessarily my immediate thought, I add that I believe there is a solid connection with the judgment seen in Ezekiel 7-10 and the judgments seen in Revelation. There may be an objection that this is just for Israel, but if Peter can declare to Christian believers that judgment must begin at the house of God (I Peter 4:16-17) which is clearly prefigured in the judgment on Israel (Ezekiel 9:6 "...begin at my sanctuary...") then it is not a stretch to say that God's judgments are not particular to a certain people. All those who take His name must not do so in vain. But this is a separate - though related - topic. I just want to make the observation that I believe there is a link.