Tag Archives: Revelation

Intercession – The purity and the triumph

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eve-in-the-garden-of-edenIn the previous post Paul modelled for us the intercession of the Church, and before that we had considered the woman of Revelation 12 as being the image of Israel via Jacob’s prayerful battle. We are now coming to our last and final foray into this mysterious sign.

Faithful mother’s have founded history and the story of the people of God.

Right from the beginning we encounter Eve as she receives the painful covenant of child-birth. Like many of my wonderful Pygmy friends who live in the heart of the Equatorial forest, she is closely associated with the beautiful garden of creation. The woman of revelation is also in harmony with creation as “the earth” helps the woman escape the Satanic deluge. Most scholars see this as referring to the foundational crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus, but it also shows the close link between our intercessory cries and those of the natural world:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time…In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray , but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”  Romans 8 :22,26

Mother nature is also crying out!

Earlier,  I ventured to mention that the woman of Revelation 12 is also very much:

“the vital seed bearing “Mother”  figure representing all the courageous women from Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and many anonymous others, who birthed the line of the Messiah through the ages, culminating in the glorious fulfillment of it all through mother Mary’s miraculous birthing of the Messiah in the flesh.”

The seed of the Messiah has always been viciously contested, almost devoured, throughout history and Sarah had to hang on and fight the battle of faith to receive Isaac. Isaac himself had to intercede for his sterile wife – like we need to intercede for our so often sterile church, so that she could carry on the chosen line.

“Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” Genesis 25:21

The patriarch Jacob instinctively understood the importance of the Messianic geneology – the appearing of God in human line and human flesh, when he prophesied over his son Judah.

“The sceptre will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs – the Shiloh, and the obedience of the nations is his.” Genesis 49:10

This suddenly fast forwards us into the realms of the male child born with a sceptre in our chosen passage. Jacob almost invents a word, Shiloh, to express his prophetic longing. Shiloh can have roots in Shalom, the Prince of Peace, or Siloam, the Sent One. The NIV chooses to express the Messianic ownership of the rule and reign.messiah

Let’s take a look at this emerging Shiloh as he is carried through history in the womb of intercession. The opening chapter of Matthew gives us some beautiful insight into all of this as it describes the genealogy of Jesus. As you read it, why not do as the French say and “Cherchez la femme!”

In the male dominated society which brought the Bible to us women do not have a place in most accounts. This makes it all the more extraordinary to find five women listed here.

Did you find them?

“Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar…Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife… and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” Matthew 1:3,5-6,16

The first four ladies are wounded heroines owning life’s more difficult stories.

The Canaanite wife, Tamar, after double widowhood to abusive men had to resort to prostitution with her Father in law in order to save the line of Judah. She saved Israel as much as Joseph did in between whose story she is sandwiched.

Rahab, a pagan prostitute holed up in Jericho, and yet recognising God’s hand and risking life and limb to help anointed strangers.

The Moabite Ruth – the fruit of Lot’s daughter’s incest and famine stricken widow. Her hard work and faithful support of her mother in law coupled with her obedient reverence to Boaz saw her birthing King David’s granddad.

Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, victim of a royal stalker and adulterer. Her faithful husband was cynically murdered and her first child died. Through her beauty courage and perseverance she ended up birthing him that was loved of the Lord, Jedidiah, Solomon.

To think that the Son of Man’s earthly history should pass through such imperfect people and situations. Some use this to denigrate Christ, but, on the contrary it elevates Him all the more as He was willing to gracefully step into fallen human history – He identified with life’s difficult stories…he understands your story too.

What a struggle to uphold the “male child”, God’s purpose hanging on such a slender thread with that “ancient serpent” constantly looking to devour.

Blessed-Virgin-Mary-Mothe-of-InnocenceThe genealogy is crowned and bought to wonderful fulfilment by Mary, known as Myriam to her Jewish friends and husband! Here stands a true virgin daughter of Israel. Her story is full of Shalom. She is Holy, Kadosh, a pure virgin bride loved by her husband.

Does she stand apart from the other stories in holy separation? Quite the opposite. Not holy separation but holy penetration of the damaged line with her promise of Shalom – Hail Mary – Shalom Myriam!

Mary’s virginity is not just some attribute in itself to give her “goddess” standing. It is far more profound and beautiful. At the end of a long line of weakness, impurity and pain she stands as a portent of hope and redeemed wholeness. Her very miraculous virginity pours back pristine purity into the past, healing the victimized womb of humanity as the Christ flows into the world with glorious healing in His wings – a truly immaculate conception…and redemption!

It is fitting that she too, Myriam the humble Jewish intercessor, should identify suffer and pray for her beloved boy. Simeon, who was waiting to see the revelation of the “male child” Messiah, spoke prophetically over Mary as well, recognising her unique role and gift of intercession.

“It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ…Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”  Luke 2:26,34-35

A sword piercing a soul. What a compelling description of intercessory prayer. The final sword of curse on King David’s line was to fall on this child at the cross, and his mum would carry her pain too. Not the redemptive pain and authority that is reserved for Christ alone, but the pain that all mum’s carry for their families, the pain the Church can still carry for the world and the pain of the daily swords we all have to bear. Let it be…

So, we come to the end of our own journey into intercession. Have we discovered who the woman of Revelation 12 really is? I’m sure there is much more to say, and greater scholars than me have put their minds and prayers to the task. These devotionals are my simple contribution to the debate – to be felt and practised with passion rather than dissected in the cold operating theatre of dispensationalist theology.

To conclude, she is the heavenly Jerusalem, the Mother of us all.

“But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labour pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.” Galatians 4:26-27

She is the people of God, both Israel and the Church, beautifully free, in harmony with the longings of Creation and the Holy Spirit, beautifully, redemptively pure yet birthing the reign of Christ – your Kingdom come, into the world, overcoming the ancient serpent and fulfilling the ancient promise.

 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15

She is still crying out in you and me as we choose to take on our inherited mantle of intercession. Apocalypse, is not just some future speculation, it is “Apocalypse Now.”

Find your own rhythm and life style in the longings. Choose to overcome. Be courageous. Follow Christ!

“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

 

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Who will you worship?

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As 2013 breaks in amongst us, we, along with the rest of humanity have to once again come to grips with this most vital of questions. What will our hearts and souls long for this year?

Cosmic and earthly history play out a dynamic, bellicose narrative of this worship wager.

Bob Dylan put it more simply in his song, “You gotta serve somebody….It may be the devil, or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody.”Beast-of-the-Sea_Tapestry-of-the-Apocalypse_France

An end of year reading has once again brought to me the delights of the book of “Revelation” and its wonderful unveiling of the person of Jesus, the Gospel and the Church. There is a lot of crazy stuff written nowadays concerning the so-called “end times”, and quick visit to the “God Channel” will take you into some very weird and scary realms of sensationalist and superficial scholarship. I’m still on my own awestruck pilgrimage through this tome, but I am indebted to Michael Wilcock and his book “The Meaning of Revelation”, for giving me a Christ centred Biblical pathway to follow.

The unfolding of Revelation leads us to the same challenge. Who will you worship? We see a whole horde of satanically inspired beasts and harlots craving worship. Icons, images (screens?), become animated snares to entrap the mind to Godless ideology. All of this “calls for patient endurance and faithfulness…and wisdom” from the Christian church.

temptation_of_christ_10_3The beginning of the book of Matthew 4:1-11, also recounts the way the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to face the twofold satanic challenge on his identity – “If you are the Son of God…”, and a brazen attack on His worship orientation – “If you will bow down and worship me.”

It always amazes – almost shocks me to think that Satan even had grounds to believe that Jesus might actually cave in and worship him. It says something about the “kenosis” of Christ, emptying himself to be tempted in every way.

Much has already been written on this event. We often equate Jesus overcoming the fleshly temptation with the “stones to bread”, the spiritual pride with the “temple miracle”, and the lust for power with the “world kingdoms.” I’ve always been intrigued that the Gospel of John does not mention the temptations – but instead gives parallel positives. Water to wine, temple cleaned out and a simple Samaritan woman worshipping in Spirit and truth!

However, let me bring a new angle on this passage by linking it to the symbolic battles of Revelation. Using Wilcock’s “Apocalypse Now”, amillennial approach, I will attempt to see the three temptations in the light of the two beasts and the harlot.

Wilcock’s sees the first beast as representing the challenge of the power of “the state” – the powers that be, to all the people of God throughout all the ages. The second best (and false prophet) is false religion and all Godless ideology. The harlot may be another way of seeing the second beast and represents the world’s seductive power and rule. “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” 1 John 2:15

Just like the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, they too have been galloping over world history since the beginning. No doubt there will be a climax to all this, culminating in the ultimate return of Jesus, but He has already met and overcome their earthly challenges. This gives us hope, as we rest in Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to overcome in our own everyday lives as we face the temptations to give our hearts to other loves.

The Roman state controlled the people by giving them “bread and games.” Not much has really changed. In my country, France, the State sets itself up as some providential entity aiming to meet the needs of all. “L’Etat Providence” is a well-known slogan here. It’s materialistic, humanistic ideal of solving all mankind’s problems with more “bread” squeezes out God from the agenda. Its velvet glove of tolerance conceals an iron fist for all who would hold to the absolutes of God’s Word.prosperity0909

Jesus refused the identity of the first beast, knowing that “man does not live on bread (or games!) alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

He knew that the “Word” system was more vital that the world system. Do we?

State religion has always gone arm in arm with the powers that be. All sorts of monstrous wars and abuses have been sanctioned by the “temple.” Just throw yourself down, play the “miracle game” right and you will be popular, beautiful and rich. Even the radical “stateless” versions of the temple can still fall prey to the “ideology” of bloodless success. The second beast even called fire down from heaven!

Jesus again refused this cheap, worthless identity, preferring to lay a foundation of naked faith than build on the superficial sand of temple performance.

I’m pretty sure that Jesus’ mountain view of “the kingdoms of the world and their splendour” was not that different to the horrific whore that John saw in Revelation 17 & 18. A grotesque antithesis to the Bride of Christ she is greater than the cities of Rome, Babylon and Tyre, the ultimate ethos of materialism and humanistic society – the world. Who can resist a sip from her polluted golden cup?

Temptation of ChristJesus could indeed – and he knew (as did Satan), that every poisonous sip would lead to the ultimate depravity of turning away from the King of love to worship the lord of the flies.

If you, like so many of us, have been tempted to drink from “broken cisterns” take courage, and be empowered with the victorious words of Jesus who was the first (and last) to see Babylon sink like a stone.

“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

May it indeed be written for every one of your days in 2013…