Monday, June 18, 2012

a rather high opinion of themselves

Calling as Intercessors

In Old Testament Israel, the high priest would venture into the Holy of Holies to confess the sin of his people and carry out the vital business of intercession with God on their behalf. In the New Testament, Jesus, our high priest, extended this privilege of priesthood to all believers through the New Covenant and the shedding of His own blood. The apostle Peter proclaims that we who were washed with His blood have now become a “royal priesthood”.

So, let's see...

I Peter 2
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Ok, so, Peter does use a phrase that has been translated as "royal priesthood" in this passage, as well as "holy priesthood" in v 5. So? As he points out, Jesus is our High Priest now, there is then no more need for sacrifices for sin. As well, we do not confess the sins of others. Our message, as is said elsewhere in the Bible, is that people should "Be reconciled to God".

As should be evident from the lack of biblical support, his contentions lack biblical support. We don't see, for example, that Peter told the natives of Jerusalem or Israel to "confess the sins" of those around them, nor does any other apostle or epistle teach us this kind of superstitious view of praying for others.

"We as New Testament followers of Christ have also been given the prophetic mantle that was once reserved for isolated prophets of old like Isaiah and Jeremiah" Good luck finding that in the New Testament.

"The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “you can all prophesy." Where did he say that? How about some context? Paul said a lot of things. He once wished some people would castrate themselves. I bet if someone tried to implement that command, someone would start looking at the context.

"Derek Prince, in his book Shaping History through Prayer and Fasting, made a stunning comment: “God has vested in us – His believing people on earth – authority by which we may determine the destinies of nations and governments. He expects us to use our authority both for His glory and our own good.” He based this astounding statement on Jeremiah 1:9-10. In that passage the Lord says He will put His words in the prophet’s mouth and in so doing will appoint him “over nations and kingdoms.”"

Well, let's see those couple of verses, with some context...

Jeremiah 1
4 Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." 6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, l I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD." 9 Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

Here's a bit about v 10, from a commentary...

10. set thee over — literally, "appointed thee to the oversight." He was to have his eye upon the nations, and to predict their destruction, or restoration, according as their conduct was bad or good. Prophets are said to do that which they foretell shall be done; for their word is God's word; and His word is His instrument whereby He doeth all things (Gen 1:3; Psalm 33:6, 9). Word and deed are one thing with Him. What His prophet saith is as certain as if it were done. The prophet's own consciousness was absorbed into that of God; so closely united to God did he feel himself, that Jehovah's words and deeds are described as his. In Jer 31:28, God is said to do what Jeremiah here is represented as doing (compare Jer 18:7; 1 Kings 19:17; Ezek 43:3).
Brown, David; Fausset, A. R.; Jamieson, Robert (2011-06-02). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown's Commentary on the Whole Bible (Kindle Locations 41966-41973). OSNOVA. Kindle Edition.

The point is this--the prophet himself was not set over nations and kingdoms, but was rather the messanger who told them what was going to happen. One can see that in Jeremiah, and with other prophets. The role of the prophet was important, one can see how the response to Jonah's message caused judgment on Nineveh to not happen.

"Centuries later, Jesus erupted with fiery rage at the Jerusalem temple when He found that a preoccupation with marketing and money had subverted the temple’s ministry and priesthood’s calling to be a “house of prayer for all nations.” What a tragic diversion had taken place since apparently the very wellbeing of the world and its peoples was dependent on the prayers from that place!" Not sure how they got that last part from what Jesus said.

"It could be said that the future of our planet is now in the hands and hearts of today’s intercessors." Well, I guess that these people don't have a high opinion of themselves, oh no. Now, it would be interesting to see if they could find where anything like that is taught in the Bible. Did Paul write that to any church? Did Peter preach that in any of his recorded sermons in Acts? Did maybe John write that in Revelation?


"Be assured that our heartfelt, faith-filled prayers will make a huge difference to the wellbeing of our world!" Well, I would be more assured if you actually taught anything biblically sound.

Ok, what does the Bible say about praying for others? Here's a bit about it.

II Corinthians 1
8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

I suppose it would not be unfair to say that this passage shows us that praying for ministers is itself a kind of ministry to them, to help them, and that it may well help their ministry be more effective.

I Timothy 2
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

From this passage, what and who are we to pray for, and why? We are to pray for rulers, so that life can be peaceful and quiet for us.

Surprisingly, the Bible doesn't seem to have this hyper-critical view of intercession, this hyper-spiritual view of it that so many nowadays seem to have, this view that I consider a superstitious view of prayer. When Jesus ascended, His commission was to take the Gospel to all the world. He said nothing about the need for intercessory prayer.

At no point does the Bible say anything such as that the future of the planet is in the hands of intercessors. Sorry, all you who are doing all the supposedly spiritual prayer exercises, trying to stay awake all night, trying to set up 24-7 prayer 'boiler rooms' or whatever you want to call them, trying to create some kind of Tabernacle of David or an 'open heaven', but your projects have no biblical warrant.

Prayer is important, I'm not arguing otherwise. But I'm more than a little put off by the present-day superstitious views of prayer. These views of prayer do not treat prayer as us petitioning God, but us manipulating God. In superstitous prayer, God is the door that will open if we say the proper "Open, Sesame", God is the force who will respond if we have the proper kind of faith, God is the actor on the sideline who cannot act if we do not ask Him to do so. God is waiting for us to do the right things, pray all day and night, create whatever is meant by an 'open heaven', and then He will do something.

Mr. Robb, in this article, is teaching a superstitious view of prayer. History can be shaped through prayer, whatever that means. The intercessors shape the future, believe the future into being, who make the future into a "new-present" that we long for.

Notice the emphasis on "we", what "we" do, what "we" can do through our prayers. It's all about "us", our efforts, our works. We can save the world by our works.
This is starting to seem a lot like another gospel. I'm not completely prepared to go all the way there yet, but it's dangerously close.

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