The Heart Of An Intercessor

Ezra 7 recorded another group returning to Jerusalem from captivity. King Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to go and take them. Ezra 8:21 says, “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.”

Verse 31 said that the Lord delivered them from the hand of the enemy and from ambush along the road. In Ezra 9:1 the leaders told Ezra that there had been intermarriage with the pagans. Ezra responded. Verse 3 says, “…I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished.”

Verse 6 was his prayer. Notice how he included himself though he was not part of the sin against God and His commands. It says, “…O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens.” Verse 15 says, “…Here we are before You, in our guilt, though no one can stand before You because of this!”

It is good to remember that when Achan sinned, everyone of the children of Israel were affected. They could not stand up against their enemies. We are in this situation right now with our nation. The heart of an intercessor is humble. They stand in the gap before God on behalf of another (Ezekiel 22:30). They acknowledge corporate sin as their own. 

The result of the intermarriage in Ezra’s day was for the men to put away their pagan wives and children. What do we need to put away in our personal lives, in our states, and in our nation? That answer is too big. What we can do is keep our hearts humble, and confess those sins as though they are our own. Ezra and Nehemiah are great examples for us. We must fight on our knees with bowed hearts.

Overcoming Discouragement

The book of Ezra starts where 2 Chronicles left off. Cyrus, king of Persia fulfilled what God had spoken through Jeremiah. Verse 1 says, “…the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom…”

I love verse 2. It says, “…the Lord God of heaven has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem…” God commanded a pagan king to do His work. Amazing.

Cyrus asked God’s people, who were in captivity, who wanted to go up to Jerusalem and build the temple. Ezra 2:64 says, “The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty.”

I want to note two things: God used two pagan kings to motivate His people to do His work. He used Haggai’s prophecy to bring them out of their discouragement.

Ezra 3:8 says that they began and laid the foundation of the temple. In Ezra 4:4 the enemy swooped in and tried to discourage them. Verse 5 they hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus.

The enemy then opposed them through the next king. They set him up to believe their conspiracy through evil intent. Verse 21 says, “Now give the command to make these men cease….” Verse 23-24 says that they forced them to cease, and the work was discontinued until the second year of Darius.

Let me take you to Haggai 1. It says, “In the second year of King Darius…the word of the Lord came by Haggai…” As a result of his word, the Spirit of the Lord stirred up the people to resume the work of building the temple.

Ezra 5:5 says, “But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews…” His eye is on us right now with our nations’ situation. They sent a letter to Darius. He made a diligent search and issued a decree. Ezra 6:7 says, “Let the work of this house of God alone…” Then he commanded the enemy to pay for it all from the king’s taxes! In verse 10 Darius asked them to pray for him and his sons!

After they finished the temple they celebrated with the passover. Verse 22 says, “…for the Lord made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”

When the enemy taunts you, do not give in to his tactic to discourage you from the work the Lord has called you to do. Discouragement stops our ears from hearing and our eyes from seeing. It blocks discernment. It causes spiritual lethargy. Haggai 1 is a great description of the fruit from discouragement.

We cannot allow the media to dictate to our ears and our eyes. We must keep our focus on Jesus alone. He used a donkey to speak to Balaam. He used two pagan kings to do His work. He can use our national crises to fulfill His desire for our nation.

Jezebel Influence

The Jezebel characteristics are operative today to influence and destroy. What are the manifestations? It is to control by deceit, to thwart and destroy the man of God, and to set up someone through false honor to destroy them in order to seize their inheritance.

What were Jezebel’s words to God’s prophet Elijah? He had just destroyed 450 prophets of Baal after God revealed His unquestionable power. You can read it for yourself in 1 Kings 18. After that great victory Jezebel sent a message. 1 Kings 19:2 says, “…so let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time”

What did Elijah do? Verse 3 says that he ran for his life. Verse 4 he prayed that he might die. I love God’s response. Elijah fell asleep under the broom tree. Twice the angel of the Lord came and gave him food and water. Verse 8 says, “So he arose , and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.”

Even in the face of the Jezebel-threats towards our nation, the Lord will give the boldness and the strength we need to resist the spirit of fear that paralyzes.

1 Kings 21 fully displayed the Jezebel characteristic of usurping power. You can read it for yourself. King Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard for a vegetable garden! Verse 3 was Naboth’s answer. It says, “…the Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!”

As you read this, I’m asking you to think of our nation’s situation right now. This is a present manifestation. Verse 9 says, “…seat Naboth with high honor among the people; and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, You have blasphemed God and the king. Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die”

Every believer has an eternal inheritance that cannot be stolen. However our nation’s inheritance is being destroyed by those controlled by a Jezebel spirit. Do not slacken your prayers! Remain steadfast and immovable!

Five FREE ebooks

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Anchor Of Hope: steadfast sure immoveable

Face-Off Your Fears: God’s militant army

God’s Masterful Purpose: conformity to the image of Jesus

Overcoming Daily: consistent application of God’s word

The Power Of Forgiveness: embracing heart-freeing truths

The Power Of Influence

Grandpa Manasseh, after his repentance, had a great influence on his grandson Josiah. For six years he poured his influence into the heart of his little grandson. It set Josiah free from his father’s evil influence.

Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He walked in the ways of the Lord. When he was 16 he began to seek the Lord, and when he was 20 he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the high places, the images, and the Baal altars.

When he was 26 the Book of the Law was found. When they read it to him, he tore his clothes. The great wrath of the Lord was coming upon the land because their fathers had not kept the word of the Lord.

He sent his servants to a prophetess named Huldah. In 2 Chronicles 34:27 she said, “Because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God…” Who taught him how to humble his heart before the Lord? That is not a natural response. I believe, from what we read, that it was his grandfather’s influence. Wow!

Josiah gathered all the elders. Then he stood in his place. He made a covenant with the Lord. Verse 31 says, “…to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book.”

Humility. God takes great pleasure in a heart of humility. Psalm 51:17 says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart–these, O God, You will not despise.”

We can humble our hearts, or God will use circumstances to humble it. Wisdom is to do it and not wait to have it done. Those who fall on the Stone will be broken, but those whom the Stone falls on will be crushed. Matthew 21:44.

Let us take James 4:10 to heart. It says, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Heart-humility is a powerful testimony that will be a godly influence on others, as well as bring glory to the Lord.

God Deals With The Wicked

Manasseh was raised during the season that his father’s heart was lifted up in pride. He obviously was not effectively trained in the things of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 33:10 says that the Lord spoke to him and his people, but they would not listen.

Verse 11 says, “Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon.” Nose hooks and chains left him no wiggle room.

Verse 12 says, “Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.” Have you ever felt like there was no hope for someone you know that is wicked? Is there hope for the wicked who are seeking to oust God from our nation? Yes. There is always hope until they take their last breath.

Here was wicked Manasseh. He was worse than all the kings before him. Yet, he greatly humbled himself and God heard him. Verse 13 says, “And he prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”

Yet Manasseh’s turning to God did not influence his son. Amon did evil in the sight of the Lord. It is good to ask ourselves this question: How am I influencing those around me? Does my life reflect Jesus? This is the hour of our country’s great need. Let us humble ourselves before the Lord and cry out for His intervention. There is hope for the wicked if they will humble themselves before Him and acknowledge that He alone is God!

What’s In Your Heart?

Sennacherib came to make war against Jerusalem. We get a fuller picture of this time through 2 Kings 19. Verse 14 says, “And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of his messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.” I love this picture. I’ve done it many times in my life when I have received a bill I couldn’t pay, or a discouraging letter. Hezekiah laid it out before the Lord and prayed.

Verse 16 says, “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the word of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.” This is a verse we can pray regarding the events in our nation. Here is how the Lord handled the threat. Verse 35 says, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people rose early in the morning, there were the corpses–all dead.” One angel.

Right after this Hezekiah was sick and near death. The Lord sent word to put his house in order because he was going to died. He cried out to the Lord. The Lord healed him. Yet, 2 Chronicles 32:23 says, “But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.”

Pride lifts up our heart. Notice what happened after the Lord extended Hezekiah’s life. Manasseh was born. He was 12 years old when he became king. He was the worst king of all the kings. He built altars for the Baals and wooden images and put them in the house of the Lord. He caused his sons to pass through fire. He embraced demonic practices. 2 Kings 21:16 says, “Moreover Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to the other…”

What a picture of our times. Let Hezekiah’s life be a lesson for us. We need to keep our hearts humble before the Lord, and consider the outcome of our prayers before we pray them. God’s timing and divine orchestration is impeccable. A humble heart is full of trust. We must resist every proud thought that rises to overthrow God’s purpose for our lives and the future of our nation.

Our Actions Determine Our Outcome

2 Chronicles 28:22 says that King Ahaz was increasingly unfaithful to the Lord. His son, Hezekiah, was twenty-five years old when he became king. Though he was raised by an evil father, he did not follow in his footsteps. In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he gathered the priests together. He went right to work to remove his father’s evil influence. He gave them instructions to remove the rubbish from the holy place.

Hezekiah restored worship in the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 29:27 says, “…And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord also began…” Verse 28 says, “So all the assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded…” Here is an interesting part. Verse 36 says, “Then Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly.”

I love the suddenly’s in the Bible. When our hearts are fully centered on the Lord, and we are fulfilling His purpose, He will act suddenly. He is our Masterful Orchestrator. Nothing and no one will stop Him. He will carry out His purpose for our nation.

Hezekiah reinstated the passover which had not been kept. 2 Chronicles 30:26 says, “So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon…there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Here is a warning for all who resist the Lord and His ways. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Let us prepare our hearts, stand on our unshakeable foundation of eternal truth, and watch for Him to act on behalf of this nation which is His inheritance. I encourage you to read Psalm 2.

Our Bloodline Does Not Determine Our Outcome

Jehoshaphat’s son was evil, and his son was evil. 2 Chronicles 22:3 says that his mother advised him to do wickedly. Then there was Joash. He was seven years old when he became king. He was greatly influenced by a godly priest named Jehoiada. King Joash set his heart to repair the temple. When Jehoiada died, the leaders of Judah spoke to the king. They all forsook the Lord and served wooden images and idols.

Joash’s son reigned in his place. 2 Chronicles 25:2 says, “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.” Then his son became king. He was very innovative. He outfitted his army, and they made slings to cast large stones. 2 Chronicles 26:15 says, “…for he was marvelously helped till he became strong.” Verse 16 says, “But when he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction…” His son was a good king. 2 Chronicles 27:2 says, “…But the people acted corruptly.” His son was evil and made molded images for the Baals. Then there was his son, Hezekiah.

Hezekiah was a great king. He had the temple cleansed, and he restored temple worship. 2 Chronicles 29:10 says, “Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that His fierce wrath may turn away from us.” It does not matter what our bloodline sins are. We are responsible for our actions. We cannot blame them on anyone, nor any circumstance. Our heart’s stewardship is our own. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Matthew 15:19 says, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…”

The great news is called salvation, which sets us free from our slave-block of sin. Renewing our mind is what keeps us free. It does not matter what circumstances we have been raised in, nor what bloodline sins were passed down to us. We have a new path through Christ’s righteousness that was imputed to us.

Psalm 85:13 says, “Righteousness will go before Him, and shall make His footsteps our pathway.” At salvation we are given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. He is our Teacher/Guide who will lead us into paths of righteousness for His name sake. Let us be quick to rise up and follow His leading.

Finishing Well

Asa started out so well. He removed the altars of the foreign gods. He commanded Judah to seek the Lord. He removed his mother from being queen and tore down her obscene image. Then he made a treaty with Syria which began his downfall. He didn’t rely on the Lord, threw the seer into prison, and died of a severe malady. Jehoshaphat reigned in his place.

The enemy came up against Jehoshaphat and he sought the Lord. He proclaimed a fast and all of Judah sought the Lord. He prayed as Solomon had asked the Lord. 2 Chronicles 20:9 says, “…we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple) and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.”

The Spirit of the Lord spoke through Jahaziel. Verse 15 says, “…Do not be afraid nor dismayed of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.” Then the king implemented what God had said. The singers went out before the army. The Lord sent an ambush and the enemy was defeated.

Verse 23 says that the people of Ammon and Moab killed the inhabitants of Mount Seir and then helped to destroy one another. Verse 24 says, “…there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one escaped.”

Jehoshaphat started out great. He walked before the Lord. Then he allied himself with the king of Israel, and the Lord destroyed the ships that they had built.

Both kings started out well, but then turned away as they made ungodly alliances. It reminded me of Galatians 3:1 says, “…Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth…” Verse 3 says, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” The Amplified says, “…(by dependence) on the flesh.”

What a warning for us. When we act independent of the Lord, our downfall will begin. Sin blocks our fellowship with the Lord. Sin is doing things in our own strength, instead of relying on Him. It is rushing ahead of the Lord, and not waiting for His impeccable timing. It is not obeying the truth, but leaning on our own understanding. It is relying on others instead of the Lord.

It all starts with a disloyal heart. 2 Chronicles 16:9 was God’s message to Asa. It says, “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. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”