Invasion of Light

Discovering God's Glory One Day at a Time

Month: November, 2011

The Spirit of Intercession – Day 35

Romans 8:17-29 teaches us the goal of prayer: to birth all that Christ accomplished on the cross. Prayer is the privilege of entering into his own sufferings (the sufferings Christ still experiences because we sin and suffer) in order that we may somehow attain to resurrection life. Prayer is a call to labor and birth with Christ—to actually join him in crying out “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:14-16, Matt. 6:9).

Christ Jesus became man. He entered into our formless, void and dark world in order to join in our sufferings and ultimately to overcome in the midst of our sufferings. Now he has given us his Spirit. He hovers over us and is within us so that we can carry on the work that he began. We carry on the work by letting Jesus’ Spirit intercede through us.

The role of the Spirit in the Godhead team is to bring about the new creation. He is given to fulfil all that Christ completed on the cross. His role is to apply the power of the cross in our lives and in the world. We do not know how to pray as we ought, our understanding is darkened and our flesh limits us. But the Spirit brings us out of our fleshly limitations. He causes us to rise above the darkness and even illuminates us while we are in darkness. He enables us to comprehend the will of the Father and his ultimate intention for creation. When we our empowered by the Spirit we can truly pray. We do not pray for merely earthly needs—like new cars, houses, and jobs—instead we are caught up (seated with Christ in heavenly realms) with the Father’s cosmic and consummative plans.

Consequently, intercession is joining in the Spirit’s role to superintend God’s creation. “…And the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2, Italics mine). This word “hovering” is only used three times in Scriptural Hebrew. Deuteronomy 32:11 is one of the times we find it. It is used in the context of an eagle that hovers over its young for their protection and maturity. Through connecting Genesis 1:2, Romans 8:18-26 and Deuteronomy 32:11 we learn that in prayer the Holy Spirit wants us to join in this fatherly and motherly role of bringing sons and daughters into salvation and maturity. When we intercede for the manifestation of God’s children we actually usher in the redemption of the universe. In prayer we “hover” over others in love and purity so that they come into the fullness of God’s new, glorious and liberated creation. And as the Holy Spirit is praying through us we also are praying for ourselves, because we are not yet perfected in God’s glory either—we all fall short.

Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, expressed this type of prayer. In his anguish we see the apostolic heart. Paul exclaims: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). The Galatians had lost their form—the image of Christ within them. Through false teachers, they were falling into legalism and bondage, captivity totally inconsistent with the glorious liberty of God’s children. Paul himself discerned their degeneration; out of the overflow of the Spirit within he entered into labour pains till Christ again was formed in them. He knew that unless the body of Christ comes into maturity (Eph 4:1ff) the end could not come. Every true apostle and apostolic person will possess the same heart and spirit as Paul.
Moreover, this was not the first time Paul interceded for the Galatians. He said, “I am again in the pains of childbirth…” The first time was when he gave them birth through intercession into salvation. Like Jeremiah saw the earth “formless and empty” we also need to see spiritually that men are “without God and hope.” By the Spirit we need to incubate them in prayer until they are gloriously born again. But it does not stop there. We need to be continually praying that Christ is fully formed in all that call him their own.

How is it possible to pray such heavenly prayers? It can only be a reality through the Spirit’s presence in our lives—permeating, moving and inspiring our hearts, thoughts and actions. God longs to bring about his new creation through us, by the same power of God’s Spirit displayed in the beginning.

The Consummation of the Ages – Day 34

Christ didn’t just die to redeem humankind. Yes, we are the head—the crowning work of his creation. But he also sacrificed himself to restore “the heavens and the earth” to an even far greater glory than the “first heavens and earth.” All of Christ’s creation is dear to him; he is committed to everything he has made.

The book of Revelation also witnesses to this reality. At the conclusion of the “day of the Lord” John sees “ ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea” (Rev. 21:1). This “new heaven and new earth” has to be birthed just like we need to be born again to become God’s new creation. And the price was already paid for this new birth through the cross when Jesus said, “It is finished!”

The event of the cross even foreshadowed the apocalyptic end of all things: “The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people” (Matt. 27:51b-53). This is a wonderful foretaste of the end when the earth will shake, the rocks split, and death will be conquered with the manifestation of resurrection life! We are still waiting for all that has been conceived on the cross to be consummated. Jesus died for much more than we are presently experiencing.

In light of all this it would be good for us to ponder Paul’s unique insight on creation and this present age:

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to this present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we are saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Rom. 8:18-26, TNIV)

It was our fall that brought the creation into bondage to decay, into degeneration. Yet, in God’s wisdom it is our salvation that will bring creation into true liberation from decay. Just as we had to be born again, creation itself needs to be born from above. This birthing will mean pain, the same type of groaning that every woman goes through in childbirth. We too are groaning, not just for creation, but also for ourselves, because even though our spirits are alive, our bodies are still subject to death. We hope and look forward to the redemption of our bodies, the fullness of our salvation—the fullness of what Christ did on the cross. Even though we are groaning we still have a responsibility to intercede, to give birth to the “new heavens and new earth” that we subjected to bondage and decay.

Prayer: O Father, you have given me your Spirit, the Spirit that longs for redemption and your full salvation. You will not be satisfied to all heaven and earth is swept up into your glory. Today, may your Spirit intercede through me. Let me not be desensitized to the groanings of your Spirit.

Salvation of the Cosmos – Day 33

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate fulfilment of Genesis 1:2: “And the earth was formless and empty, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Yet we also see the same pattern at the end of the age. In the same way that Jesus became “formless and empty” to birth a new spiritual creation, so the heavens and the earth will also become “formless and empty” before they give birth to the “new heaven and new earth” prophesied in Revelation 21:1.

Let’s look at Jeremiah’s eschatological vision. Jeremiah saw what would come of the earth:

“I looked at the earth and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger.” (Jer. 4:23-26)

In these verses Jeremiah sees the earth return to its original form in the beginning: degenerate. But before we lose hope at what the heavens and the earth will become (in the end) we must remember that this is only the narrow passage way, the canal of death, before it experiences Christ’s resurrection life. Peter sums it up well:

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed with fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10, 12b-13)

Prayer: Father, I want to look forward. Living for the future will cause me to live right today. I Thank you that you are not abandoning the world, but saving the whole cosmos. I long for the new heaven and earth that your coming will bring.

God Dwells in Thick Darkness – Day 32

The fact that Jesus became “formless and empty” is shown throughout Scripture. Isaiah 53 prophesies:

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form [no form] or majesty That we should look upon Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him…He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a Lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” (Isa. 53:2-3, 7, NASB)

The Apostle Paul also explains how Jesus became “formless and empty”:

“Christ Jesus…although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:5-9, NASB)

Even the Gospels seem to liken Christ’s death to Genesis 1:2 by relating how darkness covered the “earth”. “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour” (Matt. 27:45), Jesus voluntarily gave himself, submitting to the Father through the darkness—the very thing that Egypt and Saul were unwilling to do. At about the ninth hour when the darkness had almost reached its fullness, “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying…‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). It cannot get any darker than that! Yet was there any other time in history where God was more near, more manifest than on the cross? Was there ever a greater time when the “Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”? Here at the cross God had come to dwell in thick darkness! (Exo. 20:21, Psa. 18:11, 1 Kings 8:12).

As we learned in the last chapter it was God’s hiddenness—the withdrawal of his glory—that brought about creation. This withdrawal of God’s glory was paradoxically the revelation of his glory through creation. In the same way at the cross, God forsakes himself to give himself. He loses his life to create life.

The total abandonment that Jesus demonstrated for his Father (expressed in the cross) is what caused “the veil of the temple [to be] torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51, NKJV). It is this same total abandonment to the Father that will tear the veil over people’s eyes today! Only as we become one with Jesus on the cross—enduring suffering, silence, formlessness, emptiness and darkness with patient endurance—will the blinders be taken away from people’s eyes. Remember, it was as the Roman soldier saw the cross that he finally saw Christ for who he really was. In that moment of revelation he exclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (Matt. 27:54, NKJV).

Prayer: Lord, open up my eyes to see the glory of the cross. And may I become one with that cross and say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live.”

The Cross Foreshadowed – Day 31

Again, why does the creation story have to begin on such a “dark,” even chaotic, note? Why not just bring to the foreground the marvellous beauty of God’s creation? Why start with formlessness and emptiness? The reason is that it is prophetic––the way God created is a message to us.

Genesis 1:2 is a prophetic foreshadowing of Israel’s history. Israel would soon be thrown into the darkness of Egypt. Even though they were called to be great and a blessing to the nations, they first had to endure being “formless and empty” in Egypt’s dark womb. For those in Israel who had eyes to see, Genesis 1:2 gave hope: even in their darkness, God was at work. Why? Because “the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters”.

As we continue to read Israel’s story we learn that out of Egypt the Father called his son and began to form and fill this redeemed slave nation. Out of their darkness came light!

Genesis 1:2 is also the Bible’s greatest prophetic foreshadowing of the cross. In the same way the old creation began from the state of being “formless and empty,” the new creation began with our Saviour becoming “formless and empty”. Therefore, we see again the wisdom and sovereignty of God in the very way he creates the heavens and the earth.

Prayer: Father, the very message of the cross is imprinted into the beginning of your creation’s story. Today, I want to see the glory of the cross. And when I’m carrying my cross and going through the darkness of night, may I know that you are near. Your Holy Spirit is hovering over me, caring for me, even when I’m suffering. You’ve got great things in store for me.

The Treasures of Darkness – Day 30

The spirit of fear motivates much of the church to look to the world for help. At times we see that we are losing people and think we are unable to resist the devil’s forces. Instead of coming to God in repentance, prayer and obedience, we look to the latest marketing techniques and seek to fill our services with hype. We are unable to endure the reproach of obedient silence and waiting. Consequently, we produce our own religion. This is also the spirit behind such theologies like “Kingdom Now” that teach: “We need to take over all the sectors of the world—politics, music, entertainment, business—before the Messiah will come back.” It is true God desires us to be lights in every sector of this present Babylon, but Babylon will not fall until the Messiah returns. We need to ask ourselves how much we are trying to take matters into our own hands.

Listen to Samuel’s rebuke to Saul:

“You have done a foolish thing…You have not kept the command the Lord gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Sam. 13:13-14)

The one who endures through the darkness of unknowing and the cloud of disorientation, will be established in the end––endued with God’s authority. Like Cyprus they will discover “the treasures of darkness and [the] hidden wealth of secret places” (Isa. 45:3, NASB).

The story of Lazarus also highlights the test of waiting. In John 11 we read that Lazarus (Mary and Martha’s brother) is sick (John 11:3). Jesus had an affectionate and close relationship with Lazarus, yet when he heard what was happening he “stayed where he was two more days” (John 11:6). By the time Jesus arrived in Judea, Lazarus had been dead for four days and the smell of his decaying body stunk. Both his sisters said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). They knew Jesus’ presence could have turned things around, but he didn’t come on time.

Why did Jesus hide himself in such a time of great need? He was teaching them his way. Lazarus, Mary and Martha needed to go through a time of being “formless and empty” before the “light of God’s glory in the face of Christ” could be revealed (2 Cor. 4:6). They were brought to such a low point that they wept, seeing no hope in sight. But the darkness they endured was a blessing. They were experiencing “the fellowship of his sufferings” even though they may not have realized all that was taking place. In the end God’s glory was revealed through Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Ironically, it was this very miracle that gave birth to the conspiracy to kill Jesus (John 11:46ff.).

Prayer: Father, deliver me from the spirit of fear and let me be patient in obedience. Resurrection is coming, light is sown on the righteous. You will come, heal and deliver. Today, I wait for you with expectancy.

The Danger of Rush – Day 29

In 1 Samuel 13:1-15 Saul’s character is exposed through the test of waiting. Yes, things were “formless and empty.” Yes, he was being defeated. But would he wait for God or take matters into his own hands? Will he wait for a sent word that says, “Let there be light” (thus scattering his darkness) or will he move on his own word, based on his own felt-need? The issue at stake is a central issue of the heart. It has to do with the difference between faith and our own good works. Faith waits, rests and trusts in God’s solution. But our own works are different. They are not the products of resting in God and true prayer. Rather, they stem from fear and nervous energy. They do good stuff but they are not God working through us. Entering into God’s Sabbath rest is at the heart of true religion; doing our own good works is at the heart of false religion. As Samuel said to Saul, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22).

Samuel commanded Saul, “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do” (1 Sam. 10:8). The Lord sent Saul to Gilgal through Samuel, but the situation in that locality was anything but pleasant. We read:

“Philistines assembled to fight Israel, with three thousand chariots, six thousand charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore…When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.” (1 Sam. 13:5-7, TNIV)

It is easy to wait when everything is peaceful, but extremely difficult to wait when everything is falling to pieces. More than that, Saul is the new king. He needs to show that he is capable, able to lead and produce results. Yet, even with all this turmoil Saul was called to wait—he had to wait in silence based on a word that he received seven days ago––a word that was not given during the trial, but before it. “Yes,” he may have thought, “What Samuel said was good. But he didn’t know what I would be going through. He spoke the word before and not during this pressure.”

“Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter” (1 Sam. 13:7b-8). Now fear gripped the troops and darkness was over their faces.

Saul’s men went in every direction, fleeing their leader. His very army was becoming void. Moreover, the time allotted by Samuel was up, or at least Saul perceived it as complete.

“So [Saul] said, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offering.’ And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him” (1 Sam. 13:9-10). Saul felt like he waited long enough, but if he had held back a few more minutes, God would have come through. Instead he offered his own sacrifice. This was a reflection of Israel’s constant transgression (in the Old Testament) as they waited for their Messiah. They were continually tempted not to wait for their deliverer, but to initiated their own salvation, like they did with Saul. Their inclination was to establish their own righteous, to offer their own sacrifices, rather than wait for the fullness of time, the time the Messiah would offer the true sacrifice of himself. The reason why Saul lost the kingship over this event was that it had eternal ramifications. The spirit that moved Saul—fear—is the very spirit that produces false religion and rejects the true Messiah.

Prayer: Father, keep fear from being my motivator. Give me a persevering spirit to wait through the hardest, darkest time. May I be obedient to your Word no matter what the situation looks like. Make me like David and save me from the nervous rush of Saul.

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