The events of the week that began with Jesus’ humble-but-triumphant entry into Jerusalem and culminated with the crucifixion are unspeakably precious.
The overturning of the moneychangers’ tables in the Temple apparently followed His arrival in Jerusalem. Every one of His recorded acts during this pivotal week is spotlighted by the world-changing events that would subsequently unfold. This story of the cleansing of the Temple comes to our ears and hearts on its surface as revealing Jesus’ desire to re-establish God’s sacred intent for the Temple. To put the emphasis back on prayer and take it away from financial gain. “It is written: ‘My house shall be a house of prayer.’ — but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”
This level of purpose comes across clearly. Perhaps nothing is more important in this world than prayer. But Yeshua was accomplishing more than this with His decisive and fearless disruption of the status quo.
He knew that He would fulfill the Passover later that week, once and for all, as the sacrificial Lamb for whom God had been preparing the way through the Temple’s sacrificial system. God had instructed Abraham to sacrifice animals. And the specific practice of sacrificing a spotless lamb at Passover had been divinely instructed as the Israelites prepared to depart from captivity in Egypt for the Promised Land. We remember John the Baptist’s clarion announcement: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” And Revelation’s describing Yeshua as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.”
His overturning the tables that had been used for the business of selling doves and pigeons to Jews wanting to make ritual sacrifices signaled the end of the centuries-old sacrificial system. Fully knowing the price He would very soon pay to deliver Himself up to redeem lost humanity and restore us to His Father and our Father, no one was more appropriately qualified to upset these tables — notwithstanding the indignation of the Temple elites who stood by. This was His way of signaling the new and better covenant; the new dispensation of grace that He, the spotless Lamb, would provide through His voluntary sacrifice of His own sinless blood. He showed us in a way that we cannot forever miss how profoundly God loves every one of us. “For God so loved the world . . .”
Matthew 9:13 is a wonderful, instructive verse. The Torah teachers or scribes had just asked Jesus’ disciples why their teacher ate with marginal people like tax collectors and sinners. Yeshua the great communicator replied, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (NLT; italics added) This is a direct reference to Hosea 6:6, among other passages. Jesus revealed that God never liked the idea of killing animals to sacrifice their blood. But He instituted this practice to paint a picture of Yeshua’s ultimate atonement. Down the long centuries God had worked through a concrete example that He hoped would provide the clear insight to enable Israel, forever the beloved seed of Abraham, to recognize Yeshua.
In Dr. Brown’s The Real Kosher Jesus, he provides several rabbinic texts that speak of the atoning sacrifice of a tsadik (righteous one) as a means of saving the people. He points out that this concept is not a Christian construct; it had for centuries been part of Judaism. As one example, “. . . the Zohar states, ‘As long as Israel dwelt in the Holy Land, the rituals and the sacrifices they performed [in the Temple] removed all . . . diseases from the world; now the Messiah removes them from the children of the world.’ ”
In addition to providing several rabbinic sources for this fundamental Jewish teaching, Dr. Brown details discussions from rabbinic literature associating the deaths of righteous people with atonement. Miriam and the sons of Aaron are examples.
These insights help to clarify the initially-opaque John 18:14, among other verses, which indicates that Caiphas, because he was “high priest that year,” explained the need for one person to die for the people — as the dark events surrounding Jesus’ illegal trials unfolded. While Caiphas undoubtedly had his own misguided reasons for citing this Jewish teaching in support of the outcome of the bogus hearing that was perfunctorily extended to Jesus, Caiphas’ doing so clearly reflects that an understanding of the power of the death of a single person to benefit all the people was present in Temple instruction.
Dr. Brown’s life-long focus on sacred content that matters is deeply appreciated. Its power to enlighten our understanding is considerable.
Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago I saw the video below, entitled The Numbers Don’t Lie, which was put out by the Bound4Life folks in June. I thought the video was great, but wondered how they could attribute the shift in public opinion on abortion directly to the Bound4Life/JHOP movement. I asked my friend Gordon MacIlvaine with JHOP:San Diego to share some thoughts on the subject, and he graciously accepted. Below is his guest article for VOR, entitled The Numbers Don’t Lie.
“Who, tho’ he has fought against thee, is now reconciled to thee, and will maintain thy cause against all thine adversaries.”– John Wesley.1
Seeds of Intercession
God contends with those who contend against His people. Then He calls us to be a kingdom of priests who do what He is doing in this generation. Intercession is much more than an activity to which we devote two hours of our time each morning and evening. Intercession is much more than a current trend into which we take refuge for a season of time and then move along as the culture sways us. Intercession is the very reason and the very lifestyle for which we are all created. The purpose of this short piece of writing is to call to account and to bring to remembrance the primary vocation of every believer in Jesus. Even though it is our inheritance to go from glory to glory in the place of intercession, we more frequently than we should lose sight of our identity in Christ the Intercessor.
Secrets of Intercession
Secret of intercession #1 – Jesus Himself made it plain, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” In another place Jesus furthers expands on this, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Secret of intercession #2 – To go humbly before God and ask Him questions. You might for example ask God, “Oh Lord, how do I pray?” This is what the twelve disciples asked Him; should we do any differently? Another question which directly relates to revival and reformation is this: “Why has America’s opinion about the practice of abortion shifted from pro-choice to pro-life within the last year?” Several recent polls have all confirmed this to be true, yet why is this happening? Why is America changing her view about abortion? If this causes confusion to you because you think that abortion is just an issue2 that isn’t worth worrying about, then you might want to ask these questions: “God, what do you think about abortion? Should men and women have the right to choose if their child is going to be born?” Many across America have asked this very thing, have heard God answer clearly, and have gone forth in obedience to His unmistakable voice. In simple terms, we cannot enter into intercession unless the voice of God leads us on, and unless the power of the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our midst.
The Red Warriors
Again, I believe that we should indeed be asking the questions, “Why have the hearts and the minds of Americans shifted concerning abortion? Does this shift reflect or relate to the increasing amount of prayer all across America for the ending of abortion and for revival and reformation? This is critical for America to understand in light of the social, political, moral, cultural, health, educational, and spiritual states of emergency into which we find ourselves today. I would dare to say that much of our crisis is undoubtedly bound to the issue of the bloodguilt of America. But don’t just take my word for it. Ask God! He is proclaiming it loud and clear. In all 50 states there are groups of people who have committed themselves to pray for the ending of abortion. Why is this? Because God loves babies!3 Bound4LIFE chapters made up of young and old followers of Jesus gather to fast, weep, and travail in prayer for the ending of abortion. We stand in front of abortion clinics and courthouses praying silently with red tape over our mouths that says LIFE. We wear red wristbands called Life Bands as a symbol and reminder of the covenant with God that we have made to PRAY for abortion to end every time we see the red mark on our wrist, to VOTE for candidates that are actively pro-life, and to OBEY God as he leads us into works of compassion and justice. And we repeat this prayer daily: “Jesus I plead your blood over my sins and the sins of my nation, God end abortion and send revival to America!”
If this is not God raising up a united cry for the pre-born babies who don’t yet have a voice of their own, then we are to be pitied among Christians because we stand in silent prayer for several hours every week. But if this is what Jesus is doing right now among thousands of His followers throughout America, Canada, Europe and the world, then it doesn’t take a prophetic eye to discern that the Holy Spirit is drawing forth a Moses Generation out of the bloody river of abortion; He is longing much more than we are for abortion to come to an end. In 1994 during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, Mother Theresa declared boldly before President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and many congressional leaders, “Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted, and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child, and be loved by the child.”4 Oh that the Church of America would see and embrace the truth!
The Numbers don’t lie. Thousands of Christians, young and old, are gathering together all over America to fast and pray for the ending of abortion.5
The Numbers don’t lie. Since 1973, 50 million American lives have been lost in the bloody river of legalized abortion. Each day, over 4000 children are aborted in America.6
The Numbers don’t lie.
Right now the momentum is on your side. A recent Gallup poll7 shows that in May 2008 50% of Americans considered themselves “Pro-Choice” and 44% considered themselves “Pro-Life.” In the last year, there has been a complete reversal of statistics. As of May 2009 51% of Americans now consider themselves “Pro-Life” while only 42% say “Pro-Choice.” This is a FIRST-the majority of Americans are Pro-Life.
Pew Research8 recently discovered a radical trend indicating a massive loss of support for abortion. Tracing back to August 2008, the number of people that think it should be illegal in all or most cases is dramatically increasing, and those that think it should remain legal is desperately decreasing.
Rasmussen Reports9 recently conducted a study that shows that 58% of Americans now think that abortion is morally wrong. Among them, 64% are women.
In spite of what you hear OR MAY NOT HEAR in the media, America is changing her views on abortion. Bound4LIFE believes this can be directly attributed to the mass mobilization of prayer targeting the ending of abortion and revival in the nation. To put it another way prayer and fasting are in fact shifting the hearts and minds of America. Clearly minds are changing when increasing numbers of people are calling themselves “Pro-Life” and thinking that abortion should be illegal in most cases. The fact that more people believe abortion is morally wrong means that hearts are shifting too.10
Why is this happening? The secret of intercession is found in the blood of Jesus. It is found in the priestly calling of every believer to appropriate the blood and in so doing we give God all the glory. The secret of the Intercessor who stands in the gap on behalf of the land is bound to the fact that He pleads with blood. What does it mean to plead with blood? It means blood for blood. It means life for life. God established the system of atonement during the time of the Levitical Priesthood for this purpose. Ezekiel expresses profound insight into the necessity of bloodshed, sacrifice and atonement, “Therefore, as I live,” says the Lord GOD, ‘I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you.'” (Ezekiel 35:6). Of course the Torah of Moses is 100% fulfilled in Jesus Christ; He gave everything because of the demand of righteous blood in order for the fulfillment of God’s justice. Jesus pleads with His blood, with His life given over to Father on the cross of Calvary. This is the call to prayer. This is the call to intercession. This is the call – to plead His blood over our sins and the sins of our nation – For He is worthy of it all.
The Future of America
The numbers don’t lie. The reason that Americans now lean more towards pro-life values than we did one year ago is because men and women have counted the cost and have subsequently left all behind, for the sake of pleading the righteous blood of Messiah Yeshua over the future of America. There is no political remedy to the shedding of innocent blood in our nation. The only thing that will cover our sins is the pure, undefiled, innocent and Holy blood of the Son of God. Oh that the destiny of our nation would not be aborted! The perfect justice of His intercession on the cross has set us free. HE is the giver of freedom. For whom the Son sets free shall be free indeed. It cost Jesus His own life, blood for blood, life for life, and freedom for freedom; should we do any differently?
Let me say this clearly, men and women are forsaking the American dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; instead we are turning aside to seek the greater reward11 which is God’s dream which is the Cross of Yeshua. For it says of Jesus that He was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. God’s dream is incomparably more excellent than the humanistic self-empowering American dream in which we ourselves demand from the state the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The eternal reality of God’s everlasting kingdom bears witness to a much more excellent way. Only God can give life, only God can give freedom, and only God can give us the gift of happiness. Let us pursue Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. For it will require all -inside and out – soul, spirit, and body entirely surrendered unto Him who is mighty to save, since there is only one place that true freedom can be found – on the cross.
This is why America is turning pro-life. God is speaking to us that abortion is wrong, and thousands from all over the nation are refusing the dream of America and accepting the call to plead the better blood of Jesus12, though it may cost them their dreams, their ambitions, their careers, and their very own lives. For it says of Jesus that for the joy set before Him he endured the cross and despised its shame.
Seeds of intercession always bear fruit, provided that they first fall to the earth and die. Jesus Himself declares this in John 12:24. The bloodguilt of America is not beyond God’s power to reckon, nor is it past His people’s place of intercession which is to stand and plead His blood over our sins so that abortion ends. We are crying out for speedy justice. Their blood cries out. His blood cries out. God is alive and He will not be silent, “Life for Life.”
1. John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible, Isaiah 51:22. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wesley/notes.ii.xxiv.lii.ii.html
2. Many would consider abortion a “health issue” when in reality it is purely criminal. Moreover, in God’s eyes this is hardly an issue, it is a spirit of murder which always seeks to destroy God’s plan and purpose and destiny for an arising generation of deliverers.
3. Psalm 127:3 “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Lou Engle has spent the last few years laboring to see the end of abortion in America through prayer & fasting, launching, among other things, the Bound4Life movement and the Justice Houses of Prayer. He now believes it’s time to launch a similar movement to contend with gay activism in our nation, and he believes this movement will be birthed out of Charlotte, NC, starting with the God Has a Better Way event on July 25th.
After casting vision for this house of prayer movement at FIRE Church on July 5th (click here to listen to the message he delivered), I sat down with him to ask a few questions:
VOR: You said at the meeting on July 5th that you have a prophetic word for this region, could you explain in a few words what that is?
Lou Engle: Well I felt like I had a prophetic word for Charlotte and Dr. Brown and the community here that was, I received a prayer assignment five years ago to raise up a house of prayer, to contend with the ideological house of abortion and the homosexual agenda. We’ve raised it up for abortion, but I felt like the other day as I was praying, it just came upon me so strongly reading Alan Sears’ book on the homosexual agenda, and it suddenly came upon me, I need to call Mike Brown. I believe that out of Charlotte, a house of prayer contending with the homosexual agenda and ideology could be birthed actually creating a nationwide movement, similar to what took place in Bound 4 Life, in Washington DC five years ago, and I believe it’s a word of the Lord, I believe it’s an invitation being given to Charlotte to raise up a contending house of prayer, that contends not with people, but with spiritual principalities and powers, and actually will resist and be the high watermark, so to speak, of the homosexual agenda. It stops here.
VOR: Do you believe the July 25th “God Has a Better Way” rally in downtown Charlotte will be an important event? If so, why?
Lou Engle: I believe with the 21 day fast, that we’re calling, that breakthroughs could take place, in the community, people getting saved on that day, a divine favor shift in the high places of the government could take place, because in 21 days of fasting and prayer, because as you know with Daniel, everything shifted over the king of Persia, an archangel now had influence over the king of Persia, rather than the demonic prince of Persia. Why can’t we believe for the same kind of shifts to take place in this season of time? So I think the 25th is a flash point, at the ending of 21 days.
VOR: Why Charlotte?
Lou Engle: Because Michael Brown’s here. God uses men and raises up leaders with voices, and places them in the right places. I believe it’s also significant that Charlotte would not be like a San Francisco or an Atlanta but is actually takeable, not that Atlanta or San Francisco can’t be, but you take your lion and your bear, and you can take Goliath. I think this could be a staging ground for the beginnings of a victory of the church getting its influence in this realm.
VOR: A local journalist from a gay publication that heard you speak on Sunday was concerned by your use of what he termed “violent rhetoric” in your speaking. How do you respond to concerns such as these?
Lou Engle: Jesus Himself used .. the rhetoric of violence. He said, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” He’s not talking about human weapons, but a spiritual intensity and violence against ideologies and unseen forces and powers of darkness. Jesus said, “if I by the finger of God drive out demons, the Kingdom of God has come upon you,” and he talks about attacking the spiritual strongman, which is a spirit being, attacking and overcoming them, and taking the spoil. That means that you break through the ideology, and the demonic spirit that rules that ideology, you actually see people liberated out of that ideology, homosexuals can come to Christ, be freed from their issues, be liberated, and it is a spiritual battle for the souls of the people. But never have we ever said “take up [physical] violence” and used rhetoric that Jesus uses, “I’ve not come to bring peace but a sword”. And so, that would be my answer.