Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pleading your case in heaven's court

Job 23:4-5, 7a; Luke 18:1-7
Jesus taught prayer by using court room imagery. Like the widow who did not give up in going to a godless judge with a plea for justice against her adversary, we also should not give up in our prayer (Luke 18:1-4). The judge refused her for a while, yet she continually begged the judge to give her legal protection from her opponent (Luke 18:3). Finally, the wearied judge saw to it that she received justice. Jesus summarized this way, asking if God would not bring about justice to his own who cry out to him day and night (Luke 18:5-7)?

The Scripture calls God the supreme Lawgiver and Judge (Isaiah 33:22; James 4:12), the judge of all the earth (Psalm 50:6; 94:2), the Righteous Judge (Psalm 9:4; 2 Tim 4:8), the Judge of all men (Heb 12:23), and the Judge of the living and the dead (2 Tim 4:1). Jesus is called our Intercessor and Advocate (1 John 2:1) who ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:34). The Holy Spirit also intercedes for us (Rom 8:26-27).

Within the covenant of God, which is something much more than a legal contract, the Lord promises his protection and provision. Intercession is presenting a case in council or pleading the terms of the covenant (Psalm 74:20). Have you thought of your intercession for someone or for a situation as pleading your case before the court of the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9-10)? What is awesome is that God invites us to such a privilege (Ezek 22:30; Heb 4:16).

The Old Testament prophets understood this. Job laid his case before the Lord (Job 5:8; 23:4-5). Moses knew that God defends the fatherless and the widow (Deut. 10:18). David cried out for God to contend with those who contend with him (Psalm 35:1; i.e., a judicial proceeding, litigation, or a lawsuit). David said the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy (Psalm 140:12). He was confident that the Lord would decide between him and his enemy King Saul and vindicate him (1 Sam 24:15). Solomon asked the Lord to enter on Israel’s side and uphold their case (1 Kings 8:44-61). Jeremiah said the sins of Israel testified against them as in a court of law (Jer 14:7). Isaiah told Israel to state her case and that God himself had a case against them (Isaiah 1:18; 41:21; 43:26).

God invites his watchmen-intercessors to plead his promises before him and remind him of his covenant to give Him no rest (Isaiah 62:6-7). It is not presumption to remind God of his promises. We can come humbly but boldly to the throne of grace, interceding in the name of Jesus according to the will of the Father. There before the Throne, we enter our plea for Him to do what He has promised to do for us.

For example, God told Cain that his brother Abel’s blood cried out to him from the ground (Gen 4:10), but the writer of Hebrews says that Jesus’ blood cries out a better thing than the blood of Abel’s. The Amplified says “And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nob ler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]” (Heb 12:24).

Pleading is a legal word, meaning to make a plea in a legal action, to put forward a legal declaration, or to address a court as an advocate. Pleading our case and detailing our arguments pleases God, helps us understand the need more completely, moves our compassion, strengthens us in determination, and stirs up our hunger to see God move. 

Adapted from Sylvia Gunter, Prayer Essentials for Living in His Presence, vol. 2.