Introduction: Pictures of the Bride from Women in Scripture
The bible is full of mysteries waiting to be revealed. There are hidden messages about Gods eternal purpose, His amazing love and grace ready to be discovered throughout its pages and no more so than when it comes to the pictures of His greatest of all creations….the Bride of Christ.
These pictures are seen in the character and role played by various woman whose lives are recorded for us in both the Old and New Testament and we should all be so grateful to God for this wealth of revelation now being revealed.
Eve, the first Eve is a picture of a disobedient, rebellious, seductive Bride but the Second Eve, She born out of the rib of Jesus on the cross when the spear was driven in, is a picture of the true Bride born of His DNA, born spiritual bone of His bone and spiritual flesh of His flesh.
Sarah is a type or picture of the obedient submissive Bride and Rebekkah the faithful, trusting, servant hearted Bride who will always be found at the well of life waiting and longing for the Holy Spirit to come and take Her to Her Bridegroom King.
In the New Testament another women met Jesus at a well in Samaria and represents the penitent truth seeking Bride. The unknown woman who washed His feet with her tears typifies the adoring Bride. The Woman in the story of the Friend at midnight describes the persistent praying Bride.
However in this message I want to concentrate on just three woman all from the Old Testament because they each have something to say to us about this season of the Bride in which we live. They are Esther, Hannah and Deborah the Prophetess and Warrior Bride Princess.
Each take on an intercessionary role and each function I believe in the prophetic. The Bride of Christ will always have an intercessionary role with Jesus who is Himself the Great Intercessor ..”who ever makes intercession for us” because, in their perfect Oneness and synergy, they will be as one.
Both Esther and Hannah were great intercessors and Deborah interceded, seeking God and arbitrated in a time of national conflict by functioning under her prophetic anointing.
Let’s start with Esther
We are probably very familiar with the story of Esther and know well the wonderful drama of how she, as Queen, seeks to intercede on behalf of her own Jewish people, who are still in exile. She had discovered a plot by Hamon, a high ranking political advisor to king Xerxes, to have them all killed.
Esther knows that royal protocol prohibits audience with the king, though her husband, uninvited and approaches him with fear. The king seeing his queen beautifully dressed holds out his golden sceptre and invites her to speak with him. Instead of sharing her request she invites him to dine with her that night which he is pleased to accept. After a wonderful evening together she asks him to attend another banquet the next night which he also accepts. However when he the second night asks her what was worrying her and what her request was she declines to say but persuades him to accept just one more evening together. By now he is so much in love with her that he cannot refuse her repeated invitation.
At the end of the third evening together she tells him about the plot and has arranged for Hamon to now be present. Hamon is exposed, arrested and finally executed and Esther’s Jewish nationals are saved.
But what does this story tell us about either the role or the character of the Bride of Christ? Well…..so much! But I want to highlight here just one area in regards to the Brides role now, in this season that we are living in, the role of prayer and intercession.
There is such a thing as Bridal Intercession
There are many ways that we can pray. There is the prevailing prayer of the women coming to the unjust Judge for judgement or the neighbour asking for bread at midmight. Their persistence brought about a favourable response. And we must remember that Jesus taught us in Luke 18 v 1 that “At all time we ought to pray and not loose heart”. And Eph 6 v 18 “Pray at all times and on all occasions”.
However Esther shows us that there is yet another form of intercession that receives that favourable response we long for which is based not upon the intercessors persistence but on her relationship with the one she is partitioning.
Esther shows us that there is also a place of bridal intimacy with Jesus where but a whisper in His ear is enough and He will give up to half of His kingdom. This is called Bridal Intercession.
Hannah on the other hand represents the intercessor/bride who ‘travails’ in prayer.
You will remember that Hannah, wife of Elkanah was barren but desperately wanted a son. If the Lord granted her request then the boy would be offered to the Lord as a servant in the temple at Shiloh with Eli the High Priest so she went regularly to the temple to pray. So intense were her prayers that she appeared to be drunk to Eli who rebuked her. She was travailing in prayer.
What is travail? This type of prayer has been a “Lost Art” in the body of Christ for many, but in the current move of God, old ways are being made new.
Webster’s New World Dictionary simply defines travail as: 1. very hard work. 2. the pains of childbirth. 3. intense pain; agony. I have found that the definition describing physical travail to be correct in the spiritual realm as well.
As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. Travail is a form of intense intercession given by the Holy Spirit whereby an individual or group is gripped by something that grips God’s heart. The individual or group labors with Him for an opening to be created so that the new life can come forth.
Travail takes place after you have carried something in your heart for a period of time, but it comes on you suddenly. Travail can be associated with the prayer of tears, but does not require it. It is preceded by nurturing the promise; later the strategic time comes to push that promise forth through the prayer canal. Finally you realize that the promise has been born, and you are greatly relieved when the delivery is over! The prayer of travail is God desiring to create an “opening” to bring forth a measure of life or growth just as in the natural the womb is enlarged to bring forth the baby. In this end time season the Church Bride will find herself in ever increasing intercession of both kinds….the whisper of Esther and the travailing of Hannah.
However it was during a previous visit to Kenya and a dinnertime Prayer Meeting of Intercessors in Nairobi that the Lord spoke to me and revealed the connection between the role of the intercessor and prophecy. There is a connection between the Bride’s intercessionary role represented by Hannah and Esther and the prophetic bridal intercessionary role represented by the prophetess Deborah.
In this season that we are privileged to live in we have seen the restoration to the Church of the fivefold ministry of the ascended Lord Jesus and most recently of the Prophetic and Apostolic. The early generation of the church were “built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Christ Jesus being the chief corner stone” Eph 2 v 20. In this final generation the Church will be perfected upon the same. The Bride can only be made ready as she establishes her life and character upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets living today. God is raising up a new generation of Apostles and Prophets to guide, direct, inspire and reveal end time truth that will enable the Bride to be complete and fully equipped. Scripture states that “God does nothing unless it is first revealed to His servants the Prophets”. We need to be the present day ‘sons of Issachar’ who understand the times and seasons and to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church today. There is a new synergy developing between the work of the Prophet and the work of the Apostle and that of the intercessor for the intercessor must function as part of the prophetic ministry.
All the fivefold ministries are designed to work together for the maturing of the Church Eph 4 v 11 as each have a specific role to play.
Teachers Ground……. and Intercessors birth.
Interestingly all these fivefold ministries are all evidence of God’s grace. Each role begins with ‘G’ for grace and there are 5 of them and the number five stands for Grace.
But back to the Intercessors Meeting in Nairobi…….
I had been invited to attend the meeting and on arrival was asked to share a few words with those present. I was unprepared and cried out to the Holy Spirit to give me something of spiritual significance. I didn’t want to waste their time. Immediately he responded. “Tell them they are midwifes” He said.
It was revealed to me that an intercessor must work alongside the prophet since the intercessor through their prayer, births or travails the prophetic word. The word travail is as we have seen ‘to birth’.
He then showed me how all prophecy in scripture had to be birthed by the prayers of an intercessor. Firstly he took me to Hannah and showed me that by her ‘travail’ she not only birthed a son called Samuel but that through him she gave birth to the prophetic movement in Israel.
Secondly He took me to Elijah and reminded me what he did when, having announced the end of the famine that he had prophesied and just experienced, he crouched down in the Jewish birthing position seven times in pray until there appeared a small cloud the size of a hand and he knew that rain was on the way.
Lastly He reminded me that even His own sons incarnation and all prophecy associated with it had to be birthed by the life-long prayers of Anna and Simeon.
I realised that there was a principle here. Maybe it gives us a reason why so many of the prophetic Words spoken over our own lives, churches and nations remain still yet to be fulfilled.
And now…… finally let us consider Deborah the Warrior Princess and what she teaches us about the Bride of Christ’s role and character in these very significant end time days.
However let us remind ourselves again about the nature of the days we are in.
We are living today in a time of intensified spiritual warfare activity in the heavenlies. This year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Second Reformation which we traditionally refer to as the First Reformation of the Church. But the history of Gods redemptive and restorational plan can be divided I believe into three Reformations. The first was from the incarnation of Jesus and the birth of the Church in which we were set free from justification by rigid obedience to the law of Moses and observation of rituals and sacrifices. Now through Christ God had declared His own World War, World War l, upon the demonic realm. Now through Christ His Commander in Chief, a victory over sin and death would be won and we could receive salvation by grace alone and faith in Jesus Christ.
This lasted till the 1500s when the Church having gone into decline and experienced, especially in Europe, 1000 years of spiritual darkness called the Dark Ages, entered the Second Reformation. It was God’s World War ll and would conclude with the restoration of lost truth, the Fivefold Ministry Gifts and the return of the Holy Spirit upon the earth. By the year 2000 the fivefold ministry of the Ascended Lord Jesus had indeed been restored to the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit had returned to the Church in the form of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. From 2000 to 2007 God grounded these fivefold ministries and by 2008 we entered the Third and Final Reformation. It was the year of new beginnings, eight representing ‘new beginnings’ in numerology.
This time is marked by an intensifying of spiritual activity both in the angelic and demonic realm. It has been suggested that 2008 was the year that God declared His own World War III upon the powers of darkness and declared that now the Church would fulfill all prophetic scriptures yet unfulfilled and bring the purposes of God for this dispensation to its close.
This is why there so much demonic activity upon planet earth. The demons are contesting for territory. The Global Peace Index for 2016 stated that there were only 10 nations in the world that were actually free of conflict. But set against this is the growing awareness of increased angelic activity too manifesting itself here on planet earth and a general increase of angelic and heavenly visitations. Believers are experiencing things never seen by so many before. Its as if the veil between heaven and earth is growing thinner.
In this season the Church is embracing Her Bridal identity and is experiencing an anointing and an authority unknown by previous generations. She is at last getting dressed for the wedding and equipped for effective warfare. She is learning to use her spiritual armour and weaponry which will enable Her to fight the demonic forces of this end age.
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong hold” 2 Cor 10 v 4
Deborah is a picture of a Bride who knows how to command and rule with spiritual weaponry. Although known as a Judge and a Warrior Princess she never actually went into physical battle. She was known as Deborah the Prophetess as we read in Judges 4 v 1-7. It was at a time after the conquest of Canaan under Joshua when Israel was experiencing a constant cycle of falling into sin and being punished by God via an attack of enemy invaders, repenting and seeking God again. God would then raise up a Judge to direct them. There were 12 in all and Deborah was one of them. In Judges 4 and 5 we read of her faith, strength and leadership. Judges 4 v 5 tells us that “Children of Israel came out to her for judgement and to hear the Word of the Lord”. Deborah in her prophetic role told them what she believed God to have said and the people moved according to the word of the prophetess. In today’s new season we too must seek to hear the Word of the Lord using the gifts of the Spirit given to the Body of Christ and each of us must cloth ourselves in our spiritual armour and fight with the spiritual weapons of our warfare.
We must be dressed in both the offensive and defensive protective armour of Ephesians 6 for these are the days that the prophet Joel spoke about in Joel 3 v 9 and 10
“Proclaim this among the nations: Consecrate for war; stir up the mighty men.
Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, “I am a warrior.”
And Ps 24 v 9 “Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in”.
Is 42 v 13 “The Lord will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal;
with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies.”
Our Defensive weapons are the Helmet of Salvation, Breastplate of Righteousness, Belt of Truth, Combat boots of the Gospel, Shield of faith used both defensively and offensively.
Our Offensive weapons are the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God but there are others too such as the Name of Jesus, the Prayers and Declarations of Agreement, Our High Praise, Our Shouts of Faith, Praying in tongues, Prophetic Acts and praying and making Apostolic Declarations. We must be bold for we are warriors in the Kings army.
The prophet and the intercessor are engaged together in the spiritual battle because like the prophet Jeremiah in Jer 1 v 10 we are all called to…. “root out and pull down, to destroy and to throw down, and are set over the nations and the kingdoms”.
In Jeremiah 51 v 20 God says of the Saints …” You are my battle axe and weapons of war”. The Shout of Faith as a weapon is particularly effective. It is perhaps the greatest offensive corporate weapon in our arsenal. When Saints shout in unison it explodes in the Spirit realm and does destruction to the Kingdom of darkness like an atom bomb does in the natural.
Finally, as our experience in this realm increases we will become more and more conscious of the hosts of heaven fighting with us and the commanders of the hosts of heaven standing behind us. Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant might be open to see “the hillsides filled with horses and chariots of fire”. In this new generation of end time Saints these experiences will become so natural to us for it is the strongest indication that the Bride is making Herself ready as She waits proactively for the coming of Her Bridegroom King.