A Tower of Strength
Today we will conclude our series on prayer for protection using the Hebrew word paga - intercession - which also means setting boundaries.
Two ancient cities, Petra and Masada, both impregnable natural strongholds made of rock, exemplify the type of fortress the Lord wants to be to us. I’ll give you the biblical reference for this momentarily.
The city of Petra (Greek word for "rock") was originally named Sela (the Hebrew word for “rock”). The second city, Masada, is from the Hebrew word, metsudah, meaning “fortress, castle, or stronghold.”
The first city, Petra, “was virtually impregnable against attack by the military technology and weaponry of the ancient world," said Dick Eastman and Jack Hayford in their book Living and Praying in Jesus' Name.
The primary access to this stronghold was, and continues to be, a very narrow, natural gorge called the Sik (Arabic for "shaft"), which is about a mile in length and approximately ten feet wide. Because of this geological factor, the Sik could easily be defended by even a tiny band of people against any invasion, even when the attackers used suicide tactics. As G.A. Smith notes in his commentary, "The interior is reached by gorges so narrow that two horsemen may scarcely ride abreast, and the sun is shut out by the overhanging rocks.”(1)
I have been to the second city, Masada, which is an incredible natural fortress near the Dead Sea. Masada is a plateau atop a mountain, which ends abruptly at cliffs steeply falling about 1,300 ft on the east and about 300 ft on the west. The approaches are very difficult to navigate. King Herod used it as a military outpost, and in the first century AD, it took a three-year siege for the Roman Empire to starve out a band of Jewish zealots from this amazing fortress.
In Psalm 31:3 (KJV), David said, "Thou art my rock [sela/petra], and my fortress [metsudah].” “You’re my Petra and my Masada,” he said! What an incredible picture of David's confidence in God as his hiding place, defense, and impenetrable place of protection!!!
David used another geographical illustration of God's protection in the famous twenty-third Psalm. He states in verse 4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (KJV).
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) says the phrase "valley of the shadow of death" is used to describe the infamous valley to the southwest of Jerusalem where some in Judah made their children “pass through the fire.” This phrase spoke of human sacrifice; 2 Kings 23:10 mentions it as the valley where children were offered as sacrifices to the god Molech. ISBE goes on to say, "Because of the atrocities that had been performed there, the name of this valley developed into a synonym for hell."
This verse is often used, of course, to refer to God’s security and comfort when walking through times of literal death. While this is valid, when David said it, he was stating his faith that even when he walked through the most evil or difficult of places, he could trust God to be his protector.
The Lord wants to be a strong tower, a wall, an impregnable fortress for us. Intercession - paga - creates this protective force field. Build it through prayer. Establish your perimeter. Pray daily for protection. Be alert to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and when they come, pray!
Psalm 91 is too powerful not to share it in its entirety. Listen as I read from The Passion Translation:
“When you abide under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. He’s the hope that holds me and the stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and He will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.
“You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you. Don’t fear a thing! Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you, nor will the powers of evil be launched against you. Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed, you will remain unscathed and unharmed. You will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment, for they will be paid back for what they have done! When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.
“How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us? God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm. If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling. You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet!
“For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: ‘Because you loved Me, delighted in Me, and have been loyal to My name, I will greatly protect you. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will feel My presence in your time of trouble. I will deliver you and bring you honor. I will satisfy you with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of My salvation!’”
Feel free to pause the post and dance, jump, run, or whatever joyful expression you enjoy most.
In his book, The Necessity of Prayer, E. M. Bounds tells the following story of a friend who loved to watch foxhounds on a hunt. That is, until…
“Rising early one morning," he said, "I heard the barking of a number of dogs chasing deer. Looking at a large open field in front of me, I saw a young fawn making its way across the field and giving signs that its race was almost run. It leaped over the rails of the enclosed place and crouched within ten feet of where I stood. A moment later, two of the hounds came over also, and the fawn ran in my direction and pushed its head between my legs. I lifted the little thing to my breast, and, swinging round and round, fought off the dogs. Just then, I felt that all the dogs in the West could not and would not capture that fawn who, in its weakness, had appealed to my strength.”(2)
So it is, Bounds said, when human helplessness appeals to Almighty God.
What a picture. Be like this fawn. When the "hounds" of danger approach, run to your Masada, your tower. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10; NASB). Decree His protection over you and yours. Build walls of protection through paga - intercession.
Pray with me:
Father, we thank You for the authority we have in Your name, and the name of Jesus. If David could declare it as a tower of refuge and strength under an inferior covenant ratified through the blood of animals, how much more can we do so through the blood of Yeshua. We place the barriers, set the boundaries now, and declare, “No trespassing!” We and our families are off-limits to all forms of violence and destruction. “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.” NO evil will befall us in our Masada.
And Almighty God, we declare that as America walks through the valley of the shadow of death, as we walk out the shaking, caused at least in part, by making our children pass through Molech’s fire of abortion, we will emerge back onto Cape Henry’s beach. We will repair and retune the Liberty Bell, ringing forth a pure gospel of freedom and truth. And the hounds of idolatry, death, pride, destruction, division, marxism, and a lying, godless government will not tear us loose from Your arms. We declare their defeat through the Cross. We declare that You will prevail in Washington, D.C., that the portals of hell created there by unprincipled politicians in bed with demons, will not prevail against You. Revival has begun, will not be stopped, and America shall be saved.
“When You arise to intervene, all the nations and kings will be stunned and will fear Your awesome name, trembling before Your glory! Yes, You will reveal yourself to Zion and appear in the brightness of Your glory to restore her and give her children. He responds to the prayer of the poor and broken and will not despise the cry of the homeless. Write all this down for the coming generation, so re-created people will read it and praise the Lord! Tell them how Yahweh looked down from His high and holy place, gazing from His glory to survey the earth. He listened to all the groaning of His people longing to be free, and He set loose the sons of death to experience life.” (Psalm 102:15-20; TPT)
In Jesus’ name, so be it.
The coming generation will be recreated, set loose from death to experience life, and give God extravagant praise.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book The Essential Guide to Prayer, published by Baker Books.
Dick Eastman and Jack Hayford, Living and Praying in Jesus’ Name (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), p. 52.
E.M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer (Springdale, PA: Whitaker House, 1984), p. 7.