Perhaps our best understanding of the role of a human interceding to God on behalf of humans is revealed in Moses' approach to God regarding the incident of Israel's golden calf. In repeated interventions through plagues, God declared numerous truths about Himself to those Israelite slaves. (a) He revealed that He was the living God. (b) He revealed that He was a God of incomprehensible power. (c) He revealed that He could protect Israel. (d) He revealed that He could free Israel from impossible circumstances. In the crossing of the sea and the provisions in the dessert, He revealed that He could nurture and guide Israel in the most hostile circumstances imaginable. Those freed Israelite slaves were given many reasons for placing total confidence in God's ability and adequacy.
In Exodus 32, Moses ascended a mountain to meet with God. From Israel's perspective, Moses was away entirely too long. In their restlessness, they asked his brother, Aaron, to make them a god. They abandoned God's revelation of Himself for what was the familiar. In doing this, they insulted God on the deepest level of insult. When Aaron fashioned for them a god from the gold they brought out of Egypt (Exodus 11:21,3; 12:35,36), he presented the idol to Israel with this statement: "This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4). An idol which Aaron fashioned with his hands was honored and exalted as Israel's deliverer. A forever problem: regardless of evidences or experiences, people tend to revert to the familiar!
God was deeply offended! He would not abandon His promises, but He wanted to begin again. This new beginning would exclude everyone but Moses! God was serious! These people were unappreciative of His grace, unresponsive to His mercy, and unmindful of His kindness! Were it not for Moses' intercession, the insulted Deliverer would have abandoned Israel.
Moses' intercessory efforts are recorded in Exodus 32:11-14. Note this. (1) Moses urged God not to use His anger to invoke justice on Israel. To that point, His mercy determined His acts toward Israel. On that occasion, He wanted justice to determine His acts toward Israel. Do not misunderstand: if God used His justice rather than His mercy, divine justice was not in violation of divine purity. God had every reason to invoke justice instead of continuing mercy. One of the greatest insults humans can give God is arrogantly to credit His merciful, benevolent acts to something humans made!
(2) Moses' intercession did not appeal to Israel's worthiness. They were not worthy of God's mercy! What they did was inexcusable! They deserved justice, not mercy! Moses' intercession appealed to God's character and nature. (1) Moses declared evil people would misunderstand God's justice. Evil people would say the only reason God took Israel into the wilderness was to destroy them. Moses pled with God not to do harm to Israel for the sake of God's reputation among evil people. A powerful, fundamental driving force in God's mercy is His desire to be known and exalted among all people (Ezekiel 36:22,23; 38:23; 39:7).
While intercession is a common "every day life" reality in human activity, American Christians rarely regard it to be a spiritual need and spiritual reality. In fact, some believers today resist acknowledging the need for intercession. In the ancient world (Old and New Testament), intercession was recognized as an essential spiritual act. High priests were common in most religions. Their basic role was similar--intercessors. Animal sacrifices were common acts of worship. A component of animal sacrifice was intercessory. The smoke of the sacrifice could appease God.
The resurrected Jesus intercedes for humans before God. Paul declared in Romans 8:34 that Jesus' function as our intercessor should be a sustaining, stabilizing force in our faith when difficult times and situations come. Evil is powerless to condemn those who are in Jesus Christ. Because such people are sinlessly perfect? No! Because such people have nothing in their lives worthy of condemnation? No! Because evil cannot tempt people who are in Christ? No!
Then why is Satan powerless to condemn people who are in Christ? Paul gave three reasons. (1) Jesus' death. (2) Jesus' resurrection. (3) Jesus' intercession. One of the reasons for Jesus Christ sitting at God's right hand is to intercede for us. Because of Jesus' death, God justifies those who are in Christ. Since God justifies those who are in Christ, Satan cannot bring a charge against them! Because Jesus is our intercessor, God will not hear Satan's accusations against the Christian as He did against Job in Job 1:8-10 and Job 2:4,5. Why? The God who justifies listens to Jesus, our intercessor!
The author of Hebrews compared a high priest on the day of atonement (Leviticus 16) to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:23-25). On the day of atonement, the high priest interceded to God on behalf of the nation of Israel. The writer made these points: (1) death made all Israelite high priest temporary intercessors, but Jesus is our permanent intercessor. (2) Jesus provides a forever salvation to those who approach God through him. The day of atonement had to be repeated annually. (3) One essential purpose served as the resurrected Jesus lives eternally is this: interceding to God for us.
There is no struggle we endure that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us. There is no pain of any type that we endure that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us. There is no injustice we are subjected to that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us. There is no human weakness that attacks us that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us. There is no failure that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us. There is no form of loneliness that the merciful God of grace does not understand. Why? Jesus intercedes for us.
One of our greatest motivations for godly obedience is understanding Jesus' intercession. Because Jesus intercedes, God is aware when we try. Because Jesus intercedes, our feeble efforts become acts of faith. Because Jesus intercedes, our mistakes and failures do not have to alienate us from God. Because Jesus intercedes, we live and struggle in hope.
Sharing thoughts: as you share your thoughts and gratitude, think and share on a practical level rather than a theoretical level.
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 6
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