A Call to Intercession
There our 4-year-old stood, in our doorway at 10 o’clock at night. This was not the first time she had showed up that night. And this time she was whining, defiant and had plans to party it up until the wee hours of the morning. I looked at my husband and he knew mama was about to call fire down from heaven.
Luckily for my daughter, fire was not called down and the more sane of her parents at that moment took her calmly back to bed, confiscated her very favorite elephant and let her know that more consequences were coming if we saw her again that night. This is the beauty of a two parent system. One needs to stay calm when the other is ready to send locust and frogs upon the land.
Israel reminds me very much of my toddlers (and myself when I act like one). They are continually stirring up the Lord’s holy, righteous anger. And like my daughter, they need an advocate to step in on their behalf.
In Exodus 33 there is an interchange between Moses and God after the golden calf incident where the Lord’s anger burned against His people. He declared He would not continue with them in the desert. He was done with their rebellious ways.
But Moses had an intimate relationship with Yahweh. And his prayer in Exodus 33:13 found favor with God and changed His final verdict.
“If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people….If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:13, 15-16, New International Version)
What does it look like to commune with God and understand His justice and kindness in tedious balance? What can we capture from Moses’ prayer; not only for us, but for the people we are connected with?
Prayer is a lost art in our day and age. We say grace before a meal or pray quickly for a friend at Bible Study. But what does it mean to intercede for a people?
When we see brokenness in a family or spiritual blindness in a community, instead of using this as ammunition to bring them down, what if we took that energy and turned it into intercession on their behalf?
This is what Moses did again and again for the people of Israel. There is another passage in Numbers 14 that comes to mind when God was ready to disinherit Israel for their lack of faith and Moses’ response is powerful:
“Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” (Numbers 14: 13-19, NIV)
Moses reminds God of His promises. He reminds God of the people watching. He speaks to God’s mercy, even as he acknowledges His perfect righteousness. Moses has relational clout to have an open intellectual exchange with God to ask Him to give grace when God had the holy right to see justice served.
Moses steps in and intercedes on behalf of a spiritually blind people; and God listens because of His love for Moses.
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.’” (Exodus 33: 17, NIV)
Are we the kind of people that God knows by name? If we are, there is a weightiness to our prayer life. We can speak up on behalf of those in our circles who are unaware of the shaky ground they walk on. We can intercede on their behalf that God might act and move.
I never thought of Moses as a prayer warrior. But as I have been diving into the first five books of the Bible, I have been struck by how many times he steps into this role of praying on behalf of others. He is a forerunner to what Jesus is for us, but also a taste of the need for intercession in the Body of Christ.
Are you a Moses in your community? Is there a sensitivity in your soul to converse with God on behalf of the lives around you? Would you heed the call? There is a family and community on the line; and your role has eternal significance.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®