My reading has me moving through Numbers and Chapter 16 offers a powerful picture of what intercession looks like in the Kingdom of God. A plague was sweeping the camp of Israel and Moses instructed Aaron to take the censer and put fire from the altar in it. He was then to go out and raise it among the people. It is a powerful picture of intercession.Read more
What is prayer? What is intercession? This thought rattled my mind this afternoon:
What is the nature of petitionary prayer? lt is, in essence,
rebellion —rebellion against the world in its fallenness, the
absolute and undying refusal to accept as normal what is
pervasively abnormal. It is, in this its negative aspect, the
refusal of every agenda, every scheme, every interpretation that
is at odds with the norm as originally established by God.
Prayer is rebellion against the status quo. We need a new rebellion. We need a new holy anger rising up in us. When all we can do is pray, prayer is the best thing possible.
I am working my way through Dutch Sheets book, Intercessory Prayer, with our staff at church. He lays out the work of intercession and intercessory prayer.
The work of intercession is to call out on Christ, who intercedes for us. We are the ones who are to believe in the victory of Calvary. We are the ones who are to rise up as ambassadors for Christ.
“Our challenge is not so much to liberate as to believe in the Liberator; to heal as to believe in the Healer.”
It is time to live out the power of the Kingdom.
Moses offers us a picture of intercession. It is probably a picture we would rather look at and observe than imitate. Intercession is hard work. Israel stayed at the base of the mountain and let Moses do the climbing to God. Intercession calls us out.
To be much for God, we must be much with God. Jesus, that lone figure in the wilderness, knew strong crying, along with tears. Can one be moved with compassion and not know tears? Jeremiah was a sobbing saint. Jesus wept! So did Paul. So did John. Though there are some tearful intercessors behind the scenes, I grant you that to our modern Christianity, praying is foreign. (Leonard Ravenhill)
Are we willing to “give up to go up”?
One of the great pictures in the Old Testament of intercession is the story in Numbers 16. Moses and Aaron spend much of that time period on their faces before God interceding for Israel. Everything has fallen apart. The spies have returned from Canaan, but they don’t want to take the land. The people are in rebellion and want to head back to Egypt. It’s a mess.
Then, Korah leads a rebellion and challenges the authority of Moses. God steps in and lets the earth open up and swallow the clan. Watching the Lord take out a whole clan, one would think that would cure people of the thought of rebellion. Of course not! They come back at Moses and Aaron the next day and Moses and Aaron are on their faces once again asking God not to wipe them out. A plague starts and Moses instructs Aaron to grab his censor, put incense in it and head out to the people to make atonement for them.
47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped. (Num. 16:47-50, NIV)
What a picture of intercession. Standing between the living and the dead.
Our lives of prayer are meant to be lives of power. We are called to be in the presence of God. There will be times when the Spirit infuses our hearts with a burden to pray in a deeper way. Our hearts may be challenged and we cry out to God. We may find ourselves in that place where we are spiritually standing between the living and the dead. Our prayers lifted up to God reach his presence and something changes.
Grab your censers. Fill them with incense. Take your stand.