Saturday, February 19, 2011

Intercession of the Bread of God

The Gathering of the Manna, by James Tissot

Once again the people of Israel were complaining. This time it was 45 days since leaving Egypt. They had received water, but were now running out of food. The greater need was a lack of faith. God was about to give them an object lesson that was going to last for then next 40 years that would be repeated every day as a reminder of God's faithfulness, that they might grow in their faith.

Moses returned to God. A person involved in the ministry of intercession is unceasingly connected to God through prayer and meditation on God's Word. It is the very breath of his/her spiritual life. When things go well she prays with thankfulness and praising. When things go poorly he humbly brings the need before the Lord. God tells Moses that He plans to feed the people supernaturally.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow My instructions. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days."
Exodus 16:4-5 (HCSB)

Notice that the gathering of bread had very specific instructions. At times there is a specific thing that God calls us to. Often that thing goes against what our natural mind will understand. Yet if we have faith then we will obey. It is not works that makes our faith great. It is works that show our great faith. That is why James says faith without works is dead by itself (James 2:17). So in this case God very clear gathering instructions. What is even more interesting is the consequence if the instructions were not followed.

But they didn't listen to Moses; some people left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and smelled. Therefore Moses was angry with them.
Exodus 16:20 (HCSB)
For six days you may gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none." Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any. Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep My commands and instructions?
Exodus 16:26-28 (HCSB)

In the ministry of intercession it will require you to pass along the specific instructions that God is requiring of others. Most of these instructions are found in the Bible. It is the Word of God that is useful for teaching and instruction. A minister of intercession must have a good working knowledge of the Word of God. Without this knowledge you cannot be sharing what God is saying. God is not a mute in matters of life. His word must be written upon your heart.  What is more a servant of God must point others to the Word of God.  That they also may have His Word written upon their hearts.

It is clear that you are Christ's letter, produced by us, not written with ink but with the Spirit of the living God; not on stone tablets but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.
2 Corinthians 3:3 (HCSB)
I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.
Psalms 119:11 (HCSB)

Seeking the direction from the Lord requires communication with the Lord. There are two primary ways that God communicates with His people: His Word, and Prayer! In seeking the Lord Moses learned a couple of things. First he learned about what God was doing and how the Israelites were to respond. He also learned something about the ministry of intercession.

...for He has heard the complaints that you are raising against Him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord."
Exodus 16:8 (HCSB)

Moses learned that the complaining was against God and not against himself or Aaron. When you are in the ministry of intercession you become a target of others complaints. There is a subtle shift of blame. I think people feel guilty to complain about God, so they more readily blame His spokesperson. Yet God made it clear to Moses that the people were in fact complaining against God. This in a negative way demonstrates that the minister of intercession is nothing by himself. It is God who intercedes and it is God's timing that the intercession occurs. When we take things personally when representing God we need to examine whether we are grieved because God is grieved or are we subtle buying into the idea that "I did this for God." There can be pride there which then will lead to ungodly action. More on this in a future post.

We see the pattern that I mentioned in a previous post: Recognize the need (Exodus 16:2-3), bring the need before the Lord (Exodus 16:4), listen for what God was doing (Exodus 16:4-5), obey what God asked (Exodus 16:6-11), wait upon the Lord (Exodus 16:13-15), and praise the Lord for His provision (Exodus 16:33-34).

Obedience for Moses was to call the people to obedience. Notice just because Moses called the people to obedience did not mean that they were obedient (most did, some did not). Those that did not obey experienced the consequences of their disobedience. Moses could not intercede for them. Notice also how disobedience grieves the Heart of God and the heart of His servant Moses.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep My commands and instructions?"
Exodus 16:28 (HCSB)
Therefore Moses was angry with them.
Exodus 16:20 (HCSB)

To the people the bread was Manna which literally means "whatness" (Exodus 16:31).

"What is for breakfast?"
"What!"
"I said what is for breakfast?"
"and I said what!"
"I want to know what it is?"
"Yes that is right!"
"What is right?"
"Exactly!"

So to the people it was a mysterious substance that came down in the morning dew. However Moses had a different take. To Moses it was "... the bread the Lord has given you to eat (Exodus 16:15)." As you mature in the ministry of intercession what was once a mystery will become the very bread of God spiritual food for the soul.

Jesus said to them, "I assure you: Moses didn't give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said, "Sir, give us this bread always!" "I am the bread of life," Jesus told them. "No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again."
John 6:32-35 (HCSB)

Notice Jesus' words. He points out that God is the one that interceded. He also draws the connection to his own ministry. Jesus is our bread of life. To others He is a mystery. To believers He has been revealed as the Bread of Life. As believers we have a duty to first feast on the Bread of Life daily, recognize the greatest need of others is to have this bread, go to God in prayer over this need, listen for what God is doing in their lives, obey God by speaking (or doing) what He is revealing, waiting on the Lord for the results, and Praising Him when others come to know Him as the Bread of Life! This is the ministry of intercession.

If you have the Bread of Life then I pray that you would continue to grow in your spiritual walk so as to become the servant of God and minister in Jesus' name.  If you do not have the Bread of Life, would you consider the offer of life that is before you right now.  God desires for you to have it.  Yours is to receive it with thankfulness. 

God Bless You

~BJ

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