Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Missing the Mark with Intercession

Moses Face

Image via Wikipedia

But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: "Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?"
Exodus 32:11 (HCSB)

I quoted this verse because it zeros in on Moses' Ministry of intercession.  Moses had a relationship with God and through that relationship he was able to bring the message of God to others.  The nature of that relationship with God put him in the unique position of intervening on the people's behalf.  He also intervened by leading the people to enter a right relationship with God.  It will take more that one or two posts to develop my ideas here.  Some introductory thoughts would be:  The ministry of intercession is at first a relationship with God through prayer empowered by His Holy Spirit.  It is listening to God and bringing His message to others.  It is prayerfully aligning yourself with God's purposes and praying for others (what it traditionally thought of being intercession) according to His will not your own.  Finally it is acting on the spiritual wisdom or insight personally and/or leading others to see what God would have them do in their own lives.  I will go into greater detail in future posts, but first I want to show what happens when we try to intercede on our own. 

Years later, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his own people and observed their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. Looking all around and seeing no one, he struck the Egyptian dead and hid him in the sand.
Exodus 2:11-12 (HCSB)

Moses being raised by his own mother as a nurse maid on behalf of Pharaoh's daughter (See Exodus 2:8-10) clearly had time to learn about "his own people."  Moses was stuck in between to worlds.  He as adopted as a prince of Egypt and he was a Hebrew, who were slaves the Egyptians.  No doubt his sense of justice was offended when he saw how the Hebrew people were being treated.  In this scripture he sees an Egyptian assaulting a Hebrew.  He no doubt became very  angry (anger being the root of murder; See Matthew 5:21-22).  He executed his own justice.  He interceded on behalf of the Hebrew against the Egyptian.  This was his intercession in the flesh.

The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you attacking your neighbor?" "Who made you a leader and judge over us?" the man replied. "Are you planning to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses became afraid and thought: What I did is certainly known. When Pharaoh heard about this, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well.
Exodus 2:13-15 (HCSB)

Moses then sees to Hebrews fighting.  He decides to intervene again.  This time as a peacemaker rather than judge and executioner.  However, He still is working in the flesh.  That is Moses is acting according to his own will and not the will of God.  When he is confronted with the murder he has just committed he gives up on being a peace maker and becomes fearful of his own well-being.  He runs away before Pharaoh can bring him to justice for the murder. 

Now we may not go to the extreme case of murder in our attempts to intercede on behalf of others, but we can fall into the same traps.  First Moses had a strong sense of right and wrong.  He found that injustice was intolerable.  Most of the time when we act it is to gain some benefit or to correct some wrong.  He was moved to anger at the sight of injustice.  We can also be moved to anger.  Sometimes we believe that we are even doing the right thing.  In some ways we become minor deities in which we play the role of God in others lives.  "I know what is best for you, so listen to me."  This is intercession according to the flesh.  Intercession according to the flesh can have disastrous results. 

At times we insert ourselves into a conflict between people with the intent of being a peace maker.  Blessed are the peace makers after all (Matthew 5:9), right?  Notice without seeking God he determined in his heart who was wrong and confronted him.  How often do we quickly make up our mind when two people are in dispute about who is in the wrong.  Another not so obvious thing to note is that these two Hebrews did not ask for him to intervene nor did Moses get their consent to do so.  How often in our own sense of wisdom (really just puffed up know  nothingness) we tell others what we think.  This is offensive and rarely received.   In this case the intercession fails miserably.  This is intercession based on self-wisdom.  Intercession based on what you know (without God's wisdom) is ineffective.

Moses had much to learn before God could use him to intercede for a nation.  God has longsuffering when it comes to our shortcomings and weaknesses.  He allows for us to make our mistakes that we might come to the end of ourselves and then turn to Him.  I plan to show over the next several posts to show through the life of Moses what a ministry of intercession looks like.   I pray that God give me the words to write and that His Spirit would illuminate your soul in this very important ministry. 

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