Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We are His Servants God is Our Intercessor

There are times in the ministry of intercession that you might have the fleeting thought (or maybe not so fleeting), "OK God now would be a good time to do something." It is rooted in doubt, but we are weak. Thank you Lord for when we are weak you are strong.

Imagine if you will you have just spent seven day crossing the Siani wilderness. It is both mountainous and desert. As you wonder around the 7th day you hear reports that the entire Egyptian Army is in pursuit. Chariots are closing fast on your position. You press through a valley out onto a beach facing the Red Sea. To the north of you is an Egyptian fort. To the south of you the cliffs terminate into the sea. To the west the Egyptian army is blocking. And so you stare at the sea and wonder, "What has Moses got us in to!"

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw the Egyptians coming after them. Then the Israelites were terrified and cried out to the Lord for help. They said to Moses: "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you took us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Isn't this what we told you in Egypt: Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
Exodus 14:10-12 (HCSB)

This was a hopeless situation when it is looked at with natural eyes. At this moment in time if one were to say that the Lord Jehovah was leading the people of Israel, you would have concluded, "He is a foolish deity, because now His people are going to be annihilated. He has led them into a trap of doom."

But Moses said to the people, "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord's salvation He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet."
Exodus 14:13-14 (HCSB)

Where does such boldness come from in the face of such a hopeless circumstance? Remember we have the benefit of knowing how the story turns out. Moses and the people of Israel did not. So where does Moses find such lofty words to use at a moment of desperation? I would submit to you that Moses had his marching orders from God's Holy Spirit. God had made it clear to Moses what the plan was. Even if God had left this detail out he knew and understood that God had plan. He had faith in God. Notice also what he told the Israelites to do, "BE Quiet."

When it comes to a ministry of intercession a lack of faith is like a black hole that sucks the light out of a situation. Moses was calling them to faith. The evidence of there faith would be to not fear, stand firm, watch, and be quiet. At times a ministry of intercession requires us to be bold and call people to faith. To see beyond the circumstances and remind them of God's faithfulness. We can call people to put away fears and doubts, to take a stance, and to embrace expectant waiting on the Lord. That is faith. It is this kind of faith that is called for in moments of desperation. It is this kind of faith that emboldens Moses to speak in such a lofty manner.

The Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground."
Exodus 14:15-16 (HCSB)

I have to smile at God's response to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me?" This flies in the face of traditional understanding of the ministry of intercession. The traditional view is to press into God through prayer waiting for Him to act. So then why would God offer a rebuke for Moses doing this very thing? Are we supposed to carry everything to God in prayer? This would seem to be one of those moments. God is very confusing if that is our belief.

A ministry of intercession is not always prayer. There are time in which you are called to act. There are times when you are to call others to act. If you are listening to God this will be clear as the noon day. Let's take a look.

Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you must camp in front of Baal-zephon, facing it by the sea.
Exodus 14:2 (HCSB)

God gave Moses clear instructions. In front of Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephan (facing the sea) between Migdol and the sea. God had a specific place that he wanted them to be.

They departed from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol.
Numbers 33:7 (HCSB)

This may seem a minor detail, but there are no minor details when it comes to serving God. What we consider minor can turn out to be a major catastrophe if we are not obedient. Notice where they camped. Not "in front of Pi-hahiroth" though it appears that it was near by, but instead they camped in before Migdol." God told them to Camp "in front of Pi-hahiroth" and "between Migdol and the sea." I believe that God was saying to Moses why are you crying out to me when you have not positioned yourself where I told you to be. This obedience was both spiritual but also practical in this case. God a specific plan for the people to cross the Red Sea. He also had a specific place that they were to cross. If they were not facing the sea and they were not at the specific point He wanted them to be they could not follow God's plan. The rebuke is, "Brake Camp and face the sea just as I have told you!"

This applies to us as well. There are times in life when we look at our circumstances and we start to complain to God. Many times God has already told us what we are to do or where we are supposed to be going. If we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing, or going where we are supposed to be going, it is hard to imagine that God is now going to be at our beck and call just because we are frightened by our circumstance. "Be Quiet" and do what God has called you to. "Be Quiet" and position yourself where God has called you to be. Already there? Already done? "Be Quiet" and wait upon the Lord (Ps 46:10-11).

Once they were positioned where God wanted them to be then He interceded for them. He came between them and the Egyptian army.

Then the Angel of God, who was going in front of the Israelite forces, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them. It came between the Egyptian and Israelite forces. The cloud was there in the darkness, yet it lit up the night. So neither group came near the other all night long.
Exodus 14:19-20 (HCSB)

There is a danger in engaging in the ministry of intercession that some how you are doing something to gain God's favor on behalf of another. Let me make this very clear. You do not intercede, God does. You do not intercede, God does. In fact if you want to be in the ministry of intercession you ought to desire the prayers of others for you. So often we say, "Let's all pray for this person's need." If you are desiring to be an intercessor imageyou ought to ask for others the pray for you that the Holy Spirit reveal what you are to say to or do for this person in need. Praying for the need of someone not following Christ is like asking God to change Pharaoh's mind about letting the Israelite people to go. Better to inquire what the Lord would have you or other intercessors do. That God might intercede! We join God not God join us!

Notice it was not Moses that stood between the Egyptians and the Israelites. It was the very glory of God! God took up the between position and interceded on their behalf.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided,
Exodus 14:21 (HCSB)

Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments film trailer

Moses stretched out his hand, but God drove back the sea! How often I have said, "Moses parted the sea."   We often think of Moses being used by God to part the sea.  No actually Moses led the people to where they needed to be held up his hand.  God parted the sea.  The Bible is clear on this point.  We rob God of glory, we miss opportunity for witness, when we take credit for the thing that God has done. 

Lord forgive me for giving Moses glory that You alone deserve. We are just Your humble servants. You alone are worthy of Glory and Honor. Guard us from taking Glory that belongs to You alone. Help us to align with Your purpose. Help us to know and then obey with where you want us to be. Give us the faith to stamp out fear, stand firm, and wait upon you! Help me to realize that I am not in a position to be a part of the ministry of intercession until I am right with You and I have discerned by revelation of Your Holy Spirit where it is that You plan to intercede. Not my will Lord, but Your will be done in my life and the lives of others Lord. In Jesus Name AMEN.

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