Hebrew Highlights 63 - INTERCESSION
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
ISA 53:1-6, “Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.”
Obviously, this is the messianic scriptural prophecy often referred to in the Bible. I would like to look today at the last phrase of this paragraph in particular. In Hebrew we read, “vehifgia bo et avon culanu”. Literally translated, it says “interceded upon Him all our sins”.
That’s right, the word “hifgia” in Hebrew means “interceded”. We widely use the word intercession in the church. We have intercessory prayer meetings quite often. But, do we really know what that means. Let’s start putting scriptural light on this word by looking at a few more passages. ISA 59:16 says, “And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him; And His righteousness upheld Him.”
We see plainly here that God could find no one to intercede. He had to do it Himself, by sending His Son Yeshua.
We see this referred to in the past tense in HEB 7:25-27, “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.”
Let me read 3 more passages, which speak of God’s intercession. ROM 8:26, “And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
ROM 8:27, “and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
ROM 8:34, “who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
I would like to submit to you that we mere humans, even we saints, can not intercede. Now I realize this is a radical statement, yet these passages are the only ones using the correlating Greek word which matches the Hebrew one for intercession. Any other places you read intercession, the word actually means supplication. The root behind the Hebrew “hifgia”, or interceded, is “paga”, which means “touched”. The same root is in used “pigua” which is the Hebrew word for a terrorist attack. The only way someone can actually intercede is to lay their lives down for someone else.
The apostle Paul wanted to do so, but couldn’t. We see this in ROM 9:1-3, when he says, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
The only way we can intercede is to say this, “Lord, take my salvation, but save another.” We, as imperfect sinners, simply cannot do that. Only Yeshua Himself could intercede.
Now, please understand that I am not saying we shouldn’t pray. We just need to get our syntax right. To learn what we can do, let’s read ZEC 12:10, "And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.”
Now let’s look at PHI 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” So, we can supplicate, or put more simply, request from God, and pray, and give thanks.
Some of you might say that I am being too dogmatic here. After all, we could say that the modern use of intercession has changed, and that people intercede with a good heart. I will grant that there is some truth in that. However, when words get watered down, so does the responsibility that goes with them.
In the very least, we should understand that intercession is laying our lives down. Five minutes, one hour, or even a whole night of praying is not exactly hurting us. Maybe those missionaries who give their whole lives in some village on the Amazon so that a small tribe might know God are interceding. Most of us, are not.
Shalom shalom, from Jerusalem.