Tuesday, October 22, 2013


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Joel 2:1-17

TO CHEW ON: "Let the priests who minister to the Lord, Weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, 'Spare your people, O Lord, And do not give Your heritage to reproach, That the nations should rule over them. "Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God?"'" Joel 2:17

The scene in Judah that Joel paints is hellish. Locusts advance like an army:
"With a noise like chariots
      Over mountaintops they leap,
      Like the noise of a flaming fire that devours the stubble,
      Like a strong people set in battle array" (vs. 5).

The people are terrified:
"Before them the people writhe in pain;
      All faces are drained of color" (vs. 6).

The only appropriate response is repentance (Joel 2:12-13) and intercession. When Joel says to the priests, "weep between the porch and the altar," he is referring to the space between the porch of the temple and the altar of burnt offering. This was right in front of the door of the Holy Place where God's presence lived. The priests were to mediate and intercede with God for the people there.

E. M. Bounds said of intercession, "Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still" - quoted in No Easy Road by Dick Eastman, p. 63.

S. D. Gordon explains why intercession is prayer's highest form. "Prayer is the word commonly used for all intercourse with God. But it should be kept in mind that this word covers and includes three forms of intercourse:
1. Communion — being on good terms with God, simply enjoying Him, loving Him, talking to Him.
2. Petition — a definite request of God for something I need.
3. Intercession — reaching out in prayer for others."
— quoted in No Easy Road by Dick Eastman, pages 63-64.

Intercession has several parts to it.
  • It involves identification, as we recognize another's hurt and distress. 
  • It often involves agony. I have heard intercessors describe how, during times of deep intercession, they are overcome with pain and the sense that they are actually participating in the situation for which they are praying; weeping is not uncommon. 
  • Intercession is also praying with authority, as the intercessor claims God's promises for the person or situation for which they are praying.

        Look at these intercessors in action:
        - Moses for Israel: Exodus 32:11 and for his sister Miriam: Numbers 12:13
        - Samuel for Israel: 1 Samuel 7:5-6
        - Jesus for us: Luke 22:34
        - Paul for the Ephesians: Ephesians 1:15-17

        "Indeed, no force transmits human love more than intercessory prayer. No greater gift could man give society than bended knee. In the last analysis, when all history is written and we stand before God, we will know what really shaped this age. When we talk with God in eternity we will quickly learn everything of worth that was accomplished was connected to an intercessor's prayer." - Dick Eastman, No Easy Road, p. 73.

        Who will you and I love in our families, our churches, our cities, our countries, indeed in the world, with our intercession today?

        PRAYER: Dear God, impress on me again how important, no urgent intercession is. Help me to be one of those "priests...who weep between the porch and the altar" for my world. Amen.

        MORE: More thoughts on intercessory prayer:

        "A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray no matter how much trouble he causes me." -  Dietrich Bonhoeffer quoted in Prayer Powerpoints, compiled by Randall D. Roth,  p. 150

        "Criticism of others nails them to the past. Prayer for them releases them into the future." Frank Laubach, quoted in Prayer Powerpoints,  p. 150.

        "There is nothing that makes us love a man so much as praying for him." - William Law quoted in Prayer Powerpoints, p. 151.

        Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.

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