Welcome to 2021!
A Sure Election
On Saturday, November 28, 2020, as I was reading my morning portion of the Holy Scriptures, amidst great uncertainty and increasing division in our country, the Lord highlighted a verse to me—a kiss—a sure word from His heart. I knew at once that the word was not only for me, but for the bride of Messiah, those chosen by God before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4).
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble…” (2 Peter 1:10).
As I write this, we are already in the month of December. We are consumed with making an “election sure,” making sure there is no fraud in the election of November 3, 2020. It is all about numbers—quantity. But God, who is definitely interested in truth and exposing evil, is even more interested in quality, especially as it touches His beloved ones—you and me.
What quality? The qualities enumerated in 2 Peter 1:5-7 that testify to our election as children of the Most High God. The qualities that make us “fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach” (2 Peter 1:8). “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
Does this describe you? Are you progressing in this direction? Do you desire more virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love in 2021? If you do, you are being conformed to the image of the Messiah Yeshua, the One who has selected (elected) you. Yeshua says to you: “You did not chose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
Good news: You won the election! The deceiver (hasatan) lost. The love of God—sacrificial, unconditional, eternal—has won the victory in your life. Yeshua counted—the cost of our salvation. We were the joy set before Him in the Garden of Gethsemane. If you have received Messiah’s atonement for your sin, if you have been born again of His Spirit, if you are growing in grace and in the knowledge of your King, you are making your calling and election sure.
“Someone Is Praying for You”
Our salvation is both an event and a process. It is similar to a marriage. The wedding is the event; marriage is the process. We begin with faith in the saving power of Messiah, but we pursue love as we seek to know our Beloved in deeper ways. But God does not leave us alone in our lifelong quest. Yeshua is praying for us. He is the Great Intercessor who has been interceding for His bride since His resurrection from the dead and ascension to His Father’s House in heaven. This is really great news since we have an enemy, the devil, who is relentless in accusing us. He is against us, but Messiah is for us. “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ (Messiah) who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33-34).
Think of it! The Son of God is praying for us! Surely the Lord will answer the prayers of His Son. The Book of Hebrews gives us more reassurance and comfort concerning Yeshua’s intercession: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). This is reason to give Abba thanks!
Intercession: What Is It?
Intercession is defined as the action of intervening on behalf of another or the action of saying a prayer on behalf of another person. What is the difference between prayer and intercession? (I googled this.) “Prayer is to our lives what fuel is to an engine. We will not go very far in life without a healthy prayer life. Intercession is a step up from prayer. Intercession is praying God’s heart into a specific situation or standing in the gap on behalf of a person or region in need of mercy and grace” (Askinglot.com).
The word for intercession in Hebrew is paga (pah-GAH). It is a primary root, with the meaning of coming between, to cause to entreat, meet together, pray, and make intercession. Yeshua’s role as Intercessor was prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 53: “…And He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (vs. 12). Yeshua did this on the tree of sacrifice by coming between us and a Holy God, bridging the gap that sin had created. Our Faithful Intercessor cried, “…Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do…” (Luke 23:34).
Psalm 110 is also a prophetic picture of Messiah’s intercessory ministry. In this psalm, the God of Israel says to His Messiah, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (vs. 4). This is referring to Yeshua’s eternal High-Priestly function as Intercessor. Priests interceded for the Nation of Israel. They carried the names of the Twelve Tribes on their shoulders (Ex. 28:12) and on a breastplate (choshen, KHO-shen), four rows of precious stones, over their heart (Ex. 28: 21, 29). Our Intercessor and High Priest, Yeshua, carries us over His heart and on His shoulders as well. This gives us hope. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Mahl-kee-TZEH-dek)” (Heb. 6:19-20).
Thank you, Lord that Yeshua carries us on His shoulders (strength) as well as on His heart (love) as He intercedes for us continually. In His High Priestly Prayer of John 17, Yeshua spoke of His intercession for us, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those who You have given Me, for they are Yours” (vs. 9). “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” (vs. 20). Take heart: Yeshua is praying for your pre-believing loved ones.
Intercession in the Tanach
The Prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God is always seeking intercessors. “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezek. 22:30). We do read, however, about some faithful ones who did indeed stand in the gap: Abraham, Moses, Nehemiah, Daniel, and Esther. Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:20-23). Moses interceded for the nation of Israel. Following the episode of the golden calf, God wanted to destroy Israel and make Moses into a great nation (Ex. 32:10). Moses pleaded with the Lord on behalf of God’s people, even using a bit of “Jewish guilt” on the Almighty. “Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent from this harm to Your people” (Ex. 32:12). See also Psalm 106:23.
Nehemiah was a prayer warrior who prayed, fasted, and wept over the sin of God’s people. He reminded God of His Word to Israel, and His promise to restore them to their land. His amazing prayer of intercession is found in Nehemiah 1:1-11. Daniel also interceded on behalf of his people. “O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people are a reproach to all those around us.” “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Dan. 9:16, 19).
Esther interceded on behalf of her Jewish people when they were threatened with extermination by the evil Haman, prime minister of King Ahasuerus. Her guardian Mordecai entreated her to go to the king on behalf of the Jews. “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom from such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). Esther obeyed and interceded with the king, and Israel was spared.
God still seeks intercessors for Israel! As our friend Chuck Cohen said many years ago, the Tanach prayers of intercession remind God of His Word and His Promises so that His purposes might be accomplished on the earth. Chuck emphasized that the reason God heard and answered His Old Covenant saints was because their intercession was for God’s name to be glorified, for Him to be known among all the nations. “That they may know that You whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps. 83:18).
The Cry of the Elect
Given the inauguration of a president on Jan. 20, 2021, our country is greatly in need of intercession. There is a parable in Luke 18 that begins with the words, “Then He [Yeshua] spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart…” It is the story of a widow who sought justice of an unjust judge. She received her request because of her persistence. Yeshua commented, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? It tells you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (vs. 7-8).
It has been noted by many pastors and teachers in the Body of Messiah that the Ecclesia (Church, Body) of believers has interceded during this election cycle as never before. Many have cried out day and night. Thousands, if not millions, have prayed 2 Chronicles 7:14, humbling themselves and repenting for both personal and national sins. We have cried out for justice, for truth and for God’s will to prevail in the U.S.A. We have stood on promises such as Luke 12:2, “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.”
As a royal priesthood we have exercised our intercessory calling. What now? Don’t lose heart. Have faith. God has heard the prayers of His people, the elect. His way of answering them may not be to our understanding or our liking. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Is. 55:8). His timing is also different. Keep persevering in prayer.
One thing is constant—the exhortation to pray for those in authority over us: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The President of the United States (whoever he is!) is in desperate need of your godly intercession. Continue to pray for: an end to abortion, America’s relationship with Israel, our justice system, religious freedom in the U.S., an end to racism, unity in the Body of Messiah, and REVIVAL of the Body, leading to life!
Interceding for Souls
This is the set time to intercede for the salvation of others, beginning with Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and Kamala Harris. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). See also 2 Peter 3:9. In an excellent article titled “Stepping into the Breach,” M. Basilea Schlink explains that God has given us intercession as the power to release captives; He has placed dynamite in our hands. Earnest prayer invests the intercessor with the authority to affect the eternal destiny of others. Intercessory prayer builds a bridge for my neighbor, so that He may come home to the Father.” I love this image! It is time to pray daily for others to come to a saving knowledge of Yeshua.
Earnest prayer. Persevering prayer. Daily prayer. Spirit-led prayer. Believing Prayer. Prayer as warfare. We must realize that there is an enemy who clutches souls tightly. Hasatan does everything he can to prevent a person from repenting. But Yeshua has come “…to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:8). And so, we must use His victorious name in prayer as we intercede for the salvation of others. “Whoever is not released from Satan’s grip in this lifetime will come under Satan’s dominion for eternity. Prevailing intercession holds the great promise and responsibility for their release. Whenever the victorious name of Yeshua is proclaimed, the strongholds of the enemy must fall.”
As we struggle in prayer for the souls of others, God has given us another powerful weapon—the blood of the Lamb. M. Basilea suggests that we lay the blood of the Lamb upon the bound soul in spirit and pray and sing: “The blood of the Lamb will redeem you and set you completely free.” Make up your own tune. Sing it in faith. (I still have the red posterboard “blood” from Passover on the lintel and doorposts of my front door. My traditional Jewish neighbor has asked me not to take the blood down because of Covid-19! She obviously wants to come under its covering!! Please pray for Sandi.)
I am asking the Lord to help me be more diligent and persistent in my prayers for others—to devote more time and energy to serious intercession in 2021. He wants all of us to intercede, to step in the breach, to battle in prayer until we see the victory. M. Basilea gives a motto for the battle of prayer: “Who can compare with God! No one. So nothing is greater, not even our sinful bondages, not even our sinful nature. Hallelujah!”
The Holy Spirit and Intercession
I asked Claire Roker, the prayer coordinator of our local Messianic synagogue, Temple Aron HaKodesh, to send me some of her thoughts on prayer and intercession. I found her teachings on the role of the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) very helpful, so I am passing them on to you.
When we don’t know how to pray for a person or situation, we should pray, “Ruach, show me how to pray in this situation, for this specific issue. Bo, Ruach Elohim (Bo Roo-AKH El-oh-HEEM, Come, Holy Spirit). “Should I petition You or should I boldly proclaim Your word?” “Should I beseech You or do spiritual warfare?” “Should I explore the spiritual roots and wounds and address inner healing?” “Should I delve into open doors and pray prayers of deliverance?” “Should I continue to persist in petition, proclaiming Your word, beseeching You, doing spiritual warfare, praying deliverance and inner healing or do I surrender and release it all to You?”
Invite the Spirit to guide your intercession. He will help you (John 16:13) as you stay intimately connected to the Lord, listening intently to His voice. (See 1 Cor. 2:9-16). Listen in faith, with humility, a clean heart, and a yielded will. Give God time to speak. This involves some waiting and listening time. Not easy—but well worth it—especially in the times in which we live. Chazak chazak v’nit chazek (khaZAHK kha ZAHK v-NEAT kha-ZEHK Be strong. Be strong. Be strengthened).
Interceding for you, Yeshua’s bride, and all Israel—
Love in our Faithful High Priest,
P.S. The man in charge of landscaping our condo entrance just called to say that there was a problem getting the plants. I prayed for him on the phone. He said, “That is the first time in my life that a client has prayed for me.” We need to step up our intercession for others. Also, Neil and I always asked the servers at restaurants, “We are going to pray and thank God for our food. How can we pray for you?” Try it.