The Power of Intercession
Then Abraham approached [God] and said, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in [Sodom and Gomorrah]?” Genesis 18:23
When Abraham looked across the valley and saw the smoke rising from Sodom and Gomorrah, did he think his intercessory prayers for their inhabitants had failed? When he learned that only Lot and his daughters had survived, did he wonder if any good could ever come from such tragedy?
Abraham’s intercession foreshadows Jesus’ role as our divine intercessor. Before He rode the donkey through the streets of Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at the crest of the hill that overlooked the city and wept. “If you, even you, had known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42). And earlier in the week he had cried, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).
Jesus saw both the physical and the spiritual destruction that loomed over Jerusalem’s inhabitants. The Romans destroyed the city less than forty years later (in AD 70), demolishing the temple and slaughtering thousands. More perilous, however, was the people’s spiritual condition. Many who lined the streets that day shouting “Hosanna! Hosanna!” were screaming “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” just four days later.
Jesus also interceded for the disciples who abandoned him when he was arrested (John 17:6-12). On the cross, he prayed for his executioners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Our risen Lord continually intercedes for us so that our sanctification will be complete when we arrive in heaven (Hebrews 7:25; Jude 24).
God is ever able to bring beauty out of destruction. Out of the ashes of Sodom and Gomorrah, God fashioned the everlasting dynasty of David’s kingdom through one of Lot’s descendants. (Compare Genesis 19:37 with Ruth 1:4, 4:13-22.) Overcoming their failure in Gethsemane, the disciples fearlessly spread the Gospel throughout the world. Out of the bloodstained beams of Calvary’s cross, God fashioned redemption, giving each of us an inheritance in Jesus’ everlasting kingdom.
Never despair when the smoke of judgment clouds the sky. Pray, as both Abraham and Jesus did. God’s mercy is boundless; His creativity, unfathomable. We may never know this side of heaven what masterpiece He’s making out of the fragments of our intercessory prayers.
Read Genesis 18. What connection do you see between verses 1-19 and verses 20-33? What enabled Abraham to be an effective intercessor?
Read Exodus 32:11-14, 30-35. On what basis does Moses ask God to be merciful? In what way does Moses’ request in verses 31-32 foreshadow Christ?
Read Luke 19:41-44. What did Jesus see as he looked at the city of Jerusalem? What do you see when you look at your city?
Denise K. Loock