He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all-redeeming love, His precious blood to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race, His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.Charles Wesley
Earlier this month I learned something new about intercession. And what I learned has particular relevance for intercession for persecuted Christians. Now, I am wading into unexplored territory for me, not as a Hebrew expert nor a Greek expert, nor a theological scholar — so please have mercy on me!
We speak of prayer and intercession even though intercession is a form of prayer. It’s distinct.
I’ve always considered intercession for the suffering Church as praying on their behalf, being their advocate to God. It is modeled after the Divine intercession of the Savior Himself. Hebrews 7 tells us, “He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
But in a recent teaching on intercession I learned that the original Hebrew word for intercession, paga, actually means ” to meet,” “to encounter,” “to reach.” Paga (פּגע) is the word used in such verses as Isaiah 53: 12, “he bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors” and in Jeremiah 27: 18, “let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts.”
That makes sense. When we intercede, we have to meet with God on behalf of the persecuted. As Dutch Sheets says in his teaching, “Intercession creates a meeting. Intercessors meet with God; they also meet the powers of darkness. “Prayer meetings” are aptly named!”
I hope and pray throughout these six weeks of Lenten meditations on the persecuted Church that your desire to be an intercessor has increased. That you have an increased desire to meet with God on behalf of your persecuted brothers and sisters.
And I hope and pray that you have an increased desire to meet, encounter, the powers of darkness that are trying to destroy the global Body of Christ. Why? To wage spiritual warfare on behalf of Iranian Christians in Evin Prison; Iraqi Christians trying to rebuild a life after ISIS and al Qaeda; Nigerian Christians displaced and murdered by Boko Haram and Fulani radicals; Pakistani Christians accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death; Chinese Christians sent to labor camp; Burmese Christians attacked by the armed forces of Myanmar; and so many others.
The Lord has given us a great privilege to be intercessors for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Let us come and meet with Him daily to thank Him and praise Him for the wonder of it — that He not only loves us, but He trusts us to be those who intercede and come to meet with Him on behalf of His other precious children.
Meet this week with the Lord on behalf of those who are persecuted for their faith.
In addition, do your best to “meet” those persecuted Christians. Read about them, look at their photos, consider watching the film Christians in the Mirror to meet some of your brothers and sisters in Egypt, India, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan.
Listen to (or sing!) the great Charles Wesley hymn from which I have quoted above. Referencing Hebrews 7 Wesley wrote, “He ever lives above, for me to intercede.” In this case, as a New Testament reference, the Greek word for intercede is entugchanó. One of its meanings is “to hit the mark.” By the grace of God, our intercession will hit the mark! You can listen to the Wesley hymn, “Arise, My Soul, Arise,” with the modern tune composed by the worship group Indelible Grace, or you can listen to it with the traditional hymn tune “Lenox.”