“…seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
We hear it all the time and we preachers are not shy about proclaiming divine intercession. One member of the Trinity interceding with the other Two, or even two members of the Trinity interceding with the Third. If I sound unsure about this subject, it’s because there is much that eludes me.
One. The mystery of divine intercession: What does it look like? What’s going on in Heaven when it happens?
This would be a good time for me to describe what I think goes on at the Throne when intercession is taking place. I’ll pass, thank you. This is far beyond my poor powers to imagine.
Two. The mystery of who exactly is doing the interceding.
Scripture seems to indicate that both the Son and the Spirit intercede, and then turns right around and says the Father Himself is on our side. So, what’s going on here?
Consider these three verses in Romans 8–
–Romans 8:26 “In the same way the Spirit helps us in 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.” The Spirit intercedes for us.
–Romans 8:34 “Who is the one who condemns?Christ Jesus is He who died, who was raised from the dead, who also makes intercession for us.” The Lord Jesus intercedes for us.
–Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” God the Father is “for” us, which we would assume would make intercession unnecessary.
Is everyone in Heaven interceding with one another??? I don’t have a clue.
–Three: Then there is the mystery of John 15:26-27 where Jesus seems to imply no intercession is even necessary.
In that day you will ask in my name and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from God.
We must not rush past this. “I do not say I shall pray the Father for you.” And why not? “Because the Father Himself loves you.” That is, He is already predisposed toward you. God the Father has a pro-you bias. That’s taught all through Scripture, most notably in John 3:16. And in particular, the Lord Jesus says, “He loves you because you have loved Me….”
That’s enough to reflect on for the next couple of years.
It appears Jesus is saying that when we pray in His name, there is no need for Him to intercede for us–“Father, hear them, please!”–because the Father is already tuned in as a loving Father. After all, God so loved (us) He gave His only begotten Son…
If Scripture settles this mystery–these three mysteries–I’m not aware of it.
We are left with this three-fold mystery: What happens in divine intercession, Who exactly is interceding with whom, and Whether intercession is necessary at all.
The question then becomes whether we can live with an unsettled mystery.
Personally, I have no need to try to solve this. I’m perfectly satisfied to leave it all as a mystery–an unanswered, unsolved, unsettled question–and go forward.
We need mysteries. Our faith requires mysteries.
Shakespeare has Hamlet addressing Horatio. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet, Act I, Scene 5, 167-168). (Background: We’re told that in that play, Horatio accepted the world as it was, whereas Hamlet was driven “to murder and to create,” as T. S. Eliot put it. That is, Hamlet could not leave well enough alone. Like some of us.)
We will not elevate Shakespeare’s words to Scriptural level. But these are indeed keepers, words to live by.
Some would respond that God has given us all Truth in the Holy Word. While I affirm that all in the Holy Word is His Truth, surely no one would say that this is all the Truth there is. The two statements are not equivalent.
So, leave room in your system for mystery, my friend and fellow believer.
–“I do not know…God knows…” (2 Corinthians 12:2).
Scripture gives us mysteries galore: The mystery of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10). The mystery of the resurrection and what happens afterward (I Corinthians 15:51). The mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:26,27 and 4:3). In Colossians 1:27, the mystery hidden from the foundation of the world, Christ in you, the hope of glory. The mystery of iniquity (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The mystery of faith (I Timothy 3:9). The mystery of godliness (I Timothy 3:16).
Then there are those not named as such, but scriptural realities that surely mystify us: The mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of the incarnation, and the mystery of the Lord’s Supper, to mention just three. Oh, and then there is the biggie: The date and time of the Second Coming of Christ.
Some basic realities we have to contend with…
–Many among us cannot abide an unsolved mystery.
–The obsessive-compulsion that drives some will possess their bodies like a demon and drive them night and day toward some kind of solution.
–We leave this subject with Deuteronomy 29:29. The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
We should be infinitely relieved that the Heavenly Father is greater than your or my denomination, too immense to be contained in any formula or creed, and too wise to reveal all His secrets with the most fickle part of His creation: people.
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)