THE FAILED INTERCESSOR

1. Unanswered Situations

We are called to the watchtower, to avert danger from our land and our lives. Sometimes, sadly, terrible things still happen around us, causing intercessors sometimes to blame themselves for the misfortune, as though it might never have been if they had prayed more ‘properly’ or prayed ‘enough.’ There are certain swords that the watchman might see coming, of which he can raise an alarm, to which the people might or might not respond (Ezekiel 33:7-9). At other times, unfortunately, disasters come from the watcher’s blind side (2 Kings 4:27; Genesis 18:17). Still, there are situations that have little to do with how effectively or holily the watcher stands (Jeremiah 15:1; Ezekiel 14:13-14, 16, 20). Sorrily still, there are cases about which God Himself specifically advises the intercessor to make no plea, because those cases (unknown to everybody else apart from the intercessor) have been consigned to His NO ANSWER file. To stubbornly or ignorantly ‘powerfully’ pray about such issues is to waste the prayer, or even anger the Lord (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Deuteronomy 3:26). These are at least four categories of ‘unanswered’ or unanswerable situations.

2. The Accusative Reporters

During the ministry of Jesus, it was reported to Him that a disaster had just occurred to some Galileans, and Himself was a Galilean. His first thirty years and much of His ministry thereafter was in that northern Roman province of the Holy Land; Galilee Province with its many cities and villages.

The Galileans were respected by some as industrious and brave, and by others disdained as unpolished, as violent disrupters from whom nothing good could come (John 7:52). According to the reporters, some Galilean worshippers had recently been killed by Pilate the ruler of Judea while they were sacrificing at the Temple in Jerusalem. Jerusalem was in the province of Judea which was under Pilate’s jurisdiction (Luke 13:1-2), while the province of Galilee was under Herod Antipas. It is conjectured that there may have been a typical Galilean uproar, and the ruler had come upon them when they were least armed during that Jewish Feast at the Temple. History estimates that about three thousand were slain, and their blood mingled with the blood of their sacrifices during the Feast.

The reporters may have been from the southern province of Judea, and their tone seemed to suggest that the disaster was deserved punishment for the notorious Galileans – His kinsmen that His ministry had not saved. The city of Jerusalem with its Temple was in that Roman province of Pilate. Jesus thought otherwise than the reporters were suggesting, and warned that if they themselves did not repent but kept pointing fingers at other sinners, they would perish too. Jesus then proceeded to remind them of another report of eighteen others upon whom a wall had fallen in Siloam, in ‘their’ Jerusalem (Luke 13:1-5). Was that a counter stroke? Well, that is not my interest here.

3. Under the Very Nose of Jesus?

If Jesus the Son of God were such an holy Man, why should such terrible things happen in His sphere, to ‘His own people’? How come His prayers (if He prayed at all, or prayed enough) could not avert disasters of such magnitude in His land? And one more worry, Where was Jesus when Papa John, who baptized Him into the ministry, got arrested, was thrown into jail for many months (during which time proper prayers might have made a difference)? At the news of John’s arrest, Jesus just left town, and that with all the anointing and power that He had lately acquired from forty days of fasting and prayers (Matthew 4:11-12)! What a waste of the anointing!

It is not recorded even once that Jesus raised a ‘prayer point’ for the freedom of John His spiritual mentor. Or was He mystically connected to the troubles lately befalling John since after ordaining Him in River Jordan? And mothers had also not forgotten that His life had meant the gruesome death of several of their tender sons. They died, He lived. In some cultures, they have an ugly name for such typical mishaps when one ‘exchanges their head’ for others. And if He was the Son of the Holy God, as He claimed, could not His Father have prevented it – than smear a holy name with so much blood stain?

Eventually, John got murdered very shamefully and gruesomely. What did Jesus do after that? Nothing. Again, at that news, He simply went away to hide with His disciples. “When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart” (Matthew 14:13). What did Jesus go to do in that ‘desert place’? To be alone and cry? To pray late prayers? To hide His head in shame? Or was He running from facing His failures? Please, say, didn’t Jesus fail as an intercessor?

From The Preacher’s diary
March 23, 2022.

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