Deo VaventeGod se Wil sal heers!

                           God's Will Shall Reign!

The story of Abraham’s intercession for his nephew Lot in Genesis 18, is the first recorded instance of a major intercession in the Bible. If we followed the hermeneutic principle of first mention – I believe, this story sets the tone and the trend for intercession in the rest of the Bible.

The first thing to note in the story is that intercession was initiated by God. It began with God revealing his will for Sodom and Gomorrah. Intercession is not born as a result of man’s burden or concern. It is God’s burden that he shares with man and invites us to partner with him in bringing his will to pass on earth. God must show his will. He must put the burden into our hearts. He must give us the right words to pray for. Only then true intercession is possible. But, why does God reveal his will to us?

God reveals his will because of the covenants he made with Adam at the beginning and later with Abraham. The Adamic covenant is the covenant of authority he gave to Adam over the earth. “And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28-29). I believe, it is because of this covenant, whenever God chooses to do anything significant on earth he shows it to someone somewhere and awaits their participation in his plans. While God could and does work without the mediatorship of man but because of the Adamic covenant he chooses to work through man’s mediation. And this is because man has a unique position in all of creation. He is both a material and a spiritual being. As a spiritual being he can connect with God and as a material being he connects with creation. Therefore God chooses to work through man upon earth.  Abrahamic covenant is about blessing the nations of the world, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3. God reveals His will so that we can participate in His plans (Amos 3:7).

Who does God reveal his will to? We notice in the Genesis story, that God revealed his will to Abraham regarding his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah because of his intimacy with him. Listen to what God expresses regarding Abraham, “The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” The basis for this revelation was clearly God’s intimacy and trust in Abraham. God was saying, in effect, having come to visit Abraham and having shared a meal with him in his home and knowing the kind of man Abraham is, how can I hide from Abraham, what I am about to do in his neighborhood?

We read in verse 22, “…but Abraham still stood before the Lord.” But the NIV in its footnote for the verse tells us that some ancient manuscripts have, “…but the Lord remained standing before Abraham.” Some scholars think that this is a more accurate rendering of the verse. The first translators probably thought that it was scandalous to think of God standing before man, hence a more conciliatory rendering. But God, standing before Abraham was more about God inviting Abraham to respond to what he has said regarding Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham did not fail God. He responded through intercession.

Next, look at Abraham’s intercession? First, he acknowledges his creatureliness before God and then pleads with God making God’s character the argument for his pleading, “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” All intercession must be based upon the character of God as revealed to us in his word and through his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Genesis 1: 28-30; Genesis 12: 2-3; Psalm 2:1-11; Psalm 115:16; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1: 19-23).

In the final analysis, intercession is the exercise of our delegated authority in Christ over the nations of the world. This authority is given to us both in Adam and Abraham and later in Jesus Christ. It is an authority given to us both in creation and in redemption. I think the church of today hardly understands nor knows how to exercise her authority in Christ. The sad result is the enslavement of millions to different kinds of bondages, to sin and to evil.  God’s authority is not demonstrated through politics or by economics and not at all through military might. It comes through a life of intimacy with God, of rectitude and of prayer.

But such exercise of authority through intercession depends upon our discernment of God’s will in a given situation. Such discernment is contingent upon our intimacy with God. As Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.” John 5:19, 20.

It is also significant to note here that Abraham did not pray for Sodom and Gomorrah. While he pleaded for God’s justice, he did not plead for God’s mercy! It is evident that Abraham was not trying to change God’s mind regarding his judgment upon the wicked and their wickedness. His concern was for God’s justice and the righteous living there. Abraham probably knew that for the sake of the righteous God might spare the cities. But alas, there were not enough of them. I believe that the one who knows God intimately also knows what to ask God for and what not to.

There is a great dearth today, of those who know God as revealed in his word and through his Son, Jesus Christ. The dearth is also of knowing him in his Trinity and knowing him in his incarnation. A right understanding of God, especially his tri-personality, is crucial to understanding about the nature of being, world, human life, individual, marriage, family, society, church, missions, tolerance, global peace, reconciliation, economics, organization and a host of other issues pertinent to life and existence. And knowing him in his incarnation is crucial to understanding humans, their life as finite beings – how to handle time, space, knowledge, issues of identity, security and more. The dearth is evident in the way we pray and the things we pray for especially in the context of missions and world peace. The problem is we do have people who do know a lot of things about the world, but God. The urgent need is for men and women who know God!

Finally, we notice that intercession was brought to an end by God. “And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.” When Abraham reached the figure of ten, God withdrew from the conversation. The lesson for us is that, we do well to remember and discern when God wants us to stop our intercession. This is another matter that can be known only through intimacy with God.

We learn from Abraham’s story that the whole process of intercession hinges on intimacy with God from beginning to end. One of the outcomes of an intimate walk with God is a life of intercession. But it is equally true that intercession deepens our intimacy with God.

May we make intimacy with God our goal in life and learn to walk with him so that we can be mediators of his blessing to the nations of the world. May the Lord raise many such intercessors, who stay close to the heart of God. Amen.

Die storie van Abraham se intersessie vir sy neef Lot in Genesis 18, is die eerste weergawe van ‘n belangrike intersessie in die Bybel. As ons verwys na die hermeneutiese beginsel van eerste – glo ek, voer hierdie storie die toon en trant van intersessie vir die res van die Bybel.

Die eerste ding van belang in die storie is dat intersessie deur God begin is. Dit het begin deurdat God Sy wil aangaande Sodom en Gomorra openbaar het. Intersessie is nie gebore as ‘n gevolg van ‘n mens se las of kommer nie.  Dit is God se las wat Hy met die mens deel en Hy nooi ons uit om Sy vennoot te wees om Sy wil op aarde te laat gebeur. God moet Sy wil wys. Hy moet die las in ons harte plaas. Hy moet die regte woorde om te bid vir ons gee. Slegs dan is ware intersessie moontlik. Maar hoekom openbaar God Sy wil aan ons?

God openbaar Sy wil as gevolg van die verbonde wat Hy gesluit het met Adam aan die begin, en later met Abraham. Die verbond met Adam is die verbond van outoriteit oor die aarde wat Hy vir Adam gegee het.  Toe het God hulle geseёn  en vir hulle gesê: “Wees vrugbaar, word baie, bewoon die aarde en bewerk dit. Heers oor die vis in die see, oor die voёls in die lug, oor al die diere van die aarde, ook oor die diere wat op die aarde kruip.” (Genesis 1:28-29). Ek glo dit is as gevolg van hierdie verbond, dat wanneer God kies om iets betekenisvol of belangrik op aarde te doen, Hy dit aan iemand iewers wys en wag op hul deelname in Sy planne. God kan en werk sonder die bemiddeling van die mens, maar as gevolg van die verbond met Adam, kies Hy om die mens as tussenganger te gebruik. Dit is omdat die mens ‘n unieke posisie in die hele skepping beklee. Hy is beide ‘n natuurlike en ‘n geestelike wese. As ‘n geestelike wese kan hy met God verbind en as ‘n natuurlike wese verbind hy met die skepping. Daarom kies God om deur die mens op aarde te werk. Die verbond met Abraham gaan oor die seёn van die nasies van die wêreld, “In jou sal al die volke van die aarde geseёn wees.” (Gen 12:3). God openbaar Sy wil sodat ons kan deel hê aan Sy planne (Amos 3:7).

Aan wie openbaar God Sy wil? Ons merk op in die Genesis storie dat God Sy wil aan Abraham aangaande sy planne met Sodom en Gomorra openbaar het as gevolg van sy intimiteit met God. Luister wat God sê betreffende Abraham, ...en toe dink die Here: sal Ek vir Abraham wegsteek wat Ek wil doen? Abraham sal tog ‘n groot en sterk nasie word en in hom sal al die nasies van die aarde geseën word. Ek het hom gekies dat hy sy kinders en sy nageslag kan beveel om op my pad te bly deur te doen wat goed en reg is, sodat Ek vir Abraham kan doen wat Ek hom beloof het. (Gen 18:17-19). Die basis van hierdie openbaring was duidelik God se intimiteit en vertroue in Abraham. God het inderwaarheid gesê...Ek het Abraham besoek, ‘n maaltyd met hom geniet in sy huis, en Ek ken die soort man wat Abraham is, hoe kan Ek vir hom wegsteek dit wat Ek van plan is om in sy buurt te doen?

Ons lees in vers 22, “...maar die Here het by Abraham bly staan.” Die voetnota van die NIV vir hierdie vers noem dat sommige eeu-oue manuskripte hier verklaar dat “die Here voor Abraham bly staan het.” Sommige geleerdes meen dat dit ‘n meer akkurate weergawe van die vers is.  Die eerste vertalers het blykbaar gedink dat dit skandelik sou wees om te dink dat God voor ‘n mens gestaan het, daarom die versoenende weergawe. Maar God wat voor Abraham staan, het meer gegaan oor God wat Abraham uitnooi om te reageer op wat Hy gesê het oor Sodom en Gomorra. Abraham het God nie teleurgestel nie. Hy het gereageer deur intersessie.

Volgende...kyk na Abraham se intersessie. Eerstens, erken hy sy menslikheid voor God en dan pleit hy voor God met God se karakter as middelpunt van sy argument,”...Sal die regter van die hele aarde dan nie reg laat geskied nie?” (Gen 18:25). Alle intersessie moet gebaseer wees op die karakter van God soos geopenbaar aan ons deur Sy Woord en deur Sy Seun, Jesus Christus, ons Here. (Gen 1:28-30; Gen 12:2-3; Ps 2:1-11; Ps 115:16; Matt 28:18-20; Efe 1:19-23).

Die finale analise...intersessie is die uitvoering van die gedelegeerde outoriteit in Christus oor die nasies van die wêreld. Hierdie outoriteit is aan ons gegee beide in Adam en Abraham, en later in Jesus Christus. Dit is ‘n outoriteit aan ons gegee beide in skepping en in verlossing. Ek dink die kerk van vandag verstaan skaars of het nie kennis van die uitvoering van die outoriteit in Christus nie. Die hartseer gevolg is dat miljoene slawe is van allerhande soorte gevangenskappe, van sonde en boosheid. God se outoriteit word nie gedemonstreer deur politiek of deur die ekonomie en glad nie deur die militêre mag nie . Dit kom deur ‘n lewe van intimiteit met God, van opregtheid (reg te lewe) en deur gebed.

Maar sulke uitvoering van outoriteit deur intersessie berus op ons onderskeiding van God se wil in ‘n gegewe situasie. Sulke onderskeiding spruit uit ons intimiteit met God. Soos Jesus gesê het, ...”Dit verseker Ek julle: Die Seun kan niks uit sy eie doen nie. Hy doen maar net wat Hy die Vader sien doen; wat die Vader ook al doen, doen die Seun ook net so. Die Vader het die Seun lief en wys Hom alles wat Hy doen; en Hy sal Hom nog groter dade as hierdie wys, sodat julle verbaas sal staan”. (Joh 5:19,20).

Dit is belangrik om daarop te let dat Abraham nie vir Sodom en Gomorra gebid het nie. Terwyl hy gepleit het vir God se geregtigheid, het hy nie gepleit vir God se genade nie! Dit is duidelik dat Abraham nie probeer het om God se besluit betreffende Sy oordeel oor die goddeloses en hul boosheid te verander nie.  Sy belang was God se geregtigheid en die regverdige lewe daar. Abraham het waarskynlik geweet dat vir die regverdiges se onthalwe, God die stede sou spaar. Maar helaas, daar was nie genoeg nie. Ek glo dat die een wat God intiem ken, ook sal weet wat om God voor te vra en wat nie.

Daar is ‘n groot skaarsste vandag, aan diegene wat God ken soos geopenbaar deur Sy Woord en deur Sy Seun, Jesus Christus. Die skaarsste is ook om Hom te ken in Sy God Drie-Eenheid en om Hom te ken in Sy menswording. Die regte begrip van God, veral van Sy trio-persoonlikheid, is van kardinale belang om die aard te begryp van bestaan, die wêreld, menslike lewe, individu wees, die huwelik, familie, gemeenskap, kerk, sending, verdraagsaamheid, globale vrede, versoening, ekonomie, organisasie en ‘n magdom ander sake wat belangrik is vir lewe en bestaan. En om Hom te ken in Sy menswording is uiters belangrik om mense te verstaan, hul lewe as begrensde wesens – hoe om tyd, ruimte, kennis, sake rondom identitiet, sekuriteit en meer, te hanteer.  Die skaarsste is opsigtelik in die manier waarop ons bid en die dinge waarvoor ons bid, veral binne die konteks van sendinguitreike en wêreldvrede. Die probleem is dat ons baie mense het wat baie weet van wêreldse dinge , maar nie van God nie. Die dringende behoefte is vir manne en vroue wat God ken!

Laastens, ons merk op dat intersessie ten einde gebring is deur God. “Toe die Here klaar met Abraham gepraat het, het Hy weggegaan, en Abraham het na sy plek toe teruggegaan.” (Gen 18:33). Toe Abraham die syfer 10 bereik het, het God onttrek van die gesprek. Die les daaruit is dat ons goed doen deur te onthou en te onderskei wanneer God wil hê dat ons ons intersessie moet beёindig.

Ons leer deur Abraham se storie dat die hele proses van intersessie draai om intimiteit met God van die begin tot die einde. Een van die natuurlike gevolge van ‘n intieme wandel met God is ‘n lewe van intersessie. Maar dit is ewe waar dat intersessie ons intimiteit met God verdiep.

Mag ons intimiteit met God ons lewensdoel maak, en leer om met Hom te wandel, sodat ons bemiddelaars kan wees van Sy seёninge vir die nasies van die wêreld. Mag God baie sulke intersessors oprig wat naby aan God se hart bly. Amen.