Our Intercessory Place in Relation to the World,
and Our Attitude Toward its Present
We may not be thoroughly awake to the mediatorial place
which the people of God occupy in this world, and thus fail (as in
everything we so much do) to fulfill its holy and blessed responsibilities.
There is one great intercessor in this world--the Holy
Spirit, and He dwells in God's people; they alone receive Him--the
world cannot. The world in its darkness received not "the Light;"
and there is no light in it now, except as the Holy Spirit
causes it to shine in God's people. The people of God are in a priestly
position; therefore, having access to God's presence, to the throne
of grace, from which mercy and help is obtained. The world is not
in such a position. Intercession can alone be made by those who have
been brought back to God, and whose privilege it is to draw near to
the Throne. It is not that God's ear is closed to the cry or groans
of a suffering world--suffering because of man's fall, because of
sin--in all of which we must own our part, and groan in unison with
all the creation; but it is not the world that is called upon or able
to "Make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of
thanks," but only God's people, who are in a priestly relationship
to Him, and who are to "pray in the Holy Spirit," for
only in them does He dwell.
But are we not to exercise our priestly function as
intercessors on behalf of men who in their darkness know not their
right hand from their left? Do we realize that if we do it
not, there are none who can? Do we realize that if God is to beseech
men to be reconciled, it must be through us? God has chosen us as
His ambassadors to represent Him here. It will not do to say, "He
will take care of these things." We are responsible, and
He has put the responsibility upon us. It is a solemn, heart-searching
truth for every one of us. Do we realize there is no light in this
world unless we shine in its darkness as those in whose hearts (through
faith and the Spirit's work) God has shone for the outshining of the
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? "Ye
are the salt of the earth," said our Lord
to His followers, "but if the salt have become insipid, wherewith
shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything, but to be cast
out and to be trodden under foot by men. Ye are the light of
the world: a city situated on the top of a mountain cannot be hid.
Nor do men light a lamp and put it under the bushel, but upon the
lampstand, and it shines for all who are in the house. Let your light
thus shine before men, so that they may see your upright works, and
glorify your Father who is in the heavens" (Matt. 5:13-16 JND).
Used in the sacrifices, salt was a type of the preservative energy
of the divine will; it hinders corruption. And such too is the relation
of God's people to the world while He leaves them in it. But the salt
must preserve its saltiness.
The injunction is, "That supplications, prayers,
intercessions ["euteuxeis," personal and confiding intercourse
with God on the part of one able to approach Him], thanksgivings be
made for all men; for kings and all who are in dignity, that
we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and gravity; for
this is good and acceptable before our Saviour God" (1 Tim.
2: 1-3 JND). At what time more than the present have men needed just
this service on our part? What blessed results may be obtained if,
in the energy of faith and the power of the Spirit, we fulfill our
service in this way! May we be so thoroughly exercised about the need
of men and their present condition that we may become effectual, fervent
intercessors on their behalf, and so bring down a blessing upon them
ere the day of grace close, and thus too the door of hope to so many.
May our hearts and spirits be moved with the same compassion and love
as that of God our Father, who so loved the world that He gave His
only-begotten Son, for we are called to show forth His character in
the world, and to be His followers as dear children.
Has the side of separation from evil and from the world
so engrossed our minds as to make us forget what it means to be His
children in showing mercy, and seeking it for all men in their
sin and need?--the mercy of peace where bloody strife reigns, if that
be the mercy they need; mercy even as to meeting their physical needs,
while ever seeking that, in ministering to physical wants, it may
become the witness of God's salvation for the soul; that the temporal
mercy may be the stepping-stone to the spiritual--God's goodness leading
to repentance. Who can ask such things for men if God's children do
not? Who intercede before God for the alleviation of men's need, both
temporal and spiritual, if we do not?
Now, as to our attitude toward the present struggle:
it must not be nationalistic, or we step out of our true place. To
be those of whom it is said, "Ye are not of the world,"
and yet take a place of partisanship in the world's struggle, is to
lose our distinctive character and fail to fill our proper place.
We cannot rightly intercede for the victory of this or that worldly
cause, of this or that nation or group of nations; and if national
sympathy thus rise up in our hearts, it must be put where all of the
natural man belongs-- under the sentence of death as having been judged
at the Cross. How can we take into our hands what God alone is able
to measure according to its true merits? How can we tell what He may
have to say to one or the other of the nations involved, even apart
from the merits of the actual conflict? We are so easily swayed by
our natural sympathies that we cannot trust ourselves. How a condition
like this tests us and shows us our need of being very much in the
secret of God's presence, the only citadel of peace and quietness
for us in the midst of this troubled scene. It is only as being there
that we can in any true way be intercessors for men in their awful
need, or faithful witnesses for Him to whom we belong.