Moses' third speech, Part 6, Moses' intercession
Sep 18, 2012
Moses told Israel very clearly that they had been rebellious against the Lord "from the day I knew you" (Deuteronomy 9:24). His statement was made largely in the context of Israel's worship of the golden calf.
We have shown how Israel was "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38) and how that Israel church was a prophetic type of the church in the Pentecostal Age, which remained in its own wilderness for forty Jubilees.
For this reason, Moses' intercession for Israel prophesied of Christ's intercession for the church. See what Moses says in Deuteronomy 9:25-29,
25 So I fell down before the Lord the forty days and nights, which I did because the Lord had said He would destroy you. 26 And I prayed to the Lord, and said, "O Lord God, do not destroy Thy people, even Thine inheritance, whom Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness, whom Thou hast brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not look at the stubbornness of this people or at their wickedness or their sin. 28 Otherwise the land from which Thou didst bring us may say, 'Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them and because He hated them He has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.' 29 Yet they are Thy people, even Thine inheritance, whom Thou hast brought out by Thy great power and Thine outstretched arm."
This was the gist of Moses' intercessory prayer for the church in the wilderness in view of their rebellion against the word and law of God. What was true about Israel in Moses' day was true also in the church under Pentecost. For this reason the Apostle Paul found it necessary to write many letters of correction to the churches. One cannot read Galatians and Colossians without seeing how many in the church had departed from the truth.
Moses prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:15,
- 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen; you shall listen to him.
This passage is cited by Stephen in Acts 7:37, implying that Jesus Christ is that prophet who was comparable to Moses. Jesus Christ's death on the cross as the Passover Lamb had brought the church out of the house of bondage to sin. His resurrection and presentation to the Father had fulfilled the wave-sheaf offering on the first Sunday after Passover. Seven weeks later, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) had been fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of 120 disciples to go up the Mount (upper room) to hear the voice of God.
Jesus' ascension in the midst of these events compared to Moses' ascension back up the Mount, for both of them interceded for the church in their own way. Paul tells us in Romans 8:34,
34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Jesus interceded for us at the cross (Isaiah 53:12). What need was there for Him to continue with His intercession after His ascension? The answer is found in the parallel story of Israel under Moses. The Passover lambs that the people killed in Egypt also served as types of Christ in His intercessory work on the cross. But just because Israel was redeemed from the house of bondage and brought out of Egypt did not mean that they no longer needed intercession. In fact, they remained rebellious against the law of God from the beginning and were therefore in great need of intercession.
Moses provided that intercession, and his forty-day intercession in the Mount prophesied of Jesus Christ's intercession at the right hand of the Father during the forty Jubilees of church history. Why was this necessary? It was for the same reason that Israel needed intercession. Their hearts remained continuously in rebellion against the law of God, as church history records.
Many have taken comfort in the fact that Christ is seated at the right hand of God making intercession for them. But most do not realize why this has been necessary, because they have never connected this fact to the situation in Moses' day. For this reason, most Christians have not fully understood their problem of rebellion against God, nor have they comprehended how serious it is to despise the law of God and treat it as irrelevant.
Yet it is this very lawlessness, this anomia, which Jesus identified as the problem in the day of judgment that was yet to come. He said in Matthew 7:23,
23 And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."
Likewise, Paul, using the same term anomia, says in Romans 6:19,
19 . . . For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
John also uses the same term anomia in his basic definition of sin. 1 John 3:4 says,
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
The church in the Pentecostal Age seems to be as clueless as the Israelite church under Moses in regard to the problem of lawlessness. Christians read the story of Israel and shake their heads in amazement that they could remain so consistently rebellious--without understanding that they are reading prophecy about the heart condition of the church today.
Thankfully, however, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of God making intercession for us, even as Moses did for Israel. Moses' intercession did not exempt Israel from divine judgment, nor does Jesus' intercession exempt the present church from divine judgment (Luke 12:46-49; 1 Cor. 3:15). The main judgment has been an extended wilderness experience--forty years for Israel and forty Jubilees for the later church.
Though the rebellious Israelites all died in the wilderness, Moses' intercession will yet bear fruit at a later time. Likewise, most of the church has died in the past 2,000 years without receiving the promise of God, but Christ's intercession will yet bear fruit for them. In both cases the overcomers inherit the promises of God before the main body of the church. Caleb and Joshua alone inherited the promises out of all the adults that had been given opportunity to enter the Promised Land at the first appointed time (Numbers 13 and 14). Likewise, the overcomers in the Pentecostal Age will inherit the promises of God, for they will be raised in the First Resurrection (Revelation 20:4-6) while the rest of the dead await the general resurrection at a later time.
Though it appears as if the promises of God have failed, we see that those promises merely have been delayed. In Deuteronomy 9:28, quoted earlier, Moses reminded Israel that if God had brought permanent judgment upon Israel, the nations would have understood that the God of Israel was incapable of fulfilling His promise to them. They would say, "Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land. . ."
This question actually came up in Numbers 14:16 after the people had believed the evil report of the ten spies. When Moses raised the spectre of "what will the nations say?" God responded with an oath, sworn by Himself and His own life, saying in verse 21,
21 But indeed, AS I LIVE, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.
Thus, even though divine judgment was unavoidable, that judgment only served to delay the promises of God. So it is with all of the judgments of the divine law. Those judgments, in the end, are corrective in nature. They are therefore temporary and not perpetual, though the extent of judgment can be indefinite. Hence, the Hebrew word that is usually translated "everlasting" or "forever" is olam, which means an indefinite period of time. Its root word means "to conceal, hide, be hidden, be concealed, be secret." In other words, the time frame is unknown and thus indefinite, but usually a finite period of time.
The New Testament word equivalent to olam is the Greek word aionian. When the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, beginning about 280 B.C., the rabbis settled upon the word aionian as the nearest equivalent expressing the meaning of olam. The root of this word is aion, or eon, which properly means "an age." Ages are an indefinite period of time, for they can refer to anything from a few minutes to thousands of years. The main point to remember, however, is that the Greek words were chosen, not because they were precise matches for the Hebrew concepts, but because they were near equivalents. In the end, the Greek terms were meant to express Hebrew concepts.
Therefore, even though God brought judgment upon Israel, and most of the Israelites died in the wilderness without receiving the promises, this does not say that those Israelites will be lost for eternity. Instead, God vows that the whole earth will be filled with His glory. In other words, His salvation will be seen not only in Israel but throughout the whole world.
So Moses appealed to God, "Remember Thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob" (Deuteronomy 9:27). In other words, remember the Abrahamic covenant, by which Abraham was to be a blessing to all families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). The promises of God extended far beyond Israel. The initial promise was that God would use the seed of Abraham to bless the entire earth. Acts 3:26 defines that blessing: "by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." Therefore, when God blesses the whole earth through Abraham, that blessing involves much divine judgment, which is designed to turn people from their wicked ways.
The blessing is NOT to save people while they are practicing lawlessness, but it is to bring about repentance so that they can indeed be saved.
That is the promise of Abraham, and if it were not for the intercession of Moses first and later of Christ, this promise would be in danger of failure.
This is the sixth part of a series titled "Moses' Third Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones