Who Will Still Intercede For Others In The Midst Of Suffering?
What does the Biblical character Job remind us of? A person in suffering? An upright, God-fearing person? Or a person rich in material wealth and spirit? All three are testimonies of Job’s life. But there is one other, and that is the example he makes through his prayers of intercession.
We know that the suffering Job experienced came from the attacks of Satan. Calamities that appear inexplicable to man in fact relate to mysteries of the spiritual realm. God felt it rare to have a man be His witness on earth who is totally blameless and upright, fears God and shuns evil. Satan though claimed that Job’s righteousness and fear of God stemmed from the protection and blessing of the Lord. If God retracted His protection and all His blessings, Job would become grotesque and wretched, and would surely abandon God. With the Lord’s permission, Satan immediately caused Job to lose all that he had. Yet Job maintained his purity, did not sin, and did not accuse God. Not willing to acknowledge defeat, Satan then assailed the body of Job, causing him to be afflicted with painful sores, and through the emotional response of his wife and the misunderstanding and accusations of his friends, incited him to sin and abandon God. But Job maintained his attitude of righteousness and fear of God.
Although Satan failed to destroy Job’s integrity, he succeeded in interrupting Job’s prayers of intercession for others. Chapter 1 of the Book of Job records that Job was an upright man who feared God. He frequently acted as a loyal priest at his home, interceding for his children. “His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, ‘Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.’ This was Job's regular custom.” (Job 1:4-5) But from chapter 2 to 41, we do not see Job’s intercession as a priest any more. We only see him continuously bemoaning his pain and debating his friends.
God in heaven values someone on earth communicating with Him through prayer and loyally interceding for others as a priest. God did not explain the cause and purpose of all the suffering to Job and his friends, but instead asked if man could understand the wisdom of His creation. Yet God still valued His relationship with Job, and was pleased with Job’s intercession for his friends as a mediator. When Job revived his holy duty of intercession, he received anew double his previous blessings from God. “After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.’….After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:7-8, 10)
Suffering and sickness are most able to strip away a Christian’s joy, and interrupt the holy duty of intercession. When one prays during suffering, one usually concentrates on one’s own affliction, and rarely intercedes for others. Only Jesus Christ when He was nailed to the cross, feeling great pain in His body, and confronting the insults of the people of the world and abandonment by the Holy Father, could still pray for humanity. The Book of Job not only brings forth the wonderment of man towards the causes and purposes of suffering, but also points out that God values our intercession.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
By: Daniel To