Then the LORD said to me: "Even if Moses and Samuel should stand before Me, My heart would not go out to this people. Send them from My presence, and let them go.
Exodus 17:11; Exodus 32:11; Numbers 14:13; Psalm 106:23: Samuel in 1 Samuel 7., 8; 8:6; 12:16-23; 15:11; Psalm 99:6. Noah, Daniel, and Job are mentioned similarly (Ezekiel 14:14). It is, then, in their special intercessory character that these fathers are referred to. At the time when their intercessions took place they were the leaders and representatives of Israel, and because of their saintliness they had favor with God. But the sins for which Judah and Jerusalem are now to be punished are by this reference declared of a more heinous description than any that took place in those days, It is a mere supposition which is made, evidently no description of the normal relation of glorified saints to Jehovah, but simply a hypothetical statement as to what they, in their earthly capacity, would have failed to do.
I. THE INTERCESSIONS OF RIGHTEOUS MEN AVAIL MUCH. Many a time in the wilderness had Moses stayed the impending wrath of God because of murmuring and disobedience; and this not simply because he was the civil leader of the people, but through his own saintly, high-priestly character. This is a principle of God's dealings with men. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much;" and one of the chief occupations of the Church is represented as praying for the salvation of the world and the coming of the kingdom of God. It is because such men represent the future hope of the race, being a kind of firstfruits of them that shall be saved, that they have this power. In themselves too, because of what they are, they are pleasing to God, who delights in their prayers and praises. There is something very striking and touching in this spectacle of one standing for many, and we have to think of how great has been the blessing which has been thus secured to the world through its saints. But they all appear trifling compared with that which Christ has secured through the intercession of his prayers, obedience, and sacrifice. In his case (what could scarcely be said of any saint) his intercession has a solid objective worth because of what it is in itself, and avails as a consideration with God for the cleansing of all who identify themselves with him through faith.
II. BUT THERE ARE CONDITIONS WHICH DESTROY THE EFFICACY OF SUCH INTERCESSION. Their influence is but partial and imperfect, depending as it does upon their own inadequate fulfillment of the Law and will of God. If it were a question of strict account, they themselves would not be able to stand in his presence. It is of his grace that, even for a moment, they may be said to have influence for others. And it may be said that their intercession is but provisional, and, if not followed up By the obedience of those for whom they pray, it will be followed with the more condign punishment upon the transgressors. It is a great tribute to the vicarious power possible to saints that even the most eminent of them should be quoted in such a connection. But it shows how inadequate such a mediatorship would be for the general sin of man. We may do much, each of us, to avert just judgments, to secure opportunities of salvation, and to bring the grace of God to bear upon the hearts of others; but we cannot save them by any communication of our own acceptance with God to them. They must stand or fall according to their own relation to the will of God and the person of his Son. And there are degrees of guilt which far surpass any intercession of this kind. The sin of unbelief especially, if it be unrepented of, will prevent any benefit being received. The permanent position of our souls with respect to Divine grace will depend, therefore, upon their own action or belief. Even Christ cannot save if we do not believe in his Name and obey him. - M.
I. INTERCESSORY PRAYER IS AN EXERCISE OF GREAT VALUE.
Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be towards this people.
1. We wish you to observe that he who serves God, serves his country best.
2. We ask you to observe that whatever the advantages which a man derives from having pious relatives, there is a point at which those relatives can afford him no help.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
1. As developing our love to man. Interesting ourselves in his trials, seeking to save him from his sins.
2. As carrying out the Divine precepts. In the spirit of Christ, in the fellowship of life.
3. As following after noble examples.
4. As obtaining great blessings for others.
II. INTERCESSORY PRAYER CAN BE OFFERED ONLY BY GOOD MEN.
1. He must not be under the sin against which he prays.
2. He should know by experience the value of the blessing he craves for another.
3. He must be willing to join effort with prayer.
III. INTERCESSORY PRAYER HAS SOME LIMITATIONS EVEN WHEN OFFERED BY THE BEST OF MEN. This is evident —
1. From Scripture.
2. From observation.
IV. INTERCESSORY PRAYER IS A GRAND DISTINCTION AND PROVISION OF THE GOSPEL. We have —
1. The best of intercessors (Hebrews 7:25). In office, sympathy, work, influence.
2. Praying for the best of blessings. Salvation, preservation, comfort, glory.
3. Taking up the ease of every soul that trusts Him.
4. Always successful.
III. is to England, Moses was to the Jewish people — prophet, patriot, warrior, lawgiver, all in one." Yet even so great a servant of God as Moses together with the famous seer Samuel, would avail nothing in intercession for the Jews at this time. My mind, saith the Lord, could not be toward this people.
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