Intervention: God loves the Prayers of the Saints
C2B Blog by Bob Hirtzel
“Fire, fire!” I said insistently to the Israeli teenager living next door. I tried to explain to the best of my ability the edge of the forest had caught fire from their celebratory Lag B’Omer bonfire the night before. Our neighbors shared a dirt road dividing the villas from the edge of the forested valley between Ramot and Northern Jerusalem. The forest side of the dirt road was a perfect place for a bonfire. As if playing a game of charades, I acted out the English word “fire” as best I could. I was not playing a game, though, as she spoke only Hebrew. The area back of her villa was smoldering. After, what seemed to be a long period of wasted time, she finally understood and exclaimed, “Oh, esh! Esh!” She called out to her brother who ran out the back door, found a hose and started spraying the area with a pitiful stream of water. Soon two large fire trucks showed up in the villas’ parking lot, connected fire hoses through to the back of the home, and the edge of the forest. They made sure the fire was out by thoroughly dousing each concentration of smoke. However, without intervention from “Jerusalem Firefighting and Rescuing,” we would have a raging forest fire on our hands. The firemen acted professionally. They said that this was one of several calls they had responded to, and it was all in a day’s work. That day was a special day for them since it was the day after the bonfires, and it was a day the firemen expected to respond to many brush fires not yet fully extinguished.
In the 1970s, my wife and I lived in South Austin, Texas, in apartments that backed up to the railroad tracks. One hot summer day, a passing train ignited a large field of grass on fire. Soon the grass fire was contained by the Austin Fire Department’s illustrious firemen beating the grass fire out with straw brooms! Now that is an intervention! Brooms! Whether by water or brooms, if the fire is considered a threat, it must be extinguished!
Intervention ahead of time can mitigate a destructive force. For example, in Australia several years ago, The Sydney Morning Herald ran a story about a preemptive action by a Reedy Creek resident. Bulldozing a 100-meter swath of 250 Gum trees around his house, he left hundreds of other Gum trees on his property to the ravages of nature. He did not act until he saw the nearby hills ablaze when the wind changed against him. Mr. Sheahan, his son, and daughter, all trained members of the local CFA, immediately got to work. During their fight to save their home, the fire came terrifyingly close. “It melted the elements off our TV antenna. We lost a Land Rover, two Subaru, a truck and trailer, and two sheds.” It was the only home left standing within a two-kilometer radius. His intervention paid off to a certain extent. He saved his home, but in addition to losing the four vehicles and sheds, he had to pay $100,000 in fines and legal fees. According to the report, the blaze also took two lives. The law stated that clearing Gum trees were to be only 6 meters from the house. Would you say that particular clearing law and fines were appropriate for a raging fire? All the homeowners who followed the law lost their homes. Are Gum trees more important than lost lives and people’s homes?
God is a Consuming Fire
Fire is to be respected and feared! When a fire is out of control, it is a destructive force. In Hebrews 12:29, though, there is a particular scripture that describes God, “For our God is a consuming fire.” Can a consuming fire be a good thing? If it describes God, it pretty much has to. How can God be a consuming fire? God is good, right? Remember, in the Old Testament, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to see if their god would consume their offering with fire? Of course, Baal did not show up; however, Elijah’s God did show up, manifesting Himself as a consuming fire, devouring Elijah’s offering even though water soaked it thoroughly.
Earlier in the Old Testament, Exodus 19:18, God visited the Hebrews on Mount Sinai, a very frightening event! “18. Mount Sinai was completely enveloped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in a fire. And the smoke rose like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.” An expedition to Saudi Arabia in the vicinity of Midian, a mountain thought to be the real Mt. Sinai had evidence of scorching heat. Not only was the mountain top black from burning, but the rocks had turned to glass, customarily associated with heat from an atomic blast!
What Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) has done for Us as Believers
When Jesus died on the cross, the thick and heavy “vail” of the Temple split into two sections. Jesus death on the cross purchased our accepted entrance into the Holy of Holies, into the very presence of the Father. It is because of Yeshua that we can “come boldly before the throne of God.” Hebrews 4:16. He paved the way for the Spirit of God (He will baptize you with the Spirit and Fire) to live in our hearts making believers living temples to, approach the throne of grace and to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy and to find grace in the time of need.
We perceive the “natural” or the seen world and God’s kingdom as two different dimensions. To think that God is not present in the Natural world is a mistake; however, Jesus prayed, “…on earth as it is in Heaven.” He also said, “The kingdom of God is within you,” Luke 17:21. We cannot see it because “God is a spirit,” John 4:24. However, Jesus gives us access to the Holy Spirit and knowledge of God as never before. The kingdom is presently actively involved in our lives; we just cannot see it as a physical presence unless revealed by God through dreams, visions, and manifestations such as healings. The Bible mentions seven manifestations of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, all of which are the Holy work of the Spirit through the believers as gifts to others. There is a phrase, “walking in the Spirit” where we are not necessarily aware of God’s presence, but we may encounter a God-incidence. A circumstance set up by God that involves us blessing others or others are blessing us, or both.
Where there is Smoke, there is Fire:
Let us now see if you can perceive the metaphor of fire, smoke, and prayers of the saints. What is God looking for or wanting in His interaction with His saints? By reading through the scriptures below, we can determine that God desires to hear continually from His saints through prayer. After all, He lives in each of their hearts through the Holy Spirit. The prayers of the saints are as sweet-smelling incense to God.
- In Leviticus 6:13, we find, fire is to be burning continually on the altar. It is not to go out.”
- “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Revelation 8:4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
- 1 Chronicles 16:11: Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
- Deuteronomy 6:1-25 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. …
- 1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
- Rev. 5:8 and 8:3- Each one (Elder) had a harp, and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. He (another angel) was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people on the golden altar in front of the throne.
The Holy Spirit living in the saint’s hearts becomes the fire which is burning continually of the alter and which is “not to go out.” The only way the fire will vary is if a believer neglects the relationship. We, as believers and lovers of Yeshua, have a responsibility to keep the fire burning through a vibrant relationship. Fire is hot, and it burns. So, I believe that our relationship with the Holy Spirit should be steadfast and intense. Hebrews 5:7 gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ prayer life. “During the days of Jesus’ life on Earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” We call Jesus our friend, but when we read this passage, it is made clear that Jesus is much more than just a beer-drinking buddy sitting on the couch watching, “Days of our Lives!”
Watching the smoke from the incense curl up and up, if we take a closer look, we see the smoke is created by the interaction between the Holy Spirit (fire) and believers (incense), making the prayers of the Saints (smoke). Upon closer inspection, we see what the prayers included. Ephesians 6:18 points out exactly how often and what and who to pray. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” My wife and I pray for the Peace of Jerusalem whenever we see a “cue” to do so. The problem is that after a few prayers, the question arises, precisely what does the content of the prayer include? Ephesians 6:18 answers the following questions toward that end: how often do we pray, always; who do we pray with and how, in the Spirit; what do we include in our prayers, we keep keeping on featuring all prayer requests with an attitude of earnest yet humble petition; who are these prayers for, all fellow believers.
The Tie that Binds
Immediately the question arises, “Are we only to intercede for fellow believers? There are so many who do not know the Lord. We must be winning souls. I agree; however, Revelation 8:4 appears to be the heavenly evidence of the fulfillment of Yeshuah’s high priestly prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, to those who are Yeshuah’s, found in the 17th chapter of John. John 17:20-21 says, “20. My prayer is not for them alone. I also pray for those who will believe in me through their message, 21. that all of them (the body of believers) may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (New International Version) The prayer is for unity, not strife, for love, not discord. Yeshua is offering to the Father a prayer of love: protection, intercession, and intervention. It is especially important at this critical time that we remember His intercession of unity and love when He is fulfilling Ephesians 2:15, Jew and Gentile, one new man in Yeshua.” Thus, Revelation 8:4 is the fulfillment of His prayer for unity and love. Intervention for the saints by the saints in the Holy Spirit; God loves it!
Now, I have a question for you. If you knew the outcome of a horse race before the race happened, wouldn’t you bet on the winner of that race? At the end of the New Testament, the book of Revelation shows us what is happening in Heaven. It shows us what God wants and how it will happen in the future. Wouldn’t you want to get on board? The song “Get On Board, Little Children” slowly fades out just as we hear enough of the song to start tapping our toes. The song is over, our toes have stopped tapping, and we get it. So, let us start bulldozing those Gum trees around all fellow believers, intervening by prayer to hold back the consuming fire that is coming.