What is important in my life? Day to day my mind swirls with all the things I want to do, all the things I think I ought to do, and all the things I dream about doing. Add to that the ever available Facebook and Twitter and I can end my day utterly confused about my direction in life and my priorities. The other day though I had one of those times in the Word when God got my attention and I just had to pause and ponder what He was emphasizing. In Jeremiah 15 God is telling Jeremiah of the upcoming judgment on Israel because of their idolatry and disobedience. In verse 1 He says something interesting: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people…'” I started flipping back to the front of the Old Testament to read the cross references about Samuel and Moses. I think all of us tend to evaluate people by what they do, what they accomplish in this life. Rarely, if ever, do we see the inner lives of people. Even our closest friends and spouses don’t know what is going on in our hearts and in our private devotions with the Lord. With Moses and Samuel we definitely remember what they did – Moses parted the Red Sea and came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments; Samuel crowned Saul king and anointed David later on. But do we remember their most important role, the one that imparted so much responsibility? Psalm 99:6 says, “Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called upon his name. They called to the Lord, and he answered them.” Psalm 106 describes the Israelites forgetting God and in verse 23 says this, “Therefore he [God] said he would destroy them – had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before him, to turn away his wrath from destroying them.” In Exodus 32 Moses implores his God not to destroy the Israelites after they worshipped the golden calf. God relented. In 1 Samuel 7 the Philistines are coming up against Israel and the people ask Samuel to pray to the Lord on their behalf. Samuel does and the people are delivered. In chapter 8 Samuel inquires of the Lord concerning Israel and God answers him. In chapter 12 Samuel gives his farewell address and is so bold as to tell them that he will call upon the Lord to send thunder and rain as a witness against them. God answers Samuel’s request “and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.” (v.18) Then the people ask Samuel to pray on their behalf and Samuel says, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you…” (12:23)
Now, coming back to Jeremiah 15, God says that even if Moses or Samuel prayed on Israel’s behalf, He would not relent. But don’t think that means their prayers were not powerful. It’s just that Israel’s sins had piled up so high that it had reached a tipping point with God. He could not allow them to go any further in their disobedience; He had to exact discipline. Yes, Moses and Samuel were just men, but God, in a kind of backhanded compliment, lifts them up in this case and sets them up as an example of powerful intercessory prayer.
The most important role Moses and Samuel played was coming before the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel. For whom am I coming before the Lord? For whom am I standing in the breach? Don’t believe the lie that all that matters is what you do, what you accomplish before men. You have the awesome privilege and responsibility to stand in the breach before the Lord on behalf of your husband and your children. Who else will do this? There will always be another toilet to clean, another dish to wash. There will always be someone to take that job or serve in that role. But who else can stand in the gap for your family before the Lord? This is something nobody will ever see except the Father. But remember what Jesus said, “pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) And believe this word, “The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power.” James 5:16