|artwork by Lori Bedo|
I reflected on Lori’s inspired artwork as I listened to one of my favorite hymns from Selah, Before the Throne of God Above…Before the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect Plea; A great high priest whose name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is graven on His hands, My name is written on His heart. I know that while in Heaven He stands, No tongue can bid me thence depart. When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upwards I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free, For God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me. Behold Him there, the risen Lamb; My perfect spotless Righteousness, the great unchanging all I Am, The King of glory and of grace. One with Himself, I cannot die; my soul is purchased by His blood. My life is hid with Christ on high; with Christ, my Savior and my God…this inspired me to do a word study of the word “intercedes” from Romans 8:26-27:
NASB: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Amplified: So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.
NLT: And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Phillips: The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart’s secrets understands, of course, the Spirit’s intention as he prays for those who love God.
Wuest: And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular. thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings. Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.
Young's Literal: And, in like manner also, the Spirit doth help our weaknesses; for, what we may pray for, as it behoveth [us], we have not known, but the Spirit himself doth make intercession for us with groanings unutterable, and He who is searching the hearts hath known what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because according to God he doth intercede for saints.
Intercedes for us: the Greek words entugcháno (from en = in + tugcháno = get, obtain) means to meet up with or to encounter and then to approach someone with a petition, and hupérentugcháno (from hupér = for, on behalf of + entugcháno = entreat) means to make intercession, bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, ask for something with urgency and intensity. It means to make an earnest request through contact with the one approached. To entreat (in favor or against), to bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, to ask for something with urgency and intensity, to plead, beg, appeal to or to petition. It further means to intercede for or in the behalf of someone or to plead for someone. It is a picturesque word of rescue by one who ‘happens on’ one who is in trouble, and ‘in his behalf’ (hupér) pleads ‘with unuttered groanings’ or with ‘sighs that baffle words.'
Intercedes for us: the preposition for (hupér) is the Greek preposition which in this context expresses the idea of substitution. Instead of for, one can render it as, Christ intercedes—in place of, for the benefit of, on behalf of—us. This act of love can never be fully appreciated until we understand exactly who the objects of that love were—unlovable, unlovely, ungodly, helpless-to-help-themselves-sinners, constantly rebelling against God's will for their lives, God's mortal enemies! It is for such as these that our constantly Risen Lord constantly makes intercession. Our Great High Priest speaks to His Father on our behalf and He is engaged in this gracious work continually, in the present tense, He is continuously interceding on behalf of His children.
Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes, “God the Father who searches the hearts of His saints, understands the intent or bent of our unutterable prayers, unutterable because we do not know the particular things we should pray for in connection with a certain circumstance, for He knows the mind of the Holy Spirit praying for us and in our stead in our prayers in the case of the above-mentioned items for prayer, the Holy Spirit praying according to the plan of God for our lives. The Messiah's current intercession includes every form of Messiah’s identifying Himself with humanity, and includes the idea of intercession. The Apostle Paul speaks here of the present intercession of Messiah on behalf of believers, which is based upon and follows His once-for-all offering of Himself as the sacrifice for sin.”
Pastor John F. Walvoord notes that “the verb hupérentugcháno is used twice to refer to Christ's intercession. For those prepared to enter into its wonderful truth, the fact that Christ intercedes for His own in heaven is another guarantee of the security of the believer. While the hope of the believer for eternal salvation rests essentially on his possession of eternal life and the finished character of the death of Christ, it is undoubtedly strengthened by the fact of the intercession of Christ. In His intercession in heaven, Christ sustains the believer and keeps him from many of the spiritual dangers of life. Such intercession pleads the fact that the believer is in Christ and a partaker of His righteousness. The doctrine of intercession emphasizes the great truth that Christ never ceases to intercede for His own. While human prayers on earth are limited in both extent and power, the intercession of Christ knows no limits within the will of God. As an infinite person, Christ is able to concentrate His intercession wholly on each individual believer without any diminution or detraction from the needs of any other. In effect, the believer is assured of the intercession of Christ in such a manner as would be true if Christ centered all His love and all His intercession on that one believer. Whatever may be the limitation of human prayers, the believer is assured that there is One who never ceases to pray to him and his needs and that this Intercessor has all power and favor with the Father and, accordingly, “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
Robert Murray McCheyne, the beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, “It was dawn, and I was painfully aware of being only a few weeks into widowhood. After another restless night, I felt too weary to pray for myself. ‘Lord,’ I sighed, ‘I need someone to pray for me right now.’ Almost instantly God's Spirit comforted my distraught mind with the words of Romans 8:26-27, reminding me that Jesus was praying for me that very moment. With a wave of relief, I acknowledged Him as my lifelong intercessor. I will never forget how that bleak morning became gold-tinged with hope. Since then, I have drawn courage and strength countless times from my faithful High Priest. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!"
There are tears of joy flowing from my eyes even now as I recall the many times in 2004 that our then 13 year-old son, Jason, and I sang along with the album, Hiding Place, by Selah as we were driving in the car. The playlist includes the wonderful songs: You Raise Me Up, I Bless Your Name, There is Power in the Blood, You Are My Hiding Place, Through It All, By and By (We’ll Understand It Better), and the song I featured here, Before the Throne of God Above. The tears remind me what a joy it is to know that I know that I know that I am, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Nothing I do will make Him love me more, and nothing I do will make Him love me less. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by His precious blood, I am a greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved child of God. As He is, so am I in this world (I John 4:17). The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed (Romans 8:1). Knowing that God’s love for me and approval of me will never be determined by my performance is the most encouraging promise to which I cling. The tears of joy now falling from the eyes of my heart, come from the assurance and joy of our salvation, that God could not love us more, and He could not love us less than He does right now—interceding for us Before the Throne of God Above.
Previous word studies from Romans Chapter Eight…
12 word studies from Ephesians Chapter One…