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Mediators in the Tanakh & the Mediator Messiah

We Have an Intercessor

"Moses interceded for the people." (Numbers 21:7)

"Messiah Yeshua...intercedes on our behalf." (Romans 8:34)

by Paul Sumner

In the NT Yeshua is depicted as God’s Prophet dispatched from his presence to deliver the divine Word to Israel and to all humankind. He is the Sent One, the Messenger, the successor to Moses (Acts 3:22-23; Deut 18:18-19). He is described as God's spoken “Word” itself because he embodies its message, meaning, and power (John 1).

He is also the High Priest who intercedes for people. He “now appears in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb 9:24; cf. Matt 10:32; Luke 12:8; Rev 3:5).

Thirdly, he is hailed King, the great Son of David (Luke 1:32; Rev 22:16). Following his death, resurrection, and raising to the presence of God, Yeshua was granted sovereignty over humanity: “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36).

And yet, he is a King-in-waiting, temporarily out of the country (1 Cor 15:23-28; Eph 1:20-22). Even so, he still exercises rule and power on earth, for God made him “Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). And beyond our expectations, his three offices (prophet, priest, king) meld into one.

Every sphere of his lordship involves his determined love for individual human beings. Because he lived as a man, he is a well-informed, experienced priest who can “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb 4:15) and represent us before God.

Messiah Yeshua is he who died, yes, rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Rom 8:34)

He has power to continue saving, wholly and perfectly, those who, by His mediation, are through all time drawing near to God, because He is for ever living — living to intercede for them! (Heb 7:25, Arthur Way trans.)

He is also a defense attorney and interpreter of God.

If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Yeshua Messiah the righteous. (1 John 2:1b)

No one has seen God at any time; God’s one and only, who lies near the Father’s heart and mind, has explained him. (John 1:18, my paraphrase)

(Consider the study Yeshua Knelt to Pray.)

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The Intercessor — UnJewish?
Jews are taught it is wrong to pray to someone other than God. But what is prayer?

If Yeshua were here, alive on earth, people would seek him out — just as they went to Abraham, Moses, and Samuel. They would seek his counsel and wisdom, and ask him to intercede before God because he was holy. They know they aren't holy and have no right to approach God on their own.

Numbers 21:7 "Moses interceded for the people."

Would their requests, if made to Yeshua’s face, be “prayers”? If not, what would they be called?

Today, in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague, Jews write paper prayers and insert them in cracks of the tombstone of Rabbi Yehudah ben Bezalel (aka the Maharal of Prague), who was a famous mystic in the 1500s. These folks expect this dead Jewish saint to hear their prayers and intercede for them to G-d.

Job 16:19 "Behold, my witness is in heaven
and my advocate is on high."

In Brooklyn, New York, Lubavitcher Hasidim and Jews from around the world used to line up for hours to have an audience with the late Rabbi Menahem Schneerson (died 1994). They would hand him their prayer requests, hoping he would plead to HaShem on their behalf. They sought the rabbi’s blessing and some expression of kindness in their time of need. To them he was The Tzaddik. And they believed he stood in special relation to God on their behalf.

Were these heart-felt pleadings by Jews to these earthly rabbis actually “prayers”? Were those men actually mediators and intercessors between the people and God? Many Jews today believe they are.

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The Living High Priest
According to the NT, Yeshua isn’t dead: he has "the power of an indestructible life" and "abides forever" (Hebrews 7:16, 24).

As the Cohen Gadol, he "holds his priesthood permanently...perpetually...always" (Heb 7:24, 3, 25). He hears the supplications and griefs and hopes of God’s people. He grieves with them because he knows the consequences of "our weaknesses ” (Heb 4:15).

He also atones for our sins, using his own blood, not that of animals (Heb 9:12). People can receive this atonement if they identify with him, just as in the days of the Temple when sinners would put their hands on the animal sacrifice when it was killed in their stead.

Though Yeshua is not here physically, he’s here — within the souls of humble men and women. Yeshua by his Spirit searches their thoughts and translates their inept, inarticulate or off-mark prayers, and presents them to the Throne (Rom 8:26-27).

The Present Intercessor
From a NT perspective, it doesn’t matter whether Yeshua is visibly among us. With his keen hearing, vision, and soul-discernment he is no less present by being at the right hand of God (Heb 1:3).

When David said, “The LORD is my shepherd” (Psalm 23), he didn’t have (or need) the physical presence of the heavenly Shepherd to know that the Father guided, protected, and counseled him.

David could say from unbounded joy: “I love You, O LORD, my strength” (Ps 18:1).

[Among his followers, Yeshua shepherds the Father's sheep.]

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Appointed by the Court

We may not notice from Scripture that Yeshua is a Court-appointed intercessor.

God sent him because he wanted someone to stand up for people, to defend them and to help them, guide them, encourage, comfort, and weep with them. God wanted someone to explain himself and his ways to human beings. They needed an agent to atone for their sins.

God wanted to bring them Home from exile to be with him. That’s what he was doing throughout ancient Israel’s history (Isa 59:16). He wanted all nations to know what he was doing on their behalf by sending his final Mediator, the Messiah.

• Paul Sumner

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"High Priest" in the book of Hebrews:

2:17—"...he had to be made like his brethren in all things, that he might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God..."
3:1—"...consider Yeshua, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession"
4:14—"...we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens"
5:9-10—"...he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek"
6:20—"Yeshua has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
7:26—"It was fitting that we should have such a High Priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens"
8:1—"...we have such a High Priest, who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of Majesty in the heavens"
9:11—"When Messiah appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come, he entered through the greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation."

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