We NEED to ‘INTERCEDE’ on BEHALF of OTHERS: Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. And David said to God, "Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered? I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father's house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued." So the Lord commanded the angel, and he returned his sword to its sheath. (1 Chron. 21:16-17, 27)
The above passage describes a terrifying sight that King David saw when he lifted his eyes up. He saw an angel of the Lord with drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem to destroy it as God’s judgment for sin. The reaction of David in interceding on behalf of the people of Israel is beautifully described by Henry in his four-point summary described below:
- David made an earnest confession of his own sin and prayed earnestly for pardon (v. 8).
- David accepted the punishment of his iniquity (v. 17).
- David cast himself upon the mercy of God in humility (v. 13).
- David expressed a very tender concern for the people as he saw them as innocent sheep (v. 17b).
Many years later, Jesus also wept over Jerusalem when he looked at that city (Luke 19: 41-44). He knew the corruption of her leaders and priesthood. He saw in his mind's eye the utter destruction of the city that would take place later in 70 AD. And he wept because it all could have been avoided. There was a distinct failure of Jerusalem's leaders to discern God's visitation of their city through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Instead of welcoming and submitting to the King who entered to inspect His city and temple that day, they rejected Jesus, plotted against Him and finally killed Him mercilessly through hanging Him on the cross at Calvary.
Sin always causes a breach between God and His people. It is necessary to present appropriate burnt offerings and peace offerings (v. 26) for reconciliation with God as the divine law required (Num. 15:1–10). David built an altar to offer propitiatory sacrifices to pacify the impending judgment. Down the ages, Jesus Christ became the ultimate sacrificial lamb who died to reconcile humanity with God again!
What does God expects from us as His children today? God expects us also to intercede on behalf of the sinful humanity around us who are under God’s impending judgment of eternal death and condemnation in hell. Can we wake up, look up and see the drawn sword of God’s judgment over this sinful world and intercede on behalf of the condemned people today? We need to pay attention to what God has already spoken through Isaiah in this connection: "I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." (Isaiah 62:6-7)