The Mark of an Intercessor

He said to him, “Walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” Ezekiel 9:4 NLT

God takes special note of those who share in the grief of His heart for the sinful world around them. As in every generation throughout history, there are many things today that vex the souls of God fearing people, just as they did the righteous soul of Lot in his day. (2 Peter 2:4-9) And all the more now as we are being inundated by an unending flood of evil, the news of which, like a deluge, is coming from every corner of the world, streaming day and night through multiple forms of media.

Ezekiel, while in captivity in Babylon, is visited by God and taken in the Spirit to the temple in Jerusalem. There he is shown among other things, God’s preparation to bring judgment on the city. He sees six men appear, each with a deadly weapon in their hands and he sees with them a man clothed in linen with a writing kit at his side. Then he hears God call to the linen clad man and instruct to him to “walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” In startling succession the next two verses contain the instructions given to six other men. They are told to “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion . . . but do not touch anyone who has the mark.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6 NIV)

What caused God to mark these people for mercy rather than for judgment? We are told that they were weeping and sighing because of the sinfulness of the city.

It is instructive here to look at the root meanings of these two words. The Hebrew word for “weep” conveys the type of crying associating with mourning or a lament. This indicates that these people were genuinely grieving the condition of the society around them. The Hebrew word for “sigh” means to exhale, to moan and to groan. This is particularly insightful because in the New Testament, Spirit led and inspired intercession is referred to in exactly the same way. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26 ESV)

In fact we even see Jesus interceding at the tomb of Lazarus “with groanings too deep for words.” When He encounters Mary and the other Jews with her weeping, we are told “He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” (John 11:33 KJV)

Again let’s ask the question – what caused God to take special note of these people and mark them as recipients of His mercy? I am of the firm conviction that it was a direct result of them entering into and carrying a spirit of intercession for the sinful world around them. I believe that the weeping and sighing going on in the spirits of these people was Holy Spirit inspired prayer and intercession. And the manner in which they were sharing the grief of the heart of God, through intercession for His creation, so deeply pleased Him that He extended His scepter of mercy, even in the midst of His judgments to spare them.

I find this passage of scripture a great encouragement with regard to the ministry of intercession. It underscores the fact that being an intercessor who pleases and touches the heart of God is more about the why of intercession than the how. It is more about why we groan than how we groan, more about being than overtly doing or even saying anything. And ultimately it is about who we allow ourselves to become as we yield to Him and increasingly identify with His grief for the world.

The ministry of intercession at its very core is identifying with God. It is a state of being from which naturally flows weeping and sighs for His creation.

What have you been experiencing as you have been praying for our world?

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9 thoughts on “The Mark of an Intercessor”

  1. I am reminded of Psalm 42: 7 “deep calls to deep” and the feeling of something so vast that only God can take care of in totality. I came across this writing by Watchmen Nee regarding this verse and it says it all:
    Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls unto deep.” Only a call from the depths can provoke a response from the depths. Nothing shallow can ever touch the depths, nor can anything superficial touch the inward parts. Only the deep will respond to the deep. Anything that does not issue from the depths cannot touch the depths. Others can respond deep within to only what issues from deep within us. When we go to a certain place and listen to a message, the only thing that touches us is something that has issued from the depths of others. If nothing comes from the depths, the help we receive is just superficial. We have to see the importance of the depths. Anything that is not from the depths will never reach the depths of others. If we have never received help or benefit in our depths, we will never have anything issuing from our depths. If we want to render spiritual help to others, something must issue from our depths. If we do not dig deep, we can never gain others. Unless our utterance is from the depths, we will not touch the depths in others, even though we gain their emotions and thoughts and make them cry or be happy or excited for a while. Only deep calls unto deep. Superficial expressions will not touch the depths of others.

  2. Sadasat Singh Khalsa

    The moaning, groaning, weeping, sighing, shows that the groaner, weeper, is overcome because he has developed empathy for the “OTHER”, the “NEIGHBOR”, the one outside ones own blood; that emphatic quality shows one is transcending animal-self preservation to a broader more universal connection beyond one’s lower self. Please notice that the one’s groaned for were still struck down because sin is death. Does groaning, moaning, intercede to a sucessful intervention? Perhaps, but of course We must defer to the WILL OF GOD and honor the truth of each circumstance. Honor the truth, pray for an understanding of GODS COMMANDS and go forth will love and courage and equanimity. So Be It

  3. What is so great about corporate prayer intercession, as at IHOP or local houses of prayer like JHOP or TCHOP is that I will sometimes get inspired by others interceding for something or someone. Moved by their passionate prayer I begin to join in, whereas before I would never have thought of praying for that thing or person. It’s contagious.

  4. Thanks for sharing. This is a good illustration that in the realm of prayer, some things are better caught than taught. There is an impartation by the Holy Spirit that is necessary to usher us into a that place of praying according to the heart of God.

  5. Thanks for underscoring the importance of empathy in intercession. The Spirit-led intercessor feels empathy both with the heart of God and with the “other” for whom they are interceding. Empathy is both a motivation for and an effect of praying well.

  6. So beautiful wisdom in gift to pray in troubles to be free again from resistance forcess who will destoy us and be our harm obstacles in alot time in life and so wonderful when the lord give victory again and we are so thankful afterward to God in Jesus name ,thanks and bless and pray,keijo sweden

  7. The Church will be on fire, if we only Intercede & not just pray. This is the heart cry of our Lord God. It s a proof of our Faith in Him for every bit of a need of ours. Then we are indeed busy in our Father’s business, rather than our own.
    Try for a week of daily only interceding & not making any prayer for own needs, issues what so ever.

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