Our Familial Bond with the Church is Now Unceasing

allsaintsSome wonderful reflections from my friend Seraphim about the intercession of the Saints:

 

Our Familial Bond with the Church is Now Unceasing

By Seraphim Hamilton

James Jordan’s aversion to the intercession of the Saints truly does perplex me, since many of his own interpretive insights provide a foundation for the practice of the intercession of the Saints. His arguments are essentially two:
1. It’s talking to the dead, it’s necromancy.
2. We have to go through Jesus to get to the Saints, but the practice of prayer to the Saints reverses this order, where we have to go to the Saints to get to Jesus.

As for #1, this is nothing more than a pejorative that I can’t imagine him applying consistently. The Lord says plainly in John 11:26 that anyone who lives and believes in Him will never die. As is often true of the Johannine literature, the Revelation of St. John provides an expansion on this theme first articulated in John’s Gospel. Revelation 20 gives us two deaths and two resurrections. The second death is the resurrection of the unjust. For them, their bodily resurrection is as good as death, since they are eternally burned up by the Glory of God, condemned to the moat surrounding the New Jerusalem (which is the New Heavens and New Earth). If you follow the thought consistently, the first resurrection is actually the death of the Christian. This is how Christ’s words are fulfilled. When the possession of the Earth begins (with the destruction of Jerusalem, just as the possession of the land began with the destruction of Jericho), Daniel 7 is fulfilled, thrones are set up in Heaven, and those who die in Christ are enthroned to serve in a royal-priestly ministry for a (symbolic, indicating the whole Church Age) thousand years. That alone refutes the idea that the intercession of the Saints is necromancy.

2. This is what really undoes Jordan’s whole argument, and it’s building on what I said in response to #1. Throughout the Old Testament, the essence of the prophetic ministry is intercession. Take a look at Genesis 20. God is speaking directly to Abimelech. Yet God tells Abimelech that He will heal him WHEN ABRAHAM INTERCEDES. As God says, “Abraham is a prophet, and he will pray for you.” That particular ministry of intercession appears again and again. Exodus 8:30-31 has Egypt released from plagues at the intercession of the Prophet Moses. The plague departs from Israel at the intercession of Moses in Numbers 11:2. They’re released from the plague of Serpents at the intercession of Moses in Numbers 21:7. A child is raised by the intercession of the Prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 4:33. The Lord orders Jeremiah to cut off his ministry of intercession in Jeremiah 7, 11, and elsewhere.

The point is that the prophet, by his very nature, is an intercessor before God. This is true even when God is speaking directly to the person whom the prophet prays for. Abimelech only got Abraham to intercede because God told Abraham to intercede! The reason why the prophet is an intercessor is because he is filled with the Spirit. In Ezekiel 1, Ezekiel is filled with the Glory of God (the Altar-Fire) at his call to the prophetic ministry. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is called to be a prophet when he is glorified by the coal from the altar touching his lips. And that the call to prophethood typically happens in the Heavenly Council indicates that the prophet is an intercessor in virtue of the fact that he is seated in the Heavenly Council. Amos 3:7 says this directly- the business of the council is the business of the prophet.

But because this happens before the resurrection of Jesus, the ministry of the prophet is impermanent. They, like everyone else, go to Sheol to await the death and resurrection of Christ. When that happens, Pentecost follows. And Pentecost means that EVERYONE acquires this prophetic ministry. Take a look at Joel 2, quoted by Peter in the Book of Acts with reference to Pentecost:

(Joel 2:28) “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

This itself is an allusion to Numbers 11-12, which confirms our understanding of the passage as extending the prophetic ministry to the whole people:

(Numbers 11:29) But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!”

(Numbers 12:6) And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream.

In the dry bones vision, Ezekiel sees what happened to him in Ezekiel 1 happening to the whole of the people of Israel. Got puts His Spirit on the whole people, and they rise from the dead. That ultimately runs back to Genesis 2:7, where God brings Adam up from the dust by breathing the Spirit into Him. It is fulfilled, of course, in the resurrection of Jesus (which IS the restoration of Israel from exile, back to Paradise) and the Outpouring of the Spirit.

All of this comes together when you wrap the threads provided above into one theological rope. The vocation of prayerful intercession belongs to the prophet because the prophet sits in the Heavenly Council via his union with God’s Spirit. It follows that a deeper union with the Spirit implies a more significant seat on the Council, and that ministry of prayerful intercession and Spirit-filling is tied together explicitly in Romans 8, where the Spirit prays for the world IN US according to God’s will.

And in Revelation 20, we have a confirmation that Christian death implies, not an ejection from the Council (as it did in the old covenant, since Christ had not risen), but a magnification of one’s Seat on the Council. The New Heavens and the New Earth is being prepared in Heaven, even before the day when Heaven and Earth are united fully. Christ sits as Head of the Council, but the Saints are permanently enthroned in a triple heavenly ministry. And as Hebrews 11 says, we are surrounded by a great CLOUD of witnesses. St. Paul uses the word “cloud” because the Heavenly Council is seen when the prophet enters into God’s Glory-Cloud. That means that access to God NECESSARILY IMPLIES our access to the Council. And that means, per the whole witness of Scripture, that we can request intercession from the council members, not because we don’t have access to God, but because our familial bond with the Church is now unceasing, and that is the joy of the new covenant.

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