The intercessory work of Christ presupposes that the predicament of man is not an alleged flaw in his existence but the enmity which separates the creature from the Creator. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10). Furthermore, just as no mere analysis of human existence in psychological or philosophical categories will provide an adequate anthropology, so likewise no definition of Christ in terms of substance or nature will properly describe his intercessory action. Much modern Protestant theology, however, exhibits such a protest against the merely physical conception of the Lord’s state in heaven that the reality of Christ’s work has been volatilized into a gaseous vacuity. A true biblical understanding will appreciate the power of Christ’s personal pleading as God’s Word in action, God in Jesus giving his life at the right time for the ungodly.
Old Testament Priestly Sacrifice. The concept of intercession has its roots in the priestly sacrifice of the Old Testament. God was at work in the family of Israel providing sacrifices which were acceptable for atonement before the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus. Aaron was instructed to come once a year to the holy place with a bull, a ram, and a goat, sacrificing them with the laying on of hands and sprinkling the blood of the bull and the goat on the mercy seat and offering the ram as a burnt offering (Lev. 16:5–19). A second goat was driven into the wilderness with the laying on of hands and the confession of the sins of the people (Lev. 16:20–22). This system of sacrifices hearkened back to the experience of Abraham in which God provided a ram as a substitute ...1
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