Week of Monday, February 19– February 25
Intercession – Man as Chaplain

So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” - Exodus 32:31-32 ESV

I’ve told the story of how I was wounded with a mortar round in the aftermath of the Battle of the Black Sea (a.k.a. “Blackhawk Down”) in Mogadishu. However, when that mortar went off and hit me, I didn’t realize it, but Matt Rierson lay dead, Gary Harrell was severely wounded, and my doctor, Rob Marsh, was lying next to me, bleeding out. I tried to get up but had shrapnel in my leg, and it was still dark. So I called out, “Find Doc Marsh.” But I didn’t realize he was lying right next to me in a growing pool of blood. Shrapnel had severed his femoral artery. Medics came running over, put us on stretchers, and hurried us into a little medical tent set up by an Air Force reserve unit. They laid us side-by-side, and they were working feverishly to save Doc Marsh because he had lost a lot of blood. They hooked him up to monitors, everything was beeping, his blood pressure was dropping, and his heart rate was dropping. I looked over at him and realized he was fading fast, but they were working hard, trying to save him.

I reached over, grabbed his hand, and said, “Rob. Hold on, buddy. Hold on, hold on.  You’re gonna make it.” And then I began to pray and intercede for Rob: “God! I’m asking you in the name of Jesus, if you would just spare this one. Just spare this one God. There’s been enough loss. But would you please spare this man in Jesus’ name?” But Rob didn't move. He was flatlining. And the nurse finally said, “Sir, he’s gone.” She patted me on the shoulder, said, “He’s gone.”  I said, “No. No! He’s not gone. God has the last say.” The blood pressure machine and the heart monitor said he was dead. So, the nurse patted me on the shoulder, said, “Let him go,” and reached down, took my hand, and tried to pull us apart. I said, “I’m not letting him go.” And I continued to pray: “God, would you spare this one?”

When I read Exodus 32-34, I can relate to Moses, who also cried out to God on behalf of his people in a desperate situation. In chapter 32, while Moses was up on the mountain receiving the commandments from God, the people demanded Aaron make them a “god” to worship. You remember the sad story of how they worshipped that golden calf. When Moses came down and saw what was happening, he was hot. Apparently, so was God because He threatened to wipe them out and start over with Moses. Yet Moses stood in the gap between Holy God and sinful Israel and interceded on their behalf. In fact, he even put his own life on the line, essentially saying, “Lord, please forgive their sin, and if not, take me out instead.” God graciously forgave them, but not without consequences.

In fact, in the next chapter, God told them they could still go to the promised land and that He would send His angel, but that He wouldn’t go with them personally (33:1-3). The people were devastated, so Moses interceded for them yet again in verses 12-13. God graciously consented to accompany them to the promised land. Moses added, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here” (v. 15). God reaffirmed, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name” (v. 17). Yet Moses was not done. He interceded yet again for Israel in the very next chapter (34:9).

Moses models the role of Chaplain in that he interceded, he prayed with persistence before God for the people. He resolutely stood in the gap between them and God.  As men, we must do the same with our family and friends. But we can’t give up. My mother prayed for my father for 50 years. When he came to Christ, he was radical. I saw him go into eternity talking to God.

Sometimes, we pray and don’t think God is listening. He doesn’t seem to be moving. The situation looks hopeless. Kind of like when I prayed for Doc Marsh, and the nurse said, “Let him go, sir. He’s gone.” Sometimes that’s true. Yet there are times when we need to keep praying and trust that God will come through. He did for Moses and Israel. He did for Rob Marsh, who miraculously survived and was even awarded Virginia’s “Country Doctor of the Year” in 2014. So don’t stop interceding, keep praying, and never give up. 

- As you survey your relationships and the needs of each person close to you, who do you need to be praying for?

- How much time and focus do you devote to intercessory prayer for your wife, children, and grandchildren?
- Ask God to put a burden on your heart to bring those in your circle before Him and for the persistence to keep on praying.