ANNA, BLESSED FOR HER INTERCESSOR MINISTRY
Anna was an intercessor, and God blessed her ministry with an awareness of the nearness of the Messiah’s birth and arrival at the Temple. God still blesses intercessors with a spiritual awareness of events of the coming a second time of the Messiah, Jesus. Intercession is an important ministry, and well blessed by the Lord.
God is "no respecter of persons." We too, can be intercessors, and have a hedge of protection about us and our loved ones. However, a gap can appear in the hedge, A gap was made in Job's hedge for testing purposes. Gaps can come to our hedges also.
There are three reasons for gaps in the hedges.
a. A test which God is allowing for a time.
b. A sin which put a gap in the hedge.
c. Fruitlessness, which causes God to put a gap in the hedge
since the vineyard proved worthless and fruitless.
God desires fruit from His vineyard. He is greatly desirous of fruit, and if it does not come, He will "take away the hedge."
"I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard; I will take away the hedge thereof, and it (the vineyard) shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down."
Sin gaps the hedge, so the enemy, the devourer, can get inside to do the destruction. God has provided the hedge to protect what He loves.
"What could have been done more to My vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes."
Much sickness, trouble, and suffering is unnecessary. Not all sickness is from sin. Some is a result of a test, as was Job's. But much sickness is a result of the lowering or gapping of the hedge. This unnecessary sickness is caused by sin or fruitlessness in the lives of Christians. Israel sinned and the hedges were gapped.
"Thou has broken down all his hedges."
Our prayer lives do have an effect. We are told that our prayers are not meaningless sound. Our prayers can keep a hedge about us, and about our loved ones.
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, availeth much."
The prayers and intercession of David was still availing much many years after his death. In the years of Jeroboam, when God should have judged Jerusalem for its sins, He withheld judgment for "David's sake." Intercession will have its impact.
I Kings 11:12
"Notwithstanding, in thy days, I will not do it, for David thy Father's sake."
The intercession of Jesus for His disciples in Gethsemane had its effect. The eleven disciples that were left did survive the great trial. Even though they met temporary defeat, they all came back and were victorious after the resurrection.
Stephen interceded for those who were killing him. His intercession put a hedge about Saul of Tarsus, and this hedge protected Saul. Saul met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He became the great apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, because a deacon named Stephen interceded for him. If the intercessor had not done his loving praying for his stoners and the coat holder, the Lord would have judged Saul with death on the road to Damascus, and not blessed him with mercy. Intercession is vital.
Barnabus is called "the son of consolation." This word "consolation" is the Greek word - "paraklesis", which means "exhortation, comfort, advocate, or intercessor for..." Barnabus was the advocate, or intercessor for John Mark. He was also the intercessor for Paul in Jerusalem.
Moses interceded for Israel and they were not destroyed as the Lord had intended, but were allowed to die of old age in the wilderness. If it were not for the intercession of Moses, the children of Israel's history would have been drastically altered. What is altered in time, because of our intercessions?
Walls of the hedges are constantly being broken down. It is the mission of each Christian to build hedges about ourselves and our loved ones, and to keep the gaps filled with our intercessory prayers. One of the sins which often puts gaps within the hedges is a condemning spirit. To be a condemner tears down hedges.
"Judge (condemn) not, that ye be not judged (condemned)."
"The words of a talebearer are as wounds."
Words are a spiritual attack by a critic. The criticism of another injures the hedge of the one criticized also. That is why, we need to often intercede for those with ministries that keep them in battles that invite criticism. Those who do the criticizing will face loss of their hedge, but their critical words will gap the hedges of the saints whom they criticize. We must pray for pastors, evangelists, prophets, and leaders who are frequently criticized.
When we are the one that is criticized, the way God teaches us to keep our hedge ungapped, is to pray for those who have criticized us. This is difficult, and yet, if undone, will hurt us, more than them.
"Pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you..."
Any willful sin will break down a hedge.
"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (i.e. no more hedge), but rather a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries."
The willful sin of not interceding for our loved ones, and the church congregation, etc. destroys the hedge they should have had. We need our own hedge, and they need us as intercessors to fill the gaps in their hedges. We had need beware of willfully sinning. Surely, we are saved by grace, but we should not choose to sin, just because salvation is so easy. While we are in the willful sin, the hedge is broken; and the enemy, the devil, will come through the gaps to devour and destroy.
Broken hedges are a crisis. Hedges broken by sin, by failures of our intercessors, by sins against us, and by demonic attack, need constant repair and attention. Sometime the devil tries the "Trojan horse trick." We may welcome some within the hedge, because we do not see the danger within them. The devil comes within most churches that way. He comes within the "tares" that he has sown in the church. These hypocrites, spiritual abusers, and false prophets may seem to have a "form of godliness." They may be respected, hold church offices, and give abundantly in the offerings. The devil uses them to hurt young Christians, and offend any who would protest their abuse. He will use them to start arguments on the choice of brick, the color of the carpet, etc. They will hinder and destroy any revival God tries to give to the church congregation.
All the saints are to be HEDGE BUILDERS. We are to keep the hedges of the church built and strong. When a gap is found, we are to stand in the gap with our intercessory prayers providing the protection.
I Peter 2:5
"Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."
The "spiritual sacrifices" that we are to offer up are the substitutionary intercessory prayers we pray. Just as a priest put a lamb upon the altar for a sinner who came before him, we are to offer up our intercessory prayers for many sinners with whom we come into contact. We need to intercede for one another. We are to put a hedge about each other and help protect the others from the enemy. A church without intercessors, is in constant turmoil. We must constantly, and frequently, pray for God to look at our loved ones as He looks at His Son, Jesus Christ.
God wants intercessors so He does not need to judge. Our prayers build up a hedge about others so God does "not destroy" them for their sins. God seeks hard for people who will assume the job He has given them of intercession.
"And I sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none."
God planted His vineyard to receive fruit from it. This is His goal. Too many of the vineyards of God are spoiled, devoured, or unproductive. God cannot have productive vineyards if an army of intercessors does not stand forth in these last days to fill the gaps of sin.
"And He began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat (vat), and built a tower (for watchmen as intercessors who warn of danger, and climb down to repair gaps in the hedges)..."
God wants intercessors to climb up into a tower of prayer and watchfulness. We need to watch for sin, and not then criticize, gossip, or attack the sinners. We must intercede for mercy and for the gap of the hedge to be filled. If we do not intercede, the enemy will come to devour the vineyard. God does not want the enemy to win, He wants intercessors to fill the gaps until the sinner repents, and thus He can bless the sinners until they again become a fruitful vineyard of God.
God has plenty of criticizers, and plenty of gossipers. He has too few intercessors, and too few who want to stand in the gap of another's hedge. There are too few of God's people who will warn of sin, and then intercede when others do not heed the warnings.
"O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedges for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord."
Thus, the prophets were not protecting the people of God as they should. You are a prophet and priest of God in these last days. You are to fill gaps in the hedges of God's people. You are to stand against sin, but love the ones who are fallen into sin. You are to intercede for the sinner. You are to be the watchmen in the tower to warn of the coming enemy, and if a gap is seen in the hedge, it is your mission to fill that gap with your intercessory prayers.
The Christmas season sees many involved in giving. There are many involved in music and worship. There are those who involve themselves in the ministry of decoration, of cooking and serving. Yet, the ministry of intercession needs to be shown.
Having waited over 80 years, Anna was an intercessor of great import at this time. In our day, we need to be more willing to recognize the ministry of intercession.