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The Parent Intercessor

Posted by Matt Postiff December 7, 2018 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Family  Bible Texts 

In Job 1:5, we learn that Job expressed his godliness by offering burnt sacrifices for each of his children. He was concerned that his children had sinned against God, and he wanted to do something about it. Before the time of Christ, and before the time of the Levitical priests in Israel, the role of priest fell to the patriarch of the family. Job was carrying out this role as family priest.

Parents today can demonstrate godliness by doing something like this for their children. Obviously the application of animal sacrifice has run its course and is now obsolete. But we can certainly be sensitive to the possibility that our children may have sinned and not dealt properly with it. In fact, our children may not know practically how to deal with sin. We must instruct them in this. We should pray for them regularly. We should do what we can to sanctify our children, that is, set them apart for God and godliness by example and by directive in their behavior.

The extra blessings that we possess today (Bible, churches, pastors, etc.) do not exempt us as parents from teaching our children. The Law of Moses explicitly taught the Jewish people to instruct their children constantly about the things of God. It seems to go without saying that the same principle applies to Christians today, even though we are not under the specific regulations of the Mosaic Law.

As I studied this, I wondered how I could implement the principle here with respect to my own children. I have sometimes prayed for my kids, having in my mind a thought like Job had in 1:5, but with the uncomfortable knowledge that no forgiveness would be extended by God without the child's own repentance.

So what is the point of us doing “priestly” activities today for others such as our children? There is no other mediator between God and men but the man Christ Jesus, so how can I as a parent be a kind of mediator, praying prayers that my children should pray, or offering confession that they should offer?

In the first place, I don't believe that God despises this parental prayer: "Lord, please forgive my children their sins." God can answer this heart cry, though not in a direct fashion. God won’t forgive the child merely for your prayer's sake, as if your prayer is of sufficient merit. But God hears the faithful and fervent prayer of the righteous parent, and answer by bringing the attitude of repentance to the child and thus forgiving the child through the normal means of confession and repentance on the basis of the blood of Christ.

Secondly, you can make that prayer more direct by asking God to grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to your offspring. God can do that—in fact, that is the business that God is in today as He calls sinners to Himself. Salvation is not an accident. It depends completely on the grace of God. God uses means, such as parental instruction, and church ministry, to accomplish it. But it comes through repentant faith, which is a gracious gift of God. Let us ask God for it for our children.

Third, you can express confession for your own sins in raising your children, which may be reflected in some measure in their own misdeeds. Perhaps you have erred in teaching them, or erred in your example, in such a way that has misled them and been a factor causing their sin. That doesn’t exempt them from responsibility or liability toward God, but it can be a factor.

Regarding the matter of interceding for adults in a sacrificial context as Job did in 42:8-9, that is similar to above. We cannot do this directly today. But we can pray for those who have sinned and ask the Lord to help them see their sin. We can direct them as to how to deal appropriately with their sin by appealing to God through Christ about it.

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