God has delivered me from going down to the pit,
And I shall live to enjoy the light of life.
We are all probably familiar with Job’s friends. We all most likely agree that they were not helpful. We have the vantage point of knowing what was going on in the heavenlies, which his friends did not. We are able to see when Satan shows up at the heavenly court and informs God that he has been roaming the earth and watching everything that goes on. God brings up Job and talks about his righteousness. Satan says, ‘Yes, and You have always had a wall of protection around him. Look how rich he is. Take it all away and he will surely curse You.’ God gives him permission to test Job and Satan gets right to it (1:9-12). When Job doesn’t respond the way Satan thought he would, he goes before God again and gains permission to afflict his body, but not to kill him (2:1-7). Again Satan goes right to work inflicting him with boils. Enter in his three friends. For the first seven days, they stayed with him in silence for “they saw that his suffering was too great for words” (2: 11-13). But once Job spoke, they must have said everything their minds had been thinking over the past 7 days….and it wasn’t pretty. There was probably some truth in what they spoke, but it was misguided because they assumed he had sinned. But that wasn’t it at all.
Although our prodigals are not blameless like Job, that is not my point. My point is: we don’t want to be like Job’s friends and make assumptions. We want to go straight to the Word of God to find out what He says and to the throne to ask for mercy and plead for their salvation; their return; their healing; their freedom.
Later on in the book of Job, Elihu speaks. He is younger than the other three friends and he also makes assumptions about Job having sinned and how he must have brought this on himself. Again there is truth in what he says, but it still misguided. I want to look at the truth of it though. It is a powerful description of the work of intercession.
Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds….but if an angel from heaven appears---a special messenger to intercede for a person and declare that he is upright—he will be gracious and say, “Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life”. When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. He will declare to his friends, “I sinned and twisted the truth, but it was not worth it. God rescued me from the grave and now my life is filled with light. Yes, God does these things again and again for people. He rescues them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life.
Job 33:19, 23-30 NLT
This is what Alice Smith says about this passage in her book, Beyond the Veil:
Can you see how powerful this is? Let’s look at the process. First, this man, who was once healthy, now is sick unto death. Second, an intercessor (angel—priest, prophet or ambassador) takes the assignment to pray for salvation and healing. Third, the intercessor pleads the case before God on his behalf. Fourth, the man is healed and stands before the congregation to declare, “I have sinned and perverted what was right, but God save, healed and delivered me. He has redeemed me from going down to the pit, and I will enjoy the light of God.” This is the power of intercessory prayer.
It is my hope that you will see the absolute value in your prayers of intercession for our prodigals. We want to penetrate the pit by calling on God to have mercy on them and to reveal His love to them. We want to plead the case before God on their behalf. We are the ambassadors who have taken up the assignment.