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Isaiah 59:16
And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor [Hebrew – paga’]: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.

Strong defines the Hebrew term paga’ to mean “to impinge, by accident or violence, or by importunity.” What does importunity mean? Our English word importunate comes from the Latin importunes, “without a port.” A ship that is trying to get into harbor but has no port is being importunate. It wants or needs to get in where it cannot. From this scenario we receive our definition of importunate, which is to beset with repeated and incessant requests.

Intercession is importunate. It is to continually beset somebody with repeated and incessant requests, like the woman who pleaded with the unjust judge, “Avenge me of my adversary.”[1]  The Lord is saying in Isaiah that there was no intercessor. There was no one banging at the gate saying, “Set them free, set them free, set them free, set them free!” No one. So He said, “You know what, I’ll do it. I’ll set them free myself.”

Paga’ appears 44 times in the Old Testament and has a wide range of meanings. We have words in English that are used different ways. It is the same with paga’. But even some of its different uses paint a picture of intercession for us. The first place the terms shows up is when Abraham was looking for a place to bury his dead.

Genesis 23:8
And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat [paga’] for me to Ephron the son of Zohar…

We read later in verse 16 that Abraham paid 400 shekels of silver for the cave in Hebron where he buried his dead. Abraham asked the children of Heth to intercede for him with Ephron regarding the state of his dead. This is the first use of the term translated “intercessor” in Isaiah 59:16.

The second time paga’ is used in Scripture is in Genesis 28. Jacob, running from his brother who wants to kill him, stops for the night.

Genesis 28:11-12
11 And he lighted upon [paga’] a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

He “lighted upon a certain place.” He intersected a certain place, paga’. And in the place where he interposed himself, he received a dream in which he saw the angels of God ascending and descending on a stairway that reached from earth to heaven. He named this place Bethel, the house of God.

What is the interpretation of his dream? The Prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave Nathaniel the interpretation of this dream hundreds of years later when He said, “You believe me because I said I saw you under the fig tree? Wait until you see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the son of man!”[2]  What Jacob saw was a picture of mediation and intercession, the Bridge between heaven and earth: the Lord Jesus Christ. Angels are ministering flames sent to minister to the heirs of salvation.[3]  He is the intercessor. He connects earth to heaven and dispatches angels that the will of God may be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. Angels carry out the work of God on the authority and command of Jesus Christ.

The Intercessor
Abraham needed an intercessor for his dead. Jacob interposed himself into a place he named Bethel, the house of God, where He dreamed of angels ascending and descending on the staircase that reached from earth to heaven. Jesus Christ is the answer to Abraham’s plea and Jacob’s dream.

Isaiah 53:6
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid [paga’] on him the iniquity of us all.

There was no intercessor, so the Lord laid upon Him, paga’, the iniquity of us all. Where shall our dead go? How are we to enter the house of God? He was stricken with all our iniquities and interposed Himself between us and death; between us and heaven. Because He died, we will not be left without a home when we die.[4]  Because He took our iniquity, we can enter into the house of God. He paid the price.

Isaiah 53:4-5, 12
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession [paga’] for the transgressors.

He made intercession for us. It was because of our iniquities, our sins, and our transgression that He hung on the cross. He took the penalty in Himself. God took the punishment that we justly deserved and poured it out on His Only Begotten Son.

Isaiah 59:16-18
16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.
18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.

He will repay recompense. Here is an aspect of Christianity that many people have a problem with. How can you be a religion of love if everybody who doesn’t believe in your Christ gets thrown in hell? Many think this is unjust. It is very just. It isn’t tolerant, but it is just.

The Lord Jesus Christ had every sin of the world laid upon Him, beaten into His back, and pounded through His hands and feet. His flesh was ripped off and His blood was poured out for all the sins of the world. He has paid the price and offers salvation freely to any who will believe in Him. And people still say, “No thanks, I don’t want it.” I think I would be a little upset, wouldn’t you? “You don’t want my payment?” He asks, “You don’t want my blood? Well, I tell you what, how about I take yours?” The wrath of God against sin is fearsome enough. What will be His wrath toward those who knowingly spurned the love offering of His Son?

Isaiah 59:19
So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.

The Spirit of the Lord shall lift a standard against the enemy. Our standard against him is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross represents his defeat.[5]  The cross is the power of God.[6]  On it, our ransom was paid for in blood. When the enemy comes to attack us, we hold up the banner of the cross and say, “Hey, mister, blood! No destroyer here. Sorry! It’s paid in full. Take a hike!”

Hebrews 7:25
Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

He is able to save to the uttermost because He lives forever to make intercession. There hasn’t been a moment of our lives that Jesus Christ hasn’t prayed for us. There isn’t a moment of our lives that He hasn’t stood before the throne of God and made intercession for us. Isn’t that comforting?

[1] Luke 18:1-8
[2] John 1:47-51
[3] Heb 1:7, 14
[4] 2 Cor 5:1
[5] John 12:31-32
[6] 1 Cor 1:18

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