December 15th, 2017

Acting on behalf of someone

By Submitted Article on July 22, 2017.


Second of three parts

Jacob M. Van Zyl

Those who interview job applicants try to be objective and fair regarding qualifications, experience and personal qualities. However, it is hard to ignore the good word that a trusted friend puts in for a specific candidate. It fills the gap regarding long-term personal acquaintance.

Joseph was sold as slave by his envious brothers when he was 17 years old. He suddenly rose to power in Egypt at age 30 (Gen. 37:2, 41:46). Two years before he was released from prison, he interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s butler in prison, and asked him to put in a good word for him with the king. The butler forgot about Joseph until the Pharaoh, too, had troubling dreams no one could fathom. The butler told his master of the man in prison who read his dream correctly. This mediation changed Joseph’s life from prisoner to governor of Egypt, a superpower at that time.

Moses was a great mediator. He interceded for his enslaved people by speaking directly to the Pharaoh and to God. Through Moses, God struck Egypt with plagues until the Pharaoh relented.

At Mount Sinai, Moses mediated between God and Israel. When Moses stayed with God on the mountain for 40 days, the people lost hope that he would return, and made an idol to lead them back to Egypt. God wanted to wipe them out, but Moses interceded for them (Ex. 32:7-14).

When the Israelites rebelled against God, or suffered from hunger or thirst, Moses pleaded for them with God, and catastrophe was averted.

The deed-prophets (like Samuel, Elijah and Elisha) as well as the book-prophets (from Isaiah to Malachi) acted as mediators between God and his people. God spoke to the prophets and they conveyed the message to the people in person and in writing.

Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) was a mediator more than once. The word for encouragement comes from the word used for the Holy Spirit (John 14:16), who worked in Barnabas (Acts 11:24).

When Saul, the persecutor of the church, became a Christian, many in the church did not trust him. Barnabas acted as mediator to introduce Saul to the church in Jerusalem. Later, he persuaded Saul to work with him in the church of Antioch. From there, they embarked on the first missionary journey. Since then, Saul changed his name to Paul.

On that journey, Mark left them and returned to his mother in Jerusalem. Paul refused to take Mark with them when they planned their next journey. As encourager, Barnabas sided with Mark, and took him along on a journey to Cyprus. Paul chose Silas for his journey to Asia Minor.

Thanks to Barnabas’ encouragement, Mark later wrote the first gospel.

Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.

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