The Hebrew word for intercession is paga. (1) Like many Hebrew words, paga represents more of a general concept, which can be applied to various scenarios. The concept of paga is of two or more people, places, or things meeting, coming together, for pretty much any reason. Therefore it is used in the context of: encounter, meet (in order to visit, request, attack, and more) land or light upon, boundaries (land joining or meeting), burdens being placed or laid upon someone,” and more. These meetings can even be by chance - “happening upon.”
Paga is translated as “intercession,” not because it means asking or petitioning - it doesn’t - but because intercession is meeting with God, creates meetings between God and others, meets and attacks spiritual enemies, builds boundaries of protection, etc.
Looking at references where paga is used to describe various activities, regardless of the English word used to translate it, gives us different pictures of what intercession (paga) can accomplish. This week we will look at a significant usage of paga in the life of Jacob. The context is loaded with insights into what can occur when intercession (paga) takes place.
To understand this passage regarding Jacob, we must first look back at the life of Abraham, his grandfather.
“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you, all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3; NASB1995)
This promise of blessing the world, of course, referred to Messiah coming from Abraham’s descendants. He was offered a partnership with God that would be used to save the world. After this agreement, Abraham began his journey of faith, as commanded. One of the first places he stopped was Bethel (v. 8), originally named Luz (Genesis 28:19). Bethel means “the house of God.”
Abraham was no doubt led to this place by God - He didn’t even know where he was going when he left home. Yahweh had simply said, “Go forth…to the land which I will show you,” (v. 1). By leading Abraham immediately to Bethel, I believe Yahweh was making a profound statement to him: “You left your earthly father’s house to honor, obey, and serve Me, Abraham. Now, I am receiving you into My house; I’ll provide for you, take care of you, bless you greatly, and one day use you to fully restore My house - the house of God.”
This was obviously a special occasion for Abraham; he commemorated the time by building an altar of remembrance, and by calling on the name of the Lord. Bethel became a sacred place to Yahweh, as well.
Fast-forward to Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. The promises to Abraham would have to go through him, including the promise of the Messianic line. Forming Jacob’s link in the chain begins in Genesis 28:10-19. (I won’t read it all, but it is here for those who would like to):
“Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’ So Jacob rose early in the morning and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top. He called the name of that place Bethel; however, previously, the name of the city had been Luz.”
Paga is tucked in this passage, which we will see momentarily; first, some background. Jacob has stolen his brother Esau’s birthright, and Esau decides to kill him over it. Jacob’s only recourse is to flee the region and live with his uncle. En route, he comes to Bethel.
Though most people don’t realize it, it had now been 100 years or more since Abraham’s encounter with the Lord at Bethel! His altar, made of stones, had long since fallen down. And Abraham’s significant history with the place had obviously not been passed down to Jacob; Bethel meant nothing to him (see verses 16-19). He stopped at this place by chance, (paga) because “the sun had set,” and he needed a place to sleep (verse 11). But God…
What was “by chance” to Jacob, was NOT happenstance to God. The literal Hebrew rendering of “a certain place” in verse 11 is actually “THE place.” Many scholars believe God had led Jacob to THE VERY PLACE He had led Abraham, in order to extend THE VERY SAME COVENANT AND PROMISES to him (verses 13-15). In fact, many believe, myself included, that the stone Jacob laid under his head while he slept was one of those from Abraham’s fallen altar! Though this can’t be proven, it would have been so like God!
This “place” was not only sacred to Abraham, it was to Yahweh, as well! Jacob later called it a “gate of heaven,” (v. 17). Bethel represented a promise, a covenant, a partnership between God and a man for the purpose of redeeming “the household of God,” as its name reveals. And while Jacob slept on the “altar” of his grandfather, an altar of remembrance, the heavens opened. Angels became active. And in a dream, the same covenant words Yahweh had spoken to Abraham 100 years earlier were “remembered” and supernaturally flowed to him. In what could not possibly be a coincidence, Abraham’s altar was reestablished: “Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar [altar of remembrance] and poured oil on its top” (Genesis 28:18; NASB1995).
Same covenant, same lineage, same place, same altar, same redemptive plan!
Though Jacob was completely ignorant of what had previously occurred at Bethel, AND how it was a picture of restoring “God’s house,” Holy Spirit was nonetheless able to get him to THE place. It absolutely had to occur at Bethel because Bethel was symbolizing the plan: restoring “the house of God” through Abraham’s offspring. Thus, the all-wise and all-powerful God supernaturally caused Jacob to “land on, meet, encounter” (paga) the correct place, where He would reestablish Abraham’s covenant, announce Jacob’s destiny, and further the redemptive plan. The meeting was “by chance” to Jacob, but not to God!
A similar thing happens when we intercede (paga). At times we’re not sure exactly what or how to pray, It feels as though we have to land or light upon the correct prayer “by chance.” But we can trust Holy Spirit to guide us in our prayers, and guide them to the target. They will land upon THE right person or place, and release the covenant of the Lord in the earth! To “light upon with the precision of God” is the very definition of intercession. Trust Him.
Pray with me:
Father, we are amazed at Your ways, Your supernatural ability to arrange our lives. And just as You guided Abraham and Jacob, You can cause our intercession to land upon the right places, people, or situations to release Your covenant blessings into the earth.
As we agree together today, from around the world, cause our prayers and decrees to land on unbelievers, prodigals, government leaders, and nations. Send Scriptures, dreams, visions, power encounters, and other occurrences to release the Covenant of Christ. Release salvation, healing, deliverance from demons and deception, freedom from trafficking and other forms of oppression. Release revelation of truth, and power to tear down strongholds and deception, freeing spiritual captives from sin and darkness. Release movements of Holy Spirit into the earth.
We release the appeals, You release the accuracy. We believe this and seal it with Christ’s name. Amen.
We decree that the power of Holy Spirit is being released from the Ekklesia NOW!
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book, The Essential Guide to Prayer, and published by Baker Books.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
James Strong The New Strong’s exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990), ref. no. 6293.