Any belief that an intermediary between man and God could be used, whether necessary or even optional, has traditionally been considered heretical. Maimonides writes “God is the only one we may serve and praise….We may not act in this way toward anything beneath God, whether it be an angel, a star, or one of the elements…..There are no intermediaries between us and God. All our prayers should be directed towards God; nothing else should even be considered.”
It is a positive precept to pray every day to the blessed God for Scripture says, “and Him shall you serve” (D’varim 6:13); and through the Oral Tradition our Sages of blessed memory learned (Talmud Bavli, Ta’anith 2a) that this service means prayer. For Scripture states, “and to serve Him with all your heart” (D’varim 11:13): What is service with the heart? – prayer.
-from The Concise Book of Mitzvoth
Compiled by The Chafetz Chayim
I’m continuing to read D. Thomas Lancaster’s book The Holy Epistle to the Galatians and this part of his commentary about Galatians 3:17-20 struck me as interesting:
Paul said angels put the Torah in place by an intermediary, which is Moses. The martyr Stephen made a similar statement in Acts 7:33 where he spoke of “the law delivered by angels”.
As we see in the previous quotes, one of the principle beliefs in Judaism is that there is no intermediary between a Jew and His God (I recall hearing my Jewish host at a Passover seder declare this in a toast over twenty years ago). Yet clearly, Moses was an intermediary. For that matter, so was Aaron and every High Priest after him, who entered the most Holy Place once a year on Yom Kippur to offer atonement for the nation of Israel.
Christians like to say, at the death of Jesus, when the parokhet (veil) was ripped top to bottom, exposing the most Holy Place (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:18), that we were given direct access to God through prayer and are now able to “boldly approach the Throne of God” without an intermediary. And yet, both Hebrews 5:1-10 and Hebrews 7 describe Jesus as our High Priest in the Heavenly Court, interceding on behalf of humanity. Paul even said that:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. -Romans 8:26
I know Jews don’t pray to Moses or Aaron, but at least during the time of the Tabernacle and Temple, Jews did go through the priesthood to offer korban to God. And do all Christians pray to God or, believing in the Trinity, do some pray directly to Christ?
If God is One and key parts of theology say there is no intermediary between man and God, regardless if you are a Jew or a Christian, then how can we reconcile all of these intermediaries?