Standing in the Gap
There’s an ancient prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel that expresses the heart cry of God on behalf of a nation that has drifted from Him. It offers amazing clarity for our culture today. It also establishes the mission of the church and answers the question: Why are we here? Consider the words of this prophecy for a minute:
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV)
Just as with Esther who we met in our blog yesterday, God is looking in each generation for someone who will “stand in the gap” on behalf of those who do not know Him or have departed from Him. As the church, we are each called to carry out God’s mission in our world to share the Good News of His love and grace. This is both our greatest privilege and highest responsibility. We have been given the cure to the sin problem in our society. When you read the condition of Israel in this chapter, you see a sin-sick society; and it was terminal. (Take a moment to read the chapter and make the connection between the condition of Israel then and our world today.) The Bible says that the wages or payment for sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. As a Christ follower, we’ve been given the cure for the disease of sin to share with others. God is looking for us to stand in the gap for others. But, how do we do that?
As I review the challenge in this prophecy, it becomes clearer. “I looked for a man,” God says, “who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land …” To effectively stand in the gap for others, we must first take our stand before God. I’ve heard it said, “Before you talk to others about God, begin by talking to God about others.” God has placed you and me in positions of influence. We can’t do everything, but we can do something. We can begin by praying for those in our world, in our circle of influence. As we cultivate those relationships in prayer, God will arrange the circumstances for us to begin sharing His love with them in powerful ways. This is the power of what is called “intercessory prayer.” An intercessor is one who prays for another. If we are to stand in the gap for others, we must first stand before God. When we do, He aligns our heart with His heart and transfers His love for them in our hearts. Only then will we have the right motive in sharing the Gospel with others. Only then may we become world changers.
Perhaps the saddest words in the Bible are also recorded here when God says, “… but I found none.” Ezekiel was writing this at the time when Judah was under siege. Her walls were being destroyed by the Babylonian enemy that would eventually destroy her completely and exile her citizens. History tells us that Judah fell in 586 B.C. and remained in captivity for 70 years. How sad that no one could be found who would stand in the gap for them. Jesus calls the church salt and light in the New Testament. As salt we are to penetrate our culture and preserve it from moral and spiritual decay. As light we are to shine the hope of the Gospel for all to see. In this way, we stand in the gap for our world today. I want to challenge you to begin by being an intercessor. Start talking to God about people, and before long you will be talking to people about God.