Stand in the Gap!
Ezekiel 22:30(1) (Ezekiel = Strength of God in Hebrew):
“I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one."
This reminds me of my military basic training 25 years ago. They would make us do sit-ups locked arm and arm. Why? Because if everybody doesn’t do the sit up, it pulls you down. See, one person not doing his part affects the entire group. And I am sure some of you have seen war movies where the soldiers go shoulder to shoulder in an infantry line, protecting a bunker or an area. They stay together so the enemy cannot advance through the line.
This wall of righteousness to me looks the same. It is a picture of our responsibility not just to those behind the wall or to those protected by the wall (our family, our church, our business, our friends), but also to those standing with us. We hold them up, pull them forward, and they do the same for us.
The picture of military training and war is also applicable. A war was raging when God spoke these words to Ezekiel - a war of good versus evil - both a spiritual and physical war2. There was a great need for a wall.
In Ezekiel 22:28-29, it says:
"[Y]our prophets ... [announce] false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord, when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.”
These were bad times – so bad that when God found no one, this was His response:
“So now I will pour out my fury on them, consuming them with the fire of my anger. I will heap on their heads the full penalty for all their sins. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!” Ezekiel 22:31
Today, I believe we live in a very similar time, and I believe God is still looking. He is still hoping we will stand up and fight the war; that we will stand in the Gap.
But first, the question we have to ask ourselves is, are we able and willing to stand in the Gap?
1. To be able, we need to make sure we are standing in the Gap in the right wall?
You see, it is not that people in the world today do not stand for things. They stand for lots of things - same sex marriage, abortion, legalized drugs – those are just some of the hotly debated topics today. Just look at the man below. He marched for hours on Easter Sunday (which also happened to be National Pot Day) protesting a ban on smoking pot. He is certainly standing for something, and he is committed – a lot more committed to his cause than a great number of “Christians” I know are committed to Christ.
In verse from Ezekiel 22:26, God described the leaders’ actions:
“Your priests have violated my instructions and defiled my holy things. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not.… They disregard my Sabbath days so that I am dishonored among them.”
I believe at the heart of what is wrong with our nation today is we have forgotten the holiness and authority of God. We don’t hold Him on high. We have tried to water Him down to be on our level, and as a result, the enemy is attacking our communities, our churches, our homes, our families, and our nation. Everything!
So when we are standing, it is critical that we are standing in the Gap in the right wall – the wall Ezekiel told of in verse 30 - a wall of righteousness. Not a wall with your buddies to protect yourself and your interests.
To stand in the Gap in a wall of righteousness, we have to be righteous. And there is only one way - in Christ.
God is the definition of righteousness (holy, just, loving, perfect); and man is definition of unrighteousness. But what most of us are really good at is self-righteousness: Glorifying ourselves because of what we do; instead of God for what He has done.
In Philippians 3:9, Paul said: "I become righteous through faith in Christ."
Paul said these words after talking about all the things he once thought made him righteous:
-he was pure blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin (bloodline of King Saul)
-he was a member of the Pharisees (great knowledge)
We all at times count ourselves righteous because of what we do or who we are –
-because we make money and support our family
-because we go to our kids soccer games or show up for family dinner every night
And all that is good, but by far the most important thing we can do is be a reflection of the righteousness of Christ, filling that Gap in the wall of righteousness.
Paul said of those self-righteous things: "I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done." Philippians 3:8
So we must remember, it is a wall of righteousness. Standing in the Gap is less about us and more about Christ.
2. Are we willing to take it seriously?
I hope so, because it is serious. We are in a war and the enemy is very real.
Ephesians 6:12 says:
"For we are not fighting against flesh- and- blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
The enemy will always take advantage of the Gap you leave when you are not there.
We all remember Hurricane Katrina and the destruction caused by breaches in the sea wall in New Orleans. They thought they were spared because the hurricane was not as powerful as expected. But there was a problem. The entire area was to be protected by a seal wall. A sea wall designed to protect from flooding, but it did not work because of gaps (they called them breaches) in the wall. It destroyed large areas of the city. It didn’t matter that well over 90% of the wall was secure. The gaps let the water in! In life, even a small gap can cause lots of damage.
The commission appointed to investigate what when wrong during Katrina concluded that:
“The System did not perform as a system: the hurricane protection in New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana was a system in name only ... The system’s performance was compromised by the incompleteness of the system [and] the inconsistency in levels of protection..."
I think we sometimes have the same problems. We focus on the things of the world, don’t pay attention to what matters, don’t take it serious, and we are incomplete and inconsistent. Maybe we pray at dinner and go to church on Sundays, but we are not complete in Jesus, and as a result, the water is flooding our lives and destroying our communities, our churches, our homes, our families, and our nation.
We need to ask ourselves:
-Are we hitting our knees in prayer each morning?
-Are we discipling our children and others?
-Are we leading our families in the Lord?
-Do we have our eyes on Jesus?
This is a 24/7 job. You have heard the saying “if you are not paying attention to your wife, watch out because the devil will bring someone that will.” Well, this is true in all parts of our life.
It is a BIG job. It can be very hard - there will be pain and suffering, even pain and suffering for those protected by the wall (our family, business, etc.). Because just like a sea wall that is complete and consistent with no gaps, sometimes the water goes over the wall, and this overflow water may test us and cause us some grief, but it is rarely fatal. The engineers don’t solve for this problem. But when there is a gap, like in Katrina, then there is massive and fatal destruction.
So don’t be discouraged when things are not going well in your family, in your business, whatever it is - don't stop standing. When water has come over the top of the wall - stay firm in the Gap. Pray. Remember God's timing is perfect.
When Moses was at edge of Red Sea and the enemy was bearing down and people were complaining, Moses said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today." Exodus 13:14 And God showed up!
And Daniel (3), who had been fasting for 21 days and crying out to God in prayer to save his people from persecution, when he saw an angel of The Lord, the angel said to him “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer." Daniel 10:12
What a beautiful picture of prayer and God’s timing!
I know in my life, I spent a ton of time standing in the Gap in a wall, but it wasn’t a wall of righteousness. I even used to love that song “You’ve got to stand for something, or you will fall for anything.” I loved that song and thought I lived it. You see, I had a code – the Spenser Code. My son’s name is Spenser – named after the TV character Spenser for Hire. Spenser was a good man - I loved his Code. But he did not know Christ – nothing about him was in Christ. That is the way I was. I thought I was a man of purpose and respect. I didn’t see my sin!
But I am thankful now that by the grace of God I can live in the righteousness of Christ. I never want to go back to my old life – so I am going to fight to my death to stand in the Gap.
For me, I have this beautiful picture in my mind of Christ locking arms with us, standing with us in righteousness.
We just have to do our part:
Stand firm, pray, be complete, be consistent in ChristDon't let that water flood your family, your church, your business, and your friends.Don't let the enemy attack through the Gap.And don't do it alone. Lock arms with each other and with Christ.
It is His righteousness that provides the wall of protection!
(1)Prophetic Chapter re: I) prophecies of Israel's sin and impending judgment; II) prophecies against other nations; and III) prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel, uttered after the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar.
(2)Ephesians 6:12-13 says:
"For we are not fighting against flesh- and- blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm." God’s armor: (1) belt of truth; (2) helmet of salvation; (3) breastplate of righteousness; (4) shield of faith; (5) shoes of peace; and (6) the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
(3)Spiritual warfare with Persia and Greece; Daniel’s prophecies re: Greek empire were all fulfilled over a 300 year period.