When I was growing up, I used to hear of these amazing evangelical outreaches where thousands of people would come to the Lord. It was like a sea of people going forward everyb night to proclaim the name of Jesus, “God was moving” people would say. Since then, however, things have changed – especially in the last year or so. At a time when social distancing is a concern, and even when we are restricted by how many people can meet together, I am wondering if there is a different way to see “God move.” So what better place to look than in the scriptures, and what better book to look in than Ezekiel. I know what you are thinking – Ezekiel, what a great name, but what a weird book – and you are right. Strong name, but a weird, awesome book.
Ezekiel was taken into Babylonian captivity at about 25 years old. He was a priest, and started proclaiming the word of the Lord when he was about 30 years old. The whole book of Ezekiel can be summed up in one phrase, “That you may know I am Lord.” Ezekiel did these weird and wonderful things as warning signs to the people of Israel. They had not been listening to God, so God was using Ezekiel to try and get their attention.
What I want to look at is what the Lord said in Chapter 22. This was before the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians. In Ezekiel 22: 23-29, God says that He has looked to the priests, the princes, the prophets and the people, and has found them all sinning. God had surveyed the nation, from its leadership all the way down to the people, and found that they did not “…know the difference between the unclean and the clean.” They had all sinned against God.
So what does God do? Does He send a mass revival? Does He call in the angels to destroy and restart? Does He bring in the big guns and have the people of Israel turn to Him because someone great gave their testimony? Not at all. God tells Ezekiel what He is looking for. In verse 30 God says He has been looking for one person to stand in the gap – one person to bridge the void so that people would turn from their sins.
I know what you’re thinking. I thought the same thing, one…. one person ….just one human being? Not 1000? Not 100? Not even ten? Not an angel…. nor an Arch angel? Really, just one person? Yes, just one person. Okay, let’s take a minute and think about what this means and what this would look like? Before we look at the man who stands in the gap, let’s look at the gap for a second. The first thing we should notice is that one man can fill the void or defend that gap. It is not large, and it is not hard. It is almost like the picture of the story of “The 300”, the Spartans who defended their land against the invading Persian armies at the Battle of Thermopylae.
A large wall with a small whole or “gap” which could allow a whole army to slip through and destroy. This wall separates and protects. Then we must ask, what is the gap? The gap is the difference between serving God and not serving God. It is the difference between sinning and not sinning. Notice what the man in the gap is to do. He is to build, repair or mend the wall. So, he is to stand where there is a hole, and to make sure that others don’t slip through. He is to stand in the gap, and warn people about the possibility of sin on the other side. So if that is what the wall and gap are, what does the man do? What does he or she look like?
Firstly, the man in the gap is not just a man, but a human being. So ladies can stand in the gap as well. Second, they need to be “among the people.” That is to say that the man or woman in the gap is to have the respect of the people. Respect is very different from acceptance. Acceptance means everyone likes you, whereas respect means people may not like you, but they give you a certain amount of honour or esteem. Acceptance is usually based upon your actions, whereas respect is usually based on your character. There is a fine balance that one needs to have when standing the gap and being among the people. If one is among the people and indulges in their sins, they will lose the respect of the people.
If one is too far removed from the people and not truly among them, they will lose the ear of the people. Both have failed the Lord. Thirdly, the man in the gap must build a wall or hedge. Meaning that they must make it so clear and apparent that they are against the sin. One must not simply identify a problem. One must act and build a wall against the problem. Many in the Church today identify sin or problems, but do very little to nothing about them. A man in the gap not only identifies the problem, but then he takes action against it. The action should never be condemnation, but restoration. A small side note, sometimes the action doesn’t involve judgment, but grace.
Fourthly the man in the gap must be able to stand in the gap. The image this gives is someone strong in that they understand what they are doing. Someone does not just turn up one day and say “Oh look a gap, I will stand there.” The implications of this are that the one standing in the gap knows the troubles. They know what they are exposing themselves too. They understand the dangers involved. As someone stands in the gap, they are willing to do so, knowing the cost. They know the cost because they have counted the cost before they actually took their stand.
Fifth, the man in the gap must stand on behalf of the land and the Lord. Notice that the man is standing for something other than himself. The land had not properly rested; the Israelites were supposed to work the land for six years, and then let it rest for one year. But they didn’t do this, which is one of the reasons why they were going into captivity. But then, notice that the man in the gap was standing so that the Lord did “not destroy it” The question then is, what is “it?” “It” could be the land, or “it” could be the people. Personally, I think the Lord is a little vague here because the important thing is not what the Lord could destroy, but what the man in the gap does.
He is the one that intercedes. He is the one who stands against the crowds and says that this is not the way, but he is also the one who says “Lord please forgive them”. It is a place of being caught in the middle, a place that is not desired. Notice the Lord has found no one. And notice the Lord simply desires one person and yet cannot find one. Sixth, the man in the gap must stand in the gap. Now before you say I am repeating myself, let me tell you that I am, but for good reason. What I mean is they are to remain in the gap. Not only have they exposed themselves to danger in order to protect others. But now they remain there; they endure the pains, the struggles, the loneliness, all for the sake of the Lord and others. Many have cried “I will die for Christ”.
Many have preached “Will you die for Christ?” But God is much more concerned with us living for Him. “To Live is Christ and to die is gain,” Philippians 1:21, NIV. So, here God wants someone who is willing and able to remain standing in the gap. So the question for you today is – are you willing to stand in the gap? Are you willing to stand in the gap when others have walked right past? What gap is the Lord is asking you to stand in today? Maybe there is a loved one living in sin. Is the Lord asking you to confront them? Maybe there is someone who has sinned against you.
Is the Lord asking you to forgive them? What is gap is the Lord calling you to stand in today? Whatever the gap might be, know two things first and foremost, God is with you and will never forsake you (Deut. 31:8). Second, know that He will give you the strength to stand in that gap, even if others do not stand with you, (Romans 5:1-5).
- One source you can use to discover more about the man in the gap is a book by Stuart Briscoe called Ezekiel: All Things Weird and Wonderful.
Share this article
By Jake Wilmoth
About the author
Jake Wilmoth was a teacher at Calvary Chapel Bible Institute for 11 years. He has always had a heart for the church. He and his wife Tecla love helping people in the community – either through food or building projects.
Want more articles like this?
Read More Interesting articles