FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 38, September 27, 2018
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” -Ezekiel 22:30
Are You That Man?
Ezekiel the prophet was living in hard times. Israel, the northern kingdom, had long ago been taken into exile by the Assyrians, and Yahweh sent Jeremiah and Ezekiel to warn the nation of Judah, the southern kingdom, of their impending doom as well. After all, He had exhorted them hundreds of years before through Moses as God’s people were soon to enter the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 28), promising blessing after blessing if they obeyed His Law, and curse after curse if they disobeyed His ordinances.
Yahweh is long suffering and patient. He is filled with lovingkindness and compassion. However, He is also holy and righteous, promising that He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. In Ezekiel 22:23 Yahweh tells the prophet that the land is still not cleansed nor has it experienced the refreshing rains of revival due to their indignation. Judah’s prophets have conspired by speaking falsehood, causing Judah to become the food of prey like a roaring lion tearing its prey to pieces. Death has invaded the people of God and many women are left destitute because their husbands have perished. The priests were no better. They had profaned the worship of Yahweh, mixing it with pagan ritual and cultic sexual perversion, not honoring His sabbath day. The princes are also vile and wicked. Instead of protecting their subjects, they acted like wolves which tear their prey, shedding blood and destroying lives for the sake of dishonest gain. And the prophets have prophesied false visions and lies, claiming. “Thus says the Lord God,” when Yahweh had not spoken to them. And then the ordinary people in the street were oppressing their neighbors by robbing them and ripping off the poor and needy, and they had dealt unjustly with the foreigner living amongst them.
So, from the top of the society to the very bottom, from the prophets to the priests, to the princes, and to the ordinary people corruption, injustice, idolatry, oppression, violence, and murder ruled the day.
Sound familiar? We have false prophets in our midst, ranging from those who outright deny the plenary inspiration of the Scripture and consequently are unbiblical in every thing they touch (many ways to God, no heaven or hell, everyone is going to heaven, etc.); to those who outwardly claim the Bible is true and authoritative but who nonetheless are diverting us from the gospel by pushing social justice and acceptance of homosexuality into the church. We have rulers, both on the left and right, who are corrupt. I am always amazed at how one can enter Washington as a Congressman or Senator and twenty years later exit as a millionaire. And some of our neighborhoods are exceedingly violent and dangerous. I am still grieved by the death of William Edwards, a sixteen year old eleventh grader and captain of the Woodlawn High School football team in Birmingham, who after a game on a recent Friday night, was in his bedroom when shots were fired from outside (not randomly but deliberately, it appears) which struck him. He died on his living room floor as his mother tried to revive him. Ten days later his house was burglarized and his clothing was stolen.
What is the solution? God tells Ezekiel he is looking for a man, just one man, who will stand in the gap for him. What does this mean? Clearly Yahweh has in mind a prayer intercessor, one who stands between God and impending judgment. A football linebacker must fill the gap and make the tackle. Failure could result in a long run or touchdown. We see this same intercessor idea repeated numerous times in the Bible. Moses stood in the gap between God and His rebellious people when they made the golden calf (Exodus 33:17ff, Ps.106:23). Abraham stood in the gap between Yahweh and the wicked city of Sodom, asking that God spare the city if there were at least ten righteous men there (Genesis 18:28-32). Phinehas stood in the gap by killing the fornicator and his mistress as they blatantly engaged in their sexual sin in the presence of the people (Numbers 25:6-9), appeasing God’s wrath and diverting Israel from further judgment.
By all means we should labor in the context of government and politics to elect godly men and women to public office, those who will protect the unborn, work to eradicate corruption in local, state, and federal government, who will limit the size of government, and who will free the economy from excessive regulations in order to unleash the free enterprise system which will help the poor find jobs and get out of poverty.
However it is vital that we remember government can only restrain evil, punish evil doers, and protect us domestically from violent crime and deliver us internationally in times of war. Government can never make anyone moral or holy. Only the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ can do this.
But here’s the problem. None call upon the Lord. None are aroused to seek the favor of the Lord (Isaiah 64:7). None are righteous. None understand and none seek the Lord (Ps.14:1-3). There is nothing reliable in what the unsaved sinner says. That’s because his inward part is destruction, his throat is an open grave with a rotting corpse, and he flatters with his tongue to gain an advantage (Ps.5:9, Jude 16). Furthermore, the ungodly, unsaved sinner has been blinded by the devil. He is unable to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God (2 Cor.4:4).
We are to evangelize the lost, calling them to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the only hope for sinners. They, however, are not buying what we are selling. Our nation is running head long, with our eyes open, into a certain terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. It is indeed a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But are you the man? Are you the man whom God may use to avert this certain, just judgment on a nation which has gone mad into frivolity, perversion, licentiousness, and atheism? My brethren, we need men (and women too for that matter) who will stand in the gap like Abraham, like Moses. God was looking for such a man in Ezekiel’s day, but alas, he could not be found. Therefore God brought His wrath and indignation on them and consumed them with fire. In short order Nebuchadnezzar overran Jerusalem in a siege and destroyed the people of God.
Are you at ease in Zion? Are you whistling in the dark? Are you unjustifiably optimistic, saying to yourself, “God loves my family and me. Surely we have no reason to expect the destruction of our nation or the loss of our lives or prosperity.”
What will you do? Will you simply read this, and say, “That’s nice. Good word, Al.” Or will you gain the intolerable burden, being unable to accept the status quo of perversion and debauchery? Are you that man? Will you stand in the gap? Will you intercede for our nation?