The difference in a contribution and total commitment is usually the difference in failure and success. A chicken and a hog were walking past a church building one day when they noticed the Sunday morning sermon posted on the outside bulletin board, “Helping the Poor. ” They walked a ways when the chicken suddenly came across with a suggestion. “Say, Brother Hog, why don’t we give all the poor people a nice breakfast of ham and eggs?” The hog thought a moment and replied, “That’s all right for you to say because for you it is only a contribution, but for me, it’s total commitment!”
The Lord is looking for some people to be committed. In Ezekiel 22 we find the Jewish people in exile to Babylon. Ezekiel’s message to them is focusing on the fall of Jerusalem and the cause of the fall. As we read Chapter 22, we see that the sins that they were guilty of included:
- Disrespect of Parents
- Sexual Perversion
- Contract Murder
- Forgetting the Lord
It is plain to see our society, nation, state, city, and homes on this list. In Ezekiel 22:26, the Lord addresses the people that were charged with leading others to him. Here, they are called prophets and priests, and in the New Testament we find that as Believers we are in a Royal Priesthood:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: -1 Peter 2:9And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. -Revelation 1:5-6
The Lord Levy’s some serious charges on these worldly Priests and the same charges can be levied on worldly Christians of today:
Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. -Ezekiel 22:26
First, they were guilty of Violating God’s Law. Christians today have thrown the Bible away! They don’t think that it is worthy of their time, or effort to study and understand what God is attempting to teach them. They don’t think that it is worthy of the fight with scholarship, their family, friends or the flesh.
Next, we see that they have profaned the Holy Things. Christians have allowed the things of God to be treated as if they were profane! Public prayer, for example, has been vilified. A school district in Elkhart Indiana has banned prayer at all Graduation ceremonies after an atheist group from Wisconsin (Freedom from religion foundation) filed a complaint. The complaint cites the argument of Separation of Church and State. This principle is based on a Letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut. Where he stated:
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
Allowing prayer in public places in no way establishes a particular religion. The establishment clause was put in place to ensure that people would be free to worship without the interference of the Government. Prayer is one of the Holiest things that we have access to today. Other than God’s Word, prayer is the method used to communicate with God. Christians have largely given up on this fight and have allowed the Holy things of God to be treated as Profane.
Next, we see that they have put no difference between what is Holy and Unholy or between what is clean or unclean. What is wrong is treated as right, and what is right has been treated as if it were wrong. Standing against sin is now labeled as “hate speech.”
Finally, we see that they started to place everything else before the church of God. Christians don’t value Sunday’s or Church attendance anymore. They treat Sunday as it’s just another day and it’s okay to skip church for:
- Sporting events
- Catching up on sleep
- Fishing & Boating
- Yard Work etc..
The Lord is looking for people to stand in the gap:
And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. -Ezekiel 22:30
What does it mean to stand in the gap?
A gap or breach in a city’s wall is an opening the enemy can use to enter and destroy the city. The breach could be caused by enemy attacks or simply by the lack of concern and attention of those that are charged with the upkeep. A volunteer was called upon (Soldier) to stand in the gap to block entry and to fight back the enemy. Today this is accomplished through intercessory prayer. If we are going to stand in the gap, we need to learn to pray for others. Pray for their concerns (Galatians 6:2); we need to advocate (1 John 2:1) for others not accuse them. The accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) is the devil. We need to learn to advocate and help others when they have fallen into temptation rather than to accuse them. We also are commanded to pray for the salvation of others (1 Timothy 2:1-4) and to pray for the strength to stand through trials (Ephesians 6:10-19).
Moses stood in the gap for Israel, and shows us a good example of what it means to stand in the gap for others:
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. -Exodus 32:1-14
Why do Christians refuse to stand in the gap?
Mostly because Christians are indifferent and passive when it comes to the things of God. They have a neutral attitude about spiritual things:
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. -Revelation 3:15-18
They have no desire to seek God (Romans 3:11, Zephaniah 1:6. They also refuse to obey God’s Word (Psalms 81:11, Zechariah 7:11-13) and Christians refuse instruction and chastisement from the Lord (Jeremiah 5:3, Hebrews 12:5-8, Revelation 3:19).
Four things to do that will enable you to stand in the gap:
First, you must answer the call. We are not here just for ourselves (Romans 14:7). We are not here to just satisfy our wants and desires, but rather we are here to be an influence on others. We are to influence our Family, Friends, Co-workers, Community, etc. If you are not the influence, then you are yourself being influenced.
Second, you must believe that what you do matters:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much -James 5:17
Prayer matters, what you do matters and what you fail to do matters.
Thirdly, you will need to continue to stand through troubled times (2 Corinthians 4:1,16, Galatians 6:9, Ephesians 3:13). Standing through trouble is the entire point. Anyone can stand in the good times. The Lord needs some people that are willing to stand in the troubling times.
Finally, you will need to keep your eye on the prize (Philippians 3:13-14). Continue to press forward and keep the important things the important things. Keeping your eye on the prize is the thing that will enable you to stand.
Have you been standing in the gap? The enemy doesn’t want you to:
But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, 8, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it. -Nehemiah 4:7-8
God is calling you to stand in the gap today, will you answer his call?