“‘So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,’ says the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30-31).
The book of Ezekiel rings with God’s message of His impending judgment of the nation of Judah culminating in the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem. It is not a pleasant message to read. For example, through Ezekiel God says to His people, “"Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst. Can your heart endure, or can your hands remain strong, in the days when I shall deal with you? I, the Lord, have spoken, and will do it. I will scatter you among the nations, disperse you throughout the countries, and remove your filthiness completely from you. You shall defile yourself in the sight of the nations; then you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 22:13-16).
Why was God bringing such punishment upon His people? They were facing God’s judgment because of all of their abominable practices (Ezekiel 22:1-2). Regarding the priests, God says, “Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:26). About Judah’s governing leaders, God adds, “Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain”. Ezekiel 22:27). Moreover, concerning the prophets, God notes, “Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, 'Thus says the Lord God,' when the Lord had not spoken” (Ezekiel 22:28). Finally, about those remaining in the land of Judah while Ezekiel was ministering to the captives among God’s people in Babylon, God states, “The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger” (Ezekiel 22:29). God had good cause to bring such judgment upon His people!
Yet, as the opening verses above indicate, in spite of all the evil among His people, God searches to see if there was a man among them who was still righteous. He was seeking “a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it…” (Ezekiel 22:30). This is reminiscent of Abraham bargaining with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if just 10 righteous men could be found in these cities (cf. Genesis 18:32). However, like Sodom and Gomorrah, regarding the Jerusalem of Ezekiel’s day, God’ search for a man to “stand in the gap” comes to a sad end. God states, “…but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30).
As I consider this 22nd chapter of the book of Ezekiel, I wonder, “Will God find a man (or woman) to ‘stand in the gap’ today? In our age which so many believe it is essential to be “tolerant” above all else regarding other’s belief systems, can God’s search for a man to actually stand up for the truth of God’s Word be found? I am not suggesting we should oppress other’s beliefs, but are we willing to take a stand for our beliefs based on God’s Word? Today, I will strive to rise to the challenge and “stand in the gap” for God as I practice God’s Word in my life and promote what God has done for me by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and standing up for what God’s Word teaches!
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).