“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. 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 22:30-31.
In the ancient world of the Bible, cities had walls surrounding them to provide protection from enemies. When the wall was breached, the city was vulnerable to destruction; the only way to secure it was for people to risk their lives by literally standing in the gap in the wall and fighting the enemy. Throughout the Old Testament, God had an up-and-down relationship with Israel. They will serve Him, then turn to other Gods, backslide, follow Baal, repent, obey God, get into sin, worship someone else, repent… and so on. It was a cycle that lasted centuries.
In Ezekiel, we read the words that express the sadness of God when He found no one willing to stand in the gap for Israel. Judgment was coming, but God looked for someone to get in the way. Ezekiel 22:30, “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.”Although the Ezekiel passage deals with the sins of Jerusalem, it applies to us today. So how does standing in the gap apply to us individually and corporately as the church?
What these words tell us today is that God is still seeking people to stand in the gap for His people. He still wants us to pray, serve, and be vulnerable to the needs of His people.
The Apostle Paul understood firsthand the power of standing in the gap. In his letter to the Roman church, he implored them to pray for him, writing, “Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:30). He likewise beseeched the church in Ephesus, “And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike” (Ephesians 6:19). Throughout his epistles, Paul urged his fellow believers to stand in the gap for him.
Spiritually, standing in the gap could mean being a prayer warrior, interceding for your family, for people in need, or for your country. It could mean tackling a challenging assignment or sacrificially helping others. It could mean praying for the sick or being a faithful servant in your church or community. The reality is that standing in the gap can bring some uncomfortable things into our lives. One willingness to put ourselves out there and enter the stories and lives of people and stand in the gap in prayer and advocacy can be uncomfortable, to say the least. It is easy to stand in the gap sitting in our living rooms than to put a human face and a story on that same topic.
Clearly, God’s heart is moved to act when people cry out on behalf of others. When we as believers stand in the gap.
- God calls each and every one of us to stand in the gap whenever, however, and wherever there is a need in the world, in the community, or in our families. Agree or disagree and why?
- Would you consider yourself an intercessor? How so?