Ezekiel 22:30: God is Looking for His People to Stand in the Gapby Khaled Ghobrial on October 24, 2017
Ezekiel 22:30: God is Looking for His People to Stand in the Gap
By Pastor Khaled Ghobrial
“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.” Ezekiel 22:30
In this verse God reveals to us four things:
1. God’s strategy is to work through His people. He is seeking after people that are called by His name torespond to Him and carry out His purposes: “So I sought for a man.”
2. The picture in the above verse is that of a wall with a section broken down by a siege. If no soldier stands in the gap to turn away the enemy, the city will surely be taken. Sin makes a gap in the hedge of protection, through which judgment comes, and God is seeking people to stand in that gap as Moses stood before Him in Exodus 32: “Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.”
3.The essence of building a wall and standing in the gap is prayer:
"Stand in the gap before Me"
4. God found no one to respond to Him.
After the end of Israel's Babylonian captivity, God called the Israelites to rebuild the temple, and once again He found His people slow to respond. The book of Haggai outlines three reasons why many times we don’t respond to God, rise to stand in the gap for our land, and build His kingdom. It also gives us three corresponding exhortations from God to us.
Let’s look at the three reasons mentioned in the book of Haggai of why we at times don‘t respond to God's call:
1. We care more about our own agenda than we do about God’s glory:
“Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”
This has multiple applications. In ministry, it means we are consumed with building our own ministries, agendas, and kingdoms rather than building God’s kingdom. In the marketplace, it means we are caught up in the busyness of life, spending our time and energy making money and caring more about things of this world that about God’s kingdom. Coming together to pray for our land is not on our radar. Our plate is full with the mundane things of life, and we have no room or interest to consider our responsibility to stand in the gap before God on behalf of our land. We think that it may be someone else's responsibility, but it surely isn't ours!We are motivated by self-preservation and our own interests, rather than seeking God’s glory.
2. We quickly give up if we don’t see results soon enough:
‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?" Haggai 2:3
In Haggai’s time, those who had seen the former glory of Solomon’s temple despised the initiative of rebuilding the temple and saw it as insignificant, not worth their time and effort. They despised the day of small beginnings, and wrongly thought that what they were doing was futile, of no value, even though it was God who called them to it.
3. We neglect the importance of personal consecration:
“Thus says the of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?’”Then the priests answered and said, “No.”And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?”So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”14 Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.” Haggai 2: 11-14.
The essence of what Haggai was saying here is that ministry is not a substitute for personal consecration.Doing the work of ministry will not consecrate us (vs 12). Furthermore, our lack of personal consecration will influence, and even defile the ministry that we offer (Vs 13,14). While God is looking for co-workers with Him, He isn’t looking for just any co-workers. He is looking for consecrated ones, to lift up clean hands as we stand before Him in the gap. He will not accept service from compromising workers who take His standards lightly. Even though He called Moses to a great mission to lead Israel's deliverance from Egypt, He was not going to accept Moses's service if it came with compromise. Moses had neglected to obey the Lord and circumcise his son:
“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.” Exodus 4:24. Cleansing himself from that compromise is what saved Moses and his ministry. ”Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses feet…So He (God) let him go..” Exodus 4:25, 26
In the same book of Haggai, God gives us three exhortations to help us overcome our lack of response to Him:
1. God exhorts us to repent of focusing on building our own ministry/kingdom/life and seek first to build His Kingdom:
He exhorts us to stop being motivated by self-preservation and our own interests, because He will not bless our work when we do : “ Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11 For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Haggai 1:7-11
2. God exhorts us to be encouraged and trust that our intercessory prayers for our land will bear fruit in due season:
He knows why He called us to pray for our land, and He exhorts us we to not give up, but to be persistent in prayer and wait on Him: ”4Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. 5 ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear! “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,[b] and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
3. He promises to bless us as we consecrate ourselves and minister from a pure heart and pure motives:
God assures discouraged Zerubbabel that He has chosen him and made him a signet ring (a signet ring represented honor, authority, and personal guarantee of the king).“But from this day I will bless you. And again the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying:I will shake heaven and earth.22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms;
I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms.I will overthrow the chariots. And those who ride in them;The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.23 ‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2: 19-23.
God has called His Church to stand in the gap in prayer on behalf of the land. Let us not be too busy to come together to pray, let us consecrate ourselves, be persistent, and believe that God is going to be glorified in our midst and in our land.
Pastor Khaled Ghobrial
Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church
West Roxbury, MA