Biblegateway Verse of the Day

Standing in the Gap (Ezekiel 22)

By Benjamin H. Liles

          "And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Son of man, say to her: "You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation." The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 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.'" 

            "'Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 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. The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 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 22:23-31, New King James).
          How can any one man, woman, child or person stand in the gap of a people, community or nation when these people at and by large commit such heinous crimes against God as well as her own people? While I cannot judge the American nation, as God only rightly can, I think what God is getting down to with Ezekiel is that God cannot find one man alive who would dare dream to mediate on the people of Jerusalem's behalf to seek God's forgiveness for them. That is to say until Jesus Christ came in the flesh.
          Even then Jesus Christ had hard words for the people of Jerusalem and its spiritual leaders: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ So you testify against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ sins. You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the sentence of hell?
Because of this, I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and others you will flog in your synagogues and persecute in town after town."
          "And so upon you will come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those sent to her, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were unwilling! Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you that you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord’" (Matthew 23:29-39, Berean Study). 

          The only man in mankind's history who can plead any sort of case on behalf of others is the person of Jesus Christ. Even after Jesus Christ had those words for the people of Jerusalem he said this, "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing." And they divided His clothes and cast lots" (Luke 23:34, Holman Christian Standard). Some modern leaders and scholars believe Christ was asking God, the Father, to forgive those Roman soldiers who were gambling for the clothes they stripped off Jesus Christ. I suggest otherwise. When it comes to fully understanding God's word we have to put things in proper context. 
          Previously we're told, "When they came to the place called The Skull (Calvary in the King James), there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left" (Luke 23:33, New American Standard). I fully believe that Jesus Christ is seeking the Father's favor to forgive ALL who were present and active at the time of His crucifixion. 
           In another account we're told that "When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided His garments into four parts, one for each soldier, with the tunic remaining. It was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it. Instead, let us cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the Scripture: “They divided My garments among them, and cast lots for My clothing.” So that is what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother and her sister, as well as Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home" (John 19:23-27, Berean Study). 
          Friend, we all commit sins against God and also towards others. Jesus Christ said this about what summarizes the whole of God's Law, the Ten Commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40, Berean Study). We can put off sin and death by understanding the effects it has on us; these things keep us separated from the love of the Father who has given us grace and mercy so we can come back to Him, begging His forgiveness. It is as John said, "But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9, New Living Translation). We have life in the Father through the Son Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer you see this and allow Jesus Christ to restore and refine you in the name of God, the Father, in Jesus Christ, by the power of His Great Spirit. Amen. 

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