Just as Ezekiel would not have readily understood Starbucks coffee and baseball, so too we are likely to fail in fully appreciating walled cities. After all, I have never lived in a walled city seeking refuge from marauding armies. Have you?
Apparently, the walls of a city could tell you a lot about a city. A highly successful city would sport grand walls which were constantly maintained while broken walls or deteriorating walls with gaps indicated weakness and societal decay. Wherever a city wall had been breached, the city’s protection would depend upon someone to stand in that gap to defend the city.
Standing in the Spiritual Gap
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God metaphorically alluded to the spiritual decay of both the nation of His people and its leadership as being a city whose walls had been breached by sin.1 Justice demanded a righteous judgment, yet love yearned for the spiritual rottenness to be healed. So God “searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”2
Can there be any more tragic words than these? What can be more heart breaking than for God to search among his people for someone to build up ruin lives ravaged by sin but to find no one who will serve?
Doing It Again
What God has done before He is doing again. Through the words of the Great Commission, listen closely to Jesus’ final exhortation to us. God is searching once again for people to be his tools to reach out to a world which has been chewed up by sin.
God’s righteousness demands punishment of sin, but his love has also provided through Jesus the means to build up those spiritually dead. God has a heart for the lost. The question is can he find among His people those who will stand in the gap before him?
1 This metaphor of standing in a breach caused by sin is also used in the poetry of Psalms 106:23 to describe the narrative event of Exodus 32:11.
2 Ezekiel 22:30 NASB