A common adage states that those who do not learn from the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. The book of Ezekiel teaches us about the importance of helping others by standing up for God’s ways.
When God led the prophet Ezekiel to describe the spiritual situation of Jerusalem prior to 586 B.C., the metaphor of a walled city, whose defenses had already been breached, described their precarious spiritual condition. From the political and religious leaders to the people of the land, Judah had abandoned the ways of God while empowering their own sinful and selfish paths.
Portraying the people as a city unprepared to withstand the onslaught of judgment accurately described their dangerous situation.
God’s words are concise and curt:
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30 NIV).
God does not force people to change. Nor does he boom from heaven to scare everyone into conformity with his will. Rather, God works through his people to teach others. And on this occasion, God did not find anyone willing to stand up for him.
God’s earlier denunciation against the popular prophets remained true to the end.
“You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the LORD” (Ezekiel 13:5 NIV).
A final day of judgment is coming. God continues to look for people who will stand in the gap helping others realize their spiritual condition before God. The message in the New Testament is the same whether the language be ambassadorial or that of an earthen pot carrying a precious treasure. God uses people to teach others.
The question for us is, who will God find today to rise up to the challenge of standing in the gap?