Standing in the Gap – Ezekiel 22

Through the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord revealed that He was looking for just one person to stand up in righteousness to represent ancient Israel, to lead the people back towards Him and away from a life of faithlessness, injustice, and violence.

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.  Ezekiel 22:30 (NLT)

Ezekiel records the Lord’s observations from His search:

26 Your priests have violated my instructions and defiled my holy things. They make no distinction between what is holy and what is not. And they do not teach my people the difference between what is ceremonially clean and unclean. They disregard my Sabbath days so that I am dishonored among them. 27 Your leaders are like wolves who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for money! 28 And your prophets cover up for them by announcing false visions and making lying predictions. They say, ‘My message is from the Sovereign Lord,’ when the Lord hasn’t spoken a single word to them. 29 Even common people oppress the poor, rob the needy, and deprive foreigners of justice.  Ezekiel 22:26-29 (NLT)

Priests, leaders, and ordinary people all repeatedly failed to live according to the Lord’s instruction.  In fact, we are still like that today.  Despite the fact that God has provided us all with life itself, we deny Him and His direction that would lead to a life of peace and contentment.  We repeatedly turn away from Him to follow our own stubborn path of resistance.  This was true of the Israelites in the wilderness, their descendants in the Promised Land of milk and honey, and of all of us today – the lure of selfish idolatry and sin pulls us away from God and takes us down the road of destruction. 

For ancient Israel, the pursuit of idolatry even led them to follow the practices of the Canaanites who had lived in the land before them, sacrificing their own firstborn children to “appease” demonic idols.

26 I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them, and I allowed them to give their firstborn children as offerings to their gods—so I might devastate them and remind them that I alone am the Lord.  Ezekiel 20:26 (NLT)

Having stooped so low in their actions and practices, what was the Lord to do with them? 

First, He let Babylon act as a crucible, purifying with fire the horrible acts that the people had committed.  Then, He sent someone to fill the gap between God and man, His own Son, Jesus Christ.  Fully God and fully human, Jesus would accomplish what all people before Him could not successfully do – live a holy and righteous life.  This pure and innocent Lamb of God would then offer Himself as a sacrifice to completely atone for the sins of the world. 

Just prior to His suffering and crucifixion, Jesus prayed this to the Father:

1After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.  John 17:1-5 (NLT)

On the third day after His death on the cross, Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  Forty days later, He ascended into heaven to be with the Father.  He will one day return to rule and reign on earth from a restored Jerusalem.

Jesus completed the covenant of faith and obedience that Israel was unable to fulfill, opening the door for their complete healing and restoration.  Perhaps we have seen the beginning of this process in our own lifetimes.

40 For on my holy mountain, the great mountain of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord, the people of Israel will someday worship me, and I will accept them. There I will require that you bring me all your offerings and choice gifts and sacrifices. 41 When I bring you home from exile, you will be like a pleasing sacrifice to me. And I will display my holiness through you as all the nations watch. 42 Then when I have brought you home to the land I promised with a solemn oath to give to your ancestors, you will know that I am the Lord.  Ezekiel 20:40-42 (NLT)

Because Jesus stood in the gap for us, we, too, are able to be restored to the state of sinlessness, purity, and righteousness that allows us to abide in God’s presence forever.  This is not because of anything we have done, but because God has held nothing back from us, not even the life of His own beloved Son.  Because of this generous exchange of life for life, we have been brought back from our own self-imposed exile of death and can live a life of freedom and joy with Him today, tomorrow, and forever.  May you seek to embrace His priceless offer with faith.

Reflection

Having redeemed me, where does God want me to stand in the gap as His representative today?

Lord, thank You for standing in the gap between life and death for me.  Show me where You want me to do the same for others today.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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