Stand in the Gap? What?

I have been reading the book of Ezekiel lately as I make my way through the Bible.

Today, I came across the fairly well-known verses, Ezekiel 22:30-31. Here God is speaking to Ezekiel regarding Jerusalem’s sins.

30 “I looked for someone 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 no one. 31 So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

Much of the focus has been on the phrase “standing in the gap on behalf of the land”.

Some take it to mean intercession, where a person intercedes on behalf of the sins of the land to ask God to not destroy it. Like what Abraham did when he pleaded with God regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, or Moses asking God not to destroy the Israelites in the desert.

I thank God that He highlighted to me the phrase that comes before standing in the gap.

What’s that? Go read the verse again.

Yes, God was looking for someone who would build up the wall.

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(Hole in the wall. Photo Credit: Jasleen Kaur, from Flickr.)

Why did I miss that little phrase all these years? God wasn’t just looking for someone to stand in the gap, but he wanted someone to build up the wall.

So, I began to ask a few questions:

  • What wall is God talking about? The physical walls of Jerusalem? Or something symbolic?
  • Couldn’t Ezekiel himself build up the wall and stand in the gap on behalf of the land? Apparently, God didn’t find anyone! So does that mean Ezekiel didn’t do what God asked?
  • What does it mean to build the wall? Does it mean to repair the gaps in the wall? (Which begs the question: if all the gaps are repaired, does that mean there is no way to stand in the gap? Because the gap is gone!)

Oooh, tough questions indeed…I need time to pray and ponder in the presence of God.

If we look at Ezekiel 13, God is condemning the false prophets. In verse 5, God says about them,

 You have not gone up to the breaches in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel so that it will stand firm in the battle on the day of the Lord.

God is judging the false prophets for their negligence to go up to the breaches (gaps) in the wall to repair it for the people of Israel.

That’s interesting to me – since when was it a prophet’s job to repair walls? So maybe it isn’t a physical wall but something symbolic/spiritual.  Reading on in the chapter, this seems to be the case.

Ezekiel 13:10-15:

10 “‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”

13 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: In my wrath I will unleash a violent wind, and in my anger hailstones and torrents of rain will fall with destructive fury. 14 I will tear down the wall you have covered with whitewash and will level it to the ground so that its foundation will be laid bare. When it falls, you will be destroyed in it; and you will know that I am the Lord. 15 So I will pour out my wrath against the wall and against those who covered it with whitewash. I will say to you, “The wall is gone and so are those who whitewashed it, 16 those prophets of Israel who prophesied to Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her when there was no peace, declares the Sovereign Lord.”’

False prophets who prophesy false visions and lying messages that do not come from God are creating these “flimsy walls” and covering these walls with “whitewash”.

Whitewash that disguises the true state of the wall – full of gaps and extremely flimsy. The false prophets preached false peace, when God planned destruction instead for Jerusalem.

So how can we apply this lessons today?

  • Beware of false prophets who proclaim lies in their visions, dreams and “messages from God”. False prophets create flimsy walls, with gaps covered with whitewash. They say that everything is fine and peaceful, when actually that isn’t what God has decreed. (Maybe they even whitewash/ignore obvious sins in people’s lives and say that those sins are acceptable in God’s eyes – which is a blatant lie).
  • To be a true prophet – speak only the messages that God has given to you. Don’t tell lies. Don’t follow your own spirit, but only the Holy Spirit. Preach God’s righteousness, truth and justice. Encourage the righteous to keep living righteously, while warning the wicked to repent of their wicked ways.

I hope to do more study into this subject and write more on it at a later date! Thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are very much appreciated.

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