Stand in the Gap

Ezekiel 22:30 says, “‘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.’”

The Lord told the prophet Ezekiel that He would judge Jerusalem because of its idolatry. He was looking for someone, anyone, who might “stand in the gap” and speak up for Him. Yet, He found no one.

If Ezekiel were a 21st century prophet, what might he say to believers today? Would he find us faithful? Would he say, “I see a remnant standing in the gap on my behalf”?

Perhaps. But I fear that remnant is shrinking.

I find it ironic that the ones I am most likely to debate with recently have been my own brothers and sisters in Christ.

In Matthew 10:18 and 21-22, Jesus said, “‘On my account you will be brought before governors and kings .… brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved’”

While there has always been a gap between the world and the church, this gap seems to be triangulated with another gap—one that is occurring among Christians.

Jesus was referring to the secular world when He said, “you will be hated by everyone.” Yet, sometimes it feels like Christians hate each other too.

How is that possible?

The Apostle Paul tells us that there will come a time “when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).

So, we need to be careful we are following the truth and not following only what our “itching ears want to hear.”

The book of Jude touches on this issue by calling out those who refuse to stand in the gap for God and His Word. In fact, the book starts out with Jude saying, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 3-4).

Jude saw apostasy and false teaching occurring within the church and tried to correct it: “‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (Jude 18-19).

Persecution of the church has been commonplace since the first century, and most of it has come from “without.” But persecution has also come from within. The type that comes from within is usually a result of a misunderstanding or misapplication of God’s Word.

I want to give you three places to stand in the gap for Biblical truth.

First, the Bible is clear. For example, the Bible makes the claim that Jesus is the only way to God. For some, this is unacceptable, because an exclusive or objective claim is seen as narrow-minded. But, the Bible’s claims provide clarity. Knowing Jesus is the only way to God gives freedom because it is clear getting Jesus right is most important.

Second, the Bible is convicting. Scripture convicts of sin personally and corporately. Some don’t think God should offend them, but being offended or convicted reveals what needs to change. God desires people to change for the better so He speaks truth in love.

Scripture can also be unnecessarily offensive. Atheist Sam Harris points out, for example, Proverbs 13:24, which tells parents to “not spare the rod” when it comes to disciplining children. Passages like this are misunderstood because we haven’t done our homework on the historical and literary context.

Third, the Bible is constant. The Bible provides relevant truth across history and around the globe even though it’s thousands of years old. But many think the Bible no longer fits with the times. If you are unwilling to reinterpret Scripture for the “greater good,” then you may be called to account for believing in a book that impedes human progress and excludes others. However, the Bible includes everyone because the Holy Spirit uses the same words to speak to someone living in America as much as in Japan or South Africa.

Christians must be courageous in their contention for the faith. We must be willing to obey God rather than man. We must with Paul cry out, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16), because it really is good news! We must deny ourselves and place our trust in God. We must be willing to stand up for Scripture regardless of the consequences.

Let me leave you with the words of “Will You Heed Them?” from my favorite band, Big Tent Revival.

“If loving God was a crime. I’d be an outlaw. I would join the fight.

They could not shut me down, I would stand tall, for what I know is right.

Would you stand with me, for the world to see when all is on the line?

Would you be ashamed of Jesus’ name if loving God was a crime?”

Eric Veal is a Southeast Christian Church member.