Note: I am doing a Spiritual Strongholds series right now for insiders. This here is the third installment of that ongoing series.
Son of man, say
Thou art a land that is not cleansed,
nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof,
like a roaring lion ravening the prey:
they have devoured souls; they take treasure and precious things;
they have made her widows many in the midst thereof.
Her priests have done violence to my law,
and have profaned my holy things:
they have made no distinction between the holy and the common,
neither have they caused men to discern between
the unclean and the clean, and have hid their
eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.
Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves
ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls,
that they may get dishonest gain. And her prophets
have daubed for them with untempered mortar ,
seeing false visions, and divining lies unto them, saying,
Thus saith the Lord Jehovah,
when Jehovah hath not spoken.
The people of the land have used oppression,
and exercised robbery; yea, they have vexed the
poor and needy, and have oppressed the sojourner wrongfully.
And I sought for a man among them,
that should build up the wall,
and stand in the gap before me for the land,
that I should not destroy it; but I found none.
Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them;
I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath:
their own way have I brought upon their heads,
saith the Lord Jehovah.
(Ezekiel 22:24-31 [ASV])
Ezekiel was one of the Lord's faithful prophets before the Babylonian exile. His book may not be as poetical as Isaiah, or as hard hitting as Jeremiah, but Ezekiel's words are just as important and often times a bit more enlightening as to how the Lord deals with a wayward people as well into the heavenly realm. His word is very powerful as were the visions God gave him.
In the above passage, the prophet chides Israel for the the crooked way the prophets (and Priests) were robbing God's treasuries and defrauding the old and making many widows. The Lord was sore, sore displeased. We saw in the last section of Nehemiah how the High Priest was about to do the same things again and cast out the Lord's treasuries from the Temple. They did not keep the law (as with the situation with Tobiah) and also profaned the Lord's things.
In times like ours today, when 'christian' pastors perform gay weddings, and one day before long if the liberals in the catholic Church get their way, so will the Catholic Church. We have seen the Pope turn a blind eye to Biblical adultery and we have seen other things inside the Church which clearly go against God's express commands.
In our once great nation, we have seen many of the things like those in the passage above. We have seen these televangelists rake in millions from people and live better than some kings do, with their multi million dollar mansions. But in those days, there appeared to have been perhaps some kind of organized crime going on. This passage and others in the scriptures indicate that some of them may have been conducting things like land fraud and other sins, under the guise and of religion. This is not a new story. We saw many of the same things with the Catholic Church during the middle ages. Note the language in verse 25, they are like lion, getting ready to consume it's prey. But the entire passage calls out the whole nation for its corruption and all the major classes of people are involved in wickedness and corruption. Why? Verse 27 tells us, they are greedy for dishonest gain and will even kill to get it.
Need I talk about how far America has slipped? No, and I won't today.
Rather I want to discuss the highlighted verse above. God was looking for someone who would stand in the gap for Israel, someone who would intercede on behalf of his wayward people. This is clearly prophetic imagery for an intercessor who would stand and plead for the people. The JFB Commentary gives is this short aside on this passage, it is rather insightful.
These insights are rather interesting in that we note that God could not find a person to stand in the gap for Israel. Yet as noted, Jeremiah and Baruch were there. How is it that there was no one. Well, Jeremiah was forbidden to pray of Israel. Ezekiel could have done it, but for some reasons, did not, but is not chided for it.
the hedge—the wall (see on Eze 13:5); image for leading the people to repentance.
the gap—the breach (Ps 106:23); image for interceding between the people and God (Ge 20:7; Ex 32:11; Nu 16:48).
I found none— (Jer 5:1) —not that literally there was not a righteous man in the city. For Jeremiah, Baruch, &c., were still there; but Jeremiah had been forbidden to pray for the people (Jer 11:14), as being doomed to wrath. None now, of the godly, knowing the desperate state of the people, and God's purpose as to them, was willing longer to interpose between God's wrath and them. And none "among them," that is, among those just enumerated as guilty of such sins (Eze 22:25-29), was morally able for such an office. - JFB Commentary
Why is this so. I think that perhaps what God is saying is that he has called these two men (and others) to be prophets. Prophets are to proclaim the nations sins and call them to repentance. What God is looking for is someone other than these men to stand in the gap. He knows about the Jeremiah's, the Baruch's and the other prophets. Where are the others who are faithful to the Lord? Today, where are the intercessors for our nation and our Churches? I know I used to pray daily for this nation, deep intercessory prayer during the days of Clinton and Bush. But one day, when I started to pray, the Lord just said, stop and it was a rather ominous word he gave me about the nation that I shall not repeat. That does not mean that others should not stand in the gap. If God has called you to do so, get on your knees and seek the Lord about the nation and intercede.
If he has called you to intercede for your denomination, your city, your small Church that could be slipping into error, then brother, take your shoes off, go into your prayer closet, fall on your faces, close the door and PRAY!
Look at Abraham. When he found out that God was about to deal with Sodom, the Lord debated about telling Abraham what he was about to do. But once Abraham found out the Lord was about to judge Sodom, what did he do? He interceded. Now let's face it, Abraham had a vested interest in seeing to it that the city was not destroyed. His nephew Lot was there. One can get a better understanding the motivations for Abrahams' haggling (negotiating) with the Lord over the number os souls needed to spare the city if one keeps in mind that Abraham is trying to spare it so his Nephew does not get judged with them. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? - Gen 18:23. We all know the passage, Abraham was bargaining with the Lord! Yes he was and the Lord was in a mood to do it with the person he considered his friend (James 2:23). Abraham was able to get the Lord to withhold Judgment for the sake of 10 righteous souls, from his original 50 'offer'. What was Abraham doing? He was standing in the gap, not so much for Sodom, for which he had little respect (Gen 14:22ff), but for Lot.
Then we come to Daniel. We saw how he prayed and his prayer was so important that the devils angels took considerable pains to delay the answer from the Lord. But what was Daniel praying? He did not ask for the secrets of prophecy, nor did he even understand the amazing divine vision that the Lord gave him.
Daniel was deeply beloved of God. It is because of this love for him that the Lord heard him. Like with Abraham, whom the Lord spoke with and Moses, Daniel as well was very, very special to the Lord. Daniel conversed with angels and many think that Gabriel may have been a Christophany, though I am totally unconvinced of this. But he was an angel of very high rank that stood in the presence of God (Luke 1:9).
Before Daniel was given the vision of the 70 weeks, what was he doing? He was interceding and 'standing in the gap' for Israel.
Here is just a portion of his prayer.
When a person fits the bill for these things, he can then intercede for others or 'stand in the gap'.
- One of God's children - today a born again (by water and spirit) Christian.
- Walking in righteousness - no lukewarmness or unrepentant sin
- Have a yearning for the things that God finds important; the Lord's name and reputation, love of righteousness and the spiritual condition of God's people, etc.