By Gordon Lindsay
Excerpt from November 1970 issue of The Voice of Healing Magazine.
‘“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, 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 recompensed upon their heads,’ saith the Lord God” (Ezekiel 22:30-31).
From this remarkable Scripture we are given an illuminating glimpse of Divine providence and its relation to the administration of God’s justice. Ezekiel had been enumerating the sins of the nation. He said that there was a “conspiracy of the prophets,” that they had “devoured souls;” they had “violated (God’s) law.” Judah’s princes had “shed blood” and got “dishonest gain.” He went on to charge the prophets of oppression and “vexing the poor and needy.” It was a fearsome indictment, and indication that the cup of God’s wrath had reached its full and was ready to be poured out upon the nation.
HE LOOKED FOR A MAN
Still there was a chance. If there were those stirred to intercessory prayer, if God could find a man or woman to take that place, the nation could still be saved from judgment. The hedge of protection that God had placed around the nation was being broken down, and the land was naked before the gathering storm of judgment, which was about to break. What was needed was an intercessor, who had the burden and the vision for the people—one who saw the danger and would rush into the opening and close the gap. God, realizing the extreme gravity of the situation, knowing that His wrath must soon descend, searched earnestly for such a person. Surely, out of the hundreds of thousands of people in the land, there would be at least one individual who recognized the danger and would through intercessory prayer come to the rescue. But alas! The Lord could not find even one—no not one.
The contemporary account portrays the people of Judah as utterly unaware of the impending danger. As in the days of Noah, “They knew not till the flood came and took them all away.” The reason for their ignorance was that instead of reading the signs of the times, each person was engaged in a frantic race to get their share of material things, which reminds us today of the militants, the anarchists, the revolutionaries, the marchers, the spell-binders, all after the same thing—a hysterical and maddening rush for material things. The demand by one part of society for what another part of society has. And if it is not given to them speedily, they are ready to destroy the nation, to loot, and even to burn the establishment down. So it was in Ezekiel’s day. The prophet said, “They have the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof …” (Ezekiel 22:25).
Nevertheless, the guiltiest people in those tragic days were the priests and the prophets. They violated the Law “and put no difference between the holy and the profane.” The prophets were prophesying good things that the people wanted to hear. When Jeremiah warned that a destructive war was coming, the false prophet, Hananiah, predicted that the “yoke of the king of Babylon” would be broken. Within two years, Jerusalem would have the vessels of the temple back, and Jeconiah would again reign as king. Hananiah’s false prophecy did not come to pass; instead in that very year, he died. Today, we have such false prophets predicting peace and safety for America, whether the nation repents or not.
We see a repetition in our nation of the situation that existed in Judah before its dissolution. Although the threat of a nuclear war hangs over the world, the so-called liberals predict that all will be well in the end. No longer is there a difference made between “the clean and the unclean.” The judges who sit in our highest courts have by their decisions put God and prayer out of our schools, and as a result of their permissive rulings, the vilest pornography now floods the nation’s bookstores and has captured the movie screens. Any and everything goes now, and the rawest perversions are permitted in theaters, which are attended by capacity crowds.
God, seeing that the hedge had been broken down in Judah, looked for a man to stand in the gap, but he found none. Therefore, it came to pass, even as God said. The wrath of Heaven was poured out upon the land, and when it had accomplished its purpose, Jerusalem was in ruins—the whole land was desolate.
THE BROKEN HEDGE IN SODOM
Sodom was a wicked city. Its very name has become an execration applicable to the vilest perverts of the human race. The cry of the sin of the city had reached Heaven, and it was necessary for God to take account as to what should be done. Investigation proved that the report that had come to Him of its wickedness was only too true. Nevertheless, God made one last attempt to save the city, despite its evil.
Lot, the nephew of Abraham, lived in the city. Being related to the great man of God, he had opportunity to know the revealed truth as few men of his day did. Indeed, he was persuaded to accompany Abraham, who had received a Divine call from God, to the Promise Land. But after he had reached the country, he was induced to make his home in the prosperous commercial center of Sodom. He was vexed by its wickedness; but, nevertheless, the material prosperity influenced him to make his abode in the doomed city. Had his testimony influenced as few as 10 people, God said He would spare the city. He and his wife and the two unmarried daughters made four (Genesis 19:8). He had married daughters who had husbands and children. So there were altogether 10 or more persons in Lot’s household. If Lot had commanded his own family as Abraham did, his household would have been saved. Note what God said about Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him” (Genesis 18:19).
Now here is the remarkable fact: As noted, God told Abraham that He would spare Sodom if there were only 10 righteous persons in it (Genesis 18:32). But alas, we are informed that there was not that many in Sodom. When Lot went to warn his sons-in-law, he seemed to them as one who mocked. If Lot had been faithful in prayers as Abraham was, he would have saved his family. More than that, he would have stood in the gap and saved Sodom from destruction!
MOSES STOOD IN THE GAP
We have another remarkable example in the Scriptures where an individual stood in the gap and saved the nation. God had just given Israel the Law. In the giving of the covenant, the Lord promised saying, “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5). In answer the people said, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do” (Verse 8). This put the covenant in force.
But alas, it was only a few weeks later, while Moses was up on the mountain receiving instructions from the Lord that the people violated their promise; they broke the covenant by making a golden calf, saying, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). Thus, Israel brought the curse of the broken Law upon them, which also brought condemnation. The hedge of Divine protection was broken down, and the people were exposed to wrath. Retribution would automatically fall upon the nation: “And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation’” (Exodus 32:9·10).
But in this case there was someone to stand in the gap—Moses, the great intercessor. Listen to his pleading: “Lord, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, which Thou has brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? … Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people” (Exodus 32:11-12). The next day Moses interceded again. First, he told the children of Israel that, “Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make atonement for your sin” (Exodus 32:30).
You see, Moses realized that the Divine hedge had been broken down, and the children of Israel were exposed to wrath. He was determined to stand in the gap against the impending judgment, and if Israel went down before the execution of Divine wrath, then he would go down, too. In his prayer to the Lord, he said: “Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book which Thou hast written” (Exodus 32:31-32).
God had to hear this prayer. He could not blot Moses’ name out of His book. The worst of the rebels were judged, but the nation of Israel was saved. Chapters 32 and 33 of Exodus are of great significance. As Moses spent 40 days and nights upon the mountain in his intercession for Israel, God gave him a vision of glory that no one had seen before. (Exodus 33:18-23). When he came down from the mountain, his face shone with the very presence of God (Exodus 34:28-35). Those who become intercessors and stand in the gap enter into the very closest relationship possible with God and obtain His highest favor.
There were other great intercessors in Israel’s history. There was Samuel, who founded the School of the Prophets and who said, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23). And Daniel, whose prayers resulted in the overthrow of the princes of darkness and the return of his people from captivity (Daniel 9-10). These were men who stood in the gap and saved their nation in a time of calamity.
THE WESLEY REVIVALS SAVE ENGLAND
Two of the most remarkable men of the 18th century were John and Charles Wesley. A Reformation had swept over Europe in the two previous centuries, and all the nations had profited. The Huguenots had been greatly instrumental in revival in France. Alas, the enemies of God in a terrible purge wiped out vast numbers of Christians in the Saint Bartholomew massacre, after which the head of the medieval church struck a medal commemorating the event. The nation of France never recovered, but a century later it drifted on into the French Revolution, a product of atheism, with its guillotine and bloody excesses committed by men who repudiated God and mocked His name.
In Great Britain it might have been the same. But in Scotland, John Knox had prayed, “Give me Scotland or I die,” and the queen, Bloody Mary, feared his prayers as nothing else. At that time in England religion had fallen to a low ebb. The clergy had become corrupt and carnal minded. The moral condition of the country can be gauged from the crude signs that hung outside of the drinking pubs. An example: “Drunk, One pence; Dead Drunk, Two pence.” England was rapidly slipping into a condition that would warrant Divine judgment.
Then John and Charles Wesley, in their hunger for God, set those historic Methodist meetings for prayer. As they continued to pray, God was moved in such a fashion that a revival broke out which spread throughout the nation. The theme of the awakening was holiness, dedication to God and personal evangelism. The spirit of revival swept as a regenerating wave over the entire land. Wesley stressed heart religion, and soon he had a following of preachers who continued to spread the fires of revival. Even secular history notes that the Wesley revivals had a momentous effect on England. The Wesleys and Whitefield were the men who stood in the gap and saved their country from a judgment that came upon France.
THE REVIVAL BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR
In America, as the great Civil War was about to break, Charles G. Finney, prince of evangelists, tells of the tremendous burden that came upon him for the people of America. Ministers with keen perception saw little hope that the conflict could be averted, and they realized that a terrible reckoning was ahead in blood and tears. While the masses went merrily along and orators fanned the emotions of the people in fiery speeches, Mr. Finney and those who carried the burden of souls wrestled with God. Then the spirit of prayer took hold of thousands. Mr. Finney, in his biography, tells about it.
“The winter of 1857-58 will be remembered as the ‘time when a great revival prevailed throughout the northern states.’ It swept over the land with such power that for a time it was estimated that not less than 50,000 conversions occurred in a single week. This revival had some peculiarly interesting features. It was carried to a large extent through lay influence, so much as to almost throw the ministers in the shade. There had been a daily prayer meeting observed in Boston for several years; and in the autumn previous to the great outburst, the daily prayer meeting was established on Fulton Street, New York, which continued to this day. Indeed, daily prayer meetings were established throughout the length and breadth of the northern states. I recollect in one of the prayer meetings in Boston that winter a gentleman arose and said, ‘I am from Omaha, Nebraska. On my journey east, I have found a continuous prayer meeting all the way. We call it,’ said he, ‘about 2,000 miles from Omaha to Boston; and here was a prayer meeting about 2,000 miles in extent.’” Because there were those to stand in the gap, the revival came in time and saved hundreds of thousands of people before the Civil War.
THOSE WHO STOOD IN THE GAP AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
The Body of Christ at the turn of the century lacked one important element. Much of it stood for the inspiration of the Scriptures. It believed in the miracles and the gifts of the Spirit. But it almost universally held that the days of miracles were past and such things were only for the apostles. There was, of course, no Scripture to support such a belief; and the only grounds for this position was tradition, and the fact that few, if any, miracles were taking place. It was too much to expect the established clergy to admit that the lack of such manifestations was because the Church had lost its first love and had become cold and unspiritual. But there were those who were disturbed, and little groups in various cities were engaged in many hours of prayer and soul-searching, agonizing for the return of the apostolic revival.
These earnest men and women stood in the gap against the smug complacency of the nominal Church and prayed down the return of the apostolic ministry. Then in Wales, a humble man by the name of Evan Roberts stood in the gap in intercessory prayer, and a revival of historic proportions that shook the nation occurred. A year or two later, the great Pentecostal outpouring came. In Topeka, Kansas, Houston, Texas, and Los Angeles, California, and other places, little groups of prayer warriors prayed until the windows of Heaven opened and a great apostolic renewal visited the Earth unlike anything since the days of the Early Church.
Today, we are in a greater crisis than ever—the crisis of an age that is ending. Again, God calls for His people to stand in the gap. Armageddon is closing in; a day of darkness and a day of catastrophe is on the horizon. Now is the hour, the last opportunity to work in the harvest. God is calling for people to stand in the gap. Will you be one of these?Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe