Clearly we are living in the perilous times of the last days. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are instructed to exhort one another - to admonish, warn, urge and encourage one another – “so much the more” as we “see the day approaching”. It is not an option for Christians, it is our responsibility. These are serious, urgent days, and we need to lay aside anything that will keep us from God’s work. What is more important than the eternal? Here are some ways we can make an eternal difference.
STAND IN THE GAP
Ezekiel was one of God’s servants who prophesied the downfall of Israel. His prophecies became reality because the people wouldn’t listen when he warned them of what would happen if they did not repent and return to God. So, the enemy destroyed them. Many people lost their lives and many more were led away as captives into Babylon.
God had been their wall of protection when they stayed within the boundaries of His love and His covenant. But now they had forsaken Him and broken their covenant with Him. They were no longer under God’s covering because they had chosen to remove themselves from His presence to worship idols and be like all the nations around them. The hedge of safety God had placed around His people was broken down by their own doing, and the enemy gained access.
Before they were destroyed, God looked for someone who would make a difference and shore up the wall of safety. “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.” (Ezekiel 22:30)
God was looking for someone from among them to “make up the hedge”, to re-establish the covenant, to rebuild the hedge of protection. He wanted somebody to take a stand in the gaps that were created by their rebellion, idol worship, and their broken covenant with Him.
Walls were built around cities in those days for their protection. If the walls were broken down, the enemy had access. Picture one of those walls with a broken place in it and the enemy rushing through to destroy the city from the inside. The enemy would search out the weakest place and attack there. But the bravest soldiers within the walls, the champions, would see the breach and rise up to stand in those gaps and keep out the enemy. They would risk their lives to save the city. The enemy would have to retreat, because these soldiers had restored strength to the weak places. Access had been closed to the enemy.
Now picture the broken places in our lives where the enemy has found access to our minds and emotions. His intention is to press in and destroy us. Busyness overtakes us, we let our guard down, we compromise “just a little”, we forget God and try to control things on our own. The enemy sees these weak places and attacks.
God wants us to see the gaps and stop pretending they are not there. Then He wants us to take our stand. He wants us to acknowledge the breach in our personal lives where we have given the enemy access, the brokenness of our families, the compromise, carnality and broken covenant of our churches and the broken down places in the walls of our nation.
Today God is looking for those who will see the gaps and be brave enough to stand in the breached places. The boundaries of truth, righteousness, peace with God, faith, salvation, God’s Word and our communication with Him have been breached. They have been compromised, and the enemy is running in through the broken places. God is looking for those who will stand in those places to protect them; those who will rebuild them.
When the wall of God’s protection is broken, the consequences will be paid unless someone will stand in the middle of the broken places. So, how do we stand in the gap?
Ephesians 6:11 and 13 gives us the answer. “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”
We are to stand, set ourselves against, resist and oppose. We oppose and resist evil by doing good, not by fighting against it with more evil. In other words, we don’t have to fight lies, we just need to stand in truth. We don’t have to set up a battle against unrighteousness, we just stand in righteousness. It may sound easy, but standing is impossible if we are not equipped with the armor God has provided for us. Ephesians 6:14-18 lists the pieces of armor we need to defeat the evil powers of darkness.
TRUTH is reality, how things really are, not how we perceive them to be. Reality has been replaced with opinions, humanism and religion. We need to seek the truth. God’s Word is truth. When there is a question, go to the Bible and find out what God says, then stand on it.
RIGHTEOUSNESS has become a thing of the past in our present world and even in the church, but God never changes. His principles never change. We must be in right standing with God through the blood of Jesus Christ and then follow what is right.
PEACE means to be set “at one again” with God. When we are “at one” with God, we have His peace that transcends what is happening around us right now. The world’s peace is temporary, but God’s peace is everlasting.
FAITH is believing God above everything else and walking in agreement with Him even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. When the enemy rushes in, our trust in God will shield us against the fiery darts of the enemy.
SALVATION – Our salvation is our deliverance. In speaking of Jesus Christ, God says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) We can stand on that truth.
WORD OF GOD – We have to settle it in our minds and hearts that the Word of God is true and everlasting, and then live on that conviction. We cannot rewrite it and rearrange it to fit in with the ungodliness of our culture and still call it truth. If it can be changed, it isn’t truth to start with.
PRAYER – Prayer is simply communication with God. We speak to Him and we listen to what He speaks to our spirit. It is our vital connection to Him.
So we stand immoveable, established, firm. We keep our place regardless of whose presence we are in, regardless of the enemy’s tactics.
In Ezekiel’s day God found no one to stand in the gap. How about today? Is there anyone who will stand? Each of us has to ask ourselves if we will be the brave soldier to stand in the broken places and strengthen the weak areas. Standing in the gap can change those within the city and without. God calls us to be active in His Kingdom, to serve with fervor.
“I HAVE SET THEE A WATCHMAN”
In Ezekiel 33:7, God called Ezekiel to be a watchman. “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.”
Notice the two things God called him to do. (1) Hear the word from God’s mouth, and (2) give the people God’s warning. I believe those who will stand in the gap will also become a watchman of sorts. We need to put on the whole armor of God, then hear the Word of God and make it known to those around us. We hear His message when we take time to be in His presence. When we pray, read the Word and listen, allowing the Holy Spirit to give us insight into the Word and show us how and when to share it. He will make it clear.
The word “warn” in this passage means to admonish and teach. But it also means to be light, to send out light. That’s really what a warning is. It’s not a threat, but showing a person where the wrong path they are on will lead them and helping them see the right path. Warnings are meant to turn us from something that will harm us to something that will bless us and others. A warning is conviction for correction, not condemnation for destruction. If we have received light, we are to give light.
Philippians 2:15-16 gives us all this admonition. “…That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
We are responsible to pass on what we hear from God. This is what God told Ezekiel in chapter 33:8-9. “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
BE A LABORER IN THE HARVEST
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” (John 4:34-35)
It’s easy to put everything into the future and avoid doing it today. But Jesus said the time to labor in the harvest is now. When doing the will of God becomes our life, we will be about our Father’s business above all else.
What job has God assigned us in the harvest of souls all around us? If we don’t know, it’s time to ask God and then go to work.
“The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)