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Standing in the Gap

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Greg Cline

3-17-05

Standing in the Gap

Passage: Ezekiel 22:29-31

                      Subject: God’s search for an intercessor

            One night in 1805 as five young collage students from Williams Collage met for their nightly prayer meeting it started to rain.  It was usual for these boys to meet outside under a maple tree, sing songs, pray for their collage, and share testimonies.  But this particular night while it was raining, it began to thunder and lightning, and the rain got more and more severe.  The boys ran to a nearby barn, and in the comfort of a haystack, continued to pray.  They prayed intensely for hours that God would bring a revival to their collage.  Today, that prayer meeting is known as the “Haystack Revival”; because from that meeting, a revival started that spread throughout the collage and later, America.  We see how powerful prayer is and how it is needed for ourselves, others, and our nation in general.  What an awesome lesson of intercession we can learn from those boys.  

Some of you might be thinking, “what is intercession?”; and since that is the focal point of my message, let me define that for you.  Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines intercession as, “The act of petitioning God or praying on behalf of another person or group.”  We intercede every time we pray for someone to get better or that God would grant the request of someone.  Let’s look at two quick examples of people that had a positive example of intercession.

         1. Moses (Exodus 32:9-14) – The Lord was angry at Israel.  He was getting ready to destroy the nation.  Moses sought the Lord and prayed that because of the promises he had made to the patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob); that the Lord would turn his wrath away from them.  So the Lord didn’t do anything to Israel.

2. Jesus (Isaiah 53:12) – As Jesus was hanging on the cross dieing, some of his last words were, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  Even as he was dying, he made intercession for the Roman soldiers.

Now that we have looked at two positive examples of intercession, lets get into the main text of the message and look and a negative example.  Please turn in your Bibles to Ezekiel 22:29-31.

 

I. The Children of Israel transgress (vr. 29)

    A. Israel had gotten to a low point in their history, the Children of Israel were not doing what they should have been doing (vr. 23-29)

        1. Prophets (vr. 25, 28)

        2. Priests (vr. 26)

        3. Princes (vr. 27)

        4. People (vr. 29)

    B. God compares them to the dross of metal (vr. 18)

        1. Israel was like the dross in metal, they needed to be purified      

        2. This is just an illustration to show how bad it had gotten in the land, if God couldn’t find an intercessor; he would lead them into judgment.  .

II. The Children of Israel lacked an intercessor (vr. 30)

  1. In this verse God is looking for an intercessor to “make up the hedge, and stand in                the gap…”

    1. Charles L. Feinberg says in his commentary, “God is seeking for a man who would fortify (as a wall does) the people in their hour of need.”

    2. Think of Israel with an imaginary wall around it, God was looking for someone to stand in the wall, make up a barrier of intercession for them.

      B.  God could not find anyone at this point in Israel to be and intercessor and intercede on behalf of Israel.

1. Intercession is a command given by God.  It says in 1Timothy 2:1-2 that    Christians should be interceding for others, especially government.

2. We see in this story of Israel that no one interceded for them.

III. The Children of Israel were punished (vr. 31)

 

A.    Because God could not find an intercessor, and someone willing to pray for God’s mercy on his people, he punished Israel

1. I think the punishment that God is speaking of here is having the Southern Kingdom fall into the hands of the Babylonians

        2. The Southern Kingdom is under the captivity of Babylon because there was no    one willing intercede for them

    B. Christians, especially now, need to be making intercessions

1.      As we saw in 1Timothy, we need to be praying for others, with an emphasis on government.  Especially now-a-days with all that’s going on.

2.   We can learn from the mistakes of Israel, and from the example Jesus and Moses left us.

            We see the importance of intercession; it is a command, and there are consequences if we don’t.  All of us need to learn to apply this lesson, we need to be praying and interceding for our government, for our teachers, for our parents or pastors, for everyone that has authority over us; as 1Timothy 2:1-2 brings out.  We should learn a lesson from Israel, have the courage to “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap”.  God listens to prayer; we need to pray that God would have mercy on our nation, on our leaders, and on fellow Christian brothers and sisters.  I’m going to end by reading verse 30 again “……………………..”  Be that person that stands in the gap.

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