Standing in the Gap

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  5 : 19
Subject: Redeemer; Standing

ESTHER 4:13-14; Gen. 3:15; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:19

I have never been to a beauty pageant in my life. I readily acknowledge that, like David, I was born in sin. I strongly subscribe to the doctrine of total depravity. I am well aware that I do not deserve the Lord’s mercy and grace. But, I cannot recall doing anything to merit a two hour sentence to a beauty pageant. My son Mark recently received his ten year pin for his service to the Miss Louisiana Pageant and his friend Darris Warren, minister of music for Fair Park Baptist Church in West Monroe, received his twenty year pin. Mark has told me how deeply the current Miss Louisiana, Jamie Wilson, loves the Lord and values her time of worship at her church. I really appreciate that, but I didn’t even watch the pageant on television. For one think, Mark and Darris are musicians and understand some of the talent part of the program that is way over my head.

I remember a lady in my first church, a student pastorate, Miss Flossy (I am not kidding!), who came to church one Sunday morning all excited because of the Miss America Pageant - in may have been the one in Miss Mississippi won. There have been several and at least two of them had strong Christian testimonies. That I can appreciate. (I believe at the time it was Mary Ann Mobley.) But please don’t ask me to attend a beauty pageant. I might add that have a deep concern about the immodesty of the swim-wear in recent years. In fact, I was concerned years ago about that aspect of the pageant. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. I am convinced that there is no greater beauty than the beauty of a young woman who manifests inner beauty - beauty of heart and soul.

I have a confession. I don’t think I would have attended a certain ancient beauty pageant, even if I had received a personal invitation, unless of course, the penalty for refusing the king’s invitation was a sword! In that case, I suppose I would have suffered through it. You know the story of Esther, so I am not going to spend a lot of time retelling one of the great stories of the Bible, which makes it one of the great stories of courage and faithfulness in the history of the world.

Esther was chosen by King Ahasuerus of Persia above all other contestants as his queen. The evil Haman devised a plan by which he would bring great wealth to the king by killing Jews. Now please remember that the area that comprised ancient Persia is today Iran, a nation whose premier openly states that he seeks the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, who had reared her, sent a message to Esther revealing the evil plot.

“Mordecai told [the messenger] to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esth 4:13-14, HCSB).

I am convinced that there have been many times when God has raised up a special person “for such a time as this.


A. The Very First Person Is Mentioned in the Third Chapter of Genesis.

Read with me from Genesis 3:14-15. You will recognize the passage. Man has sinned against God, in response to the temptation from Satan in the form of a serpent:

“Then the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:14-15, HCSB).

I sat with pastors at an associational pastor’s conference a number of years ago, anxiously awaiting the Bible study in which a former professor of mine was to speak. I will never forget my disappointment when he read this passage and then emphatically announced, “You preachers tell your people that is a Messianic prophecy, and YOU DON’T KNOW THAT!” I was in for another surprise when I heard “Amen” coming from many of the pastors. My old professor, who had changed a lot since I sat under him in seminary, said, you may figure that out as you read on through the Old Testament, but you do not know that from this passage.

I mentioned this to Dr. David Skinner, who was at the time professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Mid-America Seminary. David, a friend from Mississippi College and seminary, said, “Johnny, that is a typical liberal ploy.” I shared with David my conviction that it would have been simple enough to say, “We know this is a Messianic prophecy because it is the first of an unbroken line of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament.” Why preach doubts when we can preach convictions.

When Adam sinned, a great gulf was fixed between the Creator and the creature created in His image. It was a gulf no human could ever hope to span. If there was ever to be a relation between God and man, Someone would have to stand in the gap and reach out to God on one side and to man on the other side in order to bring about a reconciliation. We will come back to that a little later.

B. Now Consider Some of the People God Single Out to Stand in the Gap.

1) First, there was Noah. When the world God had created had become totally corrupt, with people living in a state of arrogant rebellion against Him, He decided to end it all and start over. That decision made, he singled out one man who was faithful to him and told him to build an ark. You know the story of the Flood that wiped out all human and animal life except for those aboard the ark. That included Mr. and Mrs Noah, Mr. And Mrs. Shem, Mr. And Mrs. Ham, and Mr. and Mr. and Mrs. Japheth, along with the specified animals God brought to the ark. The Flood ended an old order and began an new one. Creation scientists are convinced the Flood was responsible for many of the abnormalities to which evolutionists assign billions of years. The main point for us today, however, is that God started over with man, but continued His Messianic Covenant.

2) Next, there was Abraham. When the world once again became corrupt and its population evil, God singled out one man to stand in the gap between the old and the new. God entered a covenant with Abraham, naming him as the father of a new order of people, a people to bring honor to His name and a people through whom He would fulfill His Messianic Promise. Abraham believed God, packed up his belongings and left Ur of the Chaldees for a Promised Land far away from his home and family. Abraham believed God and it was attributed unto him for righteousness.

3) Then, there was Joseph. The covenant God made with Abraham was continued through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel, meaning a prince with God). When famine threatened Israel and his family, God had a man standing in that gap. He was a most unlikely man. The spoiled rich kid bragged one time too many and his brothers sold him to a band of Midianites, who in turn sold him to a rich man in Egypt. Even though circumstances seemed to conspire to destroy him, he was the man God had ready to stand in the gap between starvation for his father and brothers and prosperity in the fertile Land of Goshen. Joseph, a man of moral integrity, was also the man God singled out to stand in the gap between starvation and survival.

4) Next, there was Moses. You remember Moses - the man who looked and sounded just like Charlton Heston! Four hundred years after Joseph stood in the gap for the Lord, Moses was born and his life was miraculously spared when his mother hid him in a basked in the reeds where she knew the daughter of Pharaoh bathed. He escaped death as an infant by the skin of his yet to be cut teeth, and for the next forty years enjoyed all the benefits of a prince in the most advanced country in the world.

Then came the trouble when Moses decided to stand in the gap between his people and their oppressors. He killed an Egyptian official and had to flee to Midian, where he spent the next forty years tending his father-in-law’s sheep. Even the devil must have thought he had seen the last of Moses. Then he found himself before a burning bush which was not being consumed. He found himself on holy ground, commissioned to return to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh let the Israelites go. For the next forty years, Moses stood in the gap - the gap between Pharaoh and the Chosen People, between the true God and the gods of Egypt, between Pahraoh’s army and the deep blue sea, between two giant walls of water between which the Israelites marched on dry ground. He stood in the gap at Mount Sinai. His significance was such that the Law God gave His people, and to the world is still referred to as the Mosaic Law. Moses stood in the gap between the Word of God and the will of a people determined to rebel against the Lord.

5) We must never forget Joshua. I cannot imagine any little boy who would not love to hear stories about Joshua and the Battle of Jericho. The Lord prepared Joshua to stand in the gap for Him - the gap between the wilderness and the land flowing with milk and honey. The Lord gave Moses His laws, statutes, and precepts and then He told Moses to write it in the Book. Joshua said he obeyed everything God told Moses to write in the Book. Joshua was an absolutely amazing man, from faithful spy, to the commander of the army under Moses, to the conqueror who led in the conquest of the Promised Land.

6) The Judges stood in the gap for many generations. During the entire period of the judges, the people went through a five point cycle over and over again. One, they would rebel against the Lord. Two, He would send a foreign nation to conquer them and oppress them. Three, They would cry out for deliverance from oppression. Four, He would send a deliverer like Gideon, Deborah, or Samson to deliver them. Five, they would live in peace as long as that judge lived. Then they would start the cycle all over again. In every case the Lord had someone He could send to stand in the gap.

As the time came for a transition from the Period of the Judges to the Period of the Kingdom (or kingdoms), the Lord was getting everything ready for them. There was a woman named Naomi whose husband and two sons died, leaving her with two Moabite daughters-in-law. One named Ruth returned to Bethlehem with her where she met and married a man named Boaz. They had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse - who had a son named David.

7) Never forget Samuel, a pivotal figure in God’s plan. The last judge over Israel was a most remarkable man who stood in the gap between the Judges and the Kings. He was a pivotal character in the history of Israel - judge, priest, prophet, historian, and prayer warrior. It was he whom the Lord sent to anoint David as king.

8) There can be no greater example than David. When the Lord gave permission for a king to lead His people it was David who established the kingdom, after the failure of Saul. David ranks as one of the great military men in all of human history. He was a brave youth who slew a bear and a lion before he slew the Philistine giant Goliath with a sling and a stone. He was mighty in hand to hand combat. He was a man of spiritual integrity who refused to lift his hand against the Lord’s anointed.
Who can read his psalms in the Book of Psalms without an appreciation for his gifts in the area of music. We are reminded when we read about all the kings who followed him that every king was compared to David. What is the symbol under which modern day Israel marches today? It is not the star of Solomon, Joab, or Josiah. It is the Star of Daivd.

David wrote of the Messiah in that great trilogy, Psalms 22-24, even to showing the agony of Jesus on the cross, hundreds of years before the cross was used as a method of execution by Rome. In fact, the Genealogy of Christ in the First Chapter of Matthew proves that Jesus met the promises of the Messianic Covenant in that He was descended from David.

9) Consider Isaiah and Hezekiah. When Judah was in rebellion against the Lord and revival was needed, there stood King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah. What a team that was! Isaiah delivered the “Thus saith the word of the Lord,” and Hezekiah commanded the reform. In addition, it was Isaiah through whom some of the greatest Messianic promises were given. He was standing in the gap when he delivered the message about the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:12 - 53:12).

10) Then there was Jeremiah (and Josiah). Though we are not told exactly how Josiah and Jeremiah may have cooperated in the reform begun by Josiah and tragically ended when he was killed by Pharaoh Necho on the Plains of Megiddo in 608 B.C, we know that Josiah began the reform and Jeremiah cried out to the people to return to the Lord. The weeping prophet stood in the gap between a people bent on rebellion and seventy years of captivity in Babylon.

Jeremiah ministered to those left in Judah after the first deportation to Babylon in 606 B.C., and again in 597. He was there when the Babylonians broke through the walls and destroyed the temple. He was always faithful, regardless of the cost. If you want a blessing today, God will bless you if you will read the Book of Jeremiah.


A. Jesus Fulfilled all Messianic Prophecies.

1) He is the Seed of the woman. The Lord was addressing Satan when He said, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen 3:15). Suspended between heaven and earth, Jesus reached across the great gulf caused by the Fall. Jesus and only Jesus could ever bridge that gap. Look to the cross! The upright beam points up to God and down to man. The horizontal beam then points our to our fellow man.

2) He is the Seed of Abraham. Paul wrote in his powerful letter to the churches of Galatia, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say “and to seeds,” as though referring to many, but and to your seed, referring to one, who is Christ” (Gal 3:16). Paul, continuing to draw the line between law and grace reasoned with them:

“Why the law then? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come. [The law] was ordered through angels by means of a mediator” (Gal 3:19).

3) He is the fulfillment of Promise made to Abraham at the alar where Isaac was raised. When Abraham placed Isaac to the altar, tied him and drew back the knife to plunge it into his chest, two things happened instantly. First, God provided a substitute . Jesus is our Substitute; He died for us. Second, we were given a picture of the resurrection. God put his Son on the altar and rather than spare Him, He turned His back on Him. Then, when Jesus died and was buried, God raised Him from the dead.

4) He is the Son of David. Jeremiah wrote, “The days are coming”—[this is] the Lord’s declaration—“when I will raise up a righteous Branch of David” (Jer 23:5). Again, Jeremiah prophesied, “In those days and at that time I will cause a Branch of righteousness to sprout up for David, and He will administer justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 33:15). That righteous branch is Jesus.

5) He is the Suffering Servant. Through Isaiah, God spoke of His Servant:

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6).

The Suffering Servant is Jesus, the One standing in the gap between heaven and hell for all people.

6) He is the Stone upon which all eyes are fixed. This is an amazing prophecy: “Listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your colleagues sitting before you; indeed, these men are a sign that I am about to bring My servant, the Branch. Notice the stone I have set before Joshua; on [that] one stone are seven eyes” (Zech 3:8-9). What is so amazing about that? “My servant, the Branch” is Jesus. He is the Stone, and seven (the number for perfection or completion) eyes will be upon Him. There is coming a day when all eyes will be on Him.

7) He is Immanuel, God with us. “Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

B. Jesus Was Sent By the Father to Stand in the Gap.

God had revealed many things about the Messiah he would send to stand in the gap to deliver us from death to life everlasting.

1) He was born of the virgin Mary.
2) He lived a perfect life (needing no one to stand in the gap for Him).
3) He proclaimed the Gospel to a lost world.
4) He Manifested the power of God.
5) He died on the Cross for you and me.

When Jesus died on the cross, God was reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19a).


“God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us” (2 Cor 5:19).

A. He Called People to Stand in the Gap in the New Testament Period.

1) He sent His Spirit to empower His church. Jesus gave us the Great Commission and on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to empower us to carry out that commission,

2) Peter stood in the gap. Simon Peter preached the first Holy Spirit anointed on the Day of Pentecost and all the believers testified for the Lord. Three thousand souls were saved

3) Paul stood in the gap. Paul stood in the gap between Jews and Gentiles, between the pagan and the cross, between the ignorant and the intellectual, between the church and the world.

4) John stood in the gap. When all the other apostles were gone, John was left standing in the gap between the first century church and all the centuries until Jesus returns. Not only was he inspired to write the Evangelistic Gospel so people will know the Savior, he wrote 1 John so that we may know that we know Jesus. He was given the Revelation to fill in the gap in our understanding of things to come.

5) The Lord did not stop there. He called out the early martyrs, giving them the ministry of reconciliation. He sent the early church fathers to keep the church focused on sound doctrine and on evangelism.

After the invention of the printing press, God called John Wycliff and William Tyndale to translate the Scripture into the language of the people. When the church forgot the New Testament mode of baptism, the Lord called out John Smythe and Thomas Helwys to call believers back to baptism by immersion. When the church was stuck in a quagmire of legalism and ritual, God called out Martin Luther to lead in the Reformation.

When the church forgot the Great Commission He called William Carey to begin the modern mission movement. He called Ann and Adnirom Judson and Luther Rice to expand that call to foreign missions, and to encourage us to support His missionaries.

When many compromised the Gospel, God called out Charles Haddon Spurgeon and blessed him with incredible gifts of the Spirit. He called out Thomas Chalmers to change the direction of an entire nation. He called out an unknown by the name of Ian Roberts to begin the great Welch revivals. He called out John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield to carry the message of redemption to the lost on two continents.

In the Twentieth Century, there were the great theologians and philosophers, Carl F. H. Henry, C. S. Lewis, and Francis Schaeffer. I heard Dr. Henry in person, read a little of C. S. Lewis, and labored for years over the works of Francis Schaeffer.

There were the evangelists, Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham. There were many others; not so well known, but just as faithful. Today, Franklin Graham and a host of others have responded to the call to the ministry of reconciliation. They are standing in the gap.

B. God Also Calls Out Political Leaders to Stand in the Gap.

1) The Lord Used George Washington to establish the United States. Do you realize that all the brilliance, dedication, and courage of Jefferson, Franklin, Madison, and Adams would have counted for very little if George Washington had failed. I am convinced that God had one man standing in the gap between freedom and bondage, just as surely as He used Moses to deliver the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He delivered an oppressed nation from the clutches of King George. George Washington took a small rag-tag army, and in spite of desertions, short term enlistments, and every kind of disadvantage you can imagine, defeated the greatest military force on earth, including the greatest navy ever to sail the deep blue sea.

2) Next, there is Ronald Reagan. Right, that Ronald Reagan! After decades of compromise, Ronald Reagan shocked many reporters and politicians and caused others to ridicule him when he took on the Soviet Union. He faced the most powerful force for evil the world had ever known and challenged them, not only with SDI, but also with God. That’s right, he faced them down with the message of God.

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev agreed that on December 31, 1986, each would address the people of the other’s nation and that the message would be uncensored. Gorbachev spoke to America and then President shocked the USSR to its core with a Gospel message no preacher of the Gospel could have delivered in the Soviet Union. Sounding more like a missionary than a politician, he pointed out that they were celebrating a season of love, hope, and expectation - “a time when people in America, just like people all over the world, gather with family and friends to remember the blessings of God and to look to the future with hope. That’s what I would like to do with you, the Soviet people, tonight.”

He let the leaders get over their shock and then returned to the subject: “We believe that God gave sacred rights to every man, woman, and child on earth.” Author Paul Kengore said that “Even Reagan’s signature sign off, ‘God bless you,’ must have bewildered many Soviet ears.”

President Reagan, son of a very godly woman in Dixon, ILL, was baptized by immersion at age 11 and he spent his youth in church. As president, he was determined to confront Communism. The difference between Reagan and others presidents was that he believed a significant weapon against Communism was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He constantly attacked atheism and spoke over the Communist leaders to their citizens of God’s desire for their freedom and peace. He suddenly closed a speech with a surprise:

“Sometimes when I’m faced with an unbeliever, an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner one could ever serve and, when finished eating that magnificent dinner, to ask him if he believes there’s a cook.

“Thank you all and God bless you.”

Every mention of God was a shock to Soviet leaders. President Reagan was just beginning the shock treatment.

3) Finally, there is President George W. Bush. No president has ever faced the criticism and hatred leveled against President Bush, but he has not let theat stop him from waging a war against terrorism. The kind of hatred many have shown for Bush defies reason, but I am convinced that one of the reasons he is vilified with such venom by the liberal media and the liberal media is his open testimony for Jesus Christ. Fred Barnes, who according to Brit Humes, knows Bush better than anyone else in the Washington belt-way, stressed that his faith if genuine and intense. He reads his Bible through each year, prays all during the day, and even prays with heads of state like Tony Blair. Today, George W. Bush is standing in the gap between us and the evil forces of Islamic jihad.

C. You Are Called to Stand in the Gap.

1)You have been commissioned. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

2) You have been empowered. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).


“He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.” He has not committed it exclusively to priests, prophets, preachers, and professors. He has the ministry of reconciliation to you. How are you doing? What are you willing to do about it?