Standing in the Gap

Bible Book: Ezekiel  22 : 30
Subject: Faithfulness; Commitment; Dedication; Young Christians
[Editor's Note: The stats in this sermon are from a number of years ago, but you can find the updated statistics by checking online sites. The fact is, the sad truth is, the statistics are worse today than they were thirty years ago.]

Standing In The Gap

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Ezekiel 22:30:

"30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."

I'm speaking today on responsibility in the Christian life, especially among young people. God is looking for a young man and young woman who will stand in the gap for the Lord. Some one right here in this service is being called to a deeper and more profound commitment to Christ.

Now we must admit that this is the day of the easy way out. Almost every case taken to court these days ends up with the defendant claiming that he or she could not help what was done because of circumstances. In other words, the guilty party claims others are at fault for making him or her do the crime. We have lost a sense of personal responsibilty. In fact, in many cases we discover that guilty people released by the court who go out and commit even worse crimes immediately.

I read a humorous story the other day in which a student was trying to decide what to do. Would he go to bed, stay up, or perhaps do what he should do and study. So, he grabbed a coin, flipped it in the air and said, "Heads, I'll go to sleep, tails, I'll stay up. If it stands on the edge, I'll study."[1] Sadly that is the attitude of the average person today. We can find a way to make things turn out the way we want them to and justify the results to please us.

Dear friend, we must face the fact that this approach is not working. In fact, it is a sad fact that the number 2 reason for the death of a teenager in America today is suicide.

Every 10 minutes some very disturbing things will happen to America's youth:

  • Fact: 105 kids will quit school.
  • Fact: 618 high school seniors will smoke marijuana.
  • Fact: 20 girls between ages 15‑19 will become pregnant.
  • Fact: 5 of those girls will give birth to illegitimate babies.
  • Fact: 8 of those girls will have abortions.

These numbers have become, quite literally, a national crime. Though these stats come from records a few years ago, everything we see indicates that the numbers are not getting any better. Sadly, children and young ages 12 to 20 constitute 57 percent of all serious arrests made in America. And the problem is not getting better.

A small boy was standing by a horse one day that was tied to a post. A stranger asked him, "Can that horse run fast?"  The boy answered, "I don't know, but he can stand fast." (1 Cor. 15:58)[3]

Without question we need some people today who will stand fast for Christ in a wicked world. Yet, increasingly we are seeing a trend toward a breakdown in morals and ethics in our society. God is being rejected, the Bible ignored and situational ethics seems to rule the heart. God is looking for someone to stand in the gap - for some young people and adults who will step up and say, "Lord, you can depend on me!"

Children increasingly are committing crimes ranging from armed robbery to murder, sociologists and criminal justice experts say. "Ten years ago, it was a shock to see a 7, 8 or 9‑year‑old come into the system; now it's not," said Dann Dawson, chief of the Orange‑Osceola County state attorney's juvenile division in Orlando. "It's a trend."

Nationally, records show, 1,311 youths under age 19 were charged with murder last year; in Florida during the past two years, children aged 5, 8, and 9 have been charged with killing younger playmates, Mr. Dawson said recently.

Kathleen Heide, an associate director of the International Center for the Study of Violence at the University of South Florida in Tampa, recently completed a two‑year study of adolescent killers. She characterized about 10 percent of them as sadistic. Among six other categories were those who regarded crime as a sport and homicide as an unavoidable aspect of robbery, she said. In another category were abused children, who might kill a parent but who tend more toward suicidal than homicidal behavior, she said. Prosecutors and judges had long been guided by the "rule of sevens." Children younger than 7 were thought to be incapable of forming criminal intent and therefore not accountable for their actions. By age 14, it is believed that children can comprehend right from wrong. But the rule is fading. "You still think of them as children," Mr. Dawson said. "But I don't think (the public has) seen what we've seen. They don't see the 7‑year‑old who has a criminal mind and has the street savvy of a 16‑year‑old."

Thirty‑three Detroit children under 17 years of age were victims of gun homicides some years ago, while eight others died in suicides or accidents involving firearms, according to figures compiled through Saturday by the newspaper.

By comparison, the Free Press said, 15 children in Chicago were killed with guns or other weapons through Dec. 16.  The newspaper also said that in Detroit, 317 children 16 years old and under were shot and wounded during the year.

Listen, God is looking for parents, singles, young people and church leaders who will stand before Him and fill in the moral, legal and spiritual gap that exists today. So, first think with me about ...

I. The Nature of the Divine Search

God is searching for a man, a woman, a young person. First we see ...

A. The Passion in God's Search

The Hebrew in our text is made up of Piel = intensively and Imperfect = continually. In other words, God is intensively and continually looking for the gap filler. This tells us that God is looking for someone to stand in the gap in every generation. Sadly, few can be found. How about you? Do you drift with the tide of the times or do you stand faithful for the Lord in this generation?

Note also ...

B. The Place of  God's Search

God looks in the same place for those who will stand in the gap as He did in the days of Ezekiel. Look at the following for the scripture:

  • Prophets (26:28) - the evangelists of our day
  • Priests (21:26) - the church leaders of our day
  • Princes (27:27) - the corporate leaders of our day
  • Politicans (26:27) - the government leaders of our day
  • People (entire passage) - that means you!

What did God find as He searched?

  • The sins of the people were vile in their sexual nature (22:9-11).
  • The sins of the people were violent in their social nature (22:12).
  • They were brought down by their filthy transgressions.
  • They were bought out with their financial transactions.

Doesn't this sound like the people in our day?

Sadly, we can say that ...

  • He could not find one to stand like Daniel before Nebuchadnezzar.
  • He could not find one to stand like Esther before Xerxes.
  • He could not find one to stand like Stephen before the Council.
  • He could not find one to stand like Paul before Agrippa.

Though God looked intently and continually, He could not find one to stand in the gap or make up the hedge in the day of Ezekiel. I believe God is looking today for someone to stand in our day.

He is looking for someone who cannot be bought with cash or caught up in the trash of our times!

Secondly, look at ...

II. The Need of the Divine Search

A. Lordship

God said He was looking for someone who would stand "before Him". That means He was looking for an individual who would follow only the directives that come from the Lord. Lordship means just what it says ... Jesus is Lord! Since He is Lord, we must follow Him implicitly if we would practice Lordship in our lives.

WHAT WE SING                                               WHAT WE MEAN

I Surrender All                                                    I Surrender Some

There Shall Be Showers of  Blessings              There Shall Be Sprinkles of Blessings

Fill My Cup, Lord                                              Fill My Spoon, Lord

Oh, How I Love Jesus                                     Oh, How I Like Jesus 

He's Everything To Me                                    He's Quite A Bit To Me 

I Love To Tell The Story                                  I Love To Talk About Telling The Story

Take My Life And Let It Be                             Take My Life Then Let Me Be

It Is No Secret What God Can Do                  It Is My Secret What God Can Do

There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today             There Is Scattered Cloudiness in My Soul Today

We Are One In The Spirit                              We Are One In The Bond Of Our Denomination

Onward Christian Soldiers                            Onward Christian Reserves

Where He Leads Me I Will Follow                 Where He Leads Me I Will Consider Following

Just As I Am                                                 Just As I Pretend To Be

Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus                    Stand Up, Stand Up (quietly of course) for Jesus

When The Saints Go Marching In                When The Saints Go Sneaking In

It's not just Lordship, but also ...

B. Leadership

We are told that God desires someone to stand in the gap and make up the hedge ... in the world. That means that God is looking for someone who will practice leadership in the world based on God's Word and God's will. The Lord is looking for a person who will not stick his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing before making up his mind, but will be determined to do what God says and face the world with that decision.

Also, standing in the gap involves ...

C. Fellowship

We are to stand ..."before the Lord." This implies a fellowship with God - standing in this world, but standing as if we are standing directly in the presence of God. It is not just a determination to do what God says, but a commitment to walk in fellowship with Him daily. The average Christian prays about two minutes a day. The average preacher prays five minutes a day. That will never do! We must maintain fellowship with God.

Standing in the gap also speaks of ...

D. Sponsorship

God is looking for someone who will stand in the gap, and make up the hedge before the Lord ...  "for the land". For the land, means that we are to intercede, to stand as a sponsor for the lost world. We are not better than anyone else, but we are told that once we know Jesus we are to go before God for the lost and unchurched.

This involves praying, then getting off our knees and going to the people for whom we are praying. This is getting more difficult everyday.

We must pray as never before for the lost and go as never before to the lost. We are seeing doors open all over the world to share the gospel and watching them close here in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

"To mend the hedge" is a participle, which speaks of a continual lifestyle not a flash in the pan.

To remain - "stand" in the gap - Gap means that which is falling down, where there is a breach occuring.

To stand "before" means before the face of God. Someone is needed who can meet with God daily, get marching orders, go out to face the world without fear or favor.

Today, Christianity seems to be less a matter of commitment and more a matter of convenience.

Someone said, "One man with courage makes a majority." That is certainly true in God's work. One man or one woman - one teenager - who is willing to stand lovingly but courageously for Christ in this world will make a difference.

We see here, also ...

III. The Number of the Divine Search

A Person Sought ... "for a "man"

The Hebrew word from the word "man" means a person, humankind, not male, but male or female.

Consider ...

A. The Most Important Number in the Bible

Any ONE who comes to Him will not be cast out.

Every ONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Jesus is pictured as standing at the door of the human heart in Revelation saying, If any ONE hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him.

The most important number in the Bible is "ONE".

Paul said, This "ONE thing I do."

Jesus told the rich young ruler, "ONE thing you lack."

Jesus said of Mary, who sat at his feet, She has discovered the "ONE" thing most important.

The most important number in the Bible is ONE.

  • Jesus said, "Let's eat" and got 5,000
  • He said, "Let's witness" and got 70
  • He said, "Let's go to the cross" and found none!

Will you be the ONE who will accept Him, serve Him, share Him with others? Will you be the ONE who will stand in the gap?

We've seen the most important number in the Bible, now let's consider ...

B. The Most Influential Number in the Bible

"One" man named Abraham began a nation by obeying God and became the father of the faith.

"One" man named Moses led the people out of slavery.

"One" man named Joseph saved the nation by turning from temptation.

"One" teenager named David fought for the nation when he faced Goliath.

"One" woman named Esther rescued the nation by risking her life.

"One" preacher named Paul spread the gospel over the world by being obedient.

Can one person make a difference? Absolutely! This is proven in the Bible. This is proven in history.

Have you noticed that some people can't be stopped? They have accomplished much despite adversity. They refuse to listen to their fears. Nothing anyone says or does holds them back. As Ted Engstrom insightfully writes in his book "Pursuit of Excellence:

"Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott.

Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan.

Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington.

Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln.

Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt.

Burn him so severely that the doctors say he'll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham, who set the world's one‑mile record in 1934.

Deafen him and you have a Ludwig von Beethoven.

Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Marian Anderson, or a George Washington Carver.

Call him a slow learner, "retarded," and write him off as uneducatable, and you have an Albert Einstein."


I must close.

Someone has said, "If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything." Many are falling for the world's lies today instead of standing on God's truth.

A commencement speaker in Michigan: "My advice to young people who are going out in the world today ‑ don't go!" Well, you must go. You can go for God and against Him. God is looking for someone who will go with Him and for Him. Are you that person?

God is looking for Christians, including and especially young Christians, who will go out into this world and make a difference by living for and presenting Jesus as Lord and Savior. He is searching for someone to "make up the gap." Will you answer His call? You know He is calling you. What is your answer to Him today?