Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   The Right Response
   by Rayola Kelley

     The Christmas season is once again upon us. I am not sure how many Americans are going to be celebrating this season with so many individuals out of work, out of food, living in cars, and living on the streets. As I meditated on this fact, I realized the excessive ways of Americans are often revealed at this season. As we compare this season with last season, I could not help but consider how many people now regard their past excessiveness in their buying habits to be nothing more than vanity, useless and mocking in light of the present crisis. I wonder how many people are beginning to regain their senses as to what is important. Most of what we Americans put value on in the past is now proving to be temporary and insignificant in light of the present crisis. Clearly, Americans are being pulled up short by the present darkness of hopelessness, and sobriety is now beginning to replace the foolishness that reigns in many of our lives.

       I have been struggling over the darkness invading this country since the 2008 campaign for the office of president. Recently it came to a head as I realized the tremendous vexation that weighed heavily on my heart. In fact, the weight was so great that it broke both Jeannette and me during our prayer time. Jeannette and I had both come to a place of being utterly broken over the sins of the Church and the nation. We became keenly aware of our own guilt and failure as well.

       It is important to point out this breaking was not a sudden occurrence for us. For me, it had been coming to a head for days. Concerning this nation, I felt a terrible hopelessness engulfing me, and when it came to the Church, I felt great sorrow and disappointment. Once again, I must remind people that the Church in this case is not necessarily represented by the visible or professing church; rather, it is the unseen Body of Christ that consists of living members of believers (Ephesians 3:11-21; 4:11-20). To me, the members of the unseen Church are most likely wrestling before God concerning the present state of affairs. No doubt, many of the members feel isolated and uncertain about this situation, but something still compels them to wrestle and stand until they know there is no more hope.

       My personal wrestling match before God proved to be intense at different times. In my heart, I could not concede that I was to sit around and either hope for some great deliverance or calmly accept my “fate” as a noble martyr. I needed to do whatever I could to resist the evil that was enveloping the nation. Please do not get me wrong, I cannot save this nation, but neither can I sit idly by while the people Jesus died for are led like sheep to the slaughter.

       One particular night all of my strength was spent in wrestling with these matters before the Lord. At that point, a Scripture came to me. Before I quote this Scripture to you, let me set up the scene that surrounds this Scripture. Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonian army for the third time. In the first siege, the young Daniel was taken from the courts of Jerusalem to Babylon, and placed in the courts of its palace to be indoctrinated, trained, and integrated into the ways of Babylon. In the second siege, Ezekiel, the priest and prophet, was taken to Babylon, where he served the people of Judah in this foreign land.

       It was the time leading up to the third and final siege that Ezekiel received an indictment from God directed against the people of Judah, mainly the city of Jerusalem. This indictment is found in Ezekiel 22:23-29. As you will see by substituting the leadership of this nation and the visible Church system into these Scriptures, you will discover some very sobering similarities. After all, nothing new happens under the sun where evil or righteousness is concerned.

       Let us now honestly consider this indictment. The first thing it mentions is a conspiracy among the prophets. It is easy to recognize that there is a conspiracy as such when it comes to the agendas of those in leadership in both the political and heretical, religious arenas. Clearly, people in these arenas do not care about the people, or the tsunami of destruction their actions are producing.

       God compared these leaders to wolves who were preying and devouring people as they robbed them of their treasure (dignity) and that which is precious (rights). They also clearly violated the Law. How many of our political leaders are violating the Constitution, and how many of our religious leaders are actually showing contempt towards God’s laws by their compromise and attitude towards sin and the world?

       It goes on to say they have profaned what is holy. Consider how our nation’s systems have thrown out God, prayer and His commandments. Consider the recently exposed fiasco that took place in a public school when the music to a Christian song was used as a means to exalt Obama. Talk about something exhibiting profanity and sacrilege! But, what about the church system? It appears that there is no distinction made between the holy and the unholy.

       The indictment continues against the political leaders. It compares them to wolves that are quick to shed the innocent blood of others (abortion) and destroy souls to get gain (Obama’s Communistic policies). It goes on to say in the indictment that the so-called “religious prophets” have shored up their personal kingdoms with lies spoken in God’s name.

       Finally, the indictment declares that the people of the land have oppressed and exercised robbery. It is true that those in the financial arenas have proved to be carpetbaggers, but consider how our government has become the biggest thief of all, along with the special interest groups that are playing the harlot to get their share. All are bent on oppressing and robbing from those (the baby-boomer generation) who have honestly earned what they have gained by hard work. It goes on to say that they are vexing the poor and needy, and oppressing the stranger wrongfully. Supposedly, the present government is on the side of the poor and needy, but in reality, it simply will bring everyone down to the level of poverty in order to make everyone needy and reliant on the government. And, who is the stranger that the government will wrongfully oppress? The answer lies in such Scriptures as John 17:12-18, Ephesians 3:19 and 1 Peter 2:11.

       How will God act towards such abominations? Ezekiel 22:31 tells us: “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.”

       We know as believers that we will be spared from the wrath of God to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). However, the people of Judah were greatly suffering because of the leadership. Their leaders were victimizing them while they were painfully aware that Jerusalem would indeed fall to Babylon. They would either die or be taken into bondage.

       This brings us to what we should do as believers. The Bible clearly tells us what to do, but it appears as if we are debating our responsibilities based on a few Scriptures that have taken center stage as far as our doctrinal or theological beliefs, rather than coming to terms with what God wants us to do. In fact, He tells us in this indictment against Jerusalem what He wanted the people to do. The Scripture that He reminded me of as I wrestled before Him is Ezekiel 22:30. “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.” To me the last part of this Scripture serves as the greatest indictment against those in Jerusalem.

       Now note, God is simply looking for one man to stand in the gap. Abraham stood in the gap for Sodom. God agreed to spare it if ten righteous men were found. We know that only Lot and his family were delivered, but God was willing to stay judgment on behalf of a few, for the sake of one man who believed that the Creator of the Universe could be reasoned with (Genesis 18:23-33; 19:15-29). Consider Moses who stood in the gap for Israel. God was ready to destroy all of Israel and raise up Moses’ family in the people’s place. However, Moses stood boldly in the gap and Israel was spared (Numbers 14:1-19). What about Aaron? God was sending a plague through the Israeli camp for their rebellion. He ran to stand in the gap by making atonement for the people, and the plague was stopped as he stood between the dead and the living (Numbers 16:36-50). There is also David. He stood in the gap in a couple of ways. First as a young lad he stood in the gap for the Israeli army against a giant’s raving against the army and Jehovah God. David simply stood by faith, flinging a stone in the assurance of victory because of God, and the giant fell. He knew who really wrought the victory. It was not him but God (1 Samuel 17:31-51). As king, David stood in the gap for Israel when the angel was about to pass judgment on Jerusalem. He obeyed the Lord’s instruction, bought a piece of land and offered a sacrifice. The plague was stopped (2 Samuel 24:14-25). In almost every case mentioned, one man stood in the gap, sparing the lives of many.

       The greatest example of someone standing in the gap is one of the reasons we celebrate Christmas. The Son of God came into the world as a baby, was raised in obscurity, and had a ministry that revolutionized the world. At the end of three years, He allowed Himself to be taken to the cross where He stood in the gap in order to save you and me. The Bible tells us that He continues to stand in the gap as our High Priest in the courts of heaven (1 Timothy 2:5 Hebrews 7:16-28).

       The Lord Jesus, as well as the saints who have gone before us, serve as our examples, and as Christians can we do any less? We are considered soldiers, equipped to fight an unseen battle (2 Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:10-18). If we would truly receive and obey our marching orders to stand in the gap, as well as come into a place of agreement, we could make up a powerful hedge as far as this nation is concerned. We also make up a lively priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9). As priests, we are to stand in the gap. After all, God did not want Judah to be destroyed any more than He wants this nation to be brought down. Granted, the wickedness is great, but God’s commitment to souls is greater, but He needs a platform of righteousness established by His people through repentance and humility to stay such judgment. He needs someone to stand in the gap, and that is why His eyes travel to and fro looking for those through whom He can show Himself mighty (2 Chronicles 16:9). He is the one who secures the victory on behalf of those who stand in faith, withstand with truth, and when all else has been done remain standing on the Rock of Ages.

       This brings me to a very important question. Where are the Christians of this nation standing? Some believe Jesus is coming soon to take us out of here; therefore, we simply have to hunker down to wait. Such an attitude sounds like the one Hezekiah displayed when he first showed all the treasures of Judah to the visitors from Babylon. Isaiah rebuked him for his pride, and pronounced the very judgment that Judah faced in the fulfillment of in Ezekiel 22. What was Hezekiah’s attitude towards the rebuke? Even though he had been a king that had previously stood in the gap for Judah against the Assyrian Army and witnessed a great victory, did he take the opportunity to once again stand in the gap in humility and repentance (2 Chronicles 32:20-22, 31; 2 Kings 20:12-19)? Consider his attitude when confronted by the prophet, Isaiah: “Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou has spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?” Talk about selfishness and indifference!

       What does Scripture say about this matter? When I read Scriptures surrounding Jesus’ coming, I read instructions such as watch, be ready, occupy, and pray that you are worthy to escape (Matthew 24:42-51; Mark 13:32-37; Luke 21:34-36). I do not see where we are to lounge around like sitting ducks until Jesus comes. I personally hope Jesus comes before we have to taste the fullness of this government’s wrath and God’s full judgment upon this nation. However, as history declares, often the government has come in to take people away to interment camps.

       There are those who believe they must concede that whatever happens happens.  In their mind this nation is worthy of whatever judgment befalls it. Therefore, they must submit to the government’s tyrannical ways and accept their oppression as graciously as they can. If they are oppressed or led away, they must accept their lot like any committed martyr.

       If you have this attitude, let me remind you of the king of Judah who was reigning during the time in which Ezekiel spoke this indictment. King Zedekiah asked for a personal audience with the prophet Jeremiah concerning Babylon. Jeremiah told him what he needed to do to stay the inevitable judgment looming over Judah. Out of fear, he submitted to the foolish leaders around him instead of heeding Jeremiah’s warnings. The last thing he saw before the Babylonian soldiers put out his eyes was His sons being slaughtered (Jeremiah 38:14-39:8).

       Clearly, God is humbling this nation. He is shaking it to try to wake up the sleeping giant that understands that the godly principles that made this nation great must be reestablished to bring it back to center. He is sounding the alarm from every direction to gather His army to push back the advancement of the enemy into our homes, schools, churches, and local governments. He is calling for His people to prepare themselves to stand, and fight the good fight of faith and truth in spite of the indictment and circumstances that surround them. Clearly, we need to respond. We need to stand as a hedge and stand in the gap in order to withstand the advancement of evil. And, in so doing, with humble urgency and sobriety, may we be assured that it will never be said of His Church in America: “In God’s attempt to save this land by looking for the one person who would make up a hedge and stand in the gap, it ultimately proved useless, because none could be found.”