Tag Archives: Lord

Standing In The Gap

Ezekiel was chosen by God to speak his message to a people who were anxious about their future. Israel had ignored God and disobeyed him for so long that the Lord finally allowed disaster to visit them as punishment for their rebellion.

Ezekiel was with a group who had been expelled from their home, the Promised Land: Judah. They were deported to Babylon, unsure if their lives would ever return to normal.

God’s word came to the prophet, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30, NIV).

All had failed. The leaders of the people were unwise. The priests had led the people astray to idolatry. The prophets had lied to the people, telling them that they would enjoy peace and prosperity without interruption. The people followed along, content to be misled.

Government and religion, leaders and followers, rich and poor, every group was guilty of spiritual foolishness. God found nobody to “build up the wall” and “stand in the gap.”

The wall around an ancient city was vital for security. In war, the enemy tried to open a breach in the wall. If they were successful, brave warriors inside the city had to stand in the gap and resist the enemy, otherwise, the people in the city were doomed.

In this case, God is talking about more than military tactics. He said, “stand before me.” This is the language of prayer. To stand before God, in this context, means to appeal to him in prayer on behalf of others. The one who stands in the gap must know God well enough to stand before him. And this person must be willing to do so!

God looked for someone to stand before him “on behalf of the land.” The spiritual wall protecting the people of Israel had been breached by the enemy. In this case, it was their own foolishness that had allowed the dangerous rupture in their spiritual condition.

Ironically, God himself was ultimately the enemy. Babylon was merely his servant to bring punishment on Israel. He gave Babylon victory over Israel because of the stubbornness of his people.

In Ezekiel’s time, God found no one to stand in the gap. The results were devastating for Israel. Because the spiritual walls were breached, God allowed the physical walls of the city to be breached. More than that, the walls were completely broken down and the gates burned with fire. Jerusalem and the temple were utterly destroyed. All who survived were exiled to Babylon for 70 years.

Like Ezekiel, we live at a time when people are anxious about the future, wondering if and when things might return to ‘normal.’ But was our normal state one of spiritual health? The questions we face and answers we seek go deeper than medical and economic issues. The power and wisdom we desperately need are more than political and scientific. The core issue is spiritual.

God is looking for someone to stand in the gap. He is looking for those who know him well enough to approach his throne of grace with confidence, seeking mercy and finding grace to help us in our time of need.

May our Lord find many who are able and willing to stand in the gap for the people! May we be those who stand before the Lord on behalf of the land, appealing to God for his great grace.

Brother Richard Foster

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Moses’ Advice for Twenty-First Century Christians

Every follower of Jesus faces three powerful enemies. First, Satan prowls around like a lion looking for those he can devour. Second, the world is filled with sin that entangles and destroys. And third, our own sinful desires draw us away from the Lord.

When the people of Israel were ready to go in and take possession of the Promised Land, their leader Moses knew that they would face these spiritual enemies. So he gave them instructions on living in God’s victory and blessing (see Deuteronomy 6).

Moses said, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all you heart, soul and strength. These commandments that I am giving you today are to be on your hearts.”

The commandments Moses speaks of are primarily the Ten Commandments, but also the many applications of those commandments in their daily lives. These words of God were to be on the hearts of God’s people.

Moses continued speaking about God’s commandments, “Impress them on your children. Speak about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you get up.”

In addition to having God’s word on their hearts, they were to have God’s word in their homes, obeying it in their daily lives and speaking about it with their children. In this way they would pass God’s word on to the next generation.

Then Moses said about the commandments, “Tie them on your hands as symbols and bind them to your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The “gate” of an ancient city was the place of official business, much like the courthouses in towns and cities today. Moses is telling the people that private faith is insufficient. They had to take God’s word into their communities, into the public square.

So, in addition to having God’s word on their hearts and in their homes, they were to have God’s word in their communities. Only with the word of God’s truth would God’s people be victorious over their enemies.

The same dynamics are in play now. As God’s people, we face powerful resistance to God’s eternal truth. We need to carry God’s word into the public square, into our communities. This is our only hope for pushing back the darkness that presses in from every side.

Please notice, however, that we will not have God’s word in our communities until we have it in our homes, impressing it on our children. And we will not have God’s word in our homes if we do not have it on our hearts.

Victory in the public square begins in the heart of each and every believer. Every man and woman of faith must diligently read, passionately believe, and faithfully obey the Bible. Without the sure foundation of God’s word, we can build nothing of lasting importance. With it we will overcome!

May God’s empowering Presence inspire and enable us to carry his word into our communities,

Brother Richard

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Will Jesus Vote for Trump or Hillary?

Wow! What a campaign! I cannot remember a run for the White House anything like this one . . . not in my lifetime (50+ years).

I wonder what the Lord thinks. Is Jesus leaning toward Hillary or Trump?

What is Jesus’ voting record? He had several political choices in his day. He lived in a country (Israel) that was oppressed by foreigners (Romans). One response was to use violent force against the enemy (Zealots). Jesus does not endorse violence.

Another response was to collaborate with the foreign rulers: go along to get along (Sadducees). Jesus does not compromise.

Others tried to work for change by using the system (Pharisees). They did not persuade Jesus to do things their way.

At least one group got ‘fed up’ and withdrew from the whole mess (Essenes). They went out and lived in the desert. Jesus did not join them.

Revolution? No. Compromise? No. Reform? No. Dropping out? No.

And Jesus had great prospects. The people are so impressed when he miraculously feeds at least 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish – they are willing to support him for king (see John 6); what an incredible opportunity! Think of all the positive changes that Jesus could make as king.

Unbelievable. Jesus turns them down. He walks away and refuses to accept their support in a bid for power.

Does Jesus even care? Doesn’t he know that the only thing that evil needs in order to win is for good people to do nothing?

Jesus cares. And his rejection of the ‘mainstream’ political movements does not mean that he is inactive. Jesus is crystal clear about his mission. It’s not about revolution, reform, collaboration, withdrawal, or even responsible political leadership. He came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

By sticking to his mission, Jesus was made to look like an abject failure. His political enemies had apparently won the day. The religious and political powers collaborated to have him destroyed . . . publicly . . . shamefully . . . executed as a criminal.

Hopefully anyone foolish enough to believe in Jesus would be intimidated into silence.

But Jesus’ followers were not silent. Despite the fact that they had no political power or opportunity or prospects, they boldly spoke the gospel truth. They were risking personal destruction, why?

They knew something that changed everything. Jesus does not use the tactics of his political enemies because he fights to win a much bigger prize. Jesus fights the “good fight” for eternal victory.

Jesus’ followers risked it all for the Lord because Jesus did more than vanquish his political enemies. Jesus conquered death. Jesus paid the penalty for sin. Jesus opened the doorway to God’s greatest blessings.

Jesus’ enemies are footnotes in history. In fact, in the 2 millennia since Jesus was born in Bethlehem many great nations, powerful leaders, and influential movements have come . . . and gone.

The next president of the U.S.A will have the ability to make things better or worse for a lot of people. So we should prayerfully and carefully consider our vote.

But let’s not despair. The next president of the U.S.A. will come and go. He or she will not be our Savior (or the Anti-Christ!).

Jesus is here to stay. He need not run for office. He is King of kings and Lord of lords permanently. And Jesus still does things his own way and he always has the victory, no matter how things may look at the moment.

We need not change Jesus’ methods or goals. The Lord’s power is unstoppable and his victory is inevitable. Be encouraged! Be faithful!

Richard Foster, Grace Baptist Church
Camden News, October 22, 2016

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