Standing in the Gap

Bible Book: Ezekiel  22 : 30
Subject: Faithfulness; Commitment; Dedication; Young Christians

Standing In The Gap

Dr. J. Mike Minnix
Introduction

Ezekiel 22:30

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 do the crime. We have lost a sense of personal responsibilty.

A student 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] 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.

Dear friend, we must face the fact that this approach is not working. One look at teenagers in America today tells how desperate things have become.

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

Fact: 10 kids will attempt suicide.

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. Children and youths ages 12 to 20 constitute 57 percent of all serious arrests made in America. And the problem is getting worse.

A small boy was standing by a horse 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] We need some people today who will stand fast in a wicked world. Yet, increasingly we are seeing a trend toward a breakdown in morals and ethics in our society.

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 Danny 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 in 1986, 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.

"The statistics are little short of staggering: American girls, on average, begin having sex at age 16, boys, at 15 p. By the end of their teens, 70 percent of girls and 80 percent of boys have been sexually active." (U.S. News & World Report, December 22, 1986, p. 8.)  50% of today's sexually active males had their first sexual experience between the ages of 11‑13. (Robert Coles and Geoffrey Stokes, Sex and the American Teenager, New York: Harper & Row/ Rolling Stone Press, 1985)

1,100,000 teenage girls became pregnant in 1984. 30,000 girls who become pregnant each year are under 14 years of age. 80% of the pregnant teenage girls will drop out of school. 70% of the unwed teenage mothers will go on welfare. (Jay Kesler, Parents of Teenagers, Illinois: Victor Books, 1984) These numbers are likely worse today!

"If present trends continue, 40% of today's 14 year old girls will be pregnant at least once before age 20." (Claudia Wallis, "Children Having Children," TIME December 9th, 1985)

Some years ago teens aged 15‑19 had 433,330 abortions, a rate of 43.3 abortions/1000 pregnancies, this is over 1/4 of the abortions performed in the U.S. 

I. The Nature of the Divine Search

A. The Passion in the Search

Piel = intensively

Imperfect = continually

B. The Place of the Search

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!

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.

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 look 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 in trash.

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 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 (But Keep Your Arms Down) for Jesus

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

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. 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.

C. Fellowship

Before the Lord, also implies a fellowship with God. It is not just a determination to do what God says, but to walk in fellowship with Him daily. The average Christian prays two minutes a day. The average preacher prays five minutes a day. That will never do! We must maintain fellowship with God.

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 getting off our knees and going to the people for whom we are praying. This is getting more difficult everyday. A law was just passed that says an employer of more than 15 people can be sued if he allows employees to witness to other employees on the job. This means it may become illegal to share your faith in Jesus.

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, participle, continual lifestyle not a flash in the pan

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

"One man with courage makes a majority."

III. The Number of the Divine Search

A Person Sought ... for a "man" ... Hebrew word from the word for person, humankind ... Not male, but male or female

A. The Most Important Number in the Bible

AnyONE who comes to Him will not be cast out. EveryONE 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 anyONE 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 got one.

B. The Most Influential Number in the Bible

One man named Abraham began a nation by obeying God.

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.

Conclusion

Have you noticed? 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, a George Washington Carver.... Call him a slow learner, "retarded," and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.

"If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything."

Commencement speaker in Michigan: "My advice to young people who are going out in the world today ‑ don't go!"

God is looking for Christians, including and especially young Christians, who will go out into this world and make a difference. He is searching for someone to "make up the gap." Will you answer His call?