Let us begin by posing the question, “Who is God looking for?” There is not just one answer to this question. We could begin with Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” An obvious answer, perhaps? But certainly true! John 4:24 tells us that God is seeking those who will worship him in “spirit and in truth.” Inspiring and encouraging.
Both declarations are accurate because we were once lost, and he sought us out and found us. There is something wonderful, liberating, and refreshing about worshiping God in spirit and in truth. But how about this one:
I looked for anyone to repair the wall and stand in the gap for me on behalf of the land, so I wouldn’t have to destroy it. But I couldn’t find anyone. Ezekiel 22:30 (CEB)
In some ways, this is a devastating verse. Like Judges 2:10, where we hear that after Joshua’s generation, “another generation came after them who didn’t know the Lord or the things that he had done for Israel.” Scriptures like these can be depressing. Ezekiel 22:30 may not be inspirational, but it certainly represents a challenge. It would be a mistake to think that just because in Ezekiel’s day, there was no one to stand in the gap, that it is always the case.
Jesus told us, “that the fields are white, ready for harvest.” Therefore, “We should pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he thrust forth laborers into the field.” It is God who is responsible for sending workers out in his name to accomplish the gathering of the harvest, but we must also consider our calling and commission to make disciples.
It is not inconsistent to say that God is the one who thrusts forth the laborers into the field while at the same time he gives us the responsibility to disciple, or can I say to encourage and equip others, particularly the next generation so that they can be in a position to be thrust forth by God into the field with effectiveness?
Let us think about what a gap is for a moment. We are more likely to notice gaps than we are the absence of a gap. If a window or a door is properly sealed, no one would take notice, but if there is a cold blustery draft or heat, it would be obvious to most people that it is a gap that is causing them discomfort. Unless of course when gaps are the usual. My point is this: perhaps the reason that God found it so difficult to find someone who was willing to stand in the gap is that there is no glory in filling gaps and once the gap is filled, no one will pay attention.
As in Ezekiel’s day, there are gaps in the wall and God is looking in every generation for those who will build up walls and stand in the gap. Will he find someone in our day? Are we the ones or are we going to let history repeat? Is somebody going to answer the call in this generation?
A passage of Scripture with strong missionary emphasis is found in Isaiah 6: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
What did it take for Isaiah to get to the place where he could say, “Here am I, send me!” It began with the death of King Uzziah because that is when he had a vision of the Lord. But not only that, as he saw the glory of the Lord, he recognized his own sinfulness and his inadequacy and upon his confession cleansing came from the altar, and then he was ready to respond.
Samuel was a boy serving in the Temple under Eli and the text tells us that divine communication was rare in those days. Samuel being young and inexperienced did not recognize God’s voice when he called to him, thinking instead that Eli had summoned him. “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” 1 Samuel 3:7 (NIV). After this happened a couple of times, Eli, even in his sorry state, was able to recognize that it was God who was calling Samuel and he gave him instructions, and therefore the next time God called, Samuel was able to say, “Speak. Your servant is listening.” The simple point is this, both Isaiah and Samuel needed preparation before they could respond to God’s call.
Today, it is no different, God is still looking for those who will stand in the gap and we have a responsibility to give instruction in discipleship to prepare others to recognize and respond to the call of God.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:14–15
The call to ministry should never be regarded or taken casually. If someone is not truly called by God, it is a great mistake to seek the office of pastor, teacher, missionary, chaplain, or evangelist, let alone apostle or prophet. I am reminded of the words that God spoke to Ananias at Paul’s conversion. God said, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
It may have been true that in Ezekiel’s day, God could not find someone that he could count on to stand in the gap. Let’s do our part to encourage one another as well as prepare a future generation of leaders as ministers of the gospel.
Who will stand in the gap?