A sad, sad narrative unfolds in the 22 chapter of the book of Ezekiel as God speaks through the prophet the His people. He declares that He has searched in vain among the princes and politicians, the prophets and the priests - seeking a man who would stand in the gap for the people of God that He might not destroy them. He searched and found none.
What God DID find were prophets who instead of being the voice of God in the midst of the people, were enriching themselves at the expense of widows, taking treasure for themselves and leaving the widows destitute.
What He DID find was his priests (pastors) violating the laws of God, profaning the holy things of God, unable even to discern between the holy and the vile. The were unable to make a distinction between the clean and the unclean.
What He DID find was the princes (politicians) in the midst of His people were like wolves stalking their prey, shedding innocent blood, and using their political position to heap to themselves wealth, benefits and power.
He found that the prophets who should have exposed sin, who should have exposed the greed, who should have denounced the wickedness of the nation and her leaders, spiritual and secular alike - covering up. They were daubing the sins of the nation with untempered mortar - putting a veneer of “righteousness” over the wickedness of the nation - no mortar between the bricks - just a thin veneer on the outside.
As a result the people of the land had become oppressive thieves who robbed and took what they wanted. They had become a people that not only failed to care for the weak, but exploited them for their own purposes, making the situation of the weak and poor worse rather than better. The oppressed strangers wrongfully. . . . . and because of this, God would judge the nation.
In Ezekiel 22:30 God says, “I sought for a man.” Where did he search? “From among them.” Among who? The prophets and pastors, politicians and leaders; from among them He says, “I sought for a man who would make up a hedge around them - a man who would “stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it - but I found none.” Because He could not find such a man, God says in verse 31, “I have poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I turned their own evil back upon their heads,” saith the Lord.
The eyes of the Lord are searching our own nation today, looking for men from among us who will raise up a hedge around our people, but I fear - with similar despair. Like Israel before us, we are as a nation unaware that the lamp of God is growing dim, the oil is about to run out, and the presence of the Almighty which once made this such a great nation has almost gone out. God is searching for a righteous remnant that will follow His commands and honor His word. Our politicians and princes are corrupt. Our prophets lack moral clarity and too many of our pastors have soiled their hands with the lucre of this world, hardened their hearts toward the weak, and surrendered their pulpits to the to the religion of tolerance; no longer able to discern between the holy and the profane. The people are drowning in a sea of iniquity and perversion. Is there a man among us who will stand in the gap for this nation?
Someone said to me recently, “We are living in the Nazi Germany of 1938.” If you are careful to see; and willing, you can sense the same hatred that was fueled against the jews of that generation now growing against those who follow Christ. Is there a Bonhoeffer among us who will speak up and warn us, even at the risk of his own neck? It may very well be that Christians will become the “jews” of the 21st century and the mark of the beast in our generation could well be a rainbow colored flag.
I share these things not to foster fear, but that we might be able to discern our times and know what we ought to do and what sort of men we ought to be. The fires of persecution will only hasten the spread of the gospel. Wicked men want to silence its message of redemption but their hatred will only fan the fires of our zeal. Someone was well spoken today when they said, “You can behead Christians, but you can never sever the head of the Body of Christ.”
We must not fear the fiery furnace but know that there is One who awaits us in the midst of the flames. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, the Captain of the Hosts - the fourth man in the fire.