Exodus 32:1–14, Numbers 14:11–24, Ezekiel 22:30-31, Matthew 18:18–20
Standing in the gap has long been a phrase used for intercessory prayer, and it is fitting. Sometimes, however, standing in the gap doesn’t always mean what we think it means.
Twice Moses stands “in the gap” apparently between God and the Israelites. The Israelites have betrayed their agreements with God, even so quickly after their miracle-filled escape from Egypt. What possessed Moses to stand between God and the Israelites? Was it truly concern for God’s glory? Scripture only really provides that interpretation. In fact, it happens twice. Moses stands between God and the Israelites.
It’s Moses! Of course, Moses can do that! There is the time Abraham sort-of steps in between God and the city of Sodom, but it wasn’t the same.
Yet, in Ezekiel, we see that perhaps it isn’t an Abraham or Moses task to stand in the gap. It’s anyone’s task (or even everyone’s). Re-read those 2 verses in Ezekiel. It seems as if God is disappointed that no one is standing between God and consequences. God was looking for a person to stand up and defend the sinners, lost, and unrighteous! Sound familiar? There is an inference that there was such a lack of believers and followers that they couldn’t, wouldn’t, or felt they shouldn’t stand in the gap.
Where does that leave us? Let’s look at Jesus’ words. They have long been used by the Roman Catholic church for certain practices of theirs. Abuses of it helped to trigger the Reformation. However, in so doing, these words are avoided by Protestant circles. Regardless of our personal feelings, these words of Jesus remind us that we are called to stand in the gap for others.
While we are especially to stand in the gap for those in the extended family of believers, we are also called to do the same for those currently outside of the family of believers.
1) What do you think of the “whatever” that is in Jesus’ words?
2) For whom in the family of believers are you standing in the gap? For whom that are outside of the family are you standing in the gap?
3) Looking at (Abraham,) Moses, Ezekiel, and Jesus, what does it mean to be standing in the gap?