Sunday, June 5, 2022

Gāḏēr : A Hedge for God, Standing in the Gap

Today we visit the book of Ezekiel for our Hebrew word During Ezekiel’s time. Ezekiel was a priest during the time of Israel when the nation was split. The northern half had been destroyed and taken into captivity in Assyria. And Judah was attacked during this time by Babylon, for the first time, and many of the people were taken to live in Babylon, and included in this group was Ezekiel. So we have Ezekiel living in a poor village in Babylon full of captured Israelites.

And the Lord gives his words to speak against the nation of Israel. Among the many words he spoke about the corruption and evil in Israel, he said this, from Ezekiel 22:24-29, “‘You are a land that has not been cleansed or rained on in the day of wrath.’ 25 There is a conspiracy of her princes within her like a roaring lion tearing its prey; they devour people, take treasures and precious things and make many widows within her. 26 Her priests do violence to my law and profane my holy things; they do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach that there is no difference between the unclean and the clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her officials within her are like wolves tearing their prey; they shed blood and kill people to make unjust gain. 28 Her prophets whitewash these deeds for them by false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’—when the Lord has not spoken. 29 The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and mistreat the foreigner, denying them justice.”

From top to bottom the society has become incredibly corrupt. In fact in one of his visions Ezekiel saw the temple, and there he saw people outside the temple worshiping a pagan god. And a group of women next to the temple worshiping before a Babylonian god, and even inside the temple, they are worshiping false gods, and Ezekiel sees God’s throne leave the temple, and head toward Babylon. More on that in a second.

But at the end of the charges Ezekiel makes against Israel, God indicates the following: “

30 “I looked for someone 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 no one. -Ezekiel 22:30 NIV

So God was actually searching out the nation of Israel for someone, some godly leader or person he could use to bring the nation back from the brink, and spare it from destruction, but it says he couldn’t find anyone.

There have been many times when God needed someone and he did have a hero, like with Gideon, or with Moses, or Abraham, and very importantly with Noah. God only needs one man or woman, to use, who is truly submitted to Him, and willing to do his will, to do great things, and it says that God would’ve built up the walls around Israel, and save it from Babylon.

But what happens when there is not even one?

So, we see here in Ezekiel 22:30 our Hebrew word for today, God looked for someone to build up the hedge, or wall, gāḏēr Pronunciation: gaw-dare'

In the context of Ezekiel 22:30, we see that God needed someone who would become a gāḏēr a hedge, or wall, against evil, against sin, against Babylon, but he didn’t find anyone.

God is looking for one man to stand in the gap. Standing in the gap pictures ancient soldiers who would be defending a city from attack. In ancient times cities would have walls built around them. So when an enemy came they would have to besiege the city. They would surround the city and begin pelting the walls. Eventually over weeks and months holes would form in the walls, gaps would form, and a soldier or group of soldiers would stand in the gap in the walls to drive back enemy troops who would attack the breach to try to take control of the city.

In many ways we as Christians today “stand in the gap.” We stand in the gap for others, pleading with god to have mercy on them and help them to see Jesus. We stand in the gap when someone gets sick and we pray for their healing. We stand in the gap when we take a stand on a key issue. And we face criticism as a result. But we stand in the gap fighting back the attacks and arguments of the worldly.

Are you a gāḏēr for God? Are you a hedge for God, standing in the gap for others and for God’s kingdom values?

If you are going to be a gāḏēr you have to understand the requirements of being hedge. You must be a protector of the hurting. You make it your business to help. You do good deeds to help others, beyond words, but you meet needs. 2nd you must have spiritual discernment. If you are guarding the gap in the wall, you need to know who to let in and who not to let in. If farmers come back from a days work, you let pass. But if perhaps you see someone you haven’t seen before. You stop them and interrogate them, and make sure they are not a spy. You have discernment. As Christians we must also have discernment, we must discern between the lies of the world and the truth of God. It’s very easy to see some clever argument on the TV and start repeating it to people. Don’t believe just anything repeated to you, give the issue to god and let him speak to you. Thirdly, you must have a willingness for self examination. This is rare in our day, but are you willing to look at yourself and say, what am I doing? Am I doing something wrong? Have I offended god in some way and need to repent?

These 3 areas are vital:
1. Be a guardian of loving good deeds to others.

2. Have spiritual discernment to test right and wrong

3. Internally examine oneself to test within what is true and false in me

And each of these requirements come from the Hebrews letters used to spell the word gāḏēr

Isn’t that amazing? When you examine each Hebrew letter, they carry the meaning of what it means to be a hedge for God.

We can also examine the Hebrew letters of the word for gap, Hebrew word paras.

The three key letters are pe, resh, and sade, which means the mouth, the head, and righteousness. He uses his voice to speak up for God’s truth. His mouth speaks truth. He uses his head to consider truth and understand it, and resh also means leader, so he leads in truth, and third he seeks righteousness in all things.

But in Ezekiel’s time no man to stand in the gap can be found. Ezekiel prophesied that Israel would be destroyed and taken into captivity. And indeed in the future, Babylon would continue to attack Israel, and during the reign of Zedekiah, Israel was destroyed and captured, and forced into a time called the Babylonian captivity.

Terrible time for Israel. But the amazing thing is that even while Israel was taken into Babylon, God was with them. The chariot of the Lord, the four living creatures and the spinning wheels, with God on the throne had left the temple, yet it traveled to the east, and God was with Israel during the captivity, and would eventually bring them back to their homeland in the future.

You may yet in the future find yourself with an opportunity to stand in the gap and be a gāḏēr a hedge for God, but I will tell you this, it won’t be easy. You will face persecution. Friends and colleagues will hate you and mock you for the stand you are taking. You’ll be maligned in the media. You’ll be ridiculed by fellows. But if you stand firm in the gap, others will stand with you, the faithful remnant of Christians in the world today will stand with you in the gap. God often works through simply one man or woman who willing to stand in the gap. Standing in the gap isn’t easy. Being a gāḏēr is tough. But it’s so worth it, because among millions God found you, and you said yes.

Many, many Christians fool themselves, they think they would stand in the gap, but they wouldn’t. When the tough moment comes they draw back, they don’t want to offend anyone, they don’t want to hurt their future prospects, they don’t want to face the criticism from others, they don’t want to risk what they have. So they compromise. And God despises that cowardice and weakness.

So instead be a faithful Christian, though we may tremble and say oh Lord, I can’t stand in this gap alone, Lord I will stand, because I know I will not be alone. But you'll be with me. I’ll be criticized viciously, but so was Jesus, so I count myself lucky, to say one day, God looked for one to be gāḏēr a hedge and to stand in the paras, and he found me, one who said yes, and stood in the gap, and took many arrows to his shield, and swords against his blade, but stood firm in the gap, and so the whole world changed, and the land was not destroyed. Be a gāḏēr and paras for God. But Know this: It won’t be easy. And you won’t be adored for it.