By Ron Thomas
Reading through Ezekiel one can’t help but notice the Lord’s great displeasure with His people because they desired and decided to be like the other nations. Rather than destroying them, the Lord sent prophet after prophet to warn them of a pending judgment. By the time of Ezekiel, the northern kingdom of Israel (base in Samaria) was gone (the northern tribes) and Jerusalem/Judah had already experienced one invasion by Babylon, with many taken into captivity. Still the people, as a nation, refused to learn.
What was the core problem Jerusalem and the area surrounding the city refused to address? The problem, as mentioned, was directly connected to their decisions. In Joshua 24:14-15, the Lord’s prophet called upon the leaders of Israel to make a decision: "Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (NKJV).
Throughout their history, some eight hundred years later, they struggled with making the right choices. To Ezekiel, the Lord said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (22:30, NKJV). Clearly, the Lord had men/saints standing in the gap, but these people could not stanch the flow of depravity that was coming through the wall. Why was this? It had everything to do with leadership.
Leadership is a key to all things related to groups. On a baseball team there is the coach/manager. In government there are mayor, governors, and even the president. In social clubs there is a designated leader. These leaders to a greater or lesser degree determine the direction of those being led. The same is also in relation to the church. In the New Testament, the Lord set forth the elders as the leaders in the congregation. This responsibility does not reside in the preacher, but in the collective wisdom of at least two godly men.
The Lord needs men to stand in the gap. If they do not they will themselves be swept through in the flood that surely will be experienced.
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com