Early in their history, Israel wanted a king, a decision that eventually left to a divided kingdom and a great deal of unfaithfulness. During the reign of the final king if Judah, in Jeremiah 4:14 and 24 the people are described as lacking understanding, as foolish children, Also, in chapter 5:1-5, God gives Jeremiah a mission to look for anyone who is living justly, and Jeremiah is disappointed in his search time and again. Additionally, in Ezekiel 22:26-28 (after the captivity has begun), the problem has not improved. Rulers and spiritual leaders are leading the people into lies. Again, God recaps Jeremiah’s unsuccessful search. No one was willing to stand in the spiritual gap in Jerusalem’s wall.
In a city’s physical defenses, a gap in the wall was a serious gap in security. It was a place easily penetrated by enemies, and God uses is as an analogy for the spiritual defenses of His people. None were willing to spiritually defend God’s word. Today, we are under assault by temptations and worldly influences, and now God relies on us to bolster our spiritual defenses – to stand in the gap and create a barrier between ourselves and our foe.
Who Will Fill the Gap?
God is looking for the willing in Titus 2:1-8, those who are willing to exercise self-control and teach others likewise. Age is irrelevant. Both the young and the elderly can serve God and defend the spirituality of His church. Both the young and the old can demonstrate wisdom, and both can be learned from, whether the focus and clarity of youth or the experience and perspective of age.
He is also looking for husbands and wives to stand in the gap in Ephesians 5:23-33. He is looking for this relationship to be as it should be, and he reminds husbands in particular to take care of their wives as carefully as they take care of themselves. I Peter 3:1-5 describes spiritually strong women who serve as an example to their husbands, and verse seven describes both husband and wife as joint-heirs of God’s promises. Husbands and wives should honor one another – spiritually strengthening one another.
Parents are additional spiritual defenders. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 describes the familiarity God wants families to have with His word. Parents should be continually looking for teachable moments with their children. Ephesians 6:4 describes the nurture and admonition Christian children should be raised in, and this is a lifelong responsibility. Our home life should be as focused on the Lord as when we are at church. Spiritual instruction is not the sole responsibility of pastors, preachers, or Bible class teachers. Knowledge of God begins at home.
In this vein, God is looking for teachers. In Acts 18:24-26, a couple examples are present of willing teachers. Apollos is an eager and enthusiastic teacher whose knowledge is imperfect, and Aquila and Priscella were willing to help him understand better. We should all be as willing to help each other out and to receive such knowledge as gladly as Apollo. Both parties involved demonstrate attitudes we should be willing to emulate in our lives as teachers and as learners of God’s word. II Timothy 2:2 describes a process of teaching and re-teaching, spreading the word from person to person.
In our willingness, we should we willing to serve Him and serve each other. Galatians 6:1-2 describes an attitude of willingness to help each other, of bearing each other’s burdens. For a congregation to be successful, everyone needs to help everyone. James 5:16 encourages us to also help each other out with our temptations and our faults. We need to share with each other in order to be able to help each other, but this requires an attitude of openness and acceptance among ourselves so none of our brothers and sisters feel impeded from this relationship.
We need to examine our own lives before God, and we need to help each other defend from the outward influences dragging us away from God. We cannot reach Heaven on our won. However, we can make it if we work together, if we are the people we should be, and if we help each other out. We can stand in those gaps our brothers and sisters have, helping each other reach the goal.
lesson by Kris Casebolt