Will You Stand in the Gap for God?

God's Help Wanted Ad - Intercessors to Stand in the Gap - Ezekiel 22:30-31

WANTED: Intercessors – Those who will Stand in the Gap before Me

Two of the saddest verses in the Bible are found in Ezekiel 22:30-31.

This passage presents God’s inner turmoil.  His holiness and justice often demand punishment, but His love wants to show mercy.  Probably the most famous verse showing this conflict is John 3:16.

God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9 / KJV).  So God demonstrated His love for the world by becoming a man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin, to live a perfect life and die a horrible death on the cross to pay the death penalty for our sins.  “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 / KJV).

 

God not only cares for us individually, He also cares for people as groups and nations.  When we die, each of us will stand before God to be judged individually.  God also judges communities and nations for their wickedness.

Mind the Gap!

But the love of God still seeks for reasons to show mercy. 

So God seeks people who will stand in the gap before Him to intercede on behalf of those who deserve judgment.

There are many examples of this in the Bible.  God informed Abraham of His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their sin.  Abraham got God to agree to spare them if ten righteous people could be found.  But not even 10 righteous could be found so only Lot and his daughters were spared.

Israel sinned by worshiping a calf and committing immorality with the daughters of Moab while Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments.  God informed Moses, saying He would destroy the children of Israel and start over with him.  But Moses interceded on behalf of his nation so God agreed to spare them.

Nineveh was the wicked capital city of the Assyrian kingdom.  God told Jonah to warn Nineveh that He was going to judge them.  Jonah did not want to because the Assyrians had been attacking and harming the people of Israel.  Jonah tried to run away, but God sent him to Nineveh anyway.  When Jonah proclaimed God’s coming judgment, the people of Nineveh repented so God spared them.

In the days of Ezekiel, God’s chosen people had been worshiping idols, burning babies in fires to pagan gods, and violating His law.  The northern kingdom had already been destroyed and taken into exile by the Assyrians for their sin.  Now God was using the Chaldeans to judge the kingdom of Judah for their wickedness.

In Ezekiel 22:30-31, God lamented that He had sought for someone to intercede before Him on behalf of their nation so He could show mercy.

But He had found none. 

So now He would have to destroy them.

Ezekiel 22:30-31God is Searching for an Intercessor to Stand in the Gap before Him

God is Searching for an Intercessor to Stand in the Gap before Him

Today, America is guilty of the same sins that led to the destruction of Israel. 

People are rejecting God as their Creator and worship the gods of “Time, Chance and Evolution” instead.  Immoral sex of all types is exalted, while marriage is redefined and gender distinctions are vilified.  Thousands of babies are murdered every day in the name of “choice,” while government funded “chop shops” profit by selling human body parts.

God’s patience must be growing thin.  The blood of millions of aborted babies calls out to Him, crying for vengeance.  God’s justice demands wrath in return for our wicked ways.

Yet our God of love wants to show mercy. 

He is looking for righteous intercessors who will stand in the gap before Him, asking our Heavenly Father to remember the blood His Son shed for all.  And pleading for the grace and revival we need rather than the judgment we deserve.

Will you answer God’s call?

Will you stand in the gap and build up the wall?

Will you be an intercessor for all?

Be Reasonable – Fear God and Repent – Isaiah 1:15-31

Isaiah 1:18 - Come Now and Let Us Reason Together, saith the LORD

Come Now and Let Us Reason Together, saith the LORD

Isaiah Preached to a Rebellious and Sinful People

The prophet Isaiah was called by God to warn God’s people of the coming judgment for their sin.  He was to call them to repentance, even though they would not listen.  God was tired of their going through the religious motions of Temple worship, while their lives were immersed in sin and evil.  Their hypocrisy made God sick (Isaiah 1:10-15).

The Merciful Promise

Isaiah 1:18 - Repent and be cleansed from your sin

Come now, Let us Reason Together, saith the LORD

God called His errant people to repent and turn from their sin.  He called them to clean up their lives.  They were to put away their evil deeds, and stop their wicked ways.  They were to learn to do well, and help those in need instead.  (Isaiah 1:16-17)

God called them to be reasonable and repent.  If they obeyed, God promised to wash away their sins and bless them.  He would turn away His judgment and allow them to live peacefully in the Promised Land.  (Isaiah 1:18-19)

But if they rebelled and refused to repent, God proclaimed judgment and destruction to purge away their wickedness (Isaiah 1:20-25).

The Dire Warning

The passage ends with a dire warning for those who reject God and cling to their sin.  “The mighty man will become tinder and his work a spark; both will burn together, with no one to quench the fire.” (Isaiah 1:31 / NIV)

Sinful man and his wicked works will burn together with no one to quench the fire - Isaiah 1:31

Repent or Burn!

  • The sinful man is “the tinder,” which fuels the fire – That which actually burns
  • His works are “the spark” that ignites the fire and causes the fuel to burn
  • The sinful man and his wicked works will burn together for eternity
  • In a fire that will not be quenched

This paints a very vivid picture of judgement in hell, and brings to mind several of Christ’s warnings (Matt. 3:12; 13:38-42; Mk 9:43-48; Jn 15:6).

God declared, “The destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed.” (Isaiah 1:28 / KJV)

  • The people were “transgressors and sinners” who had forsaken the LORD (the self-existent God, Who created them)
  • Their works were the idolatry of “desiring” and “choosing” other gods, rather than The Living GOD Who called them as a people.
  • Those who forsake the One True God have no one to save them from their fiery fate!

God promised destruction to transgressors who forsake the LORD.  Through Isaiah God pleaded with them to repent and forsake their sin instead.

So – Be Reasonable, Fear God and Repent of your sin!

 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”  (Isaiah 1:18 / NKJV)

Should You Answer a Fool?

Proverbs 29:9

You Can’t Reason with a Fool

Many people who do not know or understand God’s Word claim the Bible is full of contradictions (even though they can’t name any).

One seeming contradiction is this pair of verses from the book of Proverbs:
•   “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” (Prov. 26:4 / ESV)
•   “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” (Prov. 26:5 / ESV)

The first verse says not to answer a fool according to his folly.  The second verse says you should answer a fool according to his folly.  On the surface, this seems contradictory.

If these verses were widely separated in different parts of the Bible, then the apparent contradiction might be hard to explain.  But these verses occur together, one right after the other.  So they are meant to be taken together.  You must dig a little deeper to get to the meaning.

In Bible study, it is often necessary to compare a scripture with scriptures from other parts of the Bible.

To make sense of these two Proverbs, it is helpful to add a third:
•   “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” (Proverbs 29:9 / ESV)

Taken together, these three verses teach the following lessons:

You cannot reason with a fool, because fools are unreasonable.  The fool will either mock or get angry at the reasoning of the wise.  Either way, there will be no peaceful resolution of the disagreement.  But that does not mean you should leave a fool unanswered, because then they will smugly think they are right.

Since a fool cannot be reasoned with, you cannot win an argument with one.  If you try, you are likely to appear foolish yourself as the fool drags you down to his level, trying to answer his erroneous arguments.

You do not know just how foolish someone is

So does that mean we should always follow the advice of Proverbs 26:4 by not answering the fool?  The answer depends.

If the dispute is about something unimportant or unprovable, the wisest course may be to let the ignorant remain ignorant and avoid the quarrel.  As the apostle Paul told Timothy, “Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Tim. 2:23 / NKJV).

In important matters, it may be best to reason with the fool in hopes of bringing them to the truth

In important matters, it may be best to reason with the fool in hopes of bringing them to the truth.  This is particularly true of the gospel.  We have been commanded to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  No exception was made for fools.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.  (2 Tim. 2:24-26 / NKJV)

We should try to reason with the fool and lead them to the truth, “lest they be wise in their own eyes.”  And you do not know just how foolish someone is.  If they are merely ignorant or deluded, you may be able to reason with them.

We must always be ready to gently answer anyone who asks the reason for the hope we have in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)

Psalm 94 – A Prayer for Today

Can wicked rulers be allied with You, those who frame injustice by statute?

They band together against the life of the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.

(Psalm 94:20-21 / ESV)

Do these verses remind you of a nation you know?

Many European nations rejected God decades ago.  Now America is speeding down the same dark road.

Psalm 94:20 - Wicked Rulers Devise Evil Laws

Wicked Rulers who Devise Evil Laws are NOT God’s Allies

Many of our leaders and judges now hearken to the voice of the ungodly rather than the Word of God.  Our rulers create laws that legalize immorality and punish the righteous.  Many judges promote injustice by reinterpreting the clear words of the Constitution, thereby stealing away the freedoms we have enjoyed for more than two centuries.

They condemn innocent children to death for being unborn and unwanted.  They promote immorality and steal away the livelihood of those who choose to obey God rather than men.

Some of our leaders openly reject God and say faithful obedience to God’s Word should not be tolerated.  Others may claim to be Christians, but their actions and ungodly agendas demonstrate that they know NOT Christ.  Their rotten fruits show they serve another god instead.

Even many people who profess to be Christians align themselves with these wicked rulers by voting for them and supporting their evil decrees.

Jesus said we would know people by their fruits.  He said a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit, and that every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and cast into the fire.  He also said NOT all those who call Him Lord will enter heaven, but only those who do the will of His Heavenly Father.  (Matthew 7:15-21)

What does your fruit say about you?

It would be easy for God’s children to become discouraged because of the rapid moral and spiritual decline in our nation.  But as the psalmist said, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Ps. 94:19 / NKJV).

We need to remember that the Almighty God is our defense and Rock of refuge (Ps. 94:22).  The triumph of the wicked will NOT last.  God will punish their sin and destroy them for their evil (Ps. 94:23).

Let us pray with the psalmist:

  • O LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
  • They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
  • They crush your people, O LORD, and afflict your heritage. (Ps. 94:3-5 / ESV)
  • O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!
  • Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve! (Ps. 94:1-2 / ESV)
Psalm 94:20 - God has No Fellowship with Wicked Rulers

God has NO Fellowship with Wicked Rulers – Should you?

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The Sins of Josh Duggar – How Should a Christian Respond?

Do Not Condemn Those whom God has Forgiven

Condemn Not that ye be Not Condemned

The Sins of Josh Duggar

How Should a Christian Respond?

The sexual sins of Josh Duggar as a teenager are currently making headlines.  The oldest son of the nationally televised Duggar family was 14-years old when he allegedly “molested” some of his sisters.  The purpose of this article is not to rehash the details of his sin, which have already been exposed by others.

What does the Bible say?

The purpose of this article is to reflect on the national response to these events that occurred twelve years ago.  And to consider what our response should be as Christians.  What does the Bible say?

First, it should come as no shock that Josh Duggar and his family have sinned and are imperfect.  Because the Bible says:

  • For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Eccl. 7:20)
  • For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom. 3:23)
  • As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Rom. 3:10)
  • There is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Rom. 3:12)
  • If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 Jn. 1:8)

According the Bible we have all sinned.  In God’s eyes, we are all sinners.  This includes me, you, Josh Duggar and his parents, and everyone else (including all Christians).  Some people may claim they have never sinned, but that is because they do not understand what God calls sin.  Most people sin many times every day.

Most people sin many times every day

Sin includes violating any of God’s commands either by doing something He forbids, or by failing to do something He commands.  A partial list of God’s commands includes:

  • Love God with all of your heart, mind and soul (Dt. 6:5; 10:12; Josh. 22:5; Mt. 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27)
  • Put God first in your life (Ex. 20:2-3; Dt. 5:7)
  • You are not to misuse God’s name by using it in an empty, frivolous, or demeaning way (such as using it as part of a curse or exclamation) (Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11)
  • Honor and obey your parents (Ex. 20:12; Dt. 5:16; Eph. 6:1; Col. 3:20)
  • Do not murder (Ex. 20:13; Dt. 5:17)
  • Do not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18)
  • Do not steal (Ex. 20:15; Dt. 5:19)
  • Do not lie (Ex. 20:16; Dt. 5:20; Prov. 6:16-19)
  • Do not covet (a strong desire for something that belongs to another) (Ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21)
  • Love others as yourself (Lev. 19:18; Mt. 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom. 13:9-10; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8)
  • Believe in Jesus Christ as your personal savior (John 3:15-19; 6:28-29; 14:6)

Some people may look at this list and say, “I have never killed anyone.”  But Jesus raised the bar on this commandment, saying that anyone who gets angry without cause is in danger of judgment (Mt. 21-22).

Others might say they have never committed adultery because they are not married and they have never had sex with a married person.  But this prohibition includes any form of sex outside of marriage, which would include premarital sex.  Jesus also raised the bar on this command, saying that anyone who looks on a woman to lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt. 5:28).  This would include anyone who has ever looked at pornography or had a sexual desire for someone other than their spouse.

Bible Quote of Romans 3:10 & 23

There is None righteous – ALL have Sinned

The question is have you ever sinned at all?

Based even on the partial list above, any honest person would have to admit that they have sinned.  Some people may try to rationalize their sin, or say their sin is not as bad as Josh Duggar’s sin.  But the Bible says that he who is guilty of one sin is guilty of the whole law (James 2:10).  The question is not whether or not you are better than someone else.  The question is have you ever sinned at all?

So was Josh Duggar’s behavior toward those girls sin?  Absolutely, and there is no excuse for it.  But forgiveness is possible.

Forgiveness is possible

There has only been one person who ever lived without sinning, Jesus Christ.  God wanted a way to forgive sins so He could restore His fellowship with people.  But God is holy and righteous, so the death penalty for sin (Rom. 6:23) had to be paid.  So God the Son became a man named Jesus through the virgin birth by Mary.  As a man, Jesus was tempted just as we all are.  But being God, He was able to resist all temptation and lived a perfect life without sin (Heb. 4:14-15).

Even though Jesus was completely righteous and lived a sin-free life, He still paid the penalty of death by His crucifixion on the cross.  Because Jesus had no sin of His own to pay for, His death could pay for our sin instead.  Jesus became our substitute.  Jesus became sin for us so we could receive His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

God became a perfect man to die a terrible death on the cross to pay for our sin, so we would not have to pay the eternal penalty of death in hell.  So our sins can be forgiven and we can have eternal life in heaven, if we will just confess our sin and trust in Jesus as our savior.

We can have eternal life in heaven, if we will just confess our sin and trust in Jesus as our savior

Second, there is a way to be forgiven

1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  By all reports, Josh has admitted he was wrong.  He repented of his sin, got his heart right with God, and has been trying to live for God for the past 12-years.

Josh’s transformation demonstrates the power of redemption and is what the Bible says should happen.  While Josh’s sins were as scarlet, he has been washed white as snow (Isa. 1:18).  Although it is right to be shocked by the sins of Josh’s past, as Christians we should rejoice in his reclamation.

Josh’s life over the past 12-years gives evidence of genuine repentance and a changed life.  If he confessed his sin to God, as he has said (and as confirmed by his transformed life), then God has forgiven Josh for those sins.  If God has forgiven Josh Duggar, who are we to condemn him?

Let us remember the admonition of our Lord when He said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mt. 7:1-2; Luke 6:37).  We should also heed Christ’s warning that if we do not forgive others for their trespasses, then God will not forgive our trespasses (Mt. 6:15; Mark 11:26).

If God has forgiven Josh Duggar, who are we to condemn him?

The apostle Paul said, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).  It appears that this happened in the case of Josh Duggar.  But now the “liberal” media, the religious left, and other haters want to punish Josh 12-years after his restoration.  Those who would condemn Josh and his parents should beware lest they be overtaken in faults of their own.

Third, the liberal media and others who want to condemn Josh Duggar and his family are displaying extraordinary hypocrisy by singling them out.

The words “rape” and “intercourse” are not used in conjunction with Josh Duggar’s sin.  It turns out that Josh’s contact with his sisters was fully clothed.  While I would not minimize the seriousness of Josh’s behavior or the effect it had on those girls, far worse things (like rapes, murders, and forced prostitution) happen every day that go unreported by the media.

Our culture actively promotes sexual exploration among children.  Instead of teaching abstinence, schools hand out condoms.  If a 14-year old girl gets pregnant as a result of this behavior, the school and Planned Parenthood will take her to have an abortion without informing her parents or getting their consent.  Apparently our society thinks that encouraging sex among young teenagers and murdering the innocent babies that result is more acceptable than Josh’s form of sexual exploration as a 14-year old.

If Josh had been prosecuted at the time of the crime, he would have been tried as a minor.  And as a result, he might have spent some time in a juvenile facility.  Society normally espouses reformation as the goal for juvenile offenders.  In Josh’s case, reformation occurred, which should make people happy.  So why are people so upset that he and his parents were not punished?

Those who have been enlightened should not join those who walk in darkness in condemning the forgiven

This appears to be a case of our ungodly society seeking any excuse they can find to condemn Christianity.  Perhaps this is more about those who live in darkness striking out at the light that hurts their eyes, than about what actually happened.  Those who have been enlightened should not join those who walk in darkness in condemning the forgiven.

Fourth, Christians should remember that if this can happen to a faithful family like the Duggars, it can happen to anyone, including them.

David was “a man after God’s own heart.”  David’s life was characterized by faithfulness.  He was “the sweet psalmist of Israel.”  His descendants were chosen to be the royal family of Israel, and Jesus Christ was born from his lineage.  Yet David coveted another man’s wife (Bathsheba), committed adultery with her, and had her husband (Uriah) killed in battle.

David confessed his sin and repented.  So God forgave him.  He did not lose his salvation.  His fellowship with God was restored.

Yet there were consequences.  Nathan the prophet told David the sword would never depart from his house, and that another man would publically commit adultery with his wives (2 Sam. 12:9-12).  All of these predictions came true in David’s life.  David’s family troubles included the death of the child of adultery, a son raping one of his daughters, her brother (Absalom) killing the brother who raped her.  Absalom sought to kill his father to steal his throne, but was killed in battle.  And after Solomon became king, he put his older brother Adonijah to death.

No doubt there were consequences for Josh Duggar and his family that we are not even aware of.  They are certainly suffering the consequences now.

As Christians we need to remember that we are in a spiritual war between God and Satan, good and evil, and light and darkness

Nathan told David that his sin had “given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme” (2 Sam. 12:14).  This is also happening today with the Duggar family.  The sins Josh committed 12-years ago have given God’s enemies occasion to blaspheme God and faithful Christians today.

The current uproar over the sin of Josh Duggar highlights that a person’s sin often reflects poorly on others as well.  Just as Josh’s sin makes his parents and family look bad in the eyes of the world, so any sin in the life of a believer dishonors Jesus, our Heavenly Father, and other Christians.

As Christians we need to remember that we are in a spiritual war between God and Satan, good and evil, and light and darkness (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-4).  One of Satan’s favorite tactics is to tempt God’s children and then accuse them if they sin (Rev. 12:10).  So we need to be sober and vigilant.  Because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8).

So we need to:

  • Put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the devil’s schemes (Eph. 6:11-17)
  • Resist the devil by remaining steadfast in the faith (1 Pet. 5:9a)
  • Take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5)

When Christians see another believer sin, we need to:

  • Love them (John 13:34-35; 15:12; Rom. 13:8; Eph. 4:2; Heb. 10:24; 1 Pet. 3:8; 1 Jn. 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12)
  • Not Condemn them (Mt. 7:1; Luke 6:37)
  • Forgive them (Mt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 17:3-4; 2 Cor. 2:7-8)
  • Gently restore them, while taking heed to ourselves lest we be tempted also (Gal. 6:1-2)
  • Examine our own life, confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness (1 Cor. 11:28, 31; 1 Jn. 1:9)

We should “do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).  We need to live lives that are beyond reproach so “that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8).

 

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