The story is told of a train wreck where many people were injured. A doctor passing by stopped to help. As he looked down at a helpless person partially pinned before a fallen carriage, he cried in despair, “If only I had my instruments with me!”
Perhaps there is no sadder statement in all of the Bible than that found in the words of Ezekiel. God is looking for a man to do a critical work and nobody is available. Here’s what God said to Ezekiel: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”
When God has a job to do, he always chooses individuals through whom he does his work. The work is God’s, but man is God’s instrument. As E. M. Bounds put it, “God’s methods are men!”
When God wanted to form a nation of a chosen people through whom to do many mighty works, he chose and called Abraham to be the father of the nation of Israel. When God wanted to care for this young nation in a time of famine, he called Joseph to provide for them. When it was time to bring this nation into the Promised Land, God called both Moses and then Joshua to get the job done. Throughout the Scriptures we read of those who were available for God to use.
And even right up into our own day God is still using individual people through whom he fulfils his divine purpose. Millions around us are lost and on their way to a lost eternity. God wants to save them and to help them, but he just doesn’t have enough available ‘instruments’ to get the job done.
Ezekiel stood in the gap to preach
“Son of man”, God said to Ezekiel, “I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel 3:17-19)
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Ezekiel knew God’s way
He also knew that without God his fellow countrymen were eternally lost. And God informed Ezekiel that if he didn’t do his part in ‘rescuing the perishing’, God would hold him responsible. Will God not also hold us responsible if we do not tell our fellow countrymen about God’s love and provision? I believe he will, “for we will all stand before God’s judgement’ to give an account.” (Romans 14:10)
Elijah stood in the gap to pray
“Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three-and-a-half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” (James 5:17,18)
I am sure that Elijah was a great preacher too, but he is not written up in the New Testament as a preacher but as a prayer. Elijah knew how to pray. When he prayed, things happened. He was in tune with heaven. He was just an ordinary, sinful human like you and me, but when he prayed, “Fire fell! Rain fell! And men fell!”
The early church was born in a prayer meeting. They had something to pray for. Their prayers were meaningful and purposeful. And that’s the type of praying that God likes. As James wrote, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” God is still in the prayer-answering business and he is still looking for his instruments to stand in the gap and pray!
Aaron and Hur stood in the gap to help
It was more than 4000 years ago. Israel was caught up in a battle. Moses was praying for the victory of his people. But he got mighty weary in the process. He called on Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms to help him in his praying. The result? Israel won the battle.
What a ministry helping is. It is a ministry of the Holy Spirit through Christians. It will never lack for opportunities nor tasks to fulfil. Without helpers the church doors would close, the voices of those heralding the Good News would become forever silent, the sick and the weary and the troubled and the needy would no longer be ministered to.
The names of the helpers throughout the ages may not be emblazoned in the church’s roll of honour, and neither will the vast multitude in this army of helpers be heralded to earthly praise and glory. In fact, most of their deeds will go all but unnoticed but by the few. But it is God who keeps the books and the records. And one day they will hear his, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Come on in and share my happiness.”
Gideon stood in the gap to fight
Our fight today is different to that of Gideon’s. However, it is nonetheless real. We are exhorted to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ and to fight the good fight of faith. We are involved in a mighty warfare against the powers of hell. Ours is the battle for souls, to snatch these prisoners of death from the clutches of Satan and to bring them into the Kingdom of God─a mighty, endless battle.
Amy Carmichael once said, “We have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but only a few hours before sunset to win them.”
Andrew stood in the gap to introduce others to Jesus Christ
Andrew wasn’t a big shot in the early church. He wasn’t a university graduate. And he wasn’t a big name businessman nor a star athlete. He was just one of the ordinary people. But to God he was available and was special to him. Whenever we read about Andrew in the New Testament, he is always in his own quiet way introducing someone to the Saviour.
It was Andrew who introduced Peter to Jesus. And it was Andrew who introduced the boy with his few loaves and fishes to Jesus.
Andrew’s wasn’t a glamorous work, but it was a very important work. He was willing to be an instrument in God’s hands to do the work he was best suited for. He made himself available and God used him in the way he chose.
The Macedonians stood in the gap to give
As we read in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5, the Macedonians knew trouble, hard times and poverty and till they gave─far more than they could afford. They did it because they wanted to, but first they gave themselves.
God has ordained that his work be done through the gifts and support of his children. And he is still looking for his instruments to give. Thousands are urgently needed.
God is seeking men and women right here, today, who are willing to make themselves available to God to be his instruments. The needs are endless. Whether it is to preach, to pray, to help, to give, or whatever, may each one of us hear God’s call today and answer, Lord, make me your instrument, today.
By: Richard W. Innes
Source: Encounter, June/July 2004