Standing in the Gap—It Only Takes One

Revelation 18 and the fate of America

Revelation 18 and the fate of America

[Excerpted from Revelation 18 and the fate of America, pp. 347-354, 359-361.]

Although it could be justifiably said that American Christian missionaries over the past two centuries have evangelized the world, now with America’s decline, some of the world’s Christian missionaries are being sent to America.  They are coming from such countries as Brazil, China, South Korea and elsewhere.  In 2010, while the U.S. still sent 127,000 Christian missionaries abroad, an estimated 32,400 Christian missionaries were sent to the United States from other countries.  In the history of America, millions of Christians have stood in the gap for their fellow man at home and abroad through prayer, charity, ministry and missions.  Today, while many believers in Christ still do so, more and more Christians sit idly by, content to be CINOs (Christians in Name Only) while the country they live in is going to hell in a hand basket 

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. Proverbs 15:29

The words of the prophet Isaiah, spoken on behalf of God to the Hebrew people many centuries ago, could be spoken to America today.  “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me.  I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.   I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts;   a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face;” (Isaiah 65:1-3a).

When the Hebrews were taken captive to Babylon because they had sinned against God and were once again led astray by their leaders, God raised up Ezekiel, a common man; the equivalent of a street preacher.  Through Ezekiel God spoke and illustrated what he required of His people to return to Him.  God told Ezekiel that He had “looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30; NLT).

What God was looking for was one truly faithful person who would stand up for righteousness at all costs to lead His people back to Him so that their land; their heritage, would not be destroyed.  But God lamented that He could not find one among all Israel who was willing to stand in the gap, offering resistance to evil, on behalf of the people.  God was not necessarily looking for a high priest or theologian, but a common man like Abraham who pleaded with God on behalf of Sodom, or Moses, who stood in the gap and interceded for all of Israel and led them out of slavery in Egypt.

So will I choose their delusions, and bring their fears on them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not hear; but they did evil before My eyes, and chose that in which I do not delight.

Isaiah 66:4

As with Sodom (Genesis 18:32), God did not desire to see the city of Jerusalem destroyed by foreign invaders.  If He could find just one righteous person in the city He would see that Jerusalem was spared.

“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem;” God told Jeremiah, the prophet, “see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her.  Though they say, ‘As the Lord lives,’ surely they swear falsely.  O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth?  You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction.  They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. . . . I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God.  But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds” (Jeremiah 5:1-3, 5).  God was not looking for someone to give Him lip service or a Sabbath day believer.  He was looking for someone who was totally committed to Him and Him only in righteousness and truth.

Just like the Israel of old, America has gone too far astray from God and beyond any human solutions to her overwhelming problems.  Once again, God is looking for someone to stand in the gap; someone who is sold out to Him that will faithfully intercede for America; to lead His people in repentance and revival and a wholehearted return to Him.

To whom can I give warning?  Who will listen when I speak?  Their ears are closed, and they cannot hear.  They scorn the word of the Lord.  They don’t want to listen at all.

Jeremiah 6:10 (NLT)

God gave the people of Israel many warnings through His prophets and many opportunities for them to return to Him, but they repeatedly rejected Him and His ways.  America and Americans find themselves in a similar situation today.  Over the decades, many men and women of God have repeatedly warned that the United States was on the wrong path in every corner of society.  Despite these warnings, as a country, America has repudiated God and turned away from Him.

When Israel was moving toward self-destruction, the prophet Isaiah offered this stark warning from God.  “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.  ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.  ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. . . . So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it’” (Isaiah 55:6-9, 11).

God is fair and just and He is always ready to pardon those who call upon Him and seek His face and return to Him.  The United States and its people are in desperate need of God and His intervention, whether they corporately know it or not.  But God will not intervene where He is not called upon or wanted.  For those who still follow Him and call upon Him, God’s promise to Israel long ago stands for those in America as well.  “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In” (Isaiah 58:12; author’s emphasis).

The Authority of the Believer and the Church.   Many might ask: Why does God not destroy the wicked and idol worshippers of today like He did in the Old Testament times?  The answer is because God has given authority over principalities and powers and wickedness in high places to Christ followers and His church (Ephesians 6:11-13; Colossians 2:15).   Jesus also told His followers that they had the power to “bind” and “loose” God’s will on earth (Matthew 16:19, 18:18).

When it became clear to the Founding Fathers and their compatriots that freedom from the oppressive, tyrannical government of England was imperative, they agreed to assemble in Philadelphia in September, 1775 at the First Continental Congress to consider their course of action.  To start the Congress, they called upon Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia.  Rev. Duché, on behalf of those gathered, beseeched God through Jesus Christ, for His mercy and deliverance from an ungodly and unjust government.  It would be the first earnest prayer uttered in a Continental Congress, the forerunner of the U.S. Congress.

O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary [bloody] purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!

Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior. Amen. 

In spite of today’s revisionist history and political correctness, the Founding Fathers depended heavily upon God, His mercy, guidance and deliverance from their enemies.  They recognized their fallibility and God’s infallibility and He miraculously delivered them from their oppression (see We the People: Birth of a Nation” by the author).  God gave His people power and that power is in prayer and faithfulness to Him and Him only. 

From childhood we have watched as everything our ancestors worked for . . . was squandered on a delusion.  Let us now lie down in shame and cover ourselves with dishonor, for we and our ancestors have sinned against the Lord our God.  From our childhood to this day we have never obeyed him.

Jeremiah 3:24-25 (NLT)

Even Benjamin Franklin, who many claim was a deist (a person who believes in God, not through supernatural revelation, but through that revealed in creation), recognized the need for God’s direct input when the newly developing nation needed it most.  On June 18, 1787, in the midst of a contentious Constitutional Convention, when the Founding Fathers were finding it difficult to come to a consensus on various constitutional issues, the venerable and aged Ben Franklin rose and addressed the president of the Convention, George Washington and those gathered. 

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing governments by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service. 

Franklin knew that it was only through God that the differences between those gathered could be resolved.  Three months later the United States Constitution, the most supreme governing document the world has ever known, was signed into law on September 17, 1787.

Benjamin Franklin, perhaps in some eyes, the least likely to do so, chose to stand in the gap for the fledgling nation and implore God’s help.  God is always looking for a willing partner to bring forth His will for a people.  He is not necessarily looking for the strongest in faith, but the most willing and obedient.  In 2 Chronicles 16:9, it says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”  God is always looking for a co-laborer to bring forth His plan and righteousness for a people who recognize their sinfulness and are willing to repent and follow Him.

America’s people who believe in God have one choice and one choice only when it comes to redeeming their lives, their family and their nation—they must turn from their wicked ways, repent and return to God.  Non-believers will scoff at this, convinced that they have the answers to America’s problems, but will only take the country further into the abyss.   “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

America stands at the proverbial fork in the road, and once again she must choose whether to follow the heathen, Baal, or God.  But “a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom,” warned John Adams in a letter to his wife, Abigail, on July 17, 1775, “can never be restored.  Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”

*************

The Prayer of One.   In 1857, a wave of financial panic swept over the United States—the first worldwide financial crisis brought on by a declining international economy.  As banks in America failed and railroads went bankrupt, they took thousands of business owners with them.  Unemployment shot up and thousands went hungry.  Desperate people turned to crime and society was collapsing.  One man in New York, Jeremiah Lanphier, heeded God’s call.

Lanphier was not a “hellfire and brimstone” preacher like the ones who led previous revivals in America.  He was an unassuming, quiet man who was called as a missionary to New York City by the Dutch Reformed Church.  The desire of the church was to increase its flagging membership.

Lanphier’s plan was simple: Post an invitation for others in the city to join him in prayer every Wednesday during the typical 12-1 lunch hour.  His hope was that those that were struggling—businessmen and workers—would come and spend a moment with God.  If they could not spend the whole hour, then perhaps they could spare 5 or 10 minutes.

Lanphier hatched his plan on September 23, 1857.  The first prayer meeting almost did not happen.  It was not until 12:30 that first day that the first person appeared to join him; then came five more.  Two weeks later, there were 40 men praying.   Lanphier decided to make the noontime prayer a daily occurrence.  Six months later an estimated 10,000 businessmen in New York were gathering for prayer over their lunch hour.  Within a two year period an estimated one million new converts to Christianity were added to the rolls of the churches across the country.

By 1858 the prayer movement became known as the Layman’s Prayer Revival and spread throughout the country.  Prayer meetings were being held day and night, in big cities and small towns.  They were led by businessmen, not ministers.  Before this prayer revival, thousands had become disillusioned with the church and Christianity, but now, through prayer, thousands were coming to the churches throughout America.  Lives were being transformed, crime was on the decline and the needy were being ministered to by those that had the financial means.

The Bible, of course, is full of men and women who stood in the gap and interceded on behalf of others.  Abraham, Moses, Gideon, David, Jonah, Esther and Deborah are just a few examples in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament there was Stephen who pleaded with God not to hold those who were stoning him accountable (Acts 7:60).  There was the Apostle Paul and the other disciples of Jesus, ordinary men, who were constantly interceding for others.  Then there is Jesus, the greatest intercessor of all, who is at the Father’s right hand, interceding before God on behalf of His followers (1 John 2:1).

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