Stand in the Gap
Ezekiel 20:40 - Ezekiel 24:10
Last summer our family had the opportunity to spend a weekend high up in the mountains of Coalville, Utah. On one of the days we volunteered to help clear a hiking trail.
Have you ever been to a remote area where the overgrowth of the vegetation is so thick that it prevents you from being able to walk through?
That is what had happened to this hiking trail...
Over the winter trees had fallen into the trail. Tall weeds had grown up in the path. Giant bushes were crowding in from the sides.
When I read about the hedge in the book of Ezekiel, I thought of the thick vegetation that overtook the hiking trail in Coalville.
Left unattended the growth of "the hedge" would make the area impassable. In a way, the thick hedge would act as a protection. A barrier. Nothing would be able to pass through.
In the book of Ezekiel the Lord speaks of the great battle of the last days. He is worried that the Saints would not prepare themselves sufficiently to be protected. “Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord.” (Ez 13:5)
Where there were gaps in the hedge there would be a lack of protection. The enemy could enter in through the gaps. In order to compensate for the gaps, Ezekiel “sought for a man among them that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before the land…but I found none.” (Ez 22:30)
This scripture haunts me ––why could he not find a man to stand in the gap? ...Someone to offer strength against the enemy in the places where the hedge didn't offer enough protection.
We live in the era Ezekiel prophesied of. The battle rages fiercely around us, and if we look carefully we might be able to detect the gaps in the hedge.
Someone needs to fill the gaps. Someone needs to make up the hedge.
What would we have to do to qualify ourselves for that position? What is it that we need to do so that we can be ready and prepared? What will help us to be found of the Lord in the moment when He needs us most?
The book of Ezekiel lists the things the won't qualify us to stand in the gap:
• follow foolish prophets • take counsel from those who speak lies, and see vanity • use oppression, persecution, cruelty • exercise robbery or deception • vex the poor and needy • oppress the stranger wrongfully
Perhaps if we look at the opposite of these characteristics from the list above we might find clues as to what we should do…
• follow the prophet • take counsel from those who speak the truth • let our first response be kindness • live with integrity • serve, reach out, assist
It is an interesting set of requirements.
I find myself questioning, are these the qualities that are characteristic of a warrior?
At first glance they do not seem like the requirements I would expect for someone who would be prepared to stand in a battle, to make up for the hedge, or even to go up into the gaps.
It makes me realize that we might not fully understand the nature of the battle that rages around us.
If our strength is to be found through obtaining counsel and learning kindness, integrity, and charity then we won’t have to look far.
Our best resource for the most recent counsel pertaining to the war that rages around us is easy to obtain.
Within the pages of the Conference Ensign we can learn about kindness, integrity, charity, and other qualities that will help us to become the type of person qualified to make up the hedge and to stand in the gaps.
This chapter in Ezekiel was a good reminder for me.
In our family we have a Conference tradition, but I have been so busy these past few months that I have neglected to follow through with it yet.
Here's how it works––each of us chooses one quote to work on for the six months following Conference.
We have a conference wall where we hang the quotes. That way we can see them every single day. Every time we see them it becomes a reminder that we need to work on making that counsel part of who we are becoming.
To fill the gaps.
To make up for what we are lacking.
Why have I neglected that?
In this moment I am not as ready or prepared as I should be. I am not qualifying myself to stand in the gap.
But, here is the good news. It will only take one Family Home Evening to go back through the counsel, look at our notes, write down each quote, and hang them on the wall.
It will only take a few minutes to read one talk out of the Conference Ensign before I go to bed. It will just take a few moments to download the talks on my phone so I can listen in the car.
It really won't be hard to immerse myself in the counsel that will offer my family the strength we need.
So that we will be prepared to stand in the battle, to make up the hedge, and go up into the gap.
So that we can be found of the Lord.