Mind the Gap

by Joseph Franks

When I traveled to London for some additional schooling, I quickly learned to navigate my way about the historical metropolis by means of the very modern Tube. And as I descended from the street level into the Underground, I soon saw many signs and heard consistent recordings of the same message, “Mind the gap!” With great seriousness, the transit authority was seeking to convey the danger of getting too close to the train and the dangerous tracks. When they proclaimed, “Mind the gap!” they were regularly encouraging me to keep in mind the distance between myself and the danger at hand.

However, when God said “mind the gap” in the book of Ezekiel, he meant something different:

And the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to her, You are a land that is not cleansed or rained upon in the day of indignation. The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured human lives; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice. And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none. Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”  (Ezekiel 22:23-31)

God was looking for men to “stand in the breach” or “mind the gap.” He was looking for men to speak the truth, build the wall, keep out the vile and dangerous, and protect the weak and vulnerable. He was looking for men to bless the city and its inhabitants. But instead, he found prophets, priests, and princes who used the sacred scriptures and their solemn positions to harm others while serving their own special interests. Instead of godly servant leaders, he found ministers who treated the clean and holy things as unclean and common. During the special days set apart for worship (various ceremonial sabbaths), they would not worship God according to his prescribed will. And on all the other days, they would not worship God according to his revealed ethic. Instead of loving God supremely and loving their fellow man, they were described as “lions tearing their prey,” “profane individuals,” “wolves tearing the prey,” shedders of blood,” false diviners,” “extortioners,” “robbers,” and “oppressors without justice.” God had established prophets, priests, and princes to “stand in the breach” or “mind the gap,” but he could find no such man to play the man. Therefore, these leaders were severely punished by the Sovereign Lord, and the people who followed their lead were harmed as well. Great consequences befell the culture led by abusive and absentee men.

Therefore men, will you “stand in the breach” or “mind the gap?” Will you be the man who fights for the honor and spiritual prosperity of your wife? Will you be the father who daily dies and sacrifices himself for your children? Will you step up to the plate and serve as a deacon or elder in your church? Will you work for the spiritual improvement of your brothers and sisters in your local fellowship? Will you play the role of the Good Samaritan in your neighborhood? And will you consider running for political office so you can support the righteous ethic of God against the schemes of Satan? Our culture is in trouble because it lacks real men who will “stand in the breach” or “mind the gap.”

Friends, God is weary of the abusive leader. He loathes those prophets, priests, and princes who use their position and power to serve themselves and encourage wickedness. It is not safe to be found in such shoes.

God is also weary of the absent leader. Pathetic is the man who gets married but will not serve his wife. Cursed is the man who ignores his responsibilities and causes one of God’s little ones to stumble. Dishonorable is the man, called by God and man to serve in the church, who finds himself to busy or tired or lazy to do the Lord’s work. And frankly, the church looks quite irrelevant and impotent in our cities today because godly men are not playing a role in loving their neighborhood and shaping their government.

Today, God is looking for more husbands like Hosea. He is looking for more fathers like Joshua. He is looking for more pastors like Paul, and governors like Nehemiah. Like Jesus, the ultimate man, we are to spend ourselves leading, loving, and dying for our loved ones. Today, God is still looking for strong leaders to “stand in the breach”or “mind the gap.” Will we answer his call and bless ourselves and those found under our realm of authority and influence?

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