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Come over here and help us: A call to stand in the gap.

Scripture text:

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.

Ezek 22:30-31 (ESV)

There have been many articles written about militant groups such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, and ISIS. They are violent and inflexible about their beliefs and objectives, and they have used terror tectics, murder, persecution of Christians and minorities, kidnapping, slavery, building invasion tunnels and firing rockets at civilian targets to achieve their goals. These acts offend the sensibilities of peaceful people, but now that these groups are active, what can we do about this?

Possible solutions have been proposed at the government level, but these solutions depend on the actions of man divorced from faith in God. As such, any results they may achieve are limited and transitory. The fact is that the weapons, wisdom, and power of the world cannot bring the lasting change needed for true healing and reconciliation. If we want to solve the problems created by these terror groups, we need to stand in the gap.

We must realize that God cares about the people in these terror groups, and the story of Jonah is a good illustration of this. The ancient Assyrians were just as violent and cruel in their day, but God graciously sent Jonah to warn them that they would be destroyed if they did not repent. Jonah really wanted to see Nineveh destroyed, and after he preached his warning to Nineveh, he waited outside the city to see what would happen. As he waited, the Lord caused a plant to spring up to give Jonah shade and relief from the heat, but the next day the Lord sent a worm to destroy the plant. As Jonah became faint from the heat, he told God he preferred to die rather than live. God spoke to Jonah:

But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Jonah 4:9-11 (ESV)

God cared about the people of Nineveh because He cares about those who oppose Him; He is concerned for their welfare. Jesus makes this very clear:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matt 5:43-48 (ESV)

If we hate, it’s the same thing as murder. And we know that a murderer does not have eternal life. Lastly, there is this:

Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel?  For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.

Ezek 18:31-32 (ESV)

God wants people to repent and live; He takes no pleasure in their death. Seeing that these things are so, what should we do to bring about change? Is there anything we can do to help? Yes there is!

The people of faith can make a tremendous difference in the world we occupy. Long before the occupy movement became commonplace, God made His people the original occupiers. In order to maintain our occupation, God gives us powerful weapons to use, and used properly, they enemy has no recourse against them. The most powerful weapons we have are prayer and faith. The story of the centurion’s servant is a wonderful example:

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Matt 8:5-13 (ESV)

As we can see in this account, Jesus was able to bring healing to the centurion’s servant by faith from a distance away. Faith pleases God and is not limited! Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. C. S. Lewis wrote that faith is an invasion of the supernatural into our natural world, and it’s true! Faith is a terrifying thing to the enemy because he cannot stop it. By faith God’s people tear down his strongholds, set the captives free, remove stumbling blocks, heal all manner of diseases, and do many wonderful things. If we could see the damaged caused by prayers in faith to the enemy’s kingdom, I think we would see Satan falling from heaven like lightening (Luke 10: 18). As the account of the centurion’s servant demonstrates, we don’t even have to be in the same place to cause change. We can pray for God to deliver the people of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, and ISIS from the power of darkness in our prayer closets. That’s the power God gives us to work with. Scripture tells us: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” James 5:16 (ESV).

The power of God is so great that He can totally change the worst of sinners and change what was meant for harm into something good. In Paul’s previous way of life, he admitted that he persecuted the church and tried to destroy it (Gal 1: 13), yet God met him on the Damascus road and changed him into one of the greatest Apostles. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, yet God used this as a way to save many people from death (Gen 50: 19-20). If God did all this before, He can do it again.

It is a fearful thing when there is no one to stand in the gap for a land, as Ezekiel 22: 30-31 tells us. I ask all of God’s intercessors to pray for the people of Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, and ISIS so that they will be delivered from the power of darkness and reconciled with God. Pray that the Son set them free so that they will be free indeed! We must love them and pray for them so we will be the children of our Father. Their souls are still precious to God, and He does not want them to perish. We must stand in the gap so that they won’t be destroyed. God wants to be merciful and be reconciled with all of them; please help make this happen with your prayers. Bring light and life to these peoples in darkness with your fervent, effectual prayers!

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