“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.”
God has used last weekend’s events in Indiana (the Breaching the Barricade Law Enforcement Conference and Officer Appreciation Day) as the inspiration for this week’s message in which I share not only my heart (always seeking to be in alignment with God’s) and that of fellow cop, chaplain and trainer, Jim Bontrager. Let’s dig in:
Noted evangelist Greg Laurie said, “Most Christians I know are nice, pleasant people. We want to get along with others. We don’t want to offend anyone by saying that something is wrong, because it would be politically incorrect. A lot of times we are afraid to stand out.” Rest assured, he was not saying this is the way we should be acting.
What Greg described here is also what my friend Lt. Col. Dave Grossman calls a “sheep” in his famous essay, On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs (which I include in the opening line of this and every newsletter). Greg went on to contrast the “sheep” with what Col. Grossman, Jim and I all describe as a “sheepdog” — one of God’s servant-warriors — and (spiritually speaking) the “man among them” that the Lord refers to here in our signature passage above. Likewise, we find in Isaiah another “sheepdog” who was willing to “stand in the gap” when God asked him, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8). Isaiah’s bold, Holy Spirit-inspired response? “Here am I, send me.” Is that YOU today? Friend, it can be!
With this in mind, what is God teaching us here in Ezekiel and related passages? What does it mean to “stand in the gap“? Cities in ancient times were typically surrounded by walls of stone or earth. In order to conquer such cities, invading forces would seek to create a gap — a breach — in the walls that they could exploit. The only way to prevent an enemy from prevailing was for a single warrior or perhaps a small “special forces” team to risk their lives and valiantly stand in the narrow breach and defend it against overwhelming odds. That said, the meaning God has for us here is not about a physical wall but rather a metaphorical, spiritual one: to “stand in the gap” means to intercede both in prayer and action on behalf of others (see Psalm 106:23 and Ezekiel 13:5).
Just as America today has wickedly turned its back on God, Israel in Ezekiel’s time had drifted far from Him as well: their leaders were abusing their God-given authority and the people had wickedly turned away from the Lord in favor of immorality and idolatry. In response, God looked for someone — anyone — who was willing to stand in the gap (the breach) to build up spiritual walls of protection against enemies seeking to breach them. Tragically, He found no one, and righteous judgment followed.
Likewise, God is also seeking those willing to be used to break through (breach) the strongholds of the enemy (see II Cor. 10:4-5). What does that look like?
Any officer who has served on a SWAT or similar tactical team knows what it means to “breach” a door (a wall). In my time on SWAT, I often served as the “breacher” (using a ram or other tool to “breach” and gain entry into an offender’s “stronghold”). Perhaps the greatest biblical example of God using man to tear down an enemy stronghold is found in Joshua 6:1-27 where God brought down (breached) the walls (barricade) of the wicked city of Jericho. Who did God use to accomplish His purpose? Faithful warriors willing to follow His battle plan to the letter!
Today, God is still looking for faithful servant-warriors willing to stand in the gap for the lost and for our nation; for those who will boldly demonstrate to family, friends and colleagues what it looks like to radically follow hard after Him and be used to breach the enemy’s walls. Then as now, God desires men and women willing to boldly intercede in prayer and action to lead others into a life-saving/life-changing (wall-breaking) personal relationship with Him.
Where did sheepdogs like Moses, Isaiah, David, Nehemiah, Daniel, Joshua and Caleb get their boldness and strength of will? The context of Scripture is clear: they ALL recognized that God was with them and was the source of their strength. Likewise, Jesus tells believers in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” The message for us as Christians (God’s definition) is that we’re never alone and that we can be a conquering “army” because God is with us and will empower the genuine believer to both “stand in the gap” and hold the line against those determined to destroy us, our families and yes, our nation.
More on this? Pick up your shield and sword (see Ephesians 6:10-18) and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal what He has for YOU here: Psalm 18:37-42, Psalm 33:18-19, Psalm 34:7, 1 Peter 4:11, John 4:18, Matthew 24:7, James 4:1-3, Jeremiah 5:1 and of course, Exodus 15:3 (“The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is His name“).
With that, I’m pressed to share the following from Jim Bontrager who led last week’s events (the 25th year for Officer Appreciation Day, no less). Jim writes,
God has a heart for this profession as He is the one that ordained it (Romans 13:1-4). We don’t talk about it much in our politically correct age, but this job reflects part of His nature. The Bible states that He’s a warrior (Exodus 15:3), who is mighty in battle (Psalm 24:8), a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows (Psalm 68:5), that He hates haughty (arrogant and full of pride) eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush to evil, a false witness that pours out lies and a man that stirs up conflict in the community (Proverbs 6:16-19). He loves justice and hates robbery and iniquity (immoral or grossly unfair behavior – Isaiah 61:8). Why? Because He loves! As G.K. Chesterton stated,
“The true warrior fights not because he hates what’s in front of him but because he loves what’s behind him.”
As much as He hates what’s listed above, there’s something He hates even worse: hypocrisy (pretending we’re something we’re not). And THIS is the greatest danger facing law enforcement today: losing God’s favor by lacking the character needed to back the badge. It’s easy to identify others as “dirt bags,” but what makes us any better if we chase after each others wives/ husbands, drive while drunk (or otherwise abuse alcohol), abuse our authority, or turn a blind eye toward other officers who do wrong?
Integrity however, is a totally different story. It’s on our logos, challenge coins, websites, social media pages, etc. Webster defines integrity as, “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Integrity is a big deal in God’s economy. It was the warrior David himself who proclaimed in Psalm 41:11-12, “I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me. Because of my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever.”
Did you catch that? God gave David victory and upheld him because of his integrity!! He’ll do the same for you!! My friend, it’s a dangerous hour in America but having integrity can make all the difference not only in your life but in the life of your community! It was John Gardner who said, “Men (women) of integrity, by their existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.” You as a cop living an upright life restores hope to the community because there are still good guys in power to look up to!
I get the opportunity to travel around the country on a regular basis, and when I do, I like to ask law enforcement officers what their biggest frustration is outside of the department. Survey says that the number one answer is, “I get sick of people who never own up to their junk…excuse after excuse…it’s always somebody else’s fault.” God feels the same way about you and I. He wants us to be man or woman enough to own up to our stuff before Him. To realize that He’s a morally perfect being and we are not; to admit that we’ve lied, slandered others, stolen, manipulated, cheated, lusted after other’s bodies and possessions. The Bible calls it sin (self-centeredness). There’s a penalty for it: eternal separation from a morally perfect God and all that is good, a God who always does what’s right, is just and whose nature requires Him to exact justice.
The story goes there was a young lady doing 80 mph in a school zone. There were children present and the officer who witnessed it finally caught up with her. The officer arrested her and impounded her car. Her court date finally rolled around and the judge found her guilty, gave her a 30-day sentence (and then suspended it) and fined her $782. The judge then did something strange: he stepped down from the bench and paid her fine. That judge was her father. As a just judge, he had to see that justice was served. As a loving father, he paid the price that justice demanded.
That is what God did for you and I. His justice demands that He deal with our sin and self-centeredness, that we’re punished for the pain we’ve brought upon others. God doesn’t grade on the curve. He’d be unjust if he punished others but overlooked our self-centeredness and sin. Being a loving father, He sent his Son who did no wrong to pay the penalty for our sins by His death on a cross 2000 years ago.
Integrity demands that we be honest and take ownership of our wrongs and own up to where we have lied, stolen, lusted, assaulted others character, gossiped; that we confess and turn from it asking him daily for the strength to live a life of integrity; that we ask Him to forgive and cleanse us from our sin and pride and invite Him to take His rightful place as the leader of our lives and future. Each one of us NEEDS to do that or we will one day stand before Him in judgment having rejected the payment for our sins in that of His Son, we will pay for our own sins and spend eternity separated from God and all that is good. It’s as simple as praying and asking Him to forgive and cleanse you. Invite him to lead and guide you into all he has for you. Get into His word, the Bible, to learn and grow. To fellowship with others on the same journey. To be field trained by Him that He may prepare you for the coming days and the demands of your family and profession. The founders of this nation all did that and God gave them the favor to build the greatest nation in history.
Remember when you first received your call sign? Remember being paranoid, “Was that radio traffic for me?” You were freaking out, “Did I miss something?”! Over time that all changed. Eventually you heard your radio over all the noise and clamor. God directs us much in the same way. He’s always desiring to lead and guide us but we miss His leading because it’s drowned out by the busyness of our lives and the distractions of our times. If we allow Him to work in our lives that all changes and eventually He becomes the priority focus providing us guidance, clearly directing us as we learn to listen for Him above life’s distractions.
My friend, you need not be concerned about the coming days. God put you here to act on His behalf! He wants to be victorious over the battles you face daily on your job and at home! Invite the Lord to lead and guide you…He will!!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him that you may overflow with hope and that by power of the Holy Spirit.”
In closing, Jim said this:
“The biggest barricade that needs to be breached is ours with God. As believers, God has given us the power to make that happen.”
(MC: take note of the image I shared for you above. You can see light coming through our thin blue line flag in the form of the cross. As Christian cops, we have God’s light to empower us to both stand in the gap and to take out the barricades in our lives and others.)
“Ego is the anesthesia that deadens the pain of stupidity.” – Anonymous
”Catch on fire for God and people will come and watch you burn.” — John Wesley
Amen!. Fellow officer and reader, can you even begin to fathom the difference (barricades we can breach) God can make through us in our marriages, families, agencies, communities and country if we begin to police, serve and lead from an “all in,” biblical worldview? As genuine, Holy Spirit-powered Christian husbands, fathers, mothers, servant-leaders and yes, Christian cops (servant-warriors/sheepdogs)?
With that, let me ask you the most important question I can put to you (backup of the eternal kind): Do you truly know Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you cried out to Him to forgive and save you? If you’re answer is “no” or “I’m not sure,” Jim and I both plead with you to consider the following and then join us behind Christ our Captain to stand in the gap, hold back the enemy, breach barricades and tear down strongholds:
(1) Do you still falsely believe that you can “earn” or otherwise “badge” your way into heaven and escape hell because you consider yourself to be a “good” cop, “good” warrior or “good” person? That you can be “good” enough without God? Take the Good Person Test and see how you do!
(2) Jesus’ first recorded words in His earthly ministry were and remain, “Repent and believe in the Good News” (Mark 1:15). To repent is a “180” — a complete, radical change of mind and heart as it relates to our sin (as God defines it). To “believe” (pisteuo in the original Greek) as Jesus intends it here is to wholeheartedly trust and surrender your life to Him in faith in the same way we have “faith” that our body armor will do its job against the rounds it is intended to stop; that a well-maintained weapon will function properly when used in defense against criminals intent on destroying us or others; or that our parachute will open when it is supposed to (we stake our very lives on it)! For more, see What does it mean to believe in Jesus?
(3) This same concept of “believe” (the saving kind) is further revealed in John 3:1-21 where Jesus says, “… you must be born again.” Again, note our Lord’s emphasis on the word “must” (not “may” or “should” or even “someday”): this is ultimately the life-saving AND life-changing personal relationship (and NOT “religion”) with Jesus Christ that I stress here every week (see What does it mean to be a born again Christian? [hint — there is no other kind]).
(4) NOW then, with this in place, go to: How can I be saved?
(5) Need more? Then check out this powerful, short video message from police servant-leader Travis Yates: Cops and Salvation
(6) Have you now said “yes” to Jesus as Lord and Savior but are wondering what to do next? The “now what” is also an important part in dealing with the issues that can lead to suicide and sin in general. Click on, Now what?
Questions? I’m here to serve — contact me.
– MC Williams