Build Up the Wall
In conversations with people around the world I have noticed that many use the phrase “if it’s God‘s will it will happen”. Taking this further some would even say that as God has a plan for us all, we just have to accept what happens in life - a sort of spiritual fatalism. Perhaps in this case we would argue that prayer is there to bring us into a conversation with God so that he can change us, but not necessarily change situations, structures, systems, governance issues, etc.
“The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they oppress the poor and needy and ill-treat the alien, denying them justice.
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it…” (Ezekiel 22:29-30)
A few years ago when speaking to Michael Cassidy in South Africa he said something that has stayed with me – he said “The church gets the country it deserves!” That really shocked me, and though we can argue this statement, it felt to me that there something important to learn from it. We see from the passage in Ezekiel that God is looking for someone to build a wall to protect a community (a nation) from judgement. For someone to stand in the gap. How do we do this?
Intercessory prayer is one key way of building up the wall. We know that prayer makes a difference because the Bible is full of examples of people engaging in prayer and God responding (Exodus 32:10-14; Matthew 7:7; John 14:13-16). Does prayer change God’s mind? From these verses it indicates that prayer enables God to withhold judgement so that people can repent and be transformed.
Demonstrating justice through the way we live and serve. This builds up the wall and love breaks through darkness and brings life.
Speaking out truth builds the wall. We see this throughout the Bible as prophets declare truth, not to destroy people, but rather to call people to repent and change so that judgement can be averted. Prophets always speak truth, give hope and point to God.
Let us not grow weary of standing in the gap, of living justly and of speaking truth.
Lord show us your heart for our nation, our community and teach us to pray so we can build the wall so that we can call many more to know you. May our lives demonstrate transformation even as we call people to be transformed.
(For further reflection on this see Greg Boyd’s book “Is God to Blame”)