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Thursday, May 7th 2009

2:20 PM

"Standing In The Gap"

By Pastor Bruce Sikes

"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 I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." (Ezekiel 22:30)

Many times people in leadership positions find themselves standing alone. Leaders are people who have been assigned a task to do and must lead others in helping them accomplish it. The Lord has assigned the Remnant the task of standing in the gap. The wall of protection surrounding the living places of God's people has become weak and now there is a breach. What happened to those guarding the wall? Many fell asleep. They turned their backs to the outside of the wall and faced inward. Their weapons were too heavy to bear so they put them down. The weapons slowed them down and there was no time to practice anyway. "Peace! Peace!", they proclaimed. However, the enemies of God do not seek peace, nor do they rest. They have exploited the weakness in the wall and are now storming the gap in powerful numbers.

The Remnant is sounding the alarm. We are calling for God's people to defend the gap and drive the enemy back. Yet few seem to respond. Most are merely watching to see what will happen. Feeling safe in their comfortable houses and churches, they do not see the need to get up, go out, and personally engage the enemy. They are hoping that someone else will step forward to fill the gap for them. Besides, God is in control and would never allow the enemy to swarm in and attack His "peace loving people". Others aren't sure there is a gap. Gap? What Gap? Some seek to appease and compromise with the Lord's enemies, tolerating their Godless practices in the name of peace and lowering the standards for entrance into God's kingdom. They even accuse the Remnant defenders of intolerance, fear mongering and "judging" the enemy. As a result few heed the Remnant's call to revive, reform and engage the enemy.

As leaders, this is where the Remnant often find themselves, standing alone in the gap. To borrow a phrase from one of my earlier articles, "Sometimes doing the right thing, means doing it alone", and, as many leaders can tell you, doing it yourself!

There is true story from the ancient island of Malta. In 1565, the Muslim Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent sent 40,000 Turk warriors to besiege the island and conquer it. He wanted to use the island as a base from which to further attack Europe. The island's defense consisted of only 700 Christian Knights of St. John. The odds were staggering. The Knights' leader was the 71 year old Jean La Valette. The attack on island fortress lasted for months. The fighting was brutal, thousands of Turk invaders died and hundreds of Knights. During the battle, a breech was made by the Turks in one of the walls of the fortress. The enemy was rushing through, defenders were few. When La Valette heard the news, rather than just hope young able bodied men would run to it's defense, the old soldier grabbed a helmet and a spear and rushed to stand in the gap. Inspired by his actions, the soldiers, men and women of the city joined the battle. La Valette even after being wounded, remained standing in the gap, making himself deliberately visible to the Christians in the city and the enemy outside until the gap was secured.

The siege lasted for four months. After suffering tens of thousands of causalities, the enemy withdrew. Only about 250 Knights remained alive, most wounded. Suleyman's goal of conquering Malta and then taking the Christian capital of Rome was defeated. La Valette's example of leadership saved the day and eventually the entire island, ultimately it helped save Christian Europe itself.

Not all such examples of a small group standing against overwhelming odds had a successful outcome for the Remnant standing in the gap. Remember the Alamo! In 1836, a band of around 189 Texas volunteers stood in the gap against thousands of Mexican troops. The situation seemed hopeless. Many advocated abandoning the walls, running away and letting the enemy have it. Yet, their overwhelming concern wasn't for themselves, but for the cause. They sought to stand in the weak place of Texas' defenses to give more time for their fellow citizens to prepare and arm themselves for battle. They remained steadfast, did the right thing and stood in the gap. Thirteen days later they all paid the ultimate price. Even though it seemed the Remnant was defeated in their efforts, ultimately their sacrifice won the war. The measure of their success was not personal victory or even life, but doing the right thing.

One of the greatest such stories is in the Bible. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had ordered that the citizens of the State, including the followers of Lord, must worship the Golden image erected by him. Three of its' citizens, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, refused to bow down and worship the Golden image. They were arrested and threatened with execution by being thrown into a blazing furnace. This was their response:

"O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (Daniel 3:16-18)

Like those at the Alamo, success for them was not based on personal survival but on doing the right thing - obedience to the Lord - no matter the cost.

As the Remnant moves forward in obedience to the Lord there will be causalities - there have already been causalities. Our mission is to do the right thing; proclaiming Revival and Reformation to the Church, and Salvation through Jesus Christ to the lost - no matter the cost. The wall has been breached. The enemy is pouring through. Whether others join us in this great spiritual battle, ultimately, personally, for us it does not matter. It only matters that we obeyed God.

"And of some have compassion, making a difference: Save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Now, to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 1:22-24)

For Christ and His Remnant,

Pastor Bruce

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