And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it…” (Ezekiel 22:30)
This morning (Sunday), I was thrust into preaching at a church service I was attending. The pastor who was scheduled to preach was involved in a car accident while traveling to the church. It seems his visibility was hampered by heavy rain when someone cut in front of him. Fortunately, neither he nor his wife nor anyone else was injured, and we were able to chat briefly later in the afternoon.
I expected to “give greetings” as is common in church ministry, but preaching was not on my radar…initially. It wasn’t until I was just about to eat breakfast that I sensed a need to have a sermon ready “in my back pocket.” So I readied myself.
All of this reminds me that we never really know what life will bring, moment by moment. The decisions we make, the circumstances over which we have no control, that one second which might be the difference between our going on about our day or disaster is always a constant in our lives. We don’t begin or end our days thinking of this, but it is our reality nonetheless. For years, I’ve been fond of saying that none of us are guaranteed any moment other the one in which we’re currently standing. Beyond that, only GOD knows, just like I believe He knew that accident would happen and like I believe He placed it in my mind to have a sermon ready…just in case.
I think the word He spoke through the prophet Ezekiel is similar. The spiritual deterioration of GOD’s people was leading them to an apostasy from which they might not recover. So far were their hearts and wills from the heart and will of GOD that He judged that punishing them by destroying their land was better than them destroying themselves. But He desired their repentance more than He desired to punish them, and searched for someone to be a fence on their behalf, someone to be a hedge of protection who would stand in the gap in intercession for them, someone who would plead their case, and still His anger.
Several years ago Christian artist, Fred Hammond, made popular again on the “contemporary urban gospel” charts, a song written decades ago by Sam Cooke, Jesus Be A Fence.* It’s an up-tempo song whose lyrics, summarized, plead for Jesus to provide protection from the evils of the world and to fulfill His role as our interceding High Priest. It is a fun song to listen to and sing along with…but good teaching doesn’t stop there.
The Apostle Peter teaches that believers are a holy nation of priests, those who are called to reveal the wonder and glory of GOD. As priests, it is our role to be that fence, that hedge, that one who will plead the case for those who may be a decision, an uncontrollable circumstance, a second away from disaster. I can’t think of a better way to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus, make me a fence.
* Jesus Be A Fence. Performed by Fred Hammond. Written by Sam Cooke.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2019. All rights reserved to original text content.