This sermon is number 14 in a series of 24
Ezekiel - Part 14
"No Man For The Hour"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2001 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
I want you to turn to Ezekiel chapter 22, Ezekiel 22. Now I did ask you - we finished last week at chapter 20 and verse 44, and therefore we're starting our study at verse 45 of chapter 20, we're going right through those end verses of chapter 20, right through chapter 21, and right through chapter 22. Now we haven't time to read all those chapters tonight, and I only want to read one verse with you of the word of God, and then we will go systematically through these chapters as we outline these themes and these facts that we need to know. The one verse I want us to really home in on is chapter 22 and verse 30. Now, these are the words of God: "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: but I found none".
James Gilmore of Mongolia said these words, listen to them very carefully: 'Where is now the Lord God of Elijah?', he echoed the words of Elisah, 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?'. But James Gilmore answers that question by saying: 'He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him'. Where is the Lord God of Elijah? He's waiting on Elijah to call on Him. The question today is not: 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?', for the Lord God of Elijah is in the place that He has always been, and we have seen a great vision of Him in chapter 1 of this book. He is upon His throne, He is sovereign, He is working throughout all the occurrences that we see in the world, historically in Palestine of this age and in the world today, His great wheels of time and sovereignty are moving. The question is not: 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?', rather the question is: 'Where are the Elijahs of God?'. God is there, but God needs men and women to call upon Him.
In verse 30 of chapter 22 that we have just read together, you find these words, God said: 'I sought for a man' - I sought for a man! In James 5 and 17 we read these words of the great apostle: 'Elijah was a man'. God said: 'I sought for a man', and God says that down all the epochs of time and history, and in the church today He says that: 'I seek a man'. James replied, for the age of Elijah, that Elijah was that man. He tells us we know that he was a man of like passions as we are - he's just the same as you or I, the normal five-eight Christian, if you like, today. He wasn't anything special to look at, he maybe wasn't anything special to listen to, he was a man of like passions like we are. He was subject to depression, he even ran away on one occasion from the evil heathen Queen Jezebel. But we need to ask the question: Elijah was a man like you and like I, but what was the difference? Is the difference that we are not men of prayer like Elijah? Is the difference that we are not men and women of faith as Elijah was? If you look at Elijah's life you find that Elijah lived with God! He thought about the nation's sin like God, he spoke against sin like God, he lived and he moved and he had his being in God. One writer says: 'He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land. He had no smooth preaching, passion fired his preaching and his words were on the hearts of men as molten metal were on their flesh'. This one man praying, Elijah, was a majority with God. God sought for a man, and he found it in Elijah.
A. W. Tozer writes these words, listen: 'Until self-effacing men return again to spiritual leadership we may expect a progressive deterioration in the quality of popular Christianity year after year, till we reach the point that we have grieved the Holy Spirit, He withdraws like the Shekinah glory from the temple'. Have you got that? There can come a time within the church of Jesus Christ, and I think prophetically Tozer says this, that just like the temple in the book of Ezekiel, the Shekinah glory can be removed because of the sin of the people. All through Israel's history, and in fact in history now, God looks for men and women who will be men and women of prayer, men and women of godliness, holiness, dignity, principle, righteousness.
In between your Old and New Testament you don't have any books, but you have a period of time of 400 or so years after the book of Malachi was written until the book of Matthew was begun where there was absolute silence - not a word from God was spoken! But what an army of priests could not do, and an army of so-called prophets, over 400 years between your Old and New Testament, one man sent from God did. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. It's amazing, isn't it? Four hundred years of a Jewish religious system, 400 years of slaying animals, 400 years of obeying the law - all of it pointless! But when God's man came on the scene, then God spoke! John the Baptist, what a man! A God-fashioned man, a God-filled man, a God-fired man, and a man who did in six months what all the religious leaders in Palestine couldn't do in 400 years.
Of all the great characters of Scripture, God's men for the hour were made just the way that John the Baptist was made. Where did he come from? He came from out of the wilderness. He came out of the school of silence. Nobody had heard of John the Baptist before! All of a sudden one day this strange looking man, austere man, rough looking man, comes out of the desert and starts to preach: 'Repent!'. If you go into the Old Testament, the type of John the Baptist is Elijah. Elijah comes on the scene of scriptural history just like that, he comes out of the blue. You don't hear anything about him, all of a sudden he just appears, but don't you think that God just put His hand upon him there and then - no, he was in the school of silence preparing before God for that moment. In that school of silence there, God's burden in the heart of God's man was being perfected, God's burden was becoming his burden, God's loathing for sin was becoming his, God's passion for holiness and righteousness was becoming his passion - and it was beginning to burn in their hearts. Every patriarch, every prophet that you read, went through this until the burning in their heart was so great that it exploded onto the canvas of time, they couldn't hold it in any longer!
Elijah and John the Baptist came out of the dark canvas of depravity of their age to be a light unto the glorious gospel of God, and to prepare the way of the Lord. What does God want today? I'll tell you what He wants: He wants men and women, young people, to be men and women of God, to prepare the way of the Lord. Imagine this man preparing the way for the Christ! That's what God wants you to do, whether it be preparing the way of the Lord for His Spirit to come in a mighty awakening, whether it be preparing the way of the Lord for His coming that when He comes He does find - at least in you, and perhaps in your fellowship - a remnant of believing, faithful people on the earth when He comes. The Lord still looks for such men and women, but the tragedy of this passage that we have read together tonight is this: in Ezekiel's day the eyes of the Lord ran to and fro throughout the whole earth, but look at verse 30 '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: but I found none' - no man for the hour.
Because of that God tells them of the coming judgement, that's your first point on your study sheet: 'God's signs of soon coming invasion'. In verse 2 of chapter 21 Ezekiel is addressed as 'son of man', and we have seen him addressed as that right throughout the book. Daniel was also addressed in this way, and we noted that these two apocalyptic books in the Old Testament have this title 'son of man'. The Lord Jesus takes it upon Himself, indeed it seems to be His favourite title for Himself within the Gospels in the New Testament. It is an eschatological title, in other words a title concerning the end times, but in this specific context this title speaks of a man who was after God's heart. It speaks of a man who was standing for God among the heathen people of his day in the great religious and political apostasy. This is a great paradox that I want you to see, because in chapter 22 and verse 30 God says: 'I looked and I couldn't find a man', and you would do well to say: 'Well, what about Ezekiel? Was he not a man that God could use? Was he not a man, actually, that God was speaking through?'. Yes, he was! But what had happened was that God's prophet, who was once pleading on the behalf of the people, had now been taken by God and had been called upon to set his face against the people. He was no longer being an intercessor, in other words standing between God and men pleading for man's cause, now he's standing between God and man pleading for God's cause! He's now declaring the judgements that God will bring upon the nation, and because of that Ezekiel couldn't be the man that God was looking for.
So Ezekiel, God's Spirit through him, depicts the tragedy of the hour that these people were now living in. He uses again prophetic pictures. Now we finished off at verse 44 of chapter 20 last week, because that's really where the chapter should finish, and I've told you before that in our Authorised Version - or indeed any version of the Bible, the Scriptures translated into English - the chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit, men did that after the books of the Bible were written. There are times that they make these divisions excellently, and there are other times where they're not made very well at all. So your chapter 21, if you like, should start at verse 45 - and we have there the first prophetic picture of judgement. What is it? In verses 45 to 49 there is a vision of a forest fire. If you look down it you can see very clearly the idea behind it. Now, before you read it let me tell you this: we have encountered, right throughout this book, the image of fire and the image of a sword. Do you remember that? Right throughout: the fire and the sword. We also saw, in the early chapters of this book, that when you go back to the book of Genesis you find that God's Holy Spirit is repeating a lot of imagery that you find in the book of Genesis.
Let me refresh your memory. You go into the garden of Eden, man and woman have fallen, God casts Adam and Eve out of the garden of paradise, and what does God set in front of the gate of the garden of Eden? He sets a cherubim with a sword of fire, speaking of the judgement of God, a sword of fire. It speaks of His judgement, but it also speaks of His mercy, so that they wouldn't eat of the Tree of Life and live forever in their sinfulness. Here again we have the imagery of fire and sword. If you look at verse 46: 'Son of man, set thy face toward the south, and drop thy word toward the south, and prophesy against the forest of the south field; And say to the forest of the south, Hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every green tree in thee, and every dry tree: the flaming flame shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north shall be burned therein'. A prophecy against the South, if you know the area of Israel it is the Negev, the southern desert - and in fact, specifically, it's speaking of the southern kingdom which is the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. All God is saying is: 'There's going to be a devouring fire, a fatal sword that's going to come down. It's coming from the north down to the south, it is the Babylonians again coming by the hand of God, and it's going to devour your whole city until there's nothing left!'. What a picture: a forest fire.
Then, to bring home this truth and metaphor again, He uses a second picture in chapter 21 and verses 1 to 17: a drawn sword. Now Jeremiah remember, who was Ezekiel's counterpart, in chapter 51 of his prophecy he calls Babylon: 'God's battle axe'. But now Ezekiel, using the military language, calls Babylon: 'God's sword' - and more than a dozen times right throughout chapter 21 you find this reference to the nation of Babylon. In verses 1 to 7 the picture is of God pulling His sword out of the sheath and out of the scabbard. It shows in verses 8 to 17 God sharpening it, God cleaning it, God preparing it for the use of judgement. Then in verses 18 to 27 you see God points that sword toward Jerusalem, and then in verses 28 to 32 God points it again at the nation of Ammon. The Ammonites you see, if you look at the history, had united with Judah against the Babylonians. They tried to help Judah to overthrow the Babylonians. What God is saying here is that they escaped judgement for a little time, but eventually judgement will come to them - Ammon - too.
Now what is God saying? Simply, as He did in the picture of a forest fire, He's now saying in the picture of a drawn sword ready to slay: 'I am absolutely determined to judge you'. Ezekiel is speaking of God's determination - the sword is prepared to slaughter, and as the passage says, it will satisfy the fury and the wrath of Jehovah. Now I think you can see that this is a very dark hour that we are being allowed by the Spirit to glimpse into tonight. Can you imagine the reaction of God's prophet as the Spirit inspires him to say all of these things? What do you think a prophet's reaction ought to be? If you look at verses 6 and 7, God says: 'Sigh therefore, thou son of man, with the breaking of thy loins; and with bitterness sigh before their eyes. And it shall be, when they say unto thee, Why are you sighing? That you shall answer, For the tidings; because it cometh: and every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water: behold, it cometh, and shall be brought to pass, saith the Lord GOD'. God commanded His prophet, this isn't just of himself - God actually said: 'You have got to groan about this, you must grieve over this nation and what is going to come upon the people. And, Ezekiel, when the people ask you what you're doing and why you're doing this, tell them it is because of the terrible wrath that is to come! Tell them, because this is certain! Tell them it's going to happen, and you know it's going to happen! God has told you it's going to happen, and you're broken at the prospect of it all'.
In verse 6 and 7 we find him sighing, then in verse 12 God says: 'Cry and howl, son of man: for it shall be upon my people, it shall be upon all the princes of Israel: terrors by reason of the sword shall be upon my people: smite therefore upon thy thigh'. Can you see him wailing? Can you see him crying? Can you see him with no breath or voice left, sighing and slapping his thigh? This was to warn the people of what was to come, it was to show them the fearfulness of the coming of the judgement of the Lord, it was to show them that the wrath of God was abiding upon them, it was to show them that the day of the fierceness and the wrath of the winepress trodding of God was coming to them! God's prophet, God's man, was moved!
Turn with me to 2 Peter for a moment, 2 Peter chapter 3 and verse 10 - and look at the similarities between this and Ezekiel: 'The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you'. Verse 17: 'Therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen'.
OK, you want to be technical with me and say: 'Well, that message in Ezekiel is for Israel' - well, who is that message for? It's for you! What's your reaction to it? Come on, in a world that is black - and I don't need to take time, your news programmes have already painted the blackness of the situation in our land this very night - the coming of the Lord is drawing nigh. You or I can't say when it's going to be, or when it's going to happen, but we know tonight - now - that it is sooner than it has ever been before in all of history. The question is this: how do you feel about it? To put it bluntly: does it make a button of difference to your life?
Verse 10 and Ezekiel chapter 21, if you turn back to it, in the rhetorical question that God asks of the people He talks about this sword and says: 'It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter: should we then make mirth?'. Do you see that? Shall we then make mirth? Do you know what God is saying? God's message of judgement was being declared by Ezekiel the prophet, the people were beginning to see - as we saw last week in chapter 20, the elders of the people came and asked the question, they were realising that this great judgement was going to come - but even though they had this theological, sound knowledge, even though the earthly events all around them were pointing to the coming of the Lord's judgement, they were making mirth! The Lord is asking the question: 'Seeing these things shall be dissolved, what kind of a person ought you to be?'. Should you be making a joke out of your life? Should you be making a joke out of God's testimony, and God's word, and God's assemblies, and God's work? Men - and it astounds me, even God's people - have a tendency to make light of the great need that there is today in the world, and even the pitiful state of the church, whenever you cry aloud from the watchtower about what is coming into the church, about the great declension and apostasy - men laugh! Men of God, so-called! Ach, shall we make mirth? Shall we? When things are so bad?
When I was in America not so long ago one of those great preachers, many of his books line the bookshelves, he was asked at that conference: 'You don't tell as many jokes as you used to, you're not as humorous in your preaching any more'. His reply to that was this: 'Yes, because the more and more I study God's word, and the nearer I get to God, the eternal truths become more real to me - and I just cannot' - if I can put it in the words of Ezekiel: 'I can't make mirth'. Can't make fun of it! Oh, there's nothing wrong with a bit of humour, it can be used very effectively and ought to be used - but, my friend, when you really feel the spiritual temperature of Christ's church in this 21st century, if you really feel it you'll not be laughing! At a time like this, as Solomon said, it's better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting.
Do you know what the need of the hour is? They need of the hour is for groaners, for grievers, for wailers to God and for God. The church is coming down with graduates more than it ever has, but what it needs is groaners! It needs no more good preachers, we're coming down with good preachers - we need groaners! We don't need general managers, we need grievers, wailers, criers! As old Isaiah said: 'There is none that stirreth up himself to take hold of God', there's none. The signs of God's judgement in the world today, do they not stir you up? Do they not make you think, like the Psalmist thought in Psalm 119:136: 'Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law'? Does it not make you weep? Does it not make you mourn? Does it not make you grieve? Jeremiah could say: 'My head is become as a river of waters because of all that is going on in the world around'. Will we be men and women for the hour, who will stand in the gap like God's prophet, or will we just watch as the world goes to hell? I can never get Leonard Ravenhill's poem out of my heart, listen:
'Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you damned?'
A forest fire, a drawn sword, and then thirdly in chapter 21 and verses 18 to 32, a fork in the road. This is another picture that Ezekiel is giving the people, verses 18 through 24 Ezekiel is told to draw a map. He's to draw a picture of a road, and along that road he's to portray the King of Babylon walking along it. The King of Babylon is seen walking down from Babylon to the land of Judah, down in the South. He's walking down to devour it. Ezekiel is told not just to draw a road, but also to draw a signpost at the fork of the road. One of the signs points to Jerusalem, and the other sign points to Rabbath which was the capital of Ammon. What God is saying is: 'Which city shall I judge?'. Ammon is helping Judah to try and defeat the Babylonians, you remember the Babylonians were being used by God, and they were fighting against God and trying to defeat them - but Ammon was helping them. God is saying: 'Who will I judge first? Will I judge My own people, Jerusalem, or will I judge their counterparts and their cohorts, Ammon?'. Do you know what the prophet says?: 'God says: I will judge Jerusalem first' - first!
In verse 21 we read: 'The king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way', at the fork of the road, 'at the head of the two ways, and he used divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver'. Now, that looks very complicated, but what he was doing was he was using occultic measures to divine the future, and indeed to divine how to be guided and who to invade first. The first thing he does is he marks arrows. If you like, he puts the name 'Ammon' on one, and he puts the name 'Jerusalem' on another - it's like casting lots - and he picks one out, and whoever's name is on it is the one he'll attack first. The second way of divining the future, he consults his household gods. He goes to all the gods he can and asks them all the guidance he can. Then thirdly he looks at a liver - and people even do this today, I'm led to believe - looking at an animal's liver, and somehow looking at it they discern the future and discern what to do. All those three things told him to go to Jerusalem first.
Now, as an aside, let me say this: this is amazing to me. Our God, and you'd think we would have learnt by now through this book, where He keeps saying to His people: 'That they might know that I am the Lord, that I am the Lord, that I am the sovereign God', He is using an unbelieving King to do His work. Not only is He using an unbelieving King, but our God can even go through these pagan methods and make them come up with the decisions that He wants! Now don't push that too far and say that God authorises these things, because that's a lot of nonsense. But I'll tell you this: God can do what He likes, He can do what He likes.
Go to Jerusalem first. Imagine, imagine this: God's people did not obey what they knew, the revealed will of God, yet the pagan nation of Babylon obeyed God and they didn't even know they were doing it! What a paradox. In verses 25 to 27 He brings it home, and He speaks of Zedekiah. He's the profaned, wicked prince that is talked about in verse 25. He says in verse 26, if you look at it: 'Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him'. You highlight that now - Zedekiah is going to be deposed, his kingship will be overthrown, overthrown, overthrown. He will be the last of the kings of the Davidic line, until He comes whose right it is! You stand up tonight and tell me of a King who has come in the Davidic line, a King who has reigned over the whole united nation - not a one! But I can turn you to Luke's gospel and chapter 1, where we read of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David'. What about that? It's His right! Don't you take it off Him by your warped theology! It's His right and He'll have it!
In verses 28 to 32 the Ammonites, God says, will be the next to be attacked by the King of Babylon and they will utterly be destroyed. You know, as I look at all this - I know it's complicated history, and I'm not saying I understand it all - but do you know what I do understand and rejoice in? The history, and indeed our current events in our world this very night, are full of instances of God overturning human governments and leaders until Christ comes whose right it is to reign and rule. Hallelujah! He reigns!
But we still can't get away from this great problem that God has. Do you think God has a problem? Yes, He has a problem here: He can't find a man. Your second point specifies it by saying: 'God searches for a man of intercession'. What a dark horizon, what a scene that is bursting into the history of God's people at this moment. God furthers the case of the great need for godly men with the sad lack of it in the nation - there's a need of it, but there are none here to fill the gap! He outlines for them in chapter 22, first of all in verses 1 to 16, a menu and a register if you like of the people's unrighteousness. There is the image of a court here, a court of law. We don't have time to read it, but if you go home you'll read all the list of the most awful sins that you can imagine that God's people were committing. God is being depicted in the prophet as the prosecuting lawyer, bringing all the sins of the people, outlining them all, and convicting them all of it. He is indicting Judah for her sins and proving that the leaders, right down to the common people alike, were guilty of breaking God's law. A catalogue of the sins of Jerusalem.
God says: 'For these sins', verses 15 and 16, 'I will scatter them to all the nations and the countries of this world' - and for 2000 years, mark this well, 2000 years His people Israel have been scattered all over the world! I hope you believe the Bible. A menu of unrighteousness, and for it they have been dispersed. Secondly, He outlines it again as a melting pot of dross in verses 17 to 31, this pot. They're boiling the metal in the pot in order that the dross is taken away, and you're left with the metal - isn't that the idea of purification? But what God is saying here is: 'The more I boil, all I get is dross, I don't get any pure metal from My people!'. God gives them an image of a furnace, Jerusalem would become like a furnace of fire as the army of Babylon encamps around it - but there's no metal in the city, there's nobody left, everything's dross - He can't find anything good in His own people because they've been so cheapened by their register of sin!
Then He brings in verses 23 to 27 an image of a jungle, and He depicts the prophets like lions, and the priests and princes like wolves. He says that these lions of prophets and wolves of princes are all fighting to get what they can from the people of God, they're wanting to devour the people - they're not making a difference between holy and unclean. All classes, all types of people were guilty: religious, civic leaders, kings and princes alike - all of them were filthy, and not a righteous man could be found among them! He couldn't find a reformer, He couldn't find in intercessor, He couldn't find a representative to stand for Him. Instead of shepherding the people, these false prophets were like fierce ravening wolves. They devoured the people, they give them false visions, they were prophets - like men-pleasing preachers today - who sought to make the people comfortable in their sins, and whitewashing over their sins with false visions, and divining lies in the name of the Lord!
In verses 28 to 31 He gives a third image of a wall, and He says that with their false visions and their messages the prophets have whitewashed the nation's sins, and covered over all its guilt. Then He talks about a gap in that wall that needs to be filled, and that's your third image. In our text, chapter 22 and verse 30: '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: but I found none'. God is looking for people in His nation who will not only build strong walls, but who will become strong walls by standing in the gap in the hour of danger. Cast your mind back to Genesis, perhaps only 10 righteous men were able to be found in the city of Sodom, and that was enough for God not to judge it - only 10. But God couldn't find one in His own city of Jerusalem! It's amazing, isn't it? That's why, in chapter 16, Jerusalem was called the new Sodom. There wasn't even a righteous Lot, not even one God could pull out of the fire!
Now can I, before I bring a challenge to you and finish, can I bring to you a great blessing to every child of God in this place? Listen to this: 'I cannot find a man to fill the gap', but hallelujah, we can say here at this side of Calvary: 'There is one man, one mediator between God and men - the man Christ Jesus' - hallelujah! What has He done? You see that register of sins? He, in the court of law of God, took it on Himself. He went into the melting pot of God's wrath and fire, He went under the sword of God's war:
'Jehovah bade His sword awake,
Oh Christ, it woke 'gainst Thee!'
What a Saviour! Do you know something? Don't have only half a gospel, for He says: 'Take up your cross and follow Me'. You see, we are to stand and intercede as He is interceding now. We are to intercede in this world as a kingdom of priests for our God and King. In the history of Israel God always looked for a man like this to stand in the gap, for gap-people to stand in the breach and ward off the judgement of God. You have Moses and Phinehas who interceded for the people, you have Joseph who was arisen in the nation for the people to save them, you have Samuel, you have the judges all through that book who were raised up - even Gideon - to save the nation from judgement. You have Daniel, you have John the Baptist that we have mentioned, you have modern-day men of God and mediators and intercessors.
John Knox, in his final two days of life here on earth, in his great physical discomfort, informed his friends that he had spent the last two days battling on behalf of the church, and he ended his days doing the work of an intercessor. What a man!
'Oh, for the floods on a thirsty land,
Oh, for a mighty revival.
But - Oh, for a sanctified fearless band,
Ready to hail its arrival'.
Can I give God's word to you in this Laodicean, lukewarm age that's neither hot nor cold: 'Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man or woman of you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him and I will sup with him and he with me'. He's only looking for you, my friend, just one.
Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier of New York was that one man on the 23rd September 1859, after pleading with God that he would know what to do in the awful background of that nation and that city he lived in of New York, he was led to begin a prayer meeting in New York. The meeting was to last for an hour, and for the first half-hour the meeting he was on his own. Then one person came to him after the half-hour, and then another, until eventually five men were gathered for prayer. The following week the number grew to 20, the following to 40. The meeting was so good that they decided to have it on a daily basis, and after a few weeks the number had grown to 100 - and by the 23rd of October, a month later, Lanphier called upon the newspaper editors of the town to notice what was happening in the city of New York. After three months the numbers had reached four figures, and after six months there were 25 different prayer meetings held right throughout the city of New York. Do you know something? That was the beginning of revival in America where two million souls were added to the church. Why? It all began by the prayer intercession of one man - are you willing to be that man? Are you willing to be that woman for this hour?
Let's bow our heads, and if you want to be a man or a woman for this hour, you must be a man or a woman of prayer. It's hard because nobody sees you up at the front when you pray, nobody gives you a pat on the back, but the Lord says: 'If you pray to me in secret, I will reward you openly'. Will you take up a ministry - maybe you can't speak, maybe you can't sing, maybe you can do nothing, but I tell you: you can pray, for you have the Spirit of God in your soul. Will you pray, my friend, that God may be glorified in this nation and in this church in a way that He has never been before?
Father, it is Thy glory we seek - of course, there's always a wee bit of ourselves in it, and we pray that You'll purge out that old dross like You did with Israel. But, oh, that You would find metal, oh that You would find gold and silver and precious stones in our life, that on that great judgement day we'll endure the fire and that we will have fruit that will remain. Make us a people of prayer, we say with the disciples: 'Lord, teach us to pray', and we say as a church: 'Lord, make this a house of prayer'. Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourteenth tape in his Ezekiel series, titled "No Man For The Hour" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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