by Ted Kyle
At a very bad time in Judah's history, God looked for a man to "stand in the hedge" or gap in the nation's spiritual defenses. He did not find one, and God's judgment fell on the Jewish kingdom.
Earlier in Judah's history, in a time of equally dire need, God found such a man and judgment was deferred. The nation had become a morass of pagan gods and pagan ways. The "high places" were served by the servant-priests of Baal and bloody Chemosh, who demanded the sacrifice of infants. The "groves" where Astarte was worshiped were in every center of population. The sodomites paraded their twisted religion in the very shadow of the Temple in Jerusalem.
And the people? They were sheep without a true shepherd. Unable to distinguish between right and wrong. Apathetic. Willing to listen to every false prophet who caught their ears, they drifted into worship of any or several of the deities which competed for their devotion. It had become, once again, a time when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes" (Judg. 21:25).
The Temple—which symbolized the presence and dominion of Jehovah God—had become derelict, almost abandoned. God's anger at the state of His chosen people grew. But He sought a man.
Josiah was that man. "He did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right-hand or to the left" (2 Kgs. 22:2). Beginning with the Temple, Josiah cleansed the land of the priests of the false gods and their worship centers. He made a covenant with God, "and all the people stood to the covenant" (v. 3). And God's wrath was turned away.
This ancient history has a stern message for us today. We, too, stand at a cross-roads—a juncture of history. Our times are fully as evil as those of Josiah's day; our nation's hands are even bloodier with the blood of our innocent children than were Judah's.
Will God find men to stand in the gap? Let's personalize this: Will you be the man to stand in the gap in your church? In your community?