The phrase “stand in the gap” originates from Ezekiel 22:30, where God seeks someone to “stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it.” This refers to intercessory prayer, pleading with God on behalf of others. Several biblical figures “stood in the gap” in this way through their prayers and actions.
Moses as an Intercessor
Moses is one of the most prominent gap standers in the Old Testament. After the Israelites worshipped the golden calf, God was ready to destroy them. But Moses pleaded with God on their behalf and asked for forgiveness (Exodus 32:11-14). God relented after Moses’ prayer. Moses interceded for Israel numerous times during their wilderness wanderings when God was provoked to anger by the people’s constant complaining and lack of faith (Exodus 17:4, Numbers 11:2, Numbers 14:13-19).
Moses’ Bold Request
Moses went so far as to ask God to blot his own name out of the book of life if it meant God would forgive Israel: “But now, if You will, forgive their sin–and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” (Exodus 32:32). This demonstrates Moses’ deep love for God’s people and his willingness to sacrifice himself on their behalf.
Abraham’s Bargaining with God
Abraham boldly bargained with God on behalf of the righteous in Sodom and Gomorrah. When God was ready to destroy those cities for their wickedness, Abraham pleaded for mercy if there were even ten righteous people in them. He began by asking if God would spare the cities for fifty righteous people, then forty, thirty, twenty, and finally ten, with God agreeing each time (Genesis 18:22-33). Though ten righteous people were not found, Abraham’s appeal reveals his concern for saving the innocent.
A Pattern of Intercession
Abraham had earlier interceded for his nephew Lot in a similar fashion. When Abraham heard Lot was captured in battle, he led a rescue mission and pleaded with God for success (Genesis 14:14-16). Abraham stood in the gap as an advocate for the deliverance of his family.
Esther’s Appeal to the King
Queen Esther risked her life to stand in the gap for her people who were slated for destruction. When Haman plotted genocide against the Jews, Esther approached King Ahasuerus to plead for their lives, even though it could have meant death for her (Esther 7:3-4). She told the king she and her people had been “sold” to destruction and asked him to stop it (Esther 7:4). As a result, the Jews were saved from Haman’s edict.
A Queen’s Courage
Esther showed great courage in approaching the king unsummoned. She told her cousin Mordecai that if she perished in the attempt, so be it: “If I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16). Because she was willing to sacrifice herself for her people, the Jews were rescued.
Job as an Intercessor for His Friends
After losing everything, Job prayed fervently for the friends who had wrongly accused him. When God’s anger burned against Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar for not speaking rightly about Him, Job prayed for them and made sacrifices on their behalf so God would forgive them (Job 42:7-10). Though they had treated him poorly, Job appealed to God for mercy towards them.
Forgiveness for Friends
Rather than hold a grudge, Job exhibited true forgiveness. His selfless prayer on behalf of his friends is commended by God Himself (Job 42:7-8). Job wished no ill upon them even after their harsh criticism of him.
Jesus as Ultimate Intercessor
Jesus Christ stands as the ultimate gap stander, interceding between humankind and the Father. As the only perfect mediator between God and man, Jesus bridges the gap that exists because of sin (1 Timothy 2:5). Isaiah 53:12 prophesied the Messiah would “make intercession for the transgressors.”
An Advocate with the Father
Even now, Jesus remains at the Father’s right hand interceding for believers (Romans 8:34). The book of Hebrews affirms that he “always lives to make intercession” for those who approach God through him (Hebrews 7:25). Without Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf, we would have no access to the Father.
Biblical Examples of Standing in the Gap
Here are some key biblical figures who stood in the gap through intercessory prayer and appeals for mercy:
|Name||Text||Stood in the Gap For|
|Moses||Exodus 32:11-14||The Israelites|
|Abraham||Genesis 18:22-33||Sodom and Gomorrah|
|Esther||Esther 7:3-4||The Jews|
|Job||Job 42:7-10||His friends|
|Jesus||1 Timothy 2:5||All humanity|
The Call to Intercede Today
All believers have a duty to stand in the gap today through prayer and advocacy. We live in a fallen world in desperate need of intercession and redemption. Some key ways Christians can follow biblical examples and stand in the gap right now include:
Praying for Leaders
The Bible urges us to pray for those in authority over us that they may act justly (1 Timothy 2:1-3). As responsible citizens, we can lift up our governing officials before God.
Advocating for the Helpless
From the unborn to the trafficked, we must plead the cause of those who cannot defend themselves. We can write letters, donate time and resources, or support organizations that work on their behalf.
Reaching the Lost
We have the duty and privilege of interceding for the lost and serving as ambassadors calling them to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20). Our prayers and evangelism efforts may open the door to rescue the perishing.
Standing in the gap requires sacrificial love that’s willing to lay down self-interest for the good of others. As the examples of Moses, Abraham, Esther, Job, and Jesus demonstrate, bold intercession can change the course of history. God is still looking for gap standers today who will follow their examples of courage, compassion, and mediation for the sake of others.