A little boy was lost in a large crowd and was frantically looking for his father. A stranger saw the fear in the boy’s eyes and asked him if he was lost. The little boy said, “No, but my daddy is.” “Let me help you find him,” the stranger offered. “How will I know who you dad is when I see him?” The little boy said, “My daddy is the man who loves me.”
Here’s the question for the church today, is there anything distinctive about the man of God? If a stranger were looking for a man of God in a crowd of men, how would he recognize the man of God? Because I can tell you that God knows how to tell the man of God from those who are not. He said, “I looked for a man among them . . . but I found none.”
I believe God is looking for men today. He’s looking for wall building, gap standing men that He can count on. And God knows who is His man, and who is not. He knows the difference and He wants men to know the difference as well. Because that difference may well be the very thing that determines the blessings or judgment upon our home, our church or our community. Look at the text with me:
In our text the Prophet Ezekiel is God’s spokesman to Judah. In chapter 22 God lays out the charges that He has against the inhabitants of Jerusalem. On this list there are such things as bloodshed, lewdness, slanders, extortion, idolatry, adultery, bribery, contempt of parents, and oppression of strangers, orphans and widows. For these sins, and others, Jerusalem would face God’s judgment. She would be like a refiner’s pot, in which the people, like worthless dross, would be melted.1 If God was making a list in our homes it may not be so shocking. It may only list things like, prayerlessness, lovelessness, harsh words, bad attitudes, self-centeredness, or ungratefulness. But such a list is still an indictment in homes claiming to be Christian.
Yet even in the face of the indictments against Jerusalem, God, in His mercy, states that He was looking for just one righteous man among all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who could build up the wall, that is, build up the morality and righteousness of the city and stand before God as a mediator, or a priest, on behalf of the people. God was looking for an opportunity, looking for a reason not to have to pour out the corrective measure of His righteous judgment. God was looking for a man, but to God’s disappointment, He could not find one righteous man who could prevent the impending judgment from coming.
How the heart of God must have ached at the prospect that one man could have saved a city, but no such man could be found among the people. God said, “As surely as I live . . . I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11, NIV)
God is looking for a man, a man of God, who will build up the walls and stand in the gap. The reasons families so often fall apart is because there was no man of God in the home. The reason 80 percent of all prison inmates are incarcerated is because there was no man in the home. The reason churches flounder and the reason communities are overrun with crime and moral decadence is because there is no man of God building up the walls of righteousness and standing in the gap for the people. And where there is no man of God, the corrective measure of God’s judgment is destined to fall.
What does a man of God look like? Let’s look at this one verse and see what God was looking for, because He was looking for a man. He was looking for His man.
I. A MAN IS PRESENT AND ACCOUNTED FOR
God said, “I looked for a man among them,” that is, among the people. He didn’t look for a man in another country, He was looking for a man in the city to stand as an intercessor for the city. When God looks for a man to save your family, He isn’t looking in the neighbor’s home, He’s looking in your home. He’s looking for men who are not absentees, but who are present and accounted for.
I thank God for my uncle who was like a father to me, when mine wasn’t. I thank God for the godly example, for the camping trips, the hunting trips, and the times he shared himself with his own sons and with me. And while God often sends others into our lives to fill the void of those who are not there, I know that I would have lived a much less traumatic life if I’d only had a father who loved enough to be there for me.
Fathers, don’t expect the school councilors, the Sunday School teachers or the pastor to do your job for you. You need to be the father. A man of God, a real man, isn’t at the bar with his buddies while his children are dying for his attention. A real man is there for his children.
When it came time to explain the facts of life to my oldest son, I didn’t want it to come from the boys at school, or from some sex education teacher, I wanted it to come from dad. I wanted to make sure he understood the moral implications and the covenant of marriage that makes the act of sex a sacred trust between two people.
God is looking for men in the home to be the model of a man of God in the home. God is looking for men in the home who will bless their children. One report in Florida showed that while there is a high population of Jewish people in the state, the population of Jewish men in prison is very low. Sociologists began to study this phenomenon and came to the conclusion that the reason was that Jewish fathers are more likely than other fathers to remain married to the mother of their children, and Jewish fathers traditionally bless their children.
A Jewish blessing is when the father lays his hand on the head of his child and tells that child how good he or she is and how good that child is going to do in life. They say things like, “God has given me a wonderful son. You are a blessing to me, and you will be a great man of God someday. You will be a great student, a great provider for your family, and you will be a great father to your children.” And that paternal presence and blessing is the difference between a 5 percent prison population of Jewish men and an 95 percent prison population of non-Jewish men.
Fathers, be a man of God in your home. Be a husband who is a blessing to his wife, be a father who gives a blessing to his children, and be a man of God who knows how to bless the Lord with all your soul.
II. A MAN OF GOD BUILDS UP
God said He looked for a man among them “who would build up the wall.” The literal reference is to the wall that surrounded the city of Jerusalem. It was the ongoing responsibility of the people to keep the wall in good repair to defend against the attacks of the enemy. But as God looked down He saw a wall in disrepair and the city dangerously exposed to attack, and not one man willing to build it back up.
Why were the men so lax? Why wasn’t a single man willing to pick up a block and a trowel and begin the repairs? It seems the men were too busy with their own stuff. The men were complacent and apathetic. Each man probably thought that someone else would do it, or should do it, and as a result no one did do it. The walls were crumbling around them, but no one was willing to build them up again.
But God was using the illustration of the wall to point out a moral deficiency. The people had allowed their commitment to God to crumble, to fall into a state of disrepair, and so doing, opened themselves up, exposed themselves to the judgment that was coming.
I believe real men of God know how to build up that which the enemy tried to tear down. The enemy wants us to neglect our altars; the enemy wants us to sit by complacently while television shows tear down the moral fabric of our families.
The enemy wants us to sit by passively while the marriage is falling apart. After all, we’re too busy to doing anything about it. We’ve got so much stuff that we need to do—our work, our play, our sports, our leisure, our recreation, and our hobbies all need our attention. We’ll get around to addressing our family and our faith some other time. But while the walls of faithfulness, devotion and commitment crumble, the enemy stands just outside the walls of our homes waiting for the opportunity to destroy our marriage, kill our children and capture our souls.
God is looking for a man to build back, build up, restore, renew and revive. God is looking for a man who knows how to build up the self-esteem of his wife. God is looking for a man who will make the sacrifices necessary to build up the faith of their family. God is looking for a man to build up the confidence in his children. God is looking for a man, who will be a man in the church, who will not pass on the tasks of ministry to their wives, but who will teach a class, sweep a floor, sing a song, and be a man of God.
III. A MAN OF GOD IS A PRIEST IN THE HOME
God said that He was looking for a man to build up the wall and to “stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it.” The gap being referred to is the breach in the wall, the place where the opening has already been made and is a potential entry place for the enemy. The only way to defend such a breach was for a man, or men, to put on his armor, take up his weapons and put his life on the line for the safety of the city.
Spiritually speaking, God was saying that the moral walls of the city were crumbling, and already there was a gap, a place where judgment was about to pour in. God was looking for a man who would be an intercessor. A man who would be used of God as Jonah was to move a city to repent and be saved from impending judgment. God was looking for a man who would be an intercessor as Moses was for Israel. A man who would say, “Lord spare the people, or kill me with them.” A man like Paul who would say, “I am willing to spend and be spent on behalf of my countrymen, though the more I love them, the less they love me.” A man like Joshua who would stand up and say, “You chose today who you are going to serve, but as for me and my house, we’re going to serve the Lord.”
I believe God has called every husband and father to be the priest of his home. Now I know that in homes like the one I grew up in, my father wouldn’t be the priest so my mother had to fill those shoes. But I still believe—and it may sound sexist of me to say it—that God has called the men to be priests in the home. This doesn’t mean that women can’t be used in ministry. It doesn’t mean that a woman cannot preach the gospel, but I believe that even in homes where the women is called to a pulpit ministry, the man is still called to be the priest in the home. Unfortunately, God is finding fewer and fewer men who will stand in the gap, who will put their very lives on the line for the safety of their families.
Why are marriages falling apart at a record rate? God is searching for a man.
Why are prisons filling and new ones being built? God is looking for a man.
Why does our country stand on the precipice of God’s judgment? God is looking for a man.
But not just any man, God is looking for a man who loves God, who serves God, and who will be God’s man in the home, in the church and in the community.
God said, “I looked for a man . . . but I found none.” Then in verse 31 God tells us what the result not finding a single man in the city would be (look at it with me): “So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
One man of God, one man willing to build up, one man willing to stand in the gap, one man willing to intercede on behalf of the people, one man could have made a world of difference, but God found none. So what did God do? God sent His Son to be the Man. God sent Jesus to be the perfect man, the One who could build up what the enemy had torn down, and stand in the gap before God on our behalf. Jesus came to serve as our example of what a man of God should look like and He calls us today to a man of God.
Is there anything about your life that lets God know that you are His man? If the entire city were depending on your level of commitment to God, or my level of dedication to God in my home, in my church or in my community, would my family be saved, would my church be spared, would my city be saved? I don’t know about you, but my prayer is, “God, I want to be your man. For my family, I want to be your man. For my church I want to be your man. For my community, I want to be your man. And if I am lacking, search me, try me, and bring before my eyes anything that would disqualify me from standing in the gap before You.”