The Power of One

I can't count the number of times I've given my seminar on being one in a two-digit world—the wholeness of being single. As I read Ezekiel 22 this afternoon I was reminded again of the value that one person can have.

Let me set the stage. The Lord has again spoken to Ezekiel and delivers a long litany of sins that God's people have committed against their Lord. You name it and it's there somewhere in the first 29 verses of Ezekiel 22.

Then comes a statement that is sad in its implications. The Lord says: "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. 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" —Ezekiel 22:30, 31, NIV.

Just one valiant, righteous man would have held back the wrath of God. Just one.

We look at our own land and breathe a sigh of relief. Surely God will not judge us to the same degree as we have outlined for us here in Ezekiel? We still have more than one valiant, righteous man standing for truth in our nation, don't we?

Yes, we do. And that is probably why we still continue to experience God's blessings even as our nation slides farther and farther away from the foundation of truth and justice it was founded on. But valiant, righteous men are becoming harder to find. A watered-down Gospel coupled with a weak, self-centered Church produces few heroes of the faith. Does that sound simplistic, or exaggerated? I'd love it if you could convince me that I was wrong.

It's perhaps easy to be complacent because we aren't down to our "last man in the gap" yet. But I can't help but remember Abraham's problems with numbers back in Genesis 18. The patriarch begged that God would spare Sodom for his nephew Lot's sake. Abraham asked if God would spare Sodom for the sake of fifty righteous citizens. When the Lord agreed, Abraham continued to lower the number until he got to ten. God promised he would spare the city for ten righteous men. Then Abraham stopped. Perhaps he didn't wish to presume on God's mercy by lowering the number any more. Perhaps he felt confident that Lot must have been busy gathering disciples during his years living in the sinful city and that there surely were at least ten who qualified as righteous.

What grabs my attention is that God didn't spare the city for Lot's sake despite Abraham's lack of math skills. I don't believe that God was limited by Abraham's decision to strop at a certain number. He rescued Lot, probably out of consideration for Abraham, but he didn't save the city. Did that mean that in spite of his mercy in rescuing Lot, God didn't consider Abraham's nephew to be a righteous man? He may have been religious. He may have been reasonably good. But it doesn't look like he wasn't a "gap-filler."

I guess the lesson is this: Before I get too complacent, thinking that we still have a long way to go in this country before we get down to the last "gap-filler," I should remember that religious doesn't equal righteous, good doesn't equal godly, and Christian doesn't always equal Christ-like.

We might be closer to the last man than we think. And that's a truly scary thought.


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