“The LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” Exodus 3:7.
The account of Moses and the deliverance of Israel from Egypt is one of the most read of Old Testament stories. But the people had imbibed much of Egypt during their lengthy stay, and carried this knowledge with them into the wilderness. When Moses descended from the Mount, carrying the stone tablets of the law, he saw the golden calf, and in his anger threw down and broke the tablets.
On ascending the Mount the second time Moses said, “I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I neither ate bread, nor drank water, because of all your sins which you sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.” Deut.9:18. “Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He should destroy them.” Psalm 106:23.
They were His people. He cared for them. He saw their misery in Egypt and brought them out by His strong right hand. “Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power; your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.” Exodus 15:6. But He was now prepared to destroy them because of their sin. Indeed “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31. But they were saved by one man, who was prepared to stand in the breach and intercede on their behalf. “The Lord hearkened to me,” said Moses. Deut.9:19.
Centuries later, after the nation had entered the Land, been guided by Judges, ruled by Kings, and warned by Prophets, a situation arose so hateful in the sight of the Lord that once again He threatened destruction to both nation and city. The sins of the people had grown to such an extent that the words of the Prophets denounced them with the strongest language, repeatedly calling for repentance before it was too late. “I have taken away my peace from this people,” says the Lord, both lovingkindness and mercies.” Jer.16:5. “Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, my mind would not be favorable toward this people. Cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” Jer.15:1. “Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Ezek.14:20. So great was their defection from godliness.
“I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found none.” Ezek.22:30. The result was written down in history. King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed their city, and the people were carried off captive into Babylon, there to remain for at least seventy years.
We now race down the corridors of time to the present day in the British Isles, with its Brexit negotiations, its hung parliament, and the atrocities of terrorists in our midst. How did we get into the mess observed everywhere? Have we not been a Christian nation for some 2,000 years, more than any other nation on earth? Yes, and the British Church has been signally blessed in the past. Here are two lines from the first stanza of a poem I wrote in 1973.
Victoria’s child was a God-fearing child as Victoria was herself,
And so Great Britain’s greatness stayed whilst God was greater than self.
But in recent years there has been a disastrous turn from godliness to lawlessness. Truly we are seeing the fulfillment of Paul’s words,
“The day of the Lord will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”
2 Thess.2:3. The expression, “day of the Lord” refers to times of judgment, as in the OT. Paul tells us that God’s judgment hangs like the sword of Damocles over the nation as two things are observed. First of all “the apostasy.” This is the dereliction of the Church throughout the land, not only for condoning unrighteousness, but by not standing in the breach before the Lord, to halt the coming judgment. Then in the second place we have “the man of lawlessness” hard at work to undermine every good thing in the land. He is unseen, but his works are spread abroad for all to see. He seeks our destruction.
He is the “Little Horn” of Daniel’s prophecy, “Truth was cast down to the ground, and the horn acted and prospered.” Dan.8:12. “Through his cunning He shall cause deceit to prosper.” Dan.8:25. “He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant; but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. And those among the people who are wise shall make many understand, though they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for some days.” Dan.11:32-33. It’s possible to interpret these words into the ghastly scenes that daily hit our headlines.
What of our future as a nation? Shall we find an intercessor like Moses who will stand before the Lord in the breach, and hold back the flood-waters of judgment? Or shall we become as Israel in the last days of the Kings, when the Lord found no one to stand in the breach, and inevitably judgment fell on the nation? “They mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” 2 Chron.36:16
I don’t believe the Lord will find a Moses, but I do believe He holds Elijah in readiness to send according to Malachi’s prophecy. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6. Jesus confirmed this when He said to the disciples, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.” Matthew 17:11. But even with these two promised blessings, we have no luxury to sit back and twiddle our thumbs. Let us rise up and say, with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Josh.24:15