Willing to Stand in the Gap
How many of us would wish ourselves a place in Hell so that someone else might have a place in Heaven?
That is what Paul was saying when he spoke of his love and passion for those who didn’t know the Lord, writing, “I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:2–3). Paul was saying, in essence, “If it were possible, I would give up my hope of eternal life so that others who do not know could come to faith.” It’s an amazing statement.
Paul, by the way, isn’t the only one we read of in the Scriptures who had this kind of burden. Moses had the same kind of heart, the heart of an intercessor. When he came down from Mount Sinai after receiving God’s commandments, he found the people dancing and worshiping before the image of a golden calf.
When he realized God was ready to judge them, he made a statement that was unparalleled in the Bible except, perhaps, for Paul’s statement. He said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin . . .” At that point in the original language, there is a long pause, as though he were thinking about the full implications of what was about to follow: “but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written” (Exodus 32:31–32).
Here was a man who stood in the gap. Today God is still looking for people to stand in the gap like Moses, like Paul, with a God-given burden for those who don’t know Him.