‘He stood between the dead and the living and the plague stopped’ ~ Numbers 16:48
The distance between man and God is the deepest deep and the widest breadth. Adding rebellion and unrepentance to the chasm, the deeper and wider it gets. When Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 of their followers opposed and rebelled against God’s appointed, Moses simply tells them, ‘In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will make that person come near him. The man he has chosen he will cause to come near him’ (Numbers 16:5). The distance between man and God can only be bridged by God. It is only God Himself who causes one to draw near Him. However, it remains obvious that rebellion and grumbling about God’s sovereign will, sets one against God. That is why Moses tells the rebels, ‘It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should murmur against him?’ (v11).
God seeing the rebellion says to Moses, ‘Separate yourselves from this assembly so that I can put an end to them at once’ (v21). But Moses stands in the gap and petitions God to spare the lives of the people saying, ‘O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?’ (v22). But God knew the hearts of the people, because even after they were spared, they also grumbled against Moses and Aaron. But in hearing Moses, God spared the people, and the earth opened and swallowed the three rebellious men and fire from heaven only consumed their followers. Soon after, the rest of the people spoke against Moses and Aaron saying, ‘You have killed the Lord’s people’ (v41). They set themselves against God, and again, God wanted to put an end to all of them. He sent a plague, but ‘Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them’ (v47), and the plague stopped. Aaron stood between the gap of the living God and the rebellious dead people by making atonement. The plague stopped because Aaron and Moses could come near God, and intercede on behalf of the rebellious people.
‘Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully’ (Psalm 24:4). Again, it is God who determines what clean hands and a pure heart looks like, and when He considered mankind, He observed that, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God’ (Romans 3:10-11). There was no one to stand in the gap between a rebellious and sinful humanity and a Holy God. As a result, God’s wrath was reserved for us. But, ‘The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and wondered that there was no intercessor, and his own righteousness sustained him’ (Isaiah 59:15-16). God Himself came in human form to stand in the gap and atone for our sins. ‘During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears’ (Hebrews 5:7). Jesus interceded for us and made an ultimate sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross. He stood in the gap for us since our first father, Adam, rebelled and sinned against God. Jesus ‘forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross’ (Colossians 2:13-14).
Those who attempt to come near to God without Jesus, do so in futility. Those who also attempt to use their good deeds, staged worship, and piety to merit God’s closeness should consider Job who was ‘blameless and upright’ (Job 1:1), in the real sense of the word. Yet, even in his genuine uprightness, Job says of God, ‘He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there was someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot’ (9:v32-35). And as it also stands with us, without Jesus our mediator and righteousness, we cannot stand before God, for ‘all our righteousness are as filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). Those who still insist that they do not need Jesus because they believe in ‘God’ and are generally ‘good people’, are simply delusional. In fact, Jesus who ‘came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near’ (Ephesians 2:17) warns such; ‘I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins’ (John 8:24).
Those who believe in Jesus are considered near to God, the God ‘who reconciled us to himself through Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:18). Our belief, however, does not end there because, God ‘gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation’ (v18-19). The ministry of reconciliation or standing in the gap, is a commission to all Believers, for we have the divine power to reconcile the lost to God- because we are those near to God. We are to petition God on behalf of lost souls and point them to Jesus with our lives, so that they can be saved. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). Solomon also writes, ‘He who wins souls is wise’ (Proverbs 11:30). Though a person may be lost, ‘Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down the pit’ (Job 33:23-24), then when God hears the petitioning, he accepts the lost soul. When the lost is brought back to God, he then ‘prays to God and finds favour with him, he sees God’s face and shouts for joy’ (v26). He is spared from eternal wrath. All because someone stood in the gap for them. Those who stand in the gap for the lost are considered like Phinehas who ‘stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked. This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come’ (Psalm 106:30-31).
‘I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone . . . This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ ~ 1 Timothy 2:1,3-4
‘Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend’ ~ Job 16:19-21
‘But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the enmity, even the law with its commandments and regulations’ ~ Ephesians 2:13-15
‘For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ ~ 1 Timothy 2:5