Has someone ever stood in the gap for you?
When you lost belief in yourself, you found someone standing in the gap—bridging the dark chasm between hopelessness and a new beginning. When joy was a phantom fading quickly into the shadows of the past, someone tapped you on the shoulder and when you turned around he was holding a light— enough light for you to take the next step into the future. When circumstances had you in a panic, someone took you by the hand and led you higher so you could see the big picture, and there it was—the path leading you out of your terror.
All of us at one time or another have needed someone to stand in the gap for us. Paul had a Timothy (2 Timothy 4:9, 11, 21). Young King Jehoash had an Elisha (2 Kings 13:14). David had a Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1, 3; 2 Samuel 21:7). Lot had an Abraham (Genesis 19:29). Joseph had an angel (Matthew 1:18-20).
And those rascally Hebrews from Egypt had a Moses. The Hebrews had grumbled and complained since before leaving Egypt. When the Lord threatened to destroy them after their great sin of insulting Him with a golden calf, Moses stood in the gap (Exodus 32:9-10, 30). Moses told the people, “Perhaps I will be able to obtain forgiveness for your sin.” (Exodus 32:30b).
Perhaps. He was not sure; their sin was great. If the judgment of their sin was to be averted, it must be in consequence of atonement. There was only one thing he could suggest—he could stand in the gap for his people by offering himself. He was not sure even that would work—perhaps—but he had to try.
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a terrible sin these people have committed. They have made gods of gold for themselves. But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written! – Exodus 32:31-32
No man can bear another man’s sin unless his own cup is empty. Moses had his own sins to worry about. And even if he were pure, his cup was not big enough to hold all the impurities and dry rot of the Hebrews.
But Moses was not their last hope—and certainly not ours. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house…But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house (see Hebrews 3:3-6). When it comes to someone who can stand in the gap and deal with all the shame and iniquity in our souls, only Jesus is pure enough and big enough to get the job done. No perhaps. Just certainty:
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. – 1 Timothy 1:15
The story of atonement is the story of a King who fell down for a slave, and of a Judge becoming his own prisoner, and of an Executioner becoming his own victim. Now that is standing in the gap. And it ought to amaze us!