And 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. (Ezekiel 22.30, English Standard Version)
It's hard to feel the weight of this verse without reading the context. The whole book to this point has been a diatribe against the wickedness of the people of God, chapter after chapter after chapter. Here is just a sample:
“Behold, the princes of Israel in you, every one according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the sojourner suffers extortion in your midst; the fatherless and the widow are wronged in you. You have despised my holy things and profaned my Sabbaths. There are men in you who slander to shed blood, and people in you who eat on the mountains; they commit lewdness in your midst. In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are unclean in their menstrual impurity. One commits abomination with his neighbor’s wife; another lewdly defiles his daughter-in-law; another in you violates his sister, his father’s daughter. In you they take bribes to shed blood; you take interest and profit and make gain of your neighbors by extortion; but me you have forgotten, declares the Lord God." (Ezek. 22.6-12, ESV)
But far worse than all the rest, God's people were offering sacrifices to other gods, hoping to please them and curry their favor. At times this included the slaughter of their own children.
And that is when God expresses his desire. He is looking for just one man among his people who will build up what has been torn down. One man who will stand in the breach. Just one.
But he found none.
You know, I look around with all of you and see the desperate state of our country. I observe in some quarters the capitulation of the church in the face of an admittedly unrelenting culture. And then I hear men complaining that it is all going to hell in a hand-basket, and I wonder, "Is there a man, are there men, who will stop their whining and the wringing of their hands, and rebuild what has been torn down? Who will stand in the breach?"
Brothers. Men. It is time to be men. To be that kind of man.
I want God to seek for a man to build up the wall, a man to stand in the breach before him for the land, the church, his kingdom, his Gospel, and find some. Find many.
This text brings to mind another speech, one by King Henry V in the writings of Shakespeare. The breach in question is the gap in the wall of the city of Harfleur, which the English army held under siege. Henry was encouraging his troops to attack the city again, even if they have to 'close the wall with English dead' (Wikipedia). In short, stand in the breach for God and country.
What follows is the end of his spine-tingling speech, and a video of Kenneth Branagh's passionate delivery. Once more into the breach men!
KING HENRY V:Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;Or close the wall up with our English dead.In peace there's nothing so becomes a manAs modest stillness and humility:But when the blast of war blows in our ears,Then imitate the action of the tiger;Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;Let pry through the portage of the headLike the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm itAs fearfully as doth a galled rockO'erhang and jutty his confounded base,Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,Hold hard the breath and bend up every spiritTo his full height. On, on, you noblest English.Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,Have in these parts from morn till even foughtAnd sheathed their swords for lack of argument:Dishonour not your mothers; now attestThat those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.Be copy now to men of grosser blood,And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,Whose limbs were made in England, show us hereThe mettle of your pasture; let us swearThat you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;For there is none of you so mean and base,That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:Follow your spirit, and upon this chargeCry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'