Standing In The Gap

The Israelites went from Egypt toward the land God promised to give to Abraham and his descendants. Moses, however, found himself standing in the gap between the people and God.

Why did he need to stand in the gap? Before crossing the Jordan River, twelve men went to spy out the land. The reports from most of the spies brought discouragement among the people.

After we read our verse for today, we’ll pick the story up in Numbers 13. Then, we’ll examine what standing in the gap means and how Moses got into that position.

Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Numbers 14:17-18

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Moses instructed the spies to report back about the following things.

  • “See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many.
  • See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad?
  • Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?
  • Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees?
  • Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” Numbers 13:18-20

The Spies Explored the Land

So, the spies explored the land for forty days. When they returned, they reported to the whole community what they had seen. They also showed them some fruit from the land.

This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. Numbers 13:27

They brought a cluster of grapes back with them. It took two of them to carry it on a pole between them. But in their report, they also included some negative aspects.

Moses asked them to describe the people there and the towns they lived in. Ten of the spies assessed their strength as too strong and beyond their capability to defeat.

The people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! Numbers 13:28

Caleb, one of the spies, tried to calm everyone down, but to no avail. He said, “Let’s go at once to take the land. We can certainly conquer it!” But the whole community continued to weep.

Most of the other spies disagreed with Caleb. They insisted they couldn’t go up against those powerful people who lived on the other side of the Jordan.

The negative report given by the ten spies convinced a majority of the people. It stricken the nation in general with doom and gloom and fear.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. Numbers 14:1-2

Standing in the Gap

They Saw the Promised Land

Over 400 years earlier, God promised Abraham that he would father a great nation. That promise also included them inhabiting a land flowing with milk and honey.

Even though they lived in bondage in Egypt, God made them a great nation. Their numbers significantly increased while under the protection of the Egyptians.

Then, at the right time, God arranged for their release. He called Moses to lead His chosen people out of bondage and to the promised land.

They got as far as the Jordan River. And they could see the land God promised to Abraham on the other side of it. But fear helped them to forget how they got there.

They forgot about the ten plagues that affected the Egyptians but not them. They didn’t remember how their oppressors handed them gold and silver just before they left.

It must have slipped their minds that God parted the Red Sea, and they crossed over on dry ground. Then, He drowned the Egyptian army by closing it back up.

None of those things mattered because of the fears spread by ten of the spies. Instead of anticipating what the Lord would do next, they blamed Him for their predicament.

Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt! Numbers 14:3-4

Why Moses Was Standing in the Gap

God told Moses He would send a plague to destroy them all. Then, He would start afresh by making Moses into a great nation. At this point, Moses began standing in the gap for the people.

If someone is standing in the gap for someone else, they are pleading to the Lord for them. When standing in the gap, you might remind the Lord of His Word.

Not because He is forgetful but because His Word is always a faith builder for us. Moses also stood between them by God, asking for their forgiveness.

Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. Numbers 14:17-18

Moses extended the compassion of the Lord by standing in the gap for God’s people. Jesus did the same thing for us when He hung on the cross.

Jesus is Standing in the Gap for Us

He stood in the gap to repair our relationship with God, which sin destroyed. So, when facing times of fear or discouragement, don’t blame God like the Israelites did that day.

Instead, seek His forgiveness and ask for His guidance. Then, in anticipation, expect Him to move on your behalf.

Or maybe you can go to the Lord for someone else by standing the gap for them. We will always get God’s attention when we extend our faith for ourselves or for someone else. Moses did!

Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. Numbers 14:20

Lord, thank you because Jesus is now standing in the Gap for us. This means we can come to you anytime, and you will welcome us with open arms.

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