Ezekiel 22:17–31 (NKJV)
17 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 18 “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; they are all bronze, tin, iron, and lead, in the midst of a furnace; they have become dross from silver. 19 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have all become dross, therefore behold, I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. 20 As men gather silver, bronze, iron, lead, and tin into the midst of a furnace, to blow fire on it, to melt it; so I will gather you in My anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there and melt you. 21 Yes, I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you shall be melted in its midst. 22 As silver is melted in the midst of a furnace, so shall you be melted in its midst; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have poured out My fury on you.’ ”
The Lord continues His imagery of punishment by fire in this passage. However, the image changes slightly, in that he sees Israel no longer as fine gold or silver, but as common metals like iron, tin, and lead. Their value has diminished greatly, and they will be melted and skimmed off like dross, or waste.
23 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.
The Lord continues His indictment of the princes of the land, but then includes the priests, the diviners, and all religious and political leaders of Israel. He calls out the sins of extortion, oppression, irreverence, murder, false prophecy, robbery, and injustice. At the end of this discourse, the Lord calls out for someone to stand in the gap for Israel, to intercede and petition for the nation, but He could find no one. All had failed, leadership was corrupt, ministry was profane, so, therefore, God’s wrath falls on the nation.
What are you doing as a Christian to stand in the gap for the lost, the profane, the disobedient around you today? Stand in the gap, so that souls may be saved. The fact that the Lord could find no one to intercede is a sad commentary on the nation of Israel. However, God is calling to us today as well. Stand in the gap!