Wanted— A Man
Dr. Frederick A. Tatford of East Sussex, England, is President of the Prophetic Witness Movement International, well-known lecturer and conference speaker, and author of over sixty books.
Judah’s history had reached its nadir. The majority of people had been deported to Babylon and 70 years of exile lay before them. Jerusalem was under siege and about to fall. The land had been rendered unclean by the sin and iniquity of the people. In picturesque language the prophet Ezekiel said that it had not been cleansed and the rain had not fallen upon it to wash away its defilement (Ezek. 22:24). Oppression and cruelty, robbery and murder, dishonesty and immorality, violence and injustice were the features of the day. There was no recognition of God or His Word and no observance of the divine requirements from man.
A Parallel Picture
It was a deplorable picture, but the conditions of the present day are not widely dissimilar. The claims of God are rejected and the Bible is discounted as an irrelevant anachronism. There is a refusal to acknowledge the rule of law and order, and instead there is a general tendency for the individual to live as he chooses. Moral standards and codes of conduct have been jettisoned, and in many countries corruption is blatant in high places. Violence and murder are becoming a daily occurrence, and oppression and cruelty are the order of the day. Even in so-called Christian Britain “there is no fear of God before their eyes.”
In Ezekiel’s day (ch. 22) corruption was evident in every class of society; princes, priests, upper classes, prophets and common people were alike guilty of betraying the standards of righteousness. From the acquisition of dishonest gains to the oppression of the alien, from the denial of truth to the murder of the innocent, the people ran the whole gamut of crime.
The Divine Search
It was in such circumstances that the voice of God was suddenly heard, “I sought for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the breach before me in the land … but I found none” (Ezek. 22:30). In the whole of Judah there was not a man who would unreservedly stand for God; not one who was concerned at the destruction of the walls and who would devote his efforts to their rebuilding; not one who would be alarmed at the flood pouring through the breach and who would personally stand in the breach to arrest the flood. God sought for a man and found none.
Centuries ago, when Athens was at the height of its glory, the old philosopher Diogenes one day emerged from the tub which he had made his home and stood in the blazing sunshine with a lighted lamp in his hand. Declining to reply to question or comment, he made his way through the crowded streets of the city until he had covered them all. Then, at the close of the day, he stood in the square and waited until the crowds had collected around him. Then, lifting his lamp, he swung it round so that light fell on the faces of the men surrounding him. “You ask me what I have been doing,” he said. “I have been looking all day long for a man.” He proceeded to describe the man he sought, one who was upright and incorruptible, whose honesty and integrity were beyond reproach, who would not be seduced from the path of right. “I have not found such a man,” said the old philosopher.
Where Are The Men?
“All seek their own things,” said the Apostle Paul (Phil. 2:21). No one seemed concerned about right or justice; they all pursued their own ends. “I looked for a man… and found none.” Where are the men who will rebuild the wall of right and moral standards in a day of evildoing? Where are those who will stand in the breach to stop the flood of filth which is contaminating the country today? Where are those who will defend the Word of God against the attack of those who deny the very fundamentals of the faith? Where are those who will proclaim the coming Christ when His approaching advent is ridiculed and rejected? “I looked …”
A few decades ago a brilliant young civil servant, Donald S. Harper, B.A., resigned his post to carry the gospel to Haiderabad. Through his faithful preaching many were won for Christ, but his heart reached out to others. Villages were crying out for teachers, but there was no one to send and he was physically unable to do more. He spent himself in seeking to meet the need. In his last letter home, he told of the open doors for the gospel and of the boundless opportunities of the hour. “Whole villages lie in the valley of decision,” he wrote. “Thousands of people could be won for Christ if there was someone to take them the gospel. But there is no one to send. Where are the men?” Shortly afterwards the news reached home that Harper was dead. He had spent all his energies in the endeavour to meet the need. There was no one to go, no one to send. “Where are the men?”
The day of opportunity is fast slipping away. Soon this present age will have gone. We are concerned about personal prospects, status, income and material possessions, while the Master seeks men for His work. Is it still true: “I sought for a man … but I found none”?