Abstract: I asked the Lord this question today (July 8, 2022). What is the meaning of the Bible verse, “And I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favour of the land, that I might not destroy it: and I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30). In the Christian faith many call this “intercessory prayer” or “supplication”. It could be compared to a court of law where a letter of character is given to the judge to help adjudicate (a plea for leniency or even a harsher sentence) the ruling against a plaintiff. What is the spiritual meaning of this Bible verse?
After I had asked this question in prayer before the Lord, in my spirit I heard this reply, “Standing in the gap is the prayers of the saints like incense before the throne”. We will examine like Scriptures of the Holy Bible to seek some clues and answers. We will try to be like the church of the Bereans, “And these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the Word with all readiness, daily examining the Scriptures if these things are so.” (Acts 17:11)
Key to blog text;
Bold highlighting = Important terms and concepts. Blue highlighting = Words, terms, and concepts containing primarily a spiritual sense or TRUTH. Red highlighting = Words, terms, and concepts containing a sense directly related to The Lord Himself or LOVE. Gray highlighting = Words, terms, and concepts relating to Evil and Hell. Italic letters in (parentheses) = My emphasis.
This is from the Bible Commentary “Apocalypse Explained” by Emanuel Swedenborg (which is a long version of “Apocalypse Revealed” with more study and in-depth explanation of the Spiritual meaning found in the Bible book of Revelation) and subsection number 324. This is the section that examines the Bible word “incense” as the angels in heaven read and understand it. Because the Lord used the word “incense” to explain to me what “stand in the gap” meant (with my emphasis).
A fine example is found especially in this verse of the Book of Revelation,
“And when He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps, and golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8)
Bible commentary subsection number 324: “And golden bowls full of incense”, signifies confession (you alone are worthy) from spiritual goods (every good thing comes from above). This is evident from the signification (meaning) of “golden bowls,” which are also called (in English) “censers,” and “incense pans,” as being truths from good (all truth has its source from love, for God is love); for “bowls,” like all containing vessels (just like a cup or a mug that contains drink), signify truths, and “gold,” of which they were made (“the golden bowl”), signifies good (because gold symbolizes love), therefore “golden bowls” are truths from good (every good thing comes from above). That “vessels” signify truths, because truths (wisdom) serve good (love expresses or shows truth as a way for angels and people to understand God and to serve Him better. This is why truth serves God) as recipient and containing vessels (the Bible is a “vessel” of truth just like a “bowl”, cup or mug. It contains the very essence, nature or character of God which is love), and that “gold” signifies good (love). It is evident also from the signification of “incense,” as being those things of worship that are done from spiritual good, or from the good of charity (when we love God and serve Him faithfully we will naturally wish to love the neighbor because that is why Jesus Christ came to the earth), and are therefore gratefully perceived (the Lord is well pleased in this behavior and it is called “incense” coming into his nostrils at His throne).
It is to be noted that this sweet smell or fragrance (“incense”) is produced (given its life) by the good of love (love to the Lord) and charity (love to the neighbor), but by means of (how this “incense” comes into being or existence by) truth (in the beginning was the Word or wisdom, which is truth and which is God who is love), not by good itself without truth (love which is good and wisdom which is truth are inseparable, they never leave each other), still less by means of the truth that is called truth of faith without good (any religion that does not have love to the neighbor is empty and meaningless); for good without truth (love without wisdom) has nothing perceptive (the Bible becomes a dead lifeless book), neither has truth without good (any religion that does not have love to God is empty and meaningless).
Conclusion: We can say with certainty from the understanding of this Bible commentary and the Bible reference verses, that for someone on earth to “stand in the gap” is the prayers of the Christian saints or true believers of the existence of God and his power to answer prayer. But we can say with even more certainty that the “golden bowls full of incenses, which are the prayers of the saints” are a sweet, sweet smell to the nostrils of the Lord because He alone has sent out this “incense” and His children have heard, seen and responded to it. And He is well pleased and satisfied.
“so shall My Word be, which goes out of My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in what I sent it to do!” (Isaiah 55:11) (the Lord rejoicing in His Love toward His Children)
“For you shall go out with joy and be led out with peace. The mountains and the hills shall break out into song before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap the hand.” (Isaiah 55:12) (the children of the Lord rejoicing in His Love)