The walls surrounding a city were its main lines of defense in ancient times. A breach or gap in the wall around a city had to be closely guarded as a possible entry point by an enemy until the breach could be repaired.
Ezekiel used this wall of defense metaphor to identify two characteristics of godly leadership. Godly leaders were people who would “build up the wall” and “stand in the breach;” people who will protect and defend God’s people.
God’s people were inside the city and outside the walls of the city were their enemies. A godly leader was needed to stand in the gap and fight to protect the people of the city.
But the leaders had allowed the walls that protected the city of God’s people to be breached by evil. Ezekiel listed the evil done by the leadership in ancient Israel to cause this moral decline: faithlessness, sacrilege, irreverence, apostasy, extortion, greed, and injustice (vs. 24-29).
Instead of helping God’s people, these leaders were taking advantage of them and leading them astray. As a result, God’s name was profaned among God’s people and among their enemies because of the evil actions of these leaders!
So, God was searching for leaders who would provide godly, principled leadership, leaders who would protect and defend His people.
God puts a wall of protection around His people to keep Satan and the influences of the world out, as in the example of Job. (see Job 1:10). Only after God removed the wall of protection around Job could Satan attack him. If we reject God or neglect our relationship with Him, then our faith is threatened by our evil enemy.
Today, God is still searching for leaders, for men and women, who will “build up the wall” and by their example of faithfulness and righteousness repair the moral damage inflicted on God’s people by confronting the evil that is always trying to attack God’s people.
And, God is still searching for leaders, for men and women, who will “stand in the breach” and make intercession for God’s people through prayer and by declaring God’s salvation to a lost and dying world.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7, ESV)