Pulpit Today Sermons
Robert D. Pace
The book of Job issues incredible truths throughout its pages. Those that have studied Job understand that it speaks of the virtues of faith, patience, faithfulness, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. And these verities comfort us during seasons of sorrow, loneliness, or deprivation. But when you investigate Job more closely, you discover that it also reveals fearsome truths as well. Let’s take a moment to mention several of these fearsome truths:
First, Job’s trouble exposes Satan’s unremitting hatred for godly people. God’s testimony of Job was this: “He is perfect and upright, and no one in the earth is like him.” Yet, it was this man of perfection whom Satan attacked with an unrelenting assault.
Secondly, it reveals Satan’s malicious and destructive work. The devil relentlessly attacked Job. He ravaged every area of this righteous man’s life and reduced his welfare to nothing but an ash heap to sit in where he could scrape his sores.
Thirdly, Job illustrates that misfortunes don’t always come from sinning. Job was absolutely positive that a personal sin hadn’t incurred his calamity. That’s why he refused the recrimination of his accusers. Plainly and simply this narrative reveals that bad things happen to good people.
But there are not only fearful truths deduced from Job’s experience, there are consoling lessons from Scripture’s oldest book:
Job reveals the truth that faith can withstand and even triumph over every evil attack. Despite losing every temporal possession of worth, Job’s faith never wavered. Faith was the one possession Satan couldn’t steal from Job.
Another comforting lesson learned from Job is the fact that God rules supremely in life. We may not perfectly understand why God permitted this unparalleled assault, but we do understand this: God is sovereign. He is supreme. And it was the Lord God Almighty that set the boundaries of Satan’s onslaught of Job. Satan menaced and mangled Job, but it was only through divine permission. And ultimately, when Job passed the test, the Lord pounded His gavel, emancipated Job, and restored his possessions twice over. Had God not been in control, Satan would have never relented!
And then, the book of Job divulges that God places a divine hedge of protection around all Believers. Notice Job 1:9-10: “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. (10) “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.” Ironically, this is a passage where the “father of lies” tells the truth. Even Slewfoot recognized God’s enclosure of His people.
(Transition) It’s this hedge, which even Satan recognized, that I want to discuss today. What is the meaning and purpose of this enclosure God provides for His people? First, God’s hedge suggests proprietorship. It suggests ownership.
I. God’s Hedge Suggests Proprietorship
Nobody places a fence around property that doesn’t belong to them. Fenced real estate testifies of someone’s ownership. And the reason God builds a perimeter around Christians is clear—He owns them! The marvelous fact about God’s ownership of Christians is that we are twice owned. God owns us through creation and He owns us through redemption. It would have been enough for man to serve God simply because He created us; but He not only created us, He recreated us by dying on the cross for our sins. And since we are twice owned, we owe Him a double-indebtedness. Notice how Paul described God’s ownership of men:
1 Corinthians 6:19 says: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (NIV).
Romans 14:8 says: “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (NIV).
Ezekiel 18:4 says: “For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me.”
Somebody says, “Men are free moral agents. We are creatures of self-determination and make choices of our own discretion.” Yes, that’s true, but freewill doesn’t negate the fact that the Creator that fashioned also claims ownership of us. Men can make choices but not with omniscience—we aren’t all-wise. Even the wisest man in history needed God’s guidance. When you study Solomon’s life you discover if it weren’t for God’s mercy Solomon would have lost his soul. The false gods that Solomon’s harem brought into his life almost destroyed him. In fact, do you know what one person was absent from Solomon’s life? Solomon never once consulted a prophet. He never once crossed paths with a prophet—someone that could speak with prophetic influence upon his life. And even Solomon needed to hear a fresh word from God. The reason God wants the reins of your life is because He knows what is best for you. He doesn’t want you making decisions that would jeopardize your welfare.
(Evangelistic Emphasis) Maybe some here haven’t asked Christ to lead and guide your life. You don’t know what it means to recognize Christ’s Lordship and mastery. You should know that the eternal destiny of your soul rests on whether Christ rules your heart and life today.
The Apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The apostle says you will be “saved” when you confess Christ’s lordship of your life. “Saved” from what? You will be saved from the eternal torment of hell and you will be saved to the eternal pleasures of heaven. You see, sin separates men from God. Sin can’t coexist in the presence of a holy God. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. He paid the penalty for our transgressions and when we accept His sacrifice on the cross, He wipes the slate of sin clean. All we have to do to be “saved” is acknowledge that Jesus died for our sins and crown Him Lord of our lives.
Do you know Christ as Lord today? Is He your Savior? If He is not, invite Him into your heart today. The Bible says, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” The safest place you can be is within the divine enclosure of God’s loving grace!
(Transition) So you see, the reason God places a hedge around Christians is because He owns them. But this hedge not only suggests proprietorship, secondly, God’s hedge suggests value within the enclosure.
II. God’s Hedge Suggests Value within the Enclosure
When you travel across the landscape of this country, you will notice millions of acres of land left unfenced. There is a reason. Some land is unfenced because it is practically worthless. Land that is barren or destitute is often unfenced because of its lack of value. But when property is enclosed, it suggests value. And that’s why God surrounded Job with a hedge—God valued Job! And God values you too! God’s assessment of you was such that He sent “His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Never question God’s love for you. He loved you enough to surrender everything and that’s an unparalleled love:
Job 7:17 says: “What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention”?
The Lord said in Jeremiah 31:3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Romans 5:8 says: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 declares: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, (5) made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
And 1 John 4:10 says: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
God’s love for us is indescribable! We simply cannot comprehend God’s infinite, unconditional love. You say, “Well if God loves me so much, why am I suffering as I am? Why do I have so many difficulties to surmount?”
Job wondered the same thing during his trial. When Satan unleashed his assault against Job, he became a series of question marks:
Why was I born?Why wasn’t there a miscarriage before my birth?
Why didn’t I die at birth?
And then in Job 3:23 Job brings his series of questions to a climax when he asks this: “Why is light/life given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in”? Why was life given to one who is bitter in soul?
Job is saying: “Why give a man a flashlight or even flood him with the light of the midday sun if his way is hidden and he doesn’t know where he is going? I’m hedged in! Why do I need light or life when I’m circumscribed with confusion”?
Let me assure you of something, saints of God. The Lord always has a purpose in everything that happens to you. And there was a purpose for Job’s sufferings.
(Example)There’s a story from the oyster that helps illustrate why God permits adversity to come our way, and how we should handle that adversity. Many times an oyster can pick up a tiny grain of sand. To the oyster, this grain of sand is an intruder that brings pain and discomfort. If that oyster could reason, I know how it would handle its hardship. It would become an angry victim. The oyster would say: “Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this pain? If the God that made this ocean and me were just, and righteous and loving He wouldn’t let me suffer this.” Doesn’t that sound like many people when problems come their way? Maybe everyone here has been guilty of playing the part of the victim but it never resonates with God—it doesn’t matter how loudly we complain. But what does the oyster do? It deposits a milky substance around that grain of sand and eventually, after dealing patiently with that intrusive grain of sand, it’s transformed into something that brings beauty and value—a pearl!
Now we see the answer to Job’s question: “Why is light/life given to a man whose way is hidden, and whom God has hedged in”? It’s because God uses difficulty to produce something priceless. That’s why it’s important to praise God at all times. He’s doing something good, even when you misunderstand it.
Look at Psalm 125:2. David wrote: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so has the Lord surrounded His people.”
(Transition) But what about you? Are you pursuing your Creator and the treasure He has for you? There are two back-to-back parables that show how we should pursue God’s treasure. They are found in Matthew 13.
Parable of the Pearl of Great Price
Matthew 13:44 says: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. (45) “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. (46) When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Here’s the interpretation: The field is the world. The man in the parable represents anyone that discovers that heavenly treasure. The treasure is Christ, the Son of God. And the reason the man liquidates his assets to buy the field is because Christ, the treasure, is of incalculable value. That treasure will forever transform his life.
Have you done that? Perhaps you see that Jesus Christ is the heavenly treasure that’s been sent to earth. Maybe you see that He can transform your life for all eternity. But you have not yet staked your claim to Him. Don’t wait any longer. Reach out and accept that treasure that will make the difference.
(Transition) God’s hedge surrounds His people because He values and loves that possession. But thirdly, let’s note the hedge suggests God’s concern for the enclosure.
III. God’s Hedge Suggests Protection for that which is Enclosed
(Example) I’m sure you’ve heard the expression from the commercial: “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” Other insurance companies would contest that claim, but what I can confidently say is this: Everyone is in good hands with God!
Those within God’s divine hedge have His loving and ever watchful care upon them. And there is no one else that offers the care that Christ offers. Listen how God described His care for Israel in Isaiah 49. “But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.” (15) “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. 16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls (your hedge) are continually before Me” (14-16, NASU).
Isn’t that amazing? God has you inscribed on the part of His being that is always before His eyes—His hands! Let me show you what this means: How many times a day do you see your hands moving before you? Countless times! That’s where God has written your name—on His hands! Your name is written on the part of God’s anatomy that is always before His eyes and He couldn’t ignore you if He wanted to!
Proverbs 3 tells us to do something at all times—trust God! Don’t trust him partially; “trust in the Lord will all your heart.”
During good times and bad, in prosperity or adversity, and through storms or through the night God calls us to trust Him.
That’s why Proverbs 3:5 admonishes us to: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; lean not unto your own understanding; (6) but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths” (NIV).
The legacy of Job revolves around His unwavering trust of God during the crisis of all crises. His testimony was: “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Are you trusting God’s care for you today?
The chief way we know Job trusted God concerns how he controlled his tongue. The Bible says when Satan came thrashing and maligning Job that despite all this, “Job did not sin in what he said” (Job 2:10, NIV). Job was careful not to make one reckless indictment of God.
When we wrestle with adversity God wants us to guard our tongue because we don’t always know where God’s purposes are leading.
(Illustration) I read a story about a woman that developed a serious throat condition. The doctor prescribed medication and said that her vocal cords needed total rest for six months! She was married and had six children but she cooperated. Whenever she needed the kids she blew a whistle and gave them instructions by written memos. After six months she recovered. When someone asked her what it was like to communicate only in writing, she said, “You would be surprised how many notes I crumpled up and threw into the trash before I gave them to anyone. Seeing my words before anyone heard them had an effect that I don’t think I can ever forget.”
Luke 6:45 says: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (NIV). What’s in the heart eventually comes out of the mouth. And if you trust God during adversity others will know it by the way you speak.
God indeed has a hedge around you. And it’s for your welfare. The hedge around you is there because God owns you; because what He owns is valuable; and because what is valuable He protects! Psalm 5:12 says: “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord. You surround him with favor as with a shield.”