Will God Remove His Hedge?
If you’ve been listening to your Christian radio station the last few weeks, you couldn’t miss hearing a number of the most trusted, Bible-believing teachers and ministries presenting the same message to God’s people: calling believers to a season of intense, earnest prayer and repentance on behalf of our nation.
Each of them, including Love Worth Finding, has felt led by the Holy Spirit to join with the National Religious Broadcasters in asking God’s people to join in 40 days of prayer and repentance for America, beginning September 1 through October 10.
There are aspects of the history of our nation and our journey with God that we ought to “Dig Deeper” into this month, in the following study from a message given by Dr. Rogers shortly after 9-11.
A Nation’s Unique Beginning
Look for a moment at the founding of this nation. Why has America, until recently, been so God-blessed? Why was it that the pestilence, terror and war plaguing other countries had not reached ours? No other nation had such a Christian beginning as America.
When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock after an arduous 66-day Atlantic journey, their first “official” act was to write and sign The Mayflower Compact.
Unfortunately our school children are not told what it says. It begins with the words “IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN” and states their purpose for coming: “for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith.” I believe at that time God put a hedge of protection around this new land.
Time and space here do not permit going further into the Christian heritage of our nation, but it is unequivocal, and the documents and quotations from not only our Founding Fathers but even court justices into the 20th century have affirmed time and again our Christian heritage. America was founded as a Christian nation.
The Doctrine of Hedges
Did you know that in the Bible there is a doctrine of hedges? God can put, as He wills, hedges around people, individuals and nations.
Digging Deeper Around the Hedges
1.) Turn in your Bible to the first chapter of Job and fill in some important words:
9 So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not made a _____________ around him, around his ____________________, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the ____________ of his hands, and his possessions have __________________ in the ___________. (NKJV)
Notice that not only Job, but the land itself was blessed as God blessed Job (“around all that he has on every side”). God had put a hedge around Job. Satan tried to get to Job, but God would not allow it. Satan said, “I’ve been trying to get at this man, but I can’t get at him.” There was a divine hedge about him.
The same was true of ancient Israel.
The Nation of Israel
2.) Turn to Isaiah 5:1-5. Isaiah describes what God had done with/for the nation Israel
(“vine” here is a symbol for Israel):
…hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2And He _____________ it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and _______________ it with the choicest vine, and built a ___________ [a tower speaks of protection] in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and He looked that it should bring forth ___________, and it brought forth _________ grapes.
[Now God begins to speak]:
3 “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard. 4What could have been done more to My vineyard, that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
God said, “I took this nation Israel. I planted them. I made a vineyard. I did all I could do for them.”
The Hedge Trimmer
Now notice this.
5And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will __________ ____________ the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down.”
God had put a hedge around Israel. He said, “I gave them all they needed. I blessed them with prosperity. But when I came to look for fruit, what did I get but wild grapes! I’ll take down the hedge.”
May I tell you why America has been so strong? America’s first line of defense has not been the military, but God Himself. God Himself. But we have politely told God to take His hedge and go back to Heaven. We’ve told God, “There’s no room for You here in this land. Take Your hedge, take Your prayers, take Your commandments and we’ll handle it ourselves.”
Uprooting Our Hedges
We could spend the remainder of this study listing the ways America has told God to leave and invited Him to tear down the hedges. A single example:
Until 1963, children in our public schools were permitted to pray the following prayer: “Almighty God. We acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.” On June 17, 1963, the Supreme Court ruled that prayer illegal.
The Holy Spirit is a gentleman—He does not intrude where He’s not wanted. When told to leave, He will go. We have as a nation, through our elected leaders and those they’ve appointed as judges, told God to leave the public square. We created a vacuum.
3.) Nature abhors a vacuum. Satan was ready to step in.
10The thief [Satan] cometh not, but for to ___________, and to _________, and to ______________. John 10:10a
If you’d like to read Satan’s résumé, Jesus Christ Himself has written it. Turn to John 8:44. Jesus says of Satan—
He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the___________ because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own___________, for he is a ________ and the _______________ of _________.
We must remember the reason for the problems we have. The Bible says it is the work of Satan, and we have invited him in.
But is it too late?
An Ancient Promise—Hedged by Conditions
You will recognize this as a time-worn verse. We’ve heard it over and over again, but we must, in these days, revisit it.
14 If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
4.) Condition #1: WHO
a. Is God speaking here to the abortionist, gay rights activist, film maker, casino operator, pornographer, politician, drug pusher, liquor dealer, con-man, skeptic, or agnostic? ________
b. Who, then, is God addressing in this verse? “______ people, called by ______
5.) Condition #2: WHAT
a. What is the first response God asks of His people? Shall _____________ themselves.
b. Who is going to do the humbling? Is God going to perform it? _______
A CLOSER LOOK AT “LORD, MAKE ME HUMBLE!”
Have you ever prayed, “God, make me humble”? I would advise you not to do that. He can. God is certainly not above humbling a believer. Unfortunately, sometimes He must do it when we do not humble ourselves before Him. He can bring us to humiliation, and He may, but how much better if we would do it first, before He must do it for us!
Turn in your Bible to 1 Peter 5:6. The apostle Peter, as he appears in the Gospels, is a memorable disciple for many reasons, but his humility was not one of them. By the time he wrote this letter, however, God has done a major work in refining him. Peter advises us in this verse: ____________ _________________, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.”
Turn to James 4:6. “But He giveth more____________. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth _____________ to the _______________.” If there is one thing I want, it is to make myself eligible to be on the receiving end of God’s grace!
6.) Condition #3—After Humbling, THEN WHAT?
“shall humble themselves and __________ and _________ My __________...”
It may surprise you to learn that God doesn’t heed every prayer! He puts qualifications on prayer. In this case, He says if we will seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.
The prayer God hears is the prayer that seeks God’s face. So often in America we’re seeking God’s hand—wanting Him to perform for us—rather than His face—a face-to-face relationship with Him.
We’re almost to the end of the conditions God requires for restoring a nation, but there’s one we’ve yet to look at: repentance. What is true repentance? How do we repent? How do we know if we’ve truly repented? Important questions, and next month we’ll “dig deeper” into repentance, the next condition we must meet. Is it too late for America? Dr. Adrian Rogers will answer that question. Meanwhile, ponder it: If it were too late, would God have impressed upon so many of His spokesmen to call the Body of Christ to a season of prayer?
If you would like to learn more, you may want to order two CDs which provide the complete contents of this study: #2307 “A Time of Terror and A Word of Hope” and #2469 “It’s Prayer Time in America,” by calling 1-800-274-5683 or at www.lwf.org