Has God Removed His Hedge?
This “Digging Deeper” study is compiled from two studies first presented on our website almost three years ago. At the time, the titles were, “Will God Remove His Hedge?” and “Head Straight for the U-Turn.”
In light of recent events in our nation, it might be better stated, “HAS God Removed His Hedge?” From tragic loss of life and property in raging wildfires to extreme heat waves in some areas, from legal assaults on marriage to the exposure of major scandals in our government—God seems to be saying something to His Church. Those who love the Lord and are aware of events surrounding us cannot miss the message that believers must repent and pray on behalf of our nation.
This may be a good time to look once again at this special study.
A Nation’s Unique Beginning
There are aspects of the history of our nation and our journey with God that we ought to “Dig Deeper” into this month. The following study comes from a message given by Dr. Rogers shortly after the first 9-11 tragedy.
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)
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 ConditionsYou will recognize this as a time-worn verse. We’ve heard it over and over again, but we must, in these days, revisit it.
14If 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 _____________
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.
7. Now that God’s people have humbled ourselves, are seeking His face, and are praying, next we MUST repent.
HEAD STRAIGHT FOR THE U-TURN
RepentanceWhat is true repentance? How do we know if we’ve truly repented? Is it too late for America? If it were too late, would God have impressed upon so many of His pastors in our churches to call the Body of Christ to repent and pray?
It is not our duty to persuade God to send revival.
We must meet the conditions for Him to do so.
Repentance begins at the house of God. We start at our own front door. We—the people of God—are to turn. Think about it. If revival and survival depended upon lost people to repent, how long would it take for revival to come?
A CLOSER LOOK AT REPENTANCE
Why We Must Repent
1. Prayer without repentance is a religious farce.
Do you believe God is going to bless us when we’re not willing to turn from our sin? Is it logical to sing “God Bless America” while we’re killing little babies? When sodomy struts down main streets with pride? When He is cursed, maligned and cannot be mentioned in our public concourse? Why should God bless America?
2. Prayer without repentance actually angers God.
Have you ever thought that the act of praying might anger God? Turn in your Bible to Psalm 80:4.
“O Lord of hosts, how long wilt Thou be _________ against the ______________ of Thy people?”
Not only does God not hear their prayer; it angers Him! (Read Psalm 80’s short 19 verses to get the larger picture of what was happening in Israel.)
3. Refusal to repent stops the hand of God.
Turn to Joshua 7:1. The Israelites had crossed Jordan. There were battles to be fought. There was mighty Jericho. Joshua led the children of Israel against Jericho—and you know the story. Then they went against another city—a little city named Ai.
Israel was ignominiously defeated. They turned and ran from the army of Ai. (Joshua 7:—8:30) Joshua fell on his face and cried, “Oh, God, why have You failed us? Why have we been defeated?”
a. In your own words, what did God say in response to Joshua? (7:10-12) _______
What Repentance IS—and ISN’T
1. Repentance is more than FEELING conviction about sin. As you go through this study, God may bring to your mind a sin, and you may feel convicted about it. You may be living in sin. You may have felt a little stab in your heart because of it. That little stab is not repentance.
PAUL CONFRONTS FELIX
A great example of this is Paul talking with Felix, the Roman governor in Caesarea. Turn to Acts 24:25.
25And as he [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix _________________, and answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”
Felix shook like a leaf in a storm. Why? Because he was convicted of sin. But history tells us that he never did call. He was convicted, but he would not repent. Repentance is more than feeling.
2. Repentance is more than CONFESSION of sin. If you confess your sin, you have not repented—if confession is all you do. Even Pharaoh confessed his sin.
MOSES CONFRONTS PHARAOH
Turn to Exodus 9:23-27
And Moses stretched forth his rod toward Heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt…. And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, _____ __________ _______________..”
When fire, hail and lightning came, Pharaoh confessed his sin. But when the storm died, the conviction born in the storm died in the calm.
The same thing happened in America. After the 9-11 terrorist attack, the next Sunday churches were full. A week later they were not so full. By the 3rd week, attendance had returned to pre-9-11 days. Fear is not repentance. Confession is not repentance. Conviction is not repentance.
3. Repentance is more than CONTRITION for sin.
“Godly sorrow ______________ repentance.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
Notice it doesn’t say “Godly sorrow IS repentance.” Tears and sorrow may accompany repentance—but sorrow alone is not repentance. It’s not “Are you sorry for your sin?” but “Will you turn from your sin?”
So Then, What Is Repentance?
1. Repentance Is a Turning. Look once more at 2 Chronicles 7:14
14If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and _________ ________ their wicked ways...
God says we are to turn. To turn from. The word literally means “a change of mind.” It’s making a total “U-Turn.” You’ve been going one way. You STOP, turn around, and start moving in the opposite direction!
2. It’s Both Negative and Positive
“Testifying both to the Jews and to the Greeks, repentance _____________ God, and faith ____________ our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 20:21
Repentance and faith are two sides of a coin, the heads/tails of getting right with God. We seek God’s face. We turn from our wicked way.
3. Repentance is a heart change, and a wholehearted change
—when you say, “Once and for all, now and forever, I turn from ALL these sins.”
Wherefore, say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God: “Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols, and turn away your faces from _______ your abominations.” Ezekiel 14:6
What percentage of sin did God command that they turn from? _________%.
Not only must we be broken overour sins; we must be broken fromour sins.
The normal Christian life is to live openly and honestly before God daily, where there is no unconfessed, unrepented-of sin in your life. This should be the norm.
- Repentance is a change of mind.
- Repentance is a turning.
- Repentance is a turning from.
- Repentance is a turning to.
- Repentance is a heart change.
- Repentance is a wholehearted change.
- Repentance should be total, not incremental.
America would be changed almost overnight if each of our churches, from sea to shining sea, had in their pulpit a man of God, opening the Book of God, with the Spirit of God, preaching the Christ of God to the people of God, calling America to repentance.
Is It Already Too Late?
Have we passed the point of no return? No one really knows for certain, but we know America will perish unless she repents. We have insulted the Almighty; we are ready for judgment. But we need mercy. The God Who sent revival on Mount Carmel, Who sent revival to Nineveh, to Jerusalem, to England in the 16th Century, to America in 1857—that God is alive and well.
The God We Will Answer To
The last Scripture in this study is perhaps the most important: Exodus 34:6-7.
Do not fail to turn in your Bible to this Scripture. Mark it. Here you have the Lord God, Creator of the universe, telling Moses Who He is. Note God’s description of Himself—not what someone else has said about Him, but what He says:
6And the LORD passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed, “The LORD, The LORD God, ____________ and _____________, longsuffering, and abundant in ______________ and _____________,
7Keeping mercy for thousands, _______________ ______________ and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
God is not a Republican or a Democrat. He is Lord. He is King. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, conservatives, liberals—all need to bow before Him.
If ever we needed to repent, it is now. Don’t put it off until tomorrow in your own personal life. Tomorrow you will only have more sin to repent of and less time to repent in!
God is angry at our sins, but He is full of compassion and mercy. God would rather pardon than judge. God will forgive our sins. God will forgive America…“if My people” meet the conditions.
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