A Hedge Around Us
Introduction: Sowing and reaping is a natural consequence from the principles God has placed into motion. Righteousness is sown and reaped from generation to generation as is unrighteousness. It has been misunderstood for centuries as over zealous and unloving, albeit well meaning, Christians have pointed the finger at the world, and suffering Christians, and claimed God was cursing and punishing them for their sins. The reality is, Godly Principles, which God put in place from the point of creation, were called to bear upon them as they cursed and punished themselves. Only a Godly lifestyle can break the chain and only grace and salvation can allow us to have a Godly lifestyle.
1Sam 2:26 says Samuel was growing in stature and in favor both with the LORD and with men.
Samuel enjoyed distinction with God. Because of his obedience and exemplary behavior, Samuel was graced with God’s favor. He felt esteemed by his parents, Eli the priest, and others in his social circle. This blessing confirmed his calling and strengthened Samuel in his spiritual development. Finding the favor of God involves hearing God’s voice and following His instructions. Just like little Samuel, our obedience and service will be blessed.
I. Sowing and Reaping
Hos 10:12-13 “Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness, you have reaped injustice, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your way, … a tumult will arise among your people, And all your fortresses will be destroyed, ….because of your great wickedness...”
We see the principle of sowing and reaping. Sow righteousness – reap kindness. If someone sows righteousness in your life, will you not be kind to them? It’s a natural response. It stands to reason if you plow wickedness, you will reap injustice. You are running with the wrong crowd. Doing the wrong things. They will turn on you. God doesn’t need to reach down and “get you”, you will “get” yourself.
From the very first instant God created the world, certain principles were put in place. It is not necessary for God to reach down every time someone drops something and cause it to fall to the ground. He gave us gravity to take care of that. It is a “Law” or “Principle” that God instituted from the very beginning. In the very same way unrighteousness brings about an undesirable consequence. If you drop unrighteousness in your life, the gravity of destruction will take over.
However, if we sow the seeds of righteousness, then the Godly principles of love and kindness will be the fruit. Jesus demonstrated this in the parable of the seeds.
Matt 13:3-9 “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. "Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. "Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. "And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Let’s look at each situation Jesus describes.
fell beside the road. The hard and compacted soil of the road made it impossible for the seed to penetrate. It sat on top, to be carried away by the birds. When we allow ourselves to be carried away by the temptations of life, we will be gobbled up by the injustices of life. There will be consequences!
fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil. Unlike the road, rocky ground had some soil, but not much. The seed sprang up quickly, but the sun took the moisture out so rapidly that the young plant died. We too may bath in the sunshine of the temporary pleasures of sin. But eventually that sunlight will burn and consume us. Consequences!
fell among the thorns. Thorns rob the sprouts of nutrition, water, light, and space. The good seed was choked out and could not grow. If we travel through life with unrighteous “thorny” people, they will rob us of all the good that God has in mind for us. Thorny people think only of themselves and will choke or use you until you are no longer any benefit to them and then leave you ruined. Run with the wrong crowd and there will be consequences!
good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. A farmer would be happy to see his crop multiply thirty, sixty, or a hundred times. The righteousness of a Godly lifestyle will produce thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Gal 5:22-23 Even an evil world recognizes this fruit and knows it is right and good and desirable. The consequence of a Godly lifestyle is the reward of all the fruit mentioned.
II. A Hedge Around Us – back to Job
Satan recognized that God was protecting Job. But how was God protecting him? What exactly was the hedge? Could it not have been the Godly Principles we have been talking about. Could not Job have been reaping what he had sown. In verse 8 God says “there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil." That certainly sounds like someone sowing a life of Godly Principles. Would it not stand to reason that he should reap the benefits of “righteousness”.
Verses 21 - 22 say “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” Sounds like a man with a very Godly lifestyle.
So what exactly happened? Satan was asking to defy the very laws of nature. What goes up, must come down. Satan was asking to change the natural consequence of Godly Principles. God knew that Job was not in it for what he could get out of it. He understood that serving God is simply the right thing to do. No matter what.
Job 13:15 ”Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”
I’m not saying we won’t experience problems or heartaches. However:
1. If you don’t put your hand on a hot burner, you don’t get burned.
You use the burner to cook your food into an enjoyable meal.
2. If you don’t consume alcohol, you won’t get drunk.
You use alcohol for medical reasons like cleaning a cut.
3. If you don’t cheat on your spouse, you won’t have to worry about being caught.
You enjoy the benefit of a trusting, loving relationship where 2 become 1.
III. Jobs Friends
Just as some well meaning Christians today point an accusing finger and proclaim “Gods gonna get ya for that!” Jobs friends accused him of sin. That could be the only possible explanation for his suffering. Right?
Three times his friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, Elihu) present their arguments.
1. They question his integrity.
2. They tell him no one is innocent.
3. They accuse him of hypocrisy.
4. They beg him to repent.
Job – responds by saying
1. It is a common for the wicked to prosper, and the righteous be afflicted.
2. Worldly prosperity is of small value in God’s sight. He has better things for his children.
3. We must learn to obey and trust God, even in tribulation. To live or die as He pleases, we may never know for what good our lives may be shortened or prolonged. And just as Job, we may never know why we may suffer.
IV. God Restores
1. Job is completely restored and his prosperity is doubled. Job 42:10 “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.” And Job 42:12 “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.”
2. God restored the natural order. Jobs life became blessed even more than before because of Godly Principles. I would like to think that Job became even more obedient, more surrendered, more useful to God than before all of this happened. Therefore, more blessed!
V. God’s Love
Let me be clear. There is nothing we can do that compels God’s love. He does NOT love us because we are lovable. His mercy towards us is NOT because we deserve it. We have no intrinsic value or worth. God does NOT love us for what we are. God loves us in spite of what we are! Only God’s grace and mercy give our lives any significance at all.
We do NOT gain benefit because of any action on our part. Isa 64:6 “our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” We benefit ONLY through the Principles God has put in place. Apply the Principle and Reap the benefit. Just as the principles that allow man to fly an airplane. God put them in place from the very beginning. It was not until Orville and Wilbur Wright applied those principles that man gained benefit from them.
Conclusion: Generational Conduct
Moses says in Exo 34:6-7 “The LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations."
Doesn’t that sound rather harsh and in fact unjust? To hold innocent children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren accountable for the sins of Dad and Grandpa.
Again, it’s NOT God doing anything. It’s Godly Principles coming in to the picture.
The singular feature that marks each step of decline is the hardening of the conscience. Each generation of an unrighteous lineage has it’s conscience seared more than the previous.
God, through Godly Principles, removes the restraining grace that turns a person, or society, over to the cycle of sin that conscience would naturally deter. Acts 14:16 says God “permitted all the nations to go their own ways.”
Statistically, like father like son and like mother like daughter are absolutely true sayings. Whatever Mom and Dad do, so do the kids. Smoke, drink, fight, hold grudges, use drugs, beat children, curse, or tithe, attend church, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Good traits and bad traits are generally passed on from generation to generation.
As our musicians come forward…I remind you:
If you pursue a righteous, Godly life, patterned by Godly character traits, Godly Principles will build a hedge around you that Satan cannot penetrate. He would need permission from God to defy the Laws of Nature.
If your life is patterned by ungodliness a different kind of barrier is in place. You can tear down the wall of unrighteousness right now by giving your life to Jesus Christ, who died for all of our sins. Only He has the power to break the generational unrighteousness with which so many have grown up. Pro 28:13 says “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
Start building a hedge today! Admit you need a Savior. Believe Jesus Christ is the Savior. Confess your sins to Him. The Holy Spirit is given to you and together through Godly Principles, you will see a hedge built around you and your family.
If you need a Savior… come.
If you just need to pray…come
As we sing…