Hedge of Protection :: By Nathele Graham

Everyone needs protection from enemies and from invaders who want to take what isn’t rightfully theirs. People put fences around their property to keep intruders out, and security cameras take pictures of anyone who tries to breach the hedge of protection against human invaders. There’s a more destructive enemy who seeks to utterly destroy you. That enemy is Satan. For those of us who have placed our faith in God, our protection comes from Him.

“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God” (Psalm 62:7).

Scripture records many instances of God protecting the people who trust Him. Job was such a man. Job lived long before the Law was given to Moses, but he knew God. Scripture records that he was a man who tried his best to honor God.

“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job 1:1).

Job had everything…a large family, much wealth, and he loved God. Satan sees people like Job as a challenge and tries to destroy them and their faith, but he is no match for God and cannot destroy anyone who has God’s protection.

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job1:9-10).

Satan couldn’t breach the hedge of protection around Job but he wanted to destroy him. God knew that Job’s faith would triumph over Satan’s attack. Job’s faith would only grow stronger. When the hedge of protection around Job fell, Satan attacked in every way possible. At first Job listened to worldly advice from friends. When he finally listened to God, his faith was restored.

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:25-27).

Satan cannot destroy the soul of a person who has placed their faith in God.

God knows the importance of hedges and walls. Walls are built to protect from enemy invasion. In ancient times when the wall protecting a city was breached, that city would fall to the enemy. This was true for ancient Jerusalem where the Jewish Temple stood. God had given the Jewish people the Law in order to protect them. Many of the Laws were to keep them separate from the pagan influence around them, while others were to help them prosper. Ignoring God’s Law was, in fact, ignoring God; and the hedge of protection He provided was compromised.

The more pagan influence allowed in, the less protection God gives.

There came a time when God’s chosen people chose to ignore the Law. Because of that, God allowed them to be taken captive by the Babylonians. When the wall of protection was breached, Jerusalem was left in ruins. The wall of protection from enemy attack was reduced to rubble, and the Temple was then destroyed. God eventually allowed the Jewish people to return to their land, and they began rebuilding the city and the Temple. The problem they faced was that they didn’t build a hedge of protection against the enemy…they needed a wall.

Nehemiah was the man whom God chose for this task. Nehemiah was Jewish but he held an important position in the Babylonian court at Shushan. He was cupbearer to the king of Babylon. When some men came from Jerusalem to visit him in Shushan, Nehemiah inquired about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and received some unsettling news.

“And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).

Without a wall to protect the city, the efforts to rebuild Jerusalem were useless. The enemy was able to attack at will. God used Nehemiah, a man of prayer who listened to God’s guidance, to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem and protect all within from the enemy.

Is a hedge of protection a bad thing today?

Governments should do everything possible to protect against an invasion from the outside, so walls of protection are still needed. Only fools invite attackers in. That’s also true of Christians. Why would we allow the hedge of protection from God to be breached?

We need to understand that God wants His Temple protected. His Temple? There’s no Jewish Temple standing today because there’s no need for one. Jesus was the once-for-all sacrifice that takes away sin…He sprinkled His own blood on the altar in Heaven. At the moment He gave up the ghost, the veil of separation was lifted.

“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Mark 15:38).

In 70 AD, the Temple was completely destroyed. Make no mistake; it will be rebuilt after the Rapture. Right now the Temple of God is not one built by men.

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).

At the moment a lost sinner realizes their need for salvation through Jesus Christ and accepts Christ’s sacrifice for redemption, he or she is sealed by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by Him.

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13).

That seal cannot be broken, but the hedge of protection surrounding a Christian can be breached. If a Christian chooses to embrace worldly ways, the hedge of protection is weakened by his or her own choice.

God won’t force you to do anything against your free will. Everyone has a choice to accept or reject Christ’s sacrifice for salvation. Everyone also has a choice whether to walk according to His ways or walk in the ways of the world. His ways are found in Scripture. Nehemiah followed God’s guidance, and the wall was built in 52 days. Then it was time to restore the people.

“And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month. And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:2-3).

Once the Temple was protected by the wall, the people needed to return to a right relationship with God. They needed instruction in the Law of Moses. When Jesus came to dwell among us, He fulfilled that Law. We are no longer under the Law, but that doesn’t give us the freedom to live in opposition to God. Before coming to a saving faith in Jesus, we followed the ways of the world, and the world follows the ways of Satan. Christians need to turn away from the wickedness of the world.

“Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:2-3).

The word “anastrepho” is translated “conversation” and means the way we conduct our life. Before coming to Christ, lusts of the flesh ruled, but there should be a change after accepting Christ. Study Scripture to keep the hedge of protection strong. Turn away from the world and follow Christ.

Very few pastors today teach line upon line through Scripture to instruct their congregations in God’s ways. Don’t wait for your pastor to teach you. It’s your individual responsibility to walk in the ways of the Lord.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25).

No matter how long we have claimed to be Christians, we can never study God’s word enough. God’s ways don’t change even if man’s laws “legalize” sin. The only way to keep yourself within God’s hedge of protection is to not allow that hedge to be breached. Study Scripture and apply it to your life. Fellowship with other believers and encourage each other to stand strong on God’s word.

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Christians are one in the Lord, and He indwells all of us. We are His temple. Many liberal ideas are entering our congregations, and the hedge of protection is being breached. By being “open-minded” you allow the enemy in. Job understood that the enemy could cause no end of pain and suffering, but the protection of his eternal soul only came from God.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). 

Everyone is plagued by satanic attacks on our physical life, but he can only attack your spiritual life if you allow the Holy Spirit’s hedge of protection to become weak. If you’ve given your life to Christ, Satan can’t take your salvation from you.

Job faced many problems, and when he listened to worldly advice he became weak. Nehemiah knew that Jerusalem would never be strong until a wall was built to keep invaders out, and then the people had to understand God’s Law. Christians need to keep strong by not allowing the ways of the world to weaken us.

Brothers and sisters, be vigilant and walk in the ways of the Lord. Don’t neglect the hedge of protection He provides.

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.

 

Fear the Lord and Be Obedient :: By Nathele Graham

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Fear is an interesting emotion. It can be bad, or it can be good. Fear can cripple us and ruin our lives if we have phobias towards things that we don’t need to be afraid of. For instance, a fear of meeting people can make it difficult to hold a job or have friends. On the other hand, fear can also stop you from petting a rattlesnake. The most positive fear you can have is fear of the Lord.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

If you fear the Lord, you’ll respect Him and honor Him. Fear of the Lord puts all other fears into their rightful place.

God loves us and has given us Scripture to be our guide to following His ways. Most people have heard of the Ten Commandments, and studying them is a good place to begin to learn to follow God’s will. As you mature in your walk with the Lord, these Commandments shouldn’t be forgotten. They are a solid foundation on which to build a God-fearing life.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them…Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:3-5a & 7).

These first few commandments make it clear that we are to honor God. If you honor and respect Him, you’ll have a healthy fear of Him.

Fear of the Lord is a simple concept. He loves us and we love Him. Because we love Him, we need to respect Him and be obedient. A child will learn to stop lying because he fears the punishment he will face if he disobeys. His parents discipline him because they love him, and he learns to obey. Make no mistake; the punishment you bring on yourself by disobeying God is worse than having a time out. It’s a sad comment on humanity that we’re more afraid of offending our fellow man than we are of offending God.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

You may worry about what others will think if they find out that you’re a Christian. Then, not wanting to be “holier than thou,” you stop being offended by sin and begin to participate in it. Then you feel guilty and because you don’t want to be accused of being a hypocrite, you withdraw from fellowship with other Christians.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

It’s Satan who rules the worldly people, and he lays a snare to draw us deeper into sin. Living a worldly life will take a toll. The stress of a guilty conscience will cause many health problems, such as high blood pressure and ulcers. A promiscuous lifestyle will lead to disease that will destroy the body. You’ve chosen to follow the world, so you have chosen the consequences. On the other hand, a healthy fear of the Lord and being obedient to Him is a much safer way to live.

Too often we let the opinions of others get in the way of our faith. When Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and the shores of Galilee, He did many miracles. The people who saw those miracles were amazed. They had been looking for their Messiah to come, but were divided as to who Jesus really was. The Pharisees were blind to the truth, and the people were afraid to follow Jesus because of the threats made by the Jewish leaders.

“And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:12-13).

Fear stopped many people from following their Messiah. People today haven’t changed. Today there is still division as to who He really was, and fear of what friends and family say still stops many people from turning to Jesus for salvation. Maybe it’s not what people say that you fear, but you’re afraid to turn loose of a favorite sin. Don’t let fear stand in the way of you coming to salvation through Jesus.

If you’re afraid to accept Jesus now, you haven’t seen anything yet. We are swiftly approaching a time which will bring fear unlike anything ever experienced before. Scripture is very clear about the period of time known as Daniel’s 70th week. This is also called the time of Jacob’s trouble and the Tribulation. No matter what you call it, it’s a seven-year period of time when Satan’s hatred brings the ultimate terror upon the earth. You do not want to be left on earth to experience it.

Many prophecies in the Old Testament describe the signs to watch for, and Jesus confirmed them. If you don’t study prophecy, you may be very afraid of the things you hear on the news. Wars and rumors of wars fill the headlines. The wickedness in this world is growing stronger and more violent, just as Jesus said it would. Even the “advances” in science are frightening. Genetic tampering, artificial intelligence, and much more are all in direct opposition to God.

If you pay attention to the events in Syria and compare that to the war described by Ezekiel, you’ll see that the end of time is rapidly approaching. There’s much going on in the world that can bring fear, but it will get much worse.

“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:26).

Is there any hope? Of course there is. There’s the Blessed Hope through Jesus Christ. Although Christians face the daily challenges of life as well as persecution, we won’t face the Great Tribulation. Because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be “snatched away” from that reign of terror. We will be Raptured and not face that period of time when Satan unleashes his demonic hordes. Brothers and sisters, this fact alone should encourage you to get busy sharing the Gospel with everyone. Time is very short.

A fear that is shared by many people is the fear of death. This is really the fear of the unknown.

Most religions have come up with stories of what happens after death:

Mormons teach that you will become a god of your own planet as long as you’ve done enough good works. (There’s only one God, and works will never bring salvation.)

Muslims believe that a man will be rewarded with 72 virgins if he’s done enough works to make Allah happy. (Allah is a demon and never can be happy.)

Catholics teach that if you follow the rules and all of the works and rites required, then you’ll get to Heaven; but if you don’t quite make it, then there’s a place called Purgatory, and you can work your way out of there. (Not a Biblical teaching.)

Many religions teach reincarnation. (No, this is another story out of someone’s imagination.)

Scripture teaches that there is a real Heaven and a real Hell; and only faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ will allow you into Heaven. You have a choice to reject Him or accept Him. This is why you need to fear the Lord.

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

The body is going to die. Whether you die at the hand of someone acting on behalf of Satan or because of disease, death is certain. Even though bodily death cannot be avoided, don’t be afraid of anyone or anything that can kill only the body. It’s God that you need to fear. There’s only one way to gain eternal life, and that’s through faith in Jesus Christ.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ, God Almighty, shed His blood to purchase your salvation, but the Muslims believe that Allah will allow them into heaven if they sacrifice themselves for him. That’s misplaced faith. You will not be reincarnated and get a second chance to be a better person. The only way to be assured of eternal life with God is to accept the sacrifice that Jesus made on your behalf. It’s a free gift; but like all gifts, it has to be accepted. Accept His gift and then begin to conform your life to His example. Repent and turn from sin. Fear the Lord and let that fear lead you to obedience.

As Christians we need to stop being afraid to share the Gospel.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

This is the only verse where the Greek word “deilia” is used. It’s translated “fear” but means timidity or cowardice. If we only understood the power (dynamis) that is available to us through the Holy Spirit, our fear would fade away. Don’t let fear stand in the way of serving God. Instead let your fear of Him show in your obedience and love as you share the Gospel with your friends and loved ones.

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

God bless you all,

Nathele Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Ron and Nathele Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God breathed.

If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.