Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

4-11-03

Heart Cry for Revival

Text: “Why have You broken down her hedges, So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?...Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine" (Ps. 80:12, 14).

Scripture Reading: Psalm 80

 


Let’s begin by reading our text for today: “Why have You broken down her hedges, So that all who pass by the way pluck her fruit?...Return, we beseech You, O God of hosts; Look down from heaven and see, And visit this vine" (Ps. 80:12, 14).

What I read is verses 12 and 14 of Psalm 80. 

Read the entire Psalm sometime; it’s a wonderful prayer for the restoration of Israel; but it also contains a truth which is vitally important to all of us. 

It is a word from God that will help us to understand what’s happening in our world today. 

If we will listen to what God has to say and then do what He says, it will lead us to have a cry for revival that comes from our heart. 

We need revival personally and revival will pump new life into the church. 

For our Bible lesson today, let’s consider three words that pinpoint this truth-hedges, hope, and heart cry.

The first word to consider is “hedges.”

Verse 12 says, “Why have You broken down her hedges.” 

We want to have a clear understanding of what God is saying, so let’s see first, “what is the purpose of the hedges.” 

The Hebrew words for “hedge” mean simply “that which surrounds or encloses,” whether it is a stone wall, or a fence of some other materials. 

Today, the stone wall hedges which surround the sheepfolds of modern Palestine are frequently crowned with sharp thorns.

Together, they make a pretty good barrier to confine the sheep.

What do you think about when you hear the word hedges? 

If you are like me, you see hedge rows. 

I was raised in Kansas where the farms are sectioned off by hedge rows that usually have a straight line of trees and a barbed wire fence, so that’s what I think of. 

Or perhaps what comes to mind are the beautiful hedges that are so prominent around our homes. 

If you have hedges, you know that it takes a lot of care to keep them clipped in whatever shapes you have fashioned. 

Last year, Sierra and I visited the Biltmore Estates in North Carolina. 

They had miles of hedges that were beautifully maintained. 

That is some of my thoughts about hedges, but what we want to know is what the biblical understanding of hedges is. 

In the Bible we find hedges around three things.

First, there is the hedge that God put around the nation of Israel. 

God protected Israel from all her enemies as long as they obeyed Him, but when they turned away from Him to worship other gods, and then they became corrupt in their actions, God took away the hedge. 

When God left them exposed, their enemies would attack, because they were just waiting for an opportunity to destroy them. 

I think that this would be a good lesson for America. 

We must return to being a Christian nation; and worship and obey God, so that he doesn’t remove our hedge.

Second, there is the hedge that God places around a family. 

It says in Job, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side…?” (Job 1:10).

This is the question Satan asked God. 

Satan argued that the Lord had put around Job and all his possessions a protective “hedge” that no one could penetrate without God’s permission. 

He suggested that it was only this hedge that had kept Job faithful. 

God put a hedge around Job and his family. 

But we must not think that if we are good, we can make God do the same for us. 

God is sovereign, and though he often blesses those who serve Him, we can’t force Him to do so. 

None of us are sinless or good enough to demand blessings from God as a reward for faithful service. 

However, the implication here is that those who love God and seek to serve Him with all their heart has a hedge about them today. 

Satan cannot touch them unless God allows it, and even then it is for some purpose of God. 

On the other hand, through the sin of unbelief, a person can abandon the protection of God, and leave himself open to the attacks of Satan. 

Third, there is the hedge that God puts around a person. 

The prophet Hosea wrote, “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in, So that she cannot find her paths” (Hos. 2:6). 

The suggestion here is that God will restrain us from wandering into sin-the sinful path is hedged with thorns. 

The crosses we have to bear are great blessings if they make the way of sin difficult, so that we don’t go that way.

God’s hedge is an invisible wall of protection that He builds around a nation, a family, a person, a church or even around our possessions, when we are obedient to Him. 

In our scripture reading today, the hedge was protection for a vineyard. 

In the Bible, many times a vineyard represents the nation of Israel and that is the meaning today. 

God protected and blessed Israel as long as they obeyed Him.

In the New Testament, Jesus prayed for Peter; He essentially built a hedge around him. 

It says in Luke 22:31-32, “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail…” 

It is comforting to know that Christ also prays for us as He did for Peter. 

He knows what we experience, because He shared our experiences and He makes intersession for us. 

Jesus also prayed for the protection of His disciples.

He said in John, “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You.  Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are…I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (Jn. 17:11, 15). 

In these verses Jesus is speaking of His death as if it had already occurred. 

He asks the Father to stand guard over the disciples in this wicked world and to protect them against Satan. 

Like Jesus, Paul also prayed for those under his spiritual care. 

For example, in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Paul wrote about the power of God that is available for our protection. 

He wrote, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” 

When Paul wrote these verses, he knew that the Corinthians were in grave danger of being led astray by false teachers. 

The Corinthian church needed to express loyalty to Christ by demonstrating loyalty to Paul, Christ’s representative. 

He urged the Corinthians to use spiritual weapons to war against Satan. 

He urged them to pull down the strongholds that had been established in their minds by making every thought obedient to Christ. 

We have seen that God has several purposes for the hedges that he places around us, but next consider that there is a problem with hedges.

Verse 10 mentions “broken-down hedges.” 

Somehow the hedge around Israel was demolished, and the nation was ravaged by enemies like a pack of wolves ravage a deer it has brought-down. 

Today enemies like wolves are running rampant throughout the world, the nation and even our own area. 

The United States has been suffering a critical moral crisis for many years. 

We have been confronted with terrorism, street crime, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, sexual immorality, and the decay of marriage and the family. 

But there is more. 

Spiritual illiteracy, apathy, irreverence, greed, pride-all threaten America. 

Something has been happening in America. 

Our hedges are almost broken down.

Who has broken down the hedges? 

Verse 12 says that God is the one who has done this. 

But why? 

There are three reasons:
1. To bring judgment on his people.

Here’s what God said in Isaiah, “And now, please let Me tell you what I will do to My vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it shall be burned; And break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down” (Is. 5:5). 

God says that He will remove their protection so that they will become easy prey to their enemies who will trample them under their feet.

2. Second, when He removes His protection from us it may be for the purpose of awakening our spiritual vigilance. 

When troubles and problems begin to touch us, we are just like Israel; we will cry out to God for help. 

It’s sad that prosperity causes us to forget God, and troubles cause us to remember Him. 

But that’s the way we are. 

So sometimes He will remove our hedge, just briefly, so we see that we need Him.

3. Third, He will remove the hedge to bring us to confession and repentance. 

We are told that God chastens those He loves. 

A child of God can expect to be taken to the wood shed if he gets too far out of line. 

A holy God demands that we live a holy life.

Our second word to consider is “hope.”

If God breaks down the hedges, is there any hope that He will rebuild them? 

Yes there is, if we understand the ways that God builds a hedge.

The first way God builds hedges is through godly people.

Ezekiel 22:30 says, “…I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge…” 

Sin makes a gap in the hedge of protection that is around a person, and good things can run out of the gap and bad things can run in the gap. 

But there is a way that men and women can stand in the gap and fill the breach against God’s judgment. 

The hedge can be repaired through repentance, prayer and turning away from sin and back to God. 

Moses stood in the gap when he interceded for Israel to turn back the wrath of God. 

It says in Psalms, “Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath…” (Ps. 106:23). 

Job was a godly man. 

The Bible says that he was “perfect,” not without sin but wholeheartedly devoted to pleasing God. 

He was “upright”; that is, all his relationships were right--right with God, right with self, and right with others. 

He “feared God,” and he honored God, and “he hated evil and turned away from it.”  

His outward walk was like his inward relationships. 

God lifted the hedge that was around Job, but put limits upon what the devil could do to him. 

Later, He restored the hedge and blessed Job richly, so that the end of his life was better than the early years.

Sometimes God builds a hedge through His Word.

Ezekiel 13 teaches this truth. 

Ezekiel was speaking against the false prophets of Israel, who were deceiving the people into a fake sense of security. 

They did not have the vision the Lord gives to true prophets. 

They promised God’s blessing and a quick deliverance of Jerusalem. 

Ezekiel was a true prophet of God, and he went into the gap to bring the Word of God to the people. 

He didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear, instead, he spoke the Word of God, and called them back to God. 

This example from scripture teaches us that God builds a hedge through His ministers who preach the Word. 

As these servants of God proclaim His truth, God can build a hedge of protection around a person, family, church, city, or nation.

God can also build a hedge through the prayers of His people.

Ezekiel 22:30 says, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” 

God builds a hedge when His people engage in intercessory prayer. 

We can’t all be preachers, or Sunday school teachers, or sing in the choir; but anyone can pray for others. 

That’s intercessory prayer; one person praying for another. 

Our prayers for another helps to build a hedge around that person, because God wants to see us express our love and concern for others. 

Remember, Jesus prayed for His disciples; Paul prayed for the churches he started; Jonathan prayed for David; Abraham prayed for Sodom; Jacob prayed for his children; Job prayed for his children; and Moses prayed for Israel. 

We should pray for others out of a genuine concern for their needs and for their salvation.

Soon after the colonists came to America, many of them turned away from God and the nation experienced a moral slump. 

The people were poisoned by greed, the churches were almost empty, and European atheism filled the vacuum.

In New England some people began to pray for revival. 

In 1734 in Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards preached his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and in one service hundreds of people repented of their sins and turned to the Lord. 

Unbelief was sidetracked, righteous living returned, and in a short time one-sixth of the population of this new country was won to Christ. 

Churches were filled with worshipers.

In 1849 revival again came in answer to prayer. 

The Lord always works in response to prayer. 

God builds a hedge of protection when we pray.

The last words that I want you to consider are “heart cry.”

When the psalmist Asaph realized what was happening in the hedges of protection, he wrote this heart cry for revival: “Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts; look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine (v. 14). 

Can we say together, “Lord, visit this nation?” 

You have broken down the hedge that protected our country, but we know you want to bless us again. 

Turn us to you! 

This is our heart cry! 

“Lord, visit your church!” 

You birthed it. 

You are building it. 

It belongs to you. 

It exists for your purpose. 

This is our heart cry for revival and for souls.

“Lord, visit our families!” 

Many are suffering. 

There are so many divorces, so many broken homes, and so many children being raised without fathers.

We need help. 

Restore the hedge around our families. 

Visit our homes with revival!

“Lord, visit our lives!” 

Get our attention. 

We are being overcome with evil. 

We have sinned. 

Protection is gone. 

Lord, visit our lives!

A while back a young seminary student was preparing to preach the evening service at a church one Sunday. 

The elderly pastor had witnessed some glorious outpourings of the Spirit in his early years. 

He longingly told the seminary student that he and his wife had prayed every morning for ten years to see one more mighty moving of the Spirit.

The young student had hardly started his sermon when a woman began to weep, and then another and another. 

Soon the entire congregation was on its knees. 

In the midst of prayer and weeping, people were accepting Christ as Savior, old animosities were being healed, broken families were being united, and new spiritual commitments were being made. 

The pastor walked slowly down the aisle and whispered, “He did it one more time.” 

Lord, visit this vine!

Christ is the only hope!

Please join me in praying for families, for churches, for America.

Let’s pray for revival.

And let’s pray that the revival will begin in our hearts.

But you can’t have revival in your heart, unless you have Jesus in your heart.

Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…”

Jesus wants to come into your heart.

You will be happy if you are saved, but you will not be half as happy as He is.

And the angels will be happy that you are saved, because the angels celebrate in heaven over every sinner who repents.

And other Christians will rejoice with you, when you are saved.

And those of you, who are already saved, pray that God will build a hedge around you, and your family, and your church, and your country.

Amen.

 

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