Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Have you ever felt apprehensive about trying something new? Waiting for test results from the doctor or x-rays at the dentist can be unnerving. New relationships or old ones changing can make you feel unsure of yourself. Making decisions about school, work, where to live, what to do; being tempted to do something less than well, far from right. Life can be scary! But there are at least three things in your favor – invisible – but there all the same. They can help protect you, lead you and be a blessing to you if you allow them; if you become aware of them and when you resolve to use them.
The Book of Job describes a confrontation between God and Satan. The debate centered around Job; an obedient, dutiful follower of Jehovah and the blessings he had received as a result of his obedience. Satan’s accusation went something like, ‘Well sure he obeys you, look at all you’ve given him. If he had nothing from you, I bet he’d quit.’ God’s response was to allow a time of testing to come upon Job; to show Satan, and us, that faith and hope can stand on their own among true believers. It was meant as well, I believe, as an example to us of God’s watchfulness and of his “protective hedge.”
The devil’s complaint was that there was, “…a hedge about (Job) and his household…” Job 1:10 What’s a hedge? An enclosure of various kinds for the protection of goods or livestock. In Job’s time and in many countries since, they were made of natural material such as brush, rocks or dirt, raised up in a mound around the area to be guarded. Sometimes a thick shrub was planted or a brick wall was built; at other times a wooden corral served the same purpose; all of them being a means of confinement, keeping good in – bad out. I believe God’s protective hedge is meant to do the same for us, protecting us by keeping our exposure to evil and it’s harmful effects out of our lives, as long as we don’t blunder through the gate or stupidly choose to go out on our own. (See Is. 53:6)
What’s this heavenly hedge made of? Godly principles? Yes. His word? Absolutely. It there more? I believe so. Psalm 34:7 says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, (Fear entailing awe-filled respect as well as being scared.) and he delivers them.” Note here that it says he delivers, not necessarily out of all trouble but certainly through it. In fact, Genesis 32 records an incident involving Jacob leaving a difficult situation with his father-in-law and walking right in to another one with his brother Esau. Along the way, he was accompanied by angels from heaven; escorting him home in safety and giving him confidence to face his brother and “wrestle” with God. He was so impressed by this meeting that he named the place Mahanaim, meaning two camps; where his family camp had come into direct contact with God’s heavenly realm.
What else does the Bible say about angels? Psalm 103:19-21 says they do God’s bidding, obeying his word. Many believe they lead us, protect us and care for us. Is there any scriptural evidence for this? Angels are most commonly seen as messengers. Luke’s gospel describing the angelic message of John the Baptist’s coming birth to a surprised Zechariah as well as foretelling the birth of Christ to an astonished Mary. (Luke 1:1-17 & 1:26-38) Joseph was later instructed by an angel concerning Mary and her son and how to protect him from a vengeful King Herod. (Matthew 1:20-21 & 2:13) The Hebrew writer rhetorically asking, “Aren’t all angels ministering spirits sent to serve…?” (Hebrews 1:14) The Psalmist assuring us that “…he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” Psalm 91:11 (Graphically illustrated in 2 Kings 6:8-17 as well as in Acts 12:1-18), encouraging believers in both eras to trust God for help, direction and deliverance. Does this mean we will never experience hardship or trouble in life? No. Jesus assurance that none should “…look down on these little ones.” for, “…their angels in heaven always see the face of my father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10); giving us confidence and a sense of boldness in living our lives as Christians; but it doesn’t insure us freedom from the realities of life lived in a “fallen” world.
The Book of Daniel records the faithful service of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, eventually culminating in their ordeal in the fiery furnace. Their faith expressed in the exclamation: “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold…” Daniel 3:1-30 Because they stood true regardless of the consequences, they were indeed blessed with a miraculous intervention. Daniel likewise becoming a target of intrigue as a direct result of his faithfulness; being thrown into a lions’ den on trumped-up charges by jealous palace courtiers and sycophants. And yet, he was saved as well and was able to live his life successfully serving his king and his King; exclaiming the morning after his ordeal, “O King, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me because I was found innocent in his sight.” Daniel 6:1-22
As wonderful and reassuring as this is, scripture refers to angels as instruments of punishment as well. 1 Chronicles 21:15 speaking of a destroying angel who responded to David’s sin and Genesis 3:23,24 describing angels as guardians of the entrance to Eden – now keeping the disobedient and unholy from holy ground and the benefits of their paradise lost. (Similar to our forfeiting the benefits of God’s protective hedge when we choose to exit it and go out into the world, succumbing to its enticements.) Isaiah 5:1-6 describing the consequences of a vineyard (or life) with its hedge removed, it’s protective benefits lost; the vines being “trampled” and “destroyed.”
Beware however, counterfeit angels. 2 Corinthians 11:14 characterizes Satan as masquerading as an angel of light, trying to confuse and lead astray. Isaiah calling him “Morning Star”, even as he described his downfall; Satan pridefully attempting to make himself “like the most High.” Is. 14:12-15 (See also Revelation 12:7,8) Now his principle activity is as a tempter, a stumbling block, “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8); an accuser, a murderer (of reputations and lives) and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
That’s two out of three, what else is there? The Holy Spirit. Jesus defining one of his primary functions in John 14:16, “…I will ask the father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth.” “…(this) Counselor, the Holy Spirit… will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 And, “When the Counselor comes… he will testify about me. And you must also testify…” John 15:26,27
Paul later noting how the Holy Spirit speaks to God for us as well as speaking for God to us. (Romans 8:16) “We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 Have you ever felt that way? Your emotions too powerful for words? The Holy Spirit is there to help “express” our thoughts and our needs to the father. But there’s more, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance…” Ephesians 1:13,14As such, we should be careful not to “grieve” the Spirit or “put out (it’s) fire” through neglect and un-Christ-like deeds. (Ephesians 4:30 & 1 Thessalonians 5:19) Finding solace and courage in the promise that he, “…who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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