The Church And The Tribulation - Zac Poonen
We are told in Eph. 3:10 that in the new covenant, God desires to manifest His wisdom through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. From Eph. 6:12, we know that these rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are Satan and his hosts of wickedness who dwell in the second heaven (where they dwell ever since being cast down out of the third heaven, where God dwells - 2 Cor. 12:2)
We know that we are to be Christ's witnesses unto all men. But here we are told that we have to have a testimony to the evil spirits too. What testimony is this? It is a testimony to the wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). It is the joyful confession of our spirits that God has ordered everything in our lives according to His perfect wisdom. It is the testimony of lives that have partaken of the wisdom that is from above.
In the book of Job, we read of the witness that Job was to Satan, by his life. When Satan came into the presence of God, after touring the earth, God asked him if he had observed the uprightness of Job's life (Job 1:8). Satan's reply was that Job feared God because of the three hedges that God had put around Job. Satan knew that there was a hedge around Job's person, another hedge around his family and a third hedge around Job's possessions (v. 10). Many believers do not know about this threefold hedge that God has put around the disciples of Jesus. Those who fulfil the threefold condition of discipleship mentioned in Lk. 14:26-33 will find that God puts a hedge around each area surrendered to the Lord - possessions, loved ones and one's own life.
But then we read that God opened up these hedges around Job, one by one, so that Satan could go through them and attack Job's possessions, his loved ones and his body. This was in order that Job's character could be demonstrated by God to Satan.
From this we learn that Satan cannot touch a disciple of Jesus or anything that he has, without first getting God's permission. This is a very important truth for us to be established in - and we shall see the need for this even more in the days to come. The true church of Jesus Christ will be called to suffer in the coming days, as in the early centuries. Before that time comes upon us, we must be established in this truth first of all - that there is a threefold hedge around the wholehearted disciples of Jesus that no one can come through, unless God Himself opens up that hedge and permits Satan to do so.
The other lesson that we can learn from Job is that our own loved ones and religious Christians will criticise and condemn us. In Job's case, his wife and three religious leaders (Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar) misunderstood and criticised him. That too was permitted by God. Our loved ones will become our foes and religious people will misunderstand and criticise us - because God has opened the hedges and allowed them to do so.
Job humbled himself and said - "Naked I came from my mother's womb and naked I shall return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). He was a true disciple - for he possessed nothing. He recognised that everything he had belonged to the Lord rightfully and that the Lord had as much right to give them as to take them away. Those who are not disciples think of blessing only in terms of God giving them things. Those who are disciples recognise that it is just as much blessing - perhaps even more - when God takes them away. Thus we can know whether we are disciples or not.