Sermon #1279


          Title:           WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR GOD


          Text:           2 Samuel 14:28-31

          Reading:    Psalm 107:1-43

          Subject:     Joab’s Barley Fields Set On Fire

          Date:          Sunday Morning - April 6, 1997

          Tape #       T-59




2 Samuel 14:28-31  "So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face. (29) Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king; but he would not come to him: and when he sent again the second time, he would not come. (30) Therefore he said unto his servants, See, Joab's field is near mine, and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom's servants set the field on fire. (31) Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?"


          You will remember that Absalom killed his brother, Amnon, in revenge for the incestuous rape of his sister, Tamar.

Absalom then fled from Jerusalem for fear of his life. He stayed gone for three years, until David was persuaded to let him return. Yet, even after he was allowed to return, he was not permitted to come to the palace, or to see the king’s face.


          This went on for another two years. It had been five years since David spoke to Absalom, or Absalom spoke to David. Therefore Absalom sent for Joab. He wanted Joab again to intercede for him; but Joab would not come. Sent for him again, trying in vain to get his attention, or to get him to come to him. Joab simply had no interest in or regard for Absalom. Then, being the conniving wretch he was, Absalom finally hatched a plan that as sure to get Joab’s attention. Absalom sent his servants out to set Joab’s fields on fire, while they were full of barley. That got Joab’s attention! He came running, and said, “why did you do that?” - “Wherefore have thy servants set my fields on fire?”


What Will It Take For God To Get Your Attention? That is the title of my sermon this morning. What will it take for God to get your attention? Wicked as Absalom’s deed was, it is a picture of God’s gracious actions toward chosen sinners. Knowing our obstinance, the Lord knows that we will not come to his gracious throne and seek his mercy until he forces us and makes us willing to come and willing to seek mercy. Therefore, very often, he sets our barley fields on fire.


Do not misunderstand me. I do not suggest for a moment that judgment will bring men to repentance. It will not. It is the goodness of God that leads fallen men and women to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Yet, while judgment will never produce repentance by itself, God often sends his grace to us by means of providential judgments. That is the message of Psalm 107.


As I pray for you and try to preach the gospel to you, as I plead with God for you and plead with you in God’s stead, trying to persuade you to come to Christ, I often wonder about you – “What will it take for God to get your attention?” You are, each of you personally, of great, constant concern to me. The burden of your immortal soul is heavy upon my heart.


Many of you are yet without Christ, unconverted, lost, under the wrath of God. I pray that God will not let you die in your present condition. It seems to me that he has spoken to some of you. At times, you appear to be moved by the preaching of the gospel. Certainly, you have had providential warnings enough to make you tremble, if you had sense enough to hear them. Yet you harden your hearts. If God has chosen you, he will get you. I know that. Yet, I cannot help wondering, “What will it take for God to get your attention?”


I wonder the same thing about you who are, I hope, my brothers and sisters in Christ, who have entangled yourselves too much with the cares of this world. Your business has just about choked out the Word of God. You willingly absent yourself from the worship of God and the fellowship of his saints. At present, you think your neglect is necessary. If indeed you are the Lord’s, he will not lose you. If he must set your barley fields on fire, if he must destroy your business, your health, your wife, your child, or anything else, he considers that a small thing for the salvation of your soul. For that he sacrificed his own dear Son! Your barley fields are nothing in comparison!. What will it take for God to get your attention? I believe I would think about that, if I were you. Have I managed to get your attention? If so, I pray that the Lord God will now speak to you by his Word and do his work of grace in your heart.


Proposition:      I want you to understand that God often sends what appears to be severe measures to bring his chosen to himself.


          If he sets your barley fields on fire, he has a perfect right to do so. They are his fields. He is only allowing you to tend them. If he sets your barley fields on fire to show you mercy, you will soon praise him for doing so. I want, by the aide of God the Holy Spirit, to apply these things first to you who are believers and then to you who are yet without Christ.




          I know that or some of you, some of what  must say this morning is going to be painful. You may even get a little angry at me or speaking to you as I must. Do not forget, as your pastor, as God’s servant, as one who watches over your soul and must give account for doing so, I must be faithful to your soul. You will not get angry at me for being faithful to you; will you? Listen carefully to what I have to say. It will help you. I promise.


A.  You and I, who are the children of God, must, as long as we live in this world, suffer trial, tribulations, and troubles.


“Bastards may escape the rod,

Sunk in earthly, vain delight,

But the true born child of God

Must not, would not, if he might.”


          Wheat must be threshed. God must be tried. Silver must be purged. And every true child must be chastened. There is no such thing as a child that does not sometimes need the painful lash of a loving father’s rod.


Hebrews 12:5-11  "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: (6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (7) If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (8) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (9) Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (10) For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. (11) Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."


          Our Lord Jesus has left us a double legacy. He said, In the world you shall have tribulation but in me you shall have peace (John 16:33). We must, as long as we are in these bodies of flesh, suffer many things by the hand of God’s providence; but we have many things revealed to us about the things we suffer, which minister peace to believing hearts. Let me show you.


1.   Though we are often chastened of the Lord, we suffer nothing in a penal or punitive manner.


          Our sins were punished n our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ. God never punishes us for our sins, as an avenging judge. He chastens us as a loving father; but he does not punish the redeemed as a judge punishes a criminal. That as taken care of at Calvary.


          I hope you understand this glorious fact. If Christ died for me, the wrath of God has been avenged for me , and there is no wrath in God against me. My sorrows come, not because God is angry with me, but because he loves me. He is as good to me in his afflicting providences as he is in his bountiful providences. Sinai is silent forever. God speaks to his chosen from Zion’s hill of grace. The Lord did not afflict Job to punish him, but to bless him. o it is with every heaven born child.


2.   Our trials, troubles, and tribulations are appointed and arranged by the wisdom, love, and grace of God, our heavenly Father.


“God in Israel sows the seeds

Of affliction, pain, and toil.

These spring up and choke the weeds,

Which would else o’erspread the soil.”


          If God appoints their number to be ten, all hell cannot make them eleven. Nebuchadnezzar may heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual; but our heavenly Father controls the thermostat.


3.   In addition to these facts, we have the sweet comfort and assurance that whatever our heavenly Father does or allows, is for our good and his glory.


          Knowing that we shall be enriched by the things we suffer makes them more bearable. The man who owns a gold mine does not mind going down into the deep, dark pit to fetch out some gold. Why should we fear our dark troubles, when God has promised to make them a source of spiritual and eternal benefit to our souls?


Romans 8:18-23  "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. (23) And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."


Romans 8:28  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."


2 Corinthians 4:17-18  "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."


1 Peter 1:3-9  "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."


          You would never hear a nightingale sing if night did not fall; and there are some notes of praise than can never be sung until we have walked in dark places. The best wine is stored in dark cellars. You never see Christ’s face so clearly as when others turn their back upon you. If you must be laid upon the bed of languishing, as long as the Lord makes your bed, he will make it comfortable.


          Spurgeon made two choice statements about this that are worth remembering. He said, “If you would find a man whose lips drop with pearls, look for one who has been in the deep waters.” Then he said, “ We seldom learn much except as it is beaten into us by the rod in Christ’s school-house under Madam Trouble.”


3.   Moreover, the Lord graciously assures us of his presence, faithfulness, and love, even when he afflicts us.


Isaiah 54:7-10  "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. (8) In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. (9) For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. (10) For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee."


Isaiah 41:10  "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."


Isaiah 43:1-5  "But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. (2) When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (3) For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. (5) Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;"


B. By our trials and troubles, the Lord God graciously calls us to himself.


          Though Job did not suffer because of sin, the Lord did, by the things he suffered, call Job to himself. And when God sends trouble to you and me, we ought to quickly turn to him, saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth thee.” Yet, we often pay no more attention to God than Joab did to Absalom. If that is the case, he will set our barley fields on fire.


          When David had sinned in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, he would not turn again unto the Lord until the Lord set his barley field on fire. The barley field God burned was nearly his whole family! When Peter had denied the Lord, he would not turn to the Lord again, until his barley fields were burned up. The barley field that had to be burned was his high opinion f himself; and the fire that scorched his heart was the exposure of his own sin and unbelief!


1.   The Lord calls us simply to believe him, to trust him, to rely upon him. - But we will not leave our earthly cares in his hands.


·        Did you ever imagine it possible for a believer to have such little faith as you have?


2.   Our dear Savior knocks at the door of his Church and calls us to sweeter, more intimate communion with him. - But we refuse to rise and pen to him. Then, he burns our barley fields.


Song of Songs 5:2-8  "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? (4) My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. (5) I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. (6) I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. (7) The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. (8) I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love."


·        Did you ever think a child of God could…


…Love Christ so little and love the world so much?


…Find prayer such a burden?


…Have such an aversion to reading and meditating upon Holy Scripture?



3.   The Lord God calls us to fervent prayer (Heb. 4:16); but when we will not pray, he burns our barley fields and teaches us to pray.


          4. The Lord calls us to utter consecration.


Romans 12:1-2  "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."


1 Corinthians 6:19-20  "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? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."


          When we refuse his calls, he burns our barley fields. Some may think that is a strange thing; but who thinks it is strange for a loving father to destroy a child’s most cherished pet, if that father knows the dog has rabies and will kill the child if it is not destroyed?


          Yet, for some of you, you who I hope are truly God’s children, I wonder, “What will it take for God to get your attention?” I know this - If you are his, he will not let you go. As I told you at the beginning, he paid too dear a price for you to lose you. Which of your barley fields will the Lord have o destroy to keep you from destroying yourself?


          This is my prayer for you, and for myself:- Lord, burn our barley fields. Graciously force us to walk with Christ, to cling to Christ, to cling to Christ as the only thing w have!


          When necessary, he sends the fires of sickness to burn up our health and strength, to make us lean on him. Often, he sends the fires of losses to burn up our accounts and possessions, to turn us to our Savior. The Lord sends the fires of bereavements to burn the idols that rival him in our hearts’ affections. The fires of domestic trouble are sometimes necessary to burn the fields which have kept us at a distance from our God. Often, God sends the fires of spiritual depression to burn our fields of self-confidence. He hides his face, to force us to seek him.


          Whatever it takes, when the Lord God burns our barley fields, let us go to him immediately, and say with Joab, “Wherefore hast thou burned my barley fields?”


Psalms 139:23-24  "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."




          What a horrible thought; but it is more than a thought. Some of you are…


·       Lost!

·       Without Christ!

·       Under The Wrath Of God!


          I tremble for your souls! Unless I am badly mistaken, God has spoken to some of you in such a way that you know he has spoken to you. Yet, you harden your heart and refuse to turn to Christ. The Lord has many ways by which he speaks to and sends for chosen, redeemed sinners, and fetches them to Christ.


A.  He speaks to you by the prickings of your own conscience.


B. He speaks to you by the daily events of providence.


C. He speaks to you by the preaching of the gospel.


D. He speaks to you by Holy Spirit conviction.


John 16:8-11  "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (9) Of sin, because they believe not on me; (10) Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; (11) Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged."


          Still, as I preach to you now, I cannot help wondering, “What will it take for God to get your attention?” I know what it took for him to get my attention. I wonder what it will take for you? This much I know…


          If God has chosen you, if Christ has redeemed you, if God the Holy Spirit has been sent here to get you, he will get you. I just wonder which of your barley fields and how many he will have to burn before he brings down your heart and graciously forces you to call upon him.




1.   Children of God, let us never question our heavenly Father’s providence. He never burns a barley field without a gracious purpose.


Lamentations 3:32-33  "But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. (33) For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."


2.   May God be pleased now to bless his Word to your heart for Christ’s sake, as only he can.


·        I pray that he will revive the languishing, restore the fallen, and graciously save us, everyone, from ourselves.


·        I pray that the God of all grace will grant you life and faith in Christ.