Equipping the saints for the work of the ministry - Ephesians 4:12

Encompassed About

When encompassed about by a demonic host, situations of life, and things of our own making, God promises to encompass us about with His mercy, presence, power, and protection.

Compassed about – To stretch round; to extend so as to embrace the whole; hence, to enclose, encircle, grasp or seize. To surround; to environ; to enclose on all sides. To besiege; to beleaguer; to block up.

This brings with it both positive and negative implications. There are times we may be besieged and seized by the enemy and the circumstances of life and even by things of our own making and overwhelmed by them.

In the midst of it all, God promises to stretch around, encircle, surround, and embrace the whole of us and our situation. We are “kept (protected) by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).

1. Encompassed About by Death and Hell

This is always associated with deliverance for the believer.

Psalm 18:5 – “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented (confronted) me.”

Psalm 40:12 – “Innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.”

2 Samuel 22:5-7– “When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid; The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented (confronted) me; In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God: and He did hear my voice out of His temple, and my cry did enter into His ears.”

2 Chronicles 18:31 – “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the Lord helped him; and God moved them to depart from him.”

Have you ever felt that you were encompassed about by the sorrows of hell, death and innumerable evils, to the place that your heart is failing you? The waves of death were encompassing you about? The very snares of death were confronting you?

When the powers of darkness are encompassing you about, you must simply turn to the Lord with all of your heart. In such times, as we call out to God in our distress, as David and Jehoshaphat did, you’ll see the Lord bring the deliverance you so desperately need.

2. Encompassed About With Songs of Deliverance

Psalm 32:7 – “Thou art my hiding place; Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.”

This entire chapter was written in the context of David’s sin with Bathsheba. Even in the midst of our sin and failures, He is still our hiding place, He still preserves us from trouble, and encompasses us about with songs of deliverance.

This means He even delivers us from our-self. When we’ve messed up royally, and everything seems to be falling in around us, we can find our hiding place in Him. In the midst of everything coming down around us, even of our own making, God encompasses us about with songs of deliverance.

I can only imagine, the Lord Himself, encircling us with songs of deliverance. I’m reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 – “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty – A victorious warrior; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will quiet you in His love, He will joy over thee with singing – with shouts of joy.”

When the world, the devil, and often the people of God are hurling accusations against us and condemning us, the Lord is encompassing us around about with songs of deliverance, decreeing in song our deliverance. God never does anything halfway! He shouts songs of deliverance over us, drowning out all accusations being cast at us.

When He is singing over you, your deliverance is sure!

3. Encompassed About With Mercy

Psalm 32:10 – “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.”

This too is said in the context of David’s sin. Grace is giving us what we do not deserve, whereas mercy is not giving us what we rightfully deserve. When everyone is looking on and saying we need to get what we deserve, God has us encircled with a wall of mercy. I’m so thankful He’s a merciful God and doesn’t give us what we deserve. If He did there would be no hope for any of us.

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity” (Psalms 32:1-2). This quoted by the Apostle Paul concerning justification by faith. “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin” (Romans 4:6-8).

This is God’s mercy not man’s. In the case of man, this is not so. God shows mercy, men seldom do. Sadly, this is often true as well of believers and the body of Christ – The Church. Know this, that when insults, accusations and condemnations are being cast at you, God has encompassed you about with a fence or wall of mercy.

When they’re saying you should get what you deserve, mercy shouts back – GET OFF MY FENCE! GET OFF MY WALL! The one you’re attacking is encompassed about by the mercy of the Lord. We must do likewise, when one of our brothers or sisters in Christ have fallen and experienced failure, we too must encompass them about with a wall of mercy, protecting them from the accuser(s) of the brethren, casting them down (Revelation 12:10).

Psalm 109:3 – “They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.”

Allow me to vent a little here. I’m tired of the body of Christ beating up on those who have experienced some type of failure, kicking them while they are down. We’re the only army that shoots its wounded. The church is to be a spiritual hospital, nursing the wounds of its fallen soldiers, not finishing them off. “If a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

This goes for denominations and ministerial fellowships as well. It gets me how we can throw away good ministers when they have gone through failure of any kind. Instead, we should be lifting them up, mending their wounds, and putting them back on the battlefield and back into the service of the Master. I’m tired of seeing them cast aside as something that is of no value. THAT’S NOT GOD! God encompasses us about with mercy. We should be doing no less!

After Peter’s denial and Jesus had risen, the angel told Mary, “Go your way, tell His disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). Don’t forget Peter, He still loves him, believes in him and has plans for him. His call on his life has not changed. It was less than fifty days later that the Lord used Peter to preach that great gospel message on the day of Pentecost where 3,000 were saved and the eleven stood with him in full support (Acts 2:14).

God uses flawed vessels! Those who became David’s mighty men were made up of “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented” (1 Samuel 22:2). “Let My outcasts dwell with you… Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler” (Isaiah 16:4).

Remember, “your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Romans 11:29 – “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance – irrevocable.”

God gives victory His people when they’re are compassed about by enemies and accusations. When criticisms, complaints, accusations and condemnations are being hurled at us on every front, we must stand in faith, declaring victory in the name of Jesus. “Thou shalt also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto thee” (Job 22:28).

Psalm 118:10 – “All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.”

Psalm 118:11 – “They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.”

Psalm 118:12 – “They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.”

4. Encompassed About by an Angelic Host

Psalm 34:7 – “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

It’s significant to note “The angel of the Lord” is singular. This, no doubt, refers to the Lord Jesus Himself. He is the “captain of the host of the Lord” (Joshua 5:13-15). He is head and commander over all the angelic host of heaven. He, Jesus, is the one who is encamped around us, accompanied by His host of angelic beings.

This was said in the context of the goodness of God. “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. O fear the Lord, ye His saints: for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Psalms 34:7-10).

Elisha had been revealing to Israel the plans of the Syrian army and frustrating their plans. Every one of their planned attacks were being thwarted. The King of Syria was frustrated and asked his servants who was siding with Israel and revealing their plans to them.

“And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber. And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan. Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:12-16).

When the enemy has come after you and has plans to capture you, and fear strikes your heart saying, “Alas, my master! what shall we do?” When the enemy has compassed you about with horses and chariots, God has encompassed you about with His angelic host, that are far greater than those who are coming against you. “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” The Bible says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Hebrews 1:14)?

5. Encompassed About by a Great Cloud of Witnesses

Hebrews 12:1a – “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.”

This was written in the context of Hebrews 11 of the heroes of the faith such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Gedeon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae; David, Samuel, and of the prophets: “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:33-38).

These are a part of this great heavenly amphitheater. They’re sitting there looking on as we run the race that is set before us, cheering us on, encouraging us, rooting for us, encouraging us to keep on keeping on. I can just hear them shouting from the grandstands, don’t quit, you’ll make, don’t give up, I made it and you will too. You’ll overcome the insurmountable odds that are against victoriously. We did and you will too!

There are also those fathers of the faith of the previous generation such as Paul Paino, Chuck Smith, David Wilkerson, Lester Sumrall, Oral Roberts, etc. These were some, who while they were alive, cheered me on and encouraged me. When I was discouraged, had experienced failure, was beat down by life, the ministry and spiritual conflict and felt like I could not go on, they were there as an encouraging voice and presence, letting me know that I too could make it as they had.

Now you have me – through Ministrymaker and here today, I’m doing my best to encourage you to keep on keeping on, not to quit or give up. I’ve been through a myriad of ups and downs, untold failures, discouragements, set backs, reversals in life and victories. I’m here to encourage you, you will make it! Keep running the race He has set before you. Don’t quit or give up regardless of what might be coming against you. You’re going to make it – God promises to bring you through to a successful conclusion!

Hebrews 12:1b – “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us.”

There are weights and sins that hinder us, weigh us down, cling to us, ensnare us, entangle us, and dog at our feet as we’re running the race the Holy Spirit has set before us. There’s a difference between weights and sin. A weight is something that is indigenous to us alone. What may weigh me down may not weigh you down and vice versa. Paul referred to them as disputable issues, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations” (Romans 14:1).

We are not to argue over disputable things that are not clear cut in scripture. What I may have conviction concerning you may not, and what I may have liberty in, you may not. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Romans 14:5). Personal conviction! These are what are referred to as weights in our passage. Let me be clear, I have plenty of weights weighing me down in my race, and I’m sure you have plenty of weights weighing you down in your race.

Please don’t take offense, but I really don’t need you laying your weights on me, I have enough of my own I’m carrying around. Keep your weights to yourself, and I’ll keep mine to myself. I’m sure you don’t need me loading you down with my weights either. There’s too much of this going on in the church and it needs to stop.

Let’s respect both the convictions of one another and our individual liberties as well and stop placing burdens on others that we can hardly bear. Peter put it this way, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10)?

Hebrews 12:2-3 – “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.”

“Looking unto” is aphorao. It comes from apo meaning from or away from and horao meaning to stare at, to discern clearly, to attend to, behold, perceive. We are to look away from, looking away from all else that may vie for our attention and fix our eyes on Jesus. Like blinders on a horse in a race, we must shut out all else and look intently unto Jesus.

After a glance at “the cloud of witnesses,” He is the goal. He is the one supreme witness that we must look to and is cheering us on in the race that is set before us. He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrew 4:15). We must look away from all else and fix our gaze upon Him. He alone gives us the courage and strength to keep pressing forward.

We must consider all He went through at the hands of sinful men, and realize that He made it through to victory, and is “set down at right hand of the throne of God.” We too will make it through the battles and hardships of life, and one day be seated with Him in glory. “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” (Romans 8:18). We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and the prize that is set before us at the end of our race.

“The author and finisher of our faith.” If you take an author of a book, before the book was authored, the concept was merely in the mind of the author, but the book itself did not exist. “The author…of our faith,” before He apprehended us, our faith was non-existent. We had absolutely no inclination toward the things of God at all. Our faith was authored by Him and we had nothing to do with it. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11).

We were “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). Jesus said, “you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). “Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth” (James 1:18). “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).

Jesus sought after us, not us after Him. It was only by the exercise of His own will that we were brought forth, born of Him, and are living for Him today. He sought after and chose us and not the other way around. He pursued us until He had apprehended us. Much like Paul described Jesus’ apprehension of himself saying, “I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

When the painting of Jesus standing at the door of our heart knocking was finished, a group of preachers and theologians were standing around admiring it. Many were commenting on what a great work of art and masterpiece it was. While they were looking on it in awe, Karl Barth, that great theologian, spoke up in what could only be described as frustration and anger.

He cried out, “Nein! Nein! Nein! My Jesus did not stand at the door of my heart gently knocking, hoping I would allow Him in, as I, big and strong, held the door of my heart shut. Nein! He picked up His heavy cross, took the big bloody end of it and began pounding on the door of my heart over and over as I tried, with all my strength, to hold the door closed. Finally, when I could hold the door closed no longer, I fell away, the door of my heart flew open, and He came in and took up residence in the citadel of my heart.” Thus, the Master apprehends us!

He’s also the “finisher of our faith.” What He began He will finish. It matters not how much you’ve struggled, fallen short, or what you’ve done. He will finish what He started! It’s not all up to you. He is working in conjunction with you on the project that is your faith (Philippians 2:12-13). You can’t lose, because Jesus never loses. He will bring you through to a successful conclusion!

Romans 8:29 – “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son.”

Philippians 1:6 – “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:24 – “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”

Jude 24 – “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.”

6. Encompassed About by the Chastening of the Lord

Hebrews 12:4-6 – “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. 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: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”

There are things we must forget and place behind us. Paul said, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). However, we must never forget the chastening of the Lord. The chastening of the Lord proves we’re His children and always brings with it deliverance, righteousness, peace, and joy, putting us back on the straight and narrow.

Hebrews 12:7-10 – “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 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? 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.”

Jonah is a prime example of this. He was commissioned by the Lord to preach against Nineveh. He rebelled and ran from his calling. Jonah fled to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord on a ship for which he paid passage. The Lord sent a great storm that was so fierce that those on the ship feared for their very lives. When they discovered Jonah was the cause they threw him overboard and a great fish swallowed him up. And he was three days and three nights in the belly of the fish (Jonah 1).

Jonah was compassed about by the chastening of the Lord. We read,

Jonah 2:3 and 5 – “For Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.”

As result of the Lord’s discipline, Jonah remembered the Lord, cried out to Him, repented of his rebellion, “And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land” (Jonah 2:10). He then arose, heeded the command of the Lord, preached to Nineveh, they repented and the city was spared (Jonah 3).

7. Encompassed About by a Woman

Jeremiah 31:22 – “The Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall encompass a man.”

Something new is about to happen, something different from the way things have been; something new and out of the ordinary. God is doing a new thing in the earth. “A woman shall encompass a man.” Women you’re to encompass your man around about. You’re to be a shield of protection about him, you’re to be a wall of mercy encircling him, you’re to encompass him about with songs of deliverance, and with prayer.

You must be a voice of encouragement to him. When all others are casting insults, criticisms, complaints, judgments and condemnations at him, you’re to be a wall of mercy encompassing him about. You’re a co-laborer together with God. You’re God’s co-worker, working right along beside Him, encircling your man with mercy, encouragement, prayer and songs of deliverance. When everyone else is coming against him, YOU’RE HIS DEFENDER!

You’re working together in his defense with the great heroes of faith of Hebrews 11 and with the Lord Himself!

With over 40 years of church planting and ministry experience, and doctorate degrees in apologetics, theology, and church development, Dr. Linton’s passion is to equip, encourage and strengthen pastors and their churches.