When Absalom Burned Joab's Farm
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 6 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, From Vapor to Floods)
"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. 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. Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him, Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire? And Absalom answered Joab, Behold, I sent unto thee, saying, Come hither, that I may send thee to the king, to say, Wherefore am I come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now therefore let me see the king's face; and if there be any iniquity in me, let him kill me. So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he had called for Absalom, he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before the king: and the king kissed Absalom." II Samuel 14:29-33.
David was the king of Israel. He had a handsome son whose name was Absalom. Absalom had his sights set on the kingdom. He wanted to take it prematurely. So Absalom decided he would rebel against his father.
In one of these times of strife between David and Absalom, David became angry with Absalom and expelled him from the land. Absalom fled. Later, he was allowed to return, but he could not return to the king's palace or the presence of David.
Absalom came upon an idea. He said, "If I can get to Joab (David's top assistant) and talk to him, he will arrange a meeting between us."
Absalom and Joab had adjoining land, so Absalom sent his servant over to Joab. The servant said to Joab, "The king's son wants to see you."
Joab refused to come. Absalom sent his servant again, who said, "Joab, Absalom wants to see you." Again, he wouldn't come.
Get the picture. The first time Absalom sent, Joab wouldn't come; the second time, Joab wouldn't come. Absalom devised a wicked plan. He called his servants together and said, "Now fellows, Joab's fields and my fields are right next to each other. If you will set Joab's barley field on fire, he will see me."
Absalom's servants went out and actually set Joab's barley field on fire. Joab came running to Absalom and said, "What in the world is going on? Why are they setting my fields on fire?"
Absalom said, "That was the only way I could get you to come. I sent my servants to you saying, 'Come, the king's son wants to talk to you,' but you didn't come. I sent my servant the second time to say, 'Come Joab, the king's son wants you to come to see him,' but you wouldn't come. Now I didn't want to set your barley fields on fire, but I felt I had to get your attention."
That is exactly what God does. There are many people who are sick in hospitals tonight who would not be there if they had come when God first said, "Come." There are many babies buried tonight in babyland who would still be in Mother's crib and in her arms if Mom and Dad had come when the King's Son had invited them with the first or second invitation.
God had to burn the barley field. Of course, the baby is in Heaven, but God had to burn the barley fields. Why? He called once, and there was no answer. He called again; still there was no answer. Men have been laid to rest before their time because their wives wouldn't come to Christ. The Holy Spirit said, "Come to the King's Son. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved."
The answer was, "No, not now."
The Holy Spirit came again and said, "Trust the Saviour and be saved. You do not know what is going to happen. Come now."
The answer came, "No."
So the Lord came and said, "Okay, I'm going to take your husband." He burned the barley fields.
Many a wreck on the highway would not have taken place if the person who was injured or killed had come on the first invitation to the dear Lord Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is speaking to someone here tonight, someone who is here for the first time. You are sitting in this service tonight. You have never felt the call of God before; yet right now the Holy Spirit says, "You ought to be saved. You have to die. You have to face God. You will go to Heaven or go to hell." He knocks on your door and says, "Come to the King's Son."
You say, "No."
He comes once again and says, "Won't you come to the King's Son?"
You say, "No."
Then God will look down and say, "Okay, angels, go down and set his house on fire. Put him in a car wreck. Put him in the hospital. Take his baby on to Heaven. He has said 'No' to Me long enough. Burn the barley fields!"
Now you listen tome. If God has ever called you one time to be saved, you better answer His call before He burns your barley fields.
Now there are three things for which the Lord burns barley fields, and I want to talk to you about them.
1. In the Matter of Salvation
God calls. He calls again. Then He burns the barley fields. There is the screeching of brakes on the highway, the shedding of blood across the pavement, the roaring of the police car and ambulance, the screaming of loved ones, the gathering of a crowd, the stopping of cars, the clanging of steel, the rushing to the hospital, and the doctor being called. There is danger. It is a life-and-death proposition. It all happened because a person would not come when God called the first time.
Listen to me, dear friends, if you are not saved, God is not going to put up with your neglecting His salvation.
You say, "Well, it's just not the time."
Listen to me. Just as sure as I am standing behind this pulpit, God is going to come into somebody's home who hears the Gospel tonight and He will take out a precious little baby. There will be the bronze shoes on the mantle and a picture upon the hearth. You will have memories, sweet memories. It did not have to happen. If you had come to God when the Holy Spirit called, it could have been avoided.
God called, "Come to My Son."
You said, "No!"
God called again and said, "Come to My Son."
Again you said, "No!"
The Lord said, "Okay, I must burn your barley fields."
When I was pastoring in east Texas, one day I knocked on a door. A fellow opened the door and I said, "My name is Jack Hyles. I am the Pastor of the Grange Hall Baptist Church out on highway 43."
He said, "You leave me alone! I don't have any use for you! Get out of my house!"
I went back the second time and again he said, "No." It wasn't long until his son, fifteen years of age, was out hunting. As he was crawling though a barbed-wire fence, his shirt got hung on the fence. He tried to pull himself loose by jerking, and in so doing, pulled the trigger and shot himself. He died instantly! Guess who came to church the next Sunday morning. You guessed it. His dad did. The dad got saved. Why? God burned the barley fields. Guess who else got saved. His mother got saved. Why? God burned the barley fields.
Are you saved tonight?
You say, "No, I'm not saved. No, I'm not ready yet."
There is more to it than that, sir! Get ready! God is not going to let you hear the Gospel over and over and over again, trample under your feet His precious blood, say "No" to His Son and do insult to His Spirit and the Gospel of truth. God won't allow it. Don't be surprised. God will call. God will call again. God will call again, but the day is going to come when God will set the barley fields on fire. Then you will say, "Hey, why is the fire here?"
The Lord will say, "Well, I finally got you here, didn't I? I wanted to get you without setting your field on fire, but I couldn't. I had to set your fields on fire. I had to put you in the hospital with a heart attack. I had to put your baby in the grave. I had to allow you to have a car wreck and have your wife killed. I had to cause you to lose your job. I had to give you cancer."
I knew a man whom we tried to get saved, but we could not. He was rough. What happened? He got cancer. God burned the barley fields. I went by one night. I went back to the room. Nobody thought he would get saved, but he was saved that night before he died. God called one time, and the man said, "No." God called the second time, and the man said, "No." After awhile God burned his barley fields.
Don't let your baby be buried in babyland before you come to God. Don't wait till your boy shoots himself before you come to God. Don't wait till you have cancer and are flat on your back before you come to God. Don't wait until you have a serious car wreck. Don't wait until you health is gone. Come to God and serve Him before He burns the barley fields.
By the way, there is something else that God does too. First, God calls and we say, "No." God calls again, and we say, "No." God burns the barley fields. The sad thing is that a lot of folks will not come even when the barley fields are burned. What does God do then? He draws a deadline. He says, "Okay, I called you and you said, 'No.' I called you again and you said, 'No.' I called you again, and I burned the barley fields; you still said, 'No.' Okay, you have crossed the line."
God says of you, "Okay, let him go unto his idols. Let him alone. My Spirit will not always strive with men. Forget it! You have put it off too long. You have crossed the line."
"Oh, now wait a minute, dear Lord, save me." Then it is too late.
Why? You said "No" long enough. The very idea of your thinking you can always say "NO" to God, turn your back on soul winners, refuse the Gospel and turn your back on sermons; then when you have about two hours left you say, "Okay, God, I'll come to You."
He will say, "Why, years ago you crossed the deadline."
A lady walked into the service one night when I was preaching in Garland, Texas. I preached that night on "The Unpardonable Sin." I had announced it on the radio. This lady came and sat on the left. After the service was over, she came down the aisle. I did not know her. She said, "You are my favorite preacher."
"Are you saved?" I asked her.
"No, I can't be, but are my favorite preacher."
"Are you saved?"
"No, I can't be saved."
She said, "Brother Hyles, there was the day when I felt the call of God. There was the day when I went to church and I felt conviction. I knew I ought to be saved. The Spirit of God kept pounding in me and pounding in me and pounding in me. I said, 'No.' Then there was one day when I never felt the call again. Now," she said, "Brother Hyles, I have my radio set on KSKY, 6.60 on the dial. Every morning the first voice I hear is yours. My clock is set at 6:05, and every morning I wake up and hear your voice. I love to hear you preach, but for years I have not felt the call of God. I waited too late! I waited too late! I WAITED TOO LATE! Tell people to answer God's call in a hurry!"
God will call once and you'll say, "No." God will call again and you will say "No." God will finally say, "Okay, I'll burn the barley fields." If you continue to say "No," the Spirit like a dove will take Its flight. That tender sweet call of salvation shall suddenly be gone.
I have seen folks come to this church who during the invitation would reach out and take a hold of a pew and shake while rejecting Christ. I have seen people come to an invitation time and tremble like they had the palsy. I have watched them while the invitation was being given and they said, "No!" Now I have seen those same folks come year after year after year. Now they sit while dozens are being saved, but they feel nothing. What is it? They have crossed the line!
You say, "Well, I don't believe it."
Then you do not believe the Bible. God says His Spirit will not always strive with man. If you are not converted, you are marching toward the line. God has put a line before you. If you do not get saved before you cross that line, you will die and go to hell. In God's name, wake up before you get to the line!
2. In the Matter of Service
You felt the call to preach one time, didn't you? You wouldn't preach, would you? God called again, didn't He? You wouldn't preach, would you? God had burned the barley fields. Why? He called you one time; He called the second time; then He burned the barley fields.
A fellow in Garland, Texas, came to me one day and said, "God called me to preach."
I said, "Okay, surrender."
"I can't. I have a baby to feed. I have a wife to feed."
"Surrender! God will take care of you and your family."
"I can't afford it! Who will feed the child?"
"God will feed the child."
"I can't do it."
One night he came home to find that the child had a high fever. The baby did not live through the night. We stood together beside that casket that held the lifeless form of that little child and the father said, "I don't have a child to feed now. I guess I can surrender to Him now."
What happened? God called once; God called twice; then he burned the barley field.
I was once in a revival campaign in Texas. I stayed in the pastor's home. I wanted to be alone to pray awhile. I asked the pastor if I could be alone for awhile. He said, "Sure. Go to my prayer closet." I walked into his prayer closet. As soon as I walked in, I saw a set of braces. They were right there in the prayer closet. I went back and I said, "Pastor, what are these?"
"That is my altar."
He said, "God wanted me to preach, and I would not do it. God called me again. I would not do it. God gave my little boy polio. Dr. Hyles, whenever my boy goes around the house, he hobbles. Every time he hobbles, he reminds me to stay in the Word of God. :Those were his first little braces. When those were taken off and new ones were put on, I put them in my prayer closet. Every time I kneel, they remind me of what I had to pay and what my boy had to pay because I wouldn't do the will of God."
Listen tome. Listen! Has God called you to preach? Preach! Has God called you to teach a class? Teach a class! Listen, there are people in this room whom God has called to be bus workers and you know it! You know God has called to be bus captain. God has called once; God has called twice; He will set the barley fields on fire one of these days. Yes, He will. You know you ought to be a soul winner. You feel conviction every time I say that you ought to win souls to Christ. It is everybody's job. It is up to everyone to win folks to Jesus. You have felt the call and said, "No, I'm too timid." You have felt the call and said, "No, I don't have the personality. No, I'm not outgoing enough. No, I don't have time yet." Look out! God is about to burn your barley fields.
God means business! There is a living God Who will not put up with your saying "No" to His will and "No" to His call. We have the idea that God is just an old grandfather who watches over everything and sprinkle holy dust on everybody. That is not true. God is a God of vengeance, indignation and revenge. God is a jealous God. You won't say "No" to God's will very long and get by with it. If you feel the call of God to preach the Gospel, do it before He burns the barley fields. If you feel the call of God to get saved, do it before He burns the barley fields. He calls once; He calls again; then He burns the fields.
3. In the Matter of Sin
We seem to have the idea that our barley fields will never burn. We have the idea that we are different. We have the idea that it could not happen to us! We have the idea that God will never do it to us. We say, "He will do it to others, but not to me." Yet, He is a holy and righteous God Who cannot wink at sin. When He hears the rejection of people who hear the call from sin and live lives unto themselves, He calls once and says, "Come out of sin!" Again He calls; then He will burn the barley fields.
You will be in some dark room of a hospital and look up to God and say, "Dear God, I do trust You now." It may be that a little child will be taken, or the person you love as much as you love your own life. You will never see the child or that loved one until you get to Heaven. The Lord didn't want to take that baby away. The Lord didn't want to take the loved one. He didn't want to take you child. God didn't want you to have to look at that brace all you life. Yet He had to do it!
You know, as a pastor I never like to see the barley fields burn, but I would rather have the barley fields burn than not have you come to the Son of the King. Jesus comes tonight. Are you lost? Come and be saved. Jesus says, "Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Have you had a soul winner come by your house? Have you had him by twice? Look out! The barley fields are about to be set on fire. I don't want the dear Lord to come and have to hurt you. He will reach down and take the most precious possession you have from this earth. I do not want the Lord to reach down in one of those little cribs. I do not want you to have to face that. I do not want God to reach down and put cancer inside you body. I want you, when you hear the sweet call of God, to come to Him before He burns the barley fields.
A young lady in Texas was called to be a missionary. She would not surrender. God called again. She said, "I'm having too much fun." One night as she was driving down the highway with a gang of kids, a drunk pulled out in front of her car and hit them head-on. She was killed immediately. God called once; God called twice; then He burned the barley field.
I know a young man in east Texas who wouldn't come to God. He was a talented fellow. God called him to be saved. God called him again. Suddenly one day, he was in a car wreck. His eyesight was taken. He has been blind ever since. He has served God ever since he got blind. God called once; God called twice; then He burned the barley fields.
Is God speaking to you about salvation? Are you called of God to teach a Sunday school class? Do you that God wants you to be a bus captain? Is God calling you into full-time service? Please heed the call while the call is tender and sweet.
"Hey, servants, go over and tell Joab to come over. Tell him that I, the king's son, want to see him."
"I'm one of the servants of Absalom, Joab, and Absalom wants to see you. Would you come over and see him?"
There is no answer.
"Servant, did you go over and see Joab?
"Well, go again!"
"Hey, Mr. Joab! Absalom, the son of the king, wants to see you. He wants you to come and see him."
Again there is no answer.
"What happened? Did he come?"
"I have not seen a sign of him at all."
"I want you to burn his barley fields."
Joab is sitting over there in his house, looks out and says, "Oh! My field is on fire. We worked hard to get that barley where it is now. We worked the field. We care for this crop. The barley is on fire. Absalom! Can I see you?"
Absalom says, "Yeah, that is what I had in mind. The only way I could see you was to burn your barley fields."
I have been preaching for a long time. I am only 45 years of age. I have seen a lot of people. I have preached to millions of people. I have preached a lot of sermons. I know what God does. I have seen it! I tremble whenever I see a person spurn the call of God. I tremble for what might happen. Whenever a person is called of God to preach or to serve Him in any capacity and says, "No, I won't do it," or whenever a person is in sin and says, "No, I won't come out," I tremble! In a quarter of a century of preaching I have learned that God calls once; God calls twice; then He burns the barley fields!
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY