Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Row of Hedges

               Have you ever seen a hedge? A hedge can be used as a wall, and it can consist of many different types of materials, like stone or brick. Sometimes the hedge can be a row of thorny bushes, or in North Carolina, Holly Bushes are used as a hedge. Hedges are used to keep boundaries, to mark divisions of property and in some cases, to protect what it encompasses.
                A few days ago, I prayed to the Lord and asked for a hedge to built up around the children’s ministry, I prayed that the Lord God would protect us all and keep us safe. This morning, He brought the word “hedge” back into my remembrance, and of course, I had to go and seek it out. The first mention of a hedge in the Bible is found in Job 1:10. The sons of God are all gathered around the throne of God the Father, and in walks Satan. Satan is up to something. He has been studying Job and been trying to find a way to get to him, but there is a problem; God has built a hedge around him.
                “So, Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:10)
                Satan had been trying to figure out a way to get to Job, but every time he looked for a way in, God’s hedge was about Job. Not only was this hedge around Job, but it was around his household, his possessions, everything that involved Job, God had a hedge around it. Satan wanted access. The bible tells us that our “adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) The problem was that no matter how hard Satan tried to get in to torment Job, he couldn’t- he needed God’s permission to get to Job.
                This is a good reminder for us, a good lesson for us to take to heart. When troubles come, God is not ignorant of the trouble. A pastor told me once, that nothing happens to us that has not first passed through the hands of the Father. Job was not touched because God had not allowed him to be. God had built a hedge of protection around Job. God had built a wall of defense; He would not allow anything to happen to Job, because Job loved God and served God. God protects us; He has built a hedge around us.
                In biblical times, “hedges were made to protect vineyards from thieves. They were constructed of loose stones without mortar, or of cut thorny branches or bushes. “To hedge about” was used figuratively to refer to God’s protecting care or His constraint.” (Encyclopedia of the Bible) The hedge that was around Job was to protect him, and God did so. He only allowed Satan to do certain things, God kept Satan in check. But there is another reason why God would build a hedge, and that is to keep us from going where we should not.
                Hedges were built to protect, but they were also built to keep you out. Sometimes, it seems like no matter what we cannot do something or perhaps we are trying to go somewhere and for some reason it never works out. There is a reason, and that reason is that the Lord doesn’t want you to do it. Maybe you are trying to get a promotion, and no matter what you do, it never happens, someone else always get it before you- there is most likely a hedge there, built by the Lord God. The hedges that “hedge us in” are always and foremost meant for our protection. When we find ourselves hitting a wall, then perhaps we should recognize it for what it is- a hedge built by God to keep us from walking where He does not want us to go.
                There are two reasons for the hedges in our lives. The first is to protect us from the wiles of the devil, who seeks to destroy anyone who loves Jesus, and the other is to protect us from ourselves. Sometimes, we get a notion in our head and no matter how many times the Lord God tells us “no”- we still run into the hedge and try to find a way through it. Trust me when I tell you that the hedge is full of thorns, and if you get through it, you will find yourself scarred from the experience of it.
                Maybe you are like me, and the hedge that you are experiencing right now is one of protection. Perhaps you are finding yourself beating the same bush over and over again without making any progress, then take some advice from a fellow traveler, and stop. Stop trying to take the way the Lord has clearly hedged you out of. His hedge is always and will always be for our protection, either to keep us safe or to keep us on the right path. Either way, His hedge is always meant for our good.
                Lord Jesus, may we recognize the hedges you have put in our lives. May we be thankful for them, no matter what type of hedge they may be. You allow the hedge to be built and You allow the hedge to be taken away. Psalm 34:7 reminds us that “the angel of the Lord encamps” around those that fear You, and You deliver them. Build Your hedge about us, Lord, do not let us waiver from the path You have given us. Let the thorns prick us when we try to wander away, hedge us in, protect us, forever and ever. Amen and Amen.