Published February 1, 2011

Paul's Epistle...

Did you know that in the Bible there is a doctrine of "hedges?"

There is. In fact, the Bible tells us God can place protective hedges around individuals and peoples and even nations.

The Columbia Encyclopedia says a hedge can be a "protective barrier." I know they work. I used to have an old privet hedge across the front of our house. Nobody could get through there.

But that's exactly what God's "hedges" are for. They are to protect the individuals around whom they are built.

Remember Job? God had provided a spiritual hedge around him to protect his person, his family and all of his possessions. Satan was upset because he couldn't get through to harm Job, as he had wanted. You know the story. But even as God lifted portions of that hedge to prove Job's faithfulness, Satan was still bound by what was left. As always, God was in complete control.

I remember when our two sons were still very young, I would pray that God would create and maintain a "hedge" of physical and spiritual protection around them. As active boys, it was much-needed. I still pray that same prayer. And God has graciously honored the request over the years.

Here's something interesting I discovered about hedges. In ancient Israel, hedges were never placed around open fields. They were generally used only to enclose gardens or vineyards. That's interesting because in Matthew 21:33, our Lord, in a parable, compares his Church to a vineyard which "a certain householder planted, and hedged round about..." A garden must have a gardener. Henry's Concise Commentary notes, "Saints in the church...are planted, and do not grow of themselves... Christ is the source which makes these gardens fruitful." So, Christ has placed around His garden — around Christians — a hedge that keeps Satan from doing any more than the Lord would allow, so that we may grow fruitful in our Christian lives. After all, "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13b).

The word translated in the Bible as "hedge" was often used as a "protection again wild beasts." How appropriate, since Satan is described as "a roaring lion...seeking whom he may devour." (1 Peter 5:8.)

The Psalmist reminds us many times of God's protection. See Psalms 4:8; 23:4; 91:11; and 119:117, just to mention a few.

Be thankful today for God's protection. And, with me, pray that God will maintain those hedges of protection around your loved ones and yourself.

Pray for all the hedges you want, and don't worry about being a "hedge-hog." God has plenty of them!

- Paul

Note: This is another of my favorite columns, first appearing March 19, 2002 (updated).
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