What, in the Bible, is used to denote protection or something built by God one minute and then torn down by Him the next? What describes something "made up" by men, crooked leaders, and the way of the slothful man? Did you guess the "hedge"? If so, you are correct! Believe it or not, God uses it to reveal the true condition of our own spiritual condition or that of our leaders and nation.
1. Depicted Protection For God's People
God's peculiar care for His people is portrayed here as an unapproachable "hedge," defense, or enclosure about His people, their families, or possessions. It is represented by barbed iron, spikes and spears, or a fence of thorns.
2. Built By God
Job 3:23 says - "Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in?"
Hosea 2:6 says - "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths."
Lamentations 3:7 says - "He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out..."
Job felt as though God had surrounded him with a high wall or an "hedge" whereby he couldn't freely move or see one step in front of the other to find the path of escape from his troubles. He knew no way of deliverance from his miseries. There was no prospect of hope to better his condition.
God's people had "played the harlot" (Hosea 2:5) by forsaking the true and living God to look unto the idols in the land - "my lovers" - for "my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink." Hence, God Himself "hedged up" their way - raised up difficulties, troubles, sorrows, and pains - to hold back or impede their progress in pursuing after their "lovers" so that they had no other recourse then to turn around and return to Him.
Because the people of God walked in the crooked paths of sin, He "hedged" them about to the extent whereby they were greatly oppressed and distressed - finding no way of escape or deliverance from their affliction.
3. Broken Down By God
Psalm 80:12 says - "Why hast Thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her?"
Psalm 89:40 says - "Thou hast broken down all his hedges..."
Isaiah 5:5 says - "And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up..."
Throughout the Scriptures, God's people are depicted as a "noble vine" (Jeremiah 2:21) - planted in a fruitful vineyard and protected with a wall or enclosure from being trodden down or injured by travelers or wild beasts. However, due to sin, this God-given wall of defense or very thick fence of thorns was withdrawn - making them an easy prey for their enemies to come in and devour them.
4. Made Up By Man
Ezekiel 13:5 says - "Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD."
Ezekiel 22:30 says - "And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none."
The Prophet Ezekiel was instructed by God to prophesy against the "foolish prophets" in the land who were prophesying out of their own hearts - speaking "vanity" and seeing lies (Ezekiel 13). Rather than profiting the people by preaching repentance from their sins, these "prophets" sought only to please them with flattering promises and false prophesies of things to come.
In the "wall" of protection about God's people, there were "gaps" or breaches. God Himself was approaching as an enemy - ready to pour out His wrath and judgment on them. It was the job of these leaders to "make up the hedge" by preaching repentance and holiness of living - while calling the nation back to God so that His wrath would be averted. A deluge of wickedness, profaneness, immorality, and ungodliness was breaking forth upon the land, but these leaders did nothing to stem its tide.
Besides the Prophets, God looked for one "intercessor" like Moses to "stand in the gap" for the people. Sin made a "gap" in the wall of protection about the people of God. The prophets were "devouring souls" and taking the "treasure and precious things"; the "priests" were "violating the law" and putting "no difference between the holy and the profane" and the "unclean and the clean" (Ezekiel 22:25-26). As a result, the goodness of God was running out and evil was pouring in upon the people.
5. Characterized The Corrupt Leaders
Micah 7:4 says - "The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge..."
Nahum 3:17 says - "Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers, which camp in the hedges in the cold day, but when the sun ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are."
The Prophet Micah "set the stage" for us. The "good man" was "perished out of the earth"; there were "none upright among men"; they "lie in wait for blood"; every man "hunted...his brother with a net"; they were doing "evil" "earnestly" "with both hands"; the "princes" were asking for a "reward"; the "great man" was uttering "mischievous" desires (Micah 7).
Sin was corrupting the nation. Hence, the "princes," "judges," and "great men" - the "best of them" and "most upright" - were perverting justice and growing more crooked than ever. Instead of offering the people protection, like a sharp "thorn-hedge," they brought injury to the people. They robbed, wounded, and brought great suffering to all those who came in contact with them.
The Prophet Nahum described the leaders in a different light. He pictured them as "locusts" or "grasshoppers" who would typically "camp in the hedges" - the fertile spots - benumbed by the cold weather. As soon as the sun was arisen with its heat, they flew away. Likewise, these leaders liked to camp down in their "easiness." However, as soon as trouble or calamity arose, they fled and sought for their own safety.
6. Created By Slothfulness
The way of duty for the "slothful man" is pictured as a "hedge of thorns." He imagines thousands of difficulties along his path. He sees his way strewn with thorns, briers, and fences - hardships or dangers - that make it literally impossible to get a job done.
In summary, are you aware that there is a "hedge of protection" about your life, family, and possessions as long as you walk in holiness and righteousness before the Lord? You need not walk in fear or anxiety any longer - concerning what the future holds or what the enemy might do in your life. You are protected today!
Just remember - It is sin in your life that produces "gaps" or lets the wall down and makes you an easy target for the devil and all evil to move in and ravage you and your home.
At this time in your life, do you feel as though God has hedged you in - offering no way of escape from your troubles? Ask yourself these questions - are my circumstances a trial of my faith as in the case of Job, or have I sinned in pursuing after other things to meet my needs or bring satisfaction to my life? Are my difficulties, troubles, sorrows, pains, oppression, and depression the result of my walking in the crooked paths of sin?
Take a look at your cities and nation. Because of corruption, perversion, and widespread immorality, has God withdrawn His protection - whereby every "wild beast" has free reign to ravage in the land?
Are all of the Preachers fulfilling their duty before God and men by "standing in the gap" and "making up the hedge" against the wrath and judgment of Almighty God by preaching a message of repentance and holiness of living? Are we, as the Church, "making up the hedge" in intercessory prayer for our wayward friends, family members, cities, and nation so that God will not destroy them? Or are we too busy pursuing our own agenda and building our own kingdom?
Have some of our leaders - political as well as spiritual - become "sharper than a thorn hedge" - perverting justice and twisting truth, accruing to the corruption in their own hearts? Have others resorted to the mannerisms of the "locust" and "grasshopper" in that they choose the "easy" or non confrontational way rather than oppose evil or error and, as a result, flee when the "heat" is on?
Due to a lifestyle of slothfulness and complacency, have you allowed your imagination to build a "hedge of thorns" - to create insurmountable fears, difficulties, hardships, and dangers which seek to convince you that you cannot obey God in what He is asking of you?
The Lord can use anything to bring a people to their senses.
He can use anything to cause a people to come to their knees.
Today, let's allow Him to use the "hedge" to speak Truth to our hearts and to draw us into a closer walk with Him.
Then it can be said of us -
"But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence." (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)