I have been thinking a lot lately about the hedge that protects.  I think it is a subject that most Christians give little thought to, but is a subject that is indispensable to living a happy life.

The words “hedge of protection”, as far as I can tell, are only found in the book of Job, but the concept permeates the scriptures.  In the book of Job, we find that the man Job is a righteous man and a wealthy man.  Perhaps the richest man in the world at that time.  Satan pays a heavenly visit to God and God points out the righteous life of Job.  Satan is not impressed and exclaims, “Does he not serve you with good reason?  You, God, have put a hedge of protection around him.  Take that hedge down, and let me have my way with him, and he will curse you!”

God doesn’t hedge his bet, but removes the hedge, and we all know the tragedies, heartache and suffering that Job went on to endure.

I believe most Christians cringe when they think about all that Job had to go through once the hedge of protection was removed.  I know I do.  The last thing I want to see happen is God’s hedge of protection taken away from me.  I hate pain and suffering of any kind, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual.  I guess we all do.  God realizes that, thus, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus instructs us to pray, in the King James version, and most versions, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One.”

Dallas Willard, and other Bible scholars say that God never leads us into temptation, and that a better translation would be “save us from the time of trial and deliver us from the Evil One.”  The idea here is that we we go through times of trial, times of trouble, times of pain, we are tempted to sin by despair, worry, anger, or rejecting God.  When things are going well we are less likely be tempted to sin in these ways.

When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are really asking God to keep his hedge of protection around us.  We are asking God to keep us safe in our travels, secure in our jobs, strong in health and surrounded by angels.  Which we desperately need, because our enemy, the devil, is constantly on the prowl like a lion, seeking to devour us, destroy us and kill us.

I think of the hedge of protection much like I think of the sheep pens of Jesus time.  A rock wall that kept the sheep safe at sheep pennight from wolves, bears and lions.  I’ve heard that the shepherd slept in the doorway to the sheep pen to protect the sheep from intruders and thieves, thus Jesus says, “I am the door.”  Jesus is an important part of our hedge of protection.

Sometimes we suffer for lack of the hedge.  As noted earlier with Job, sometimes God himself removes the hedge to show up the devil and to show the world and to show us that we do not worship and ultimately trust the hedge of protection, but the God of the hedge.

Another reason that the hedge doesn’t always protect us, is that we climb over the hedge.  We leave it.  We don’t like boundaries.  We we want to be free.  The prodigal son was like that.  He had super hedge at his father’s house, but he didn’t want to be hedged in, so he left, and outside the hedge he suffered much.

When we deliberately sin, we voluntarily leave our loving Heavenly Father’s hedge of protection and suffer the consequences.  In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also tells us to pray that the Father’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  When we are inside God’s will, we are most likely inside the hedge.

I am not saying that anytime a Christian suffers he or she is outside the will of God, but I am saying that God loves us and wants us to happy, and as a general principle we are happier doing His Will, and living inside the hedge.  Sometimes we do suffer the effects of other people’s sinful choices or the attacks of Satan, while inside the hedge, and it is during these times that we can sing out like Martin Luther, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing.”

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A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Martin Luther

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