The Sacred Hedge
It's prevalent in churches everywhere. It's often part of the "prosperity" gospel. It generally goes something like this..."If you are faithful to God, he will provide a hedge of protection for you." Have you heard that? Listen to a few prayers and often times it will come up. We love the idea of God protecting His children. It's biblical right?
Preachers will often look to Job 1:10 where it reads "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land."
This passage indicates that God puts a hedge of protection around His children. Let's back up and see the context. God and Satan are having a conversation about this man, Job. Who speaks the words of verse 10? Oh! Satan? I wonder if we should be taking our cues from him? God doesn't acknowledge that He has done such a thing for Job.
Another passage is from Isaiah 5:5 records an illustration of God removing the hedge from His vineyard, Israel, that it may be destroyed. God had chosen the nation of Israel as His people to bring about salvation to the world through Jesus. Israel was God's plan, but they had been disobedient again and again; Isaiah was letting them know that destruction was coming. The question raised for me is if this implies that God had protected this nation from trouble? I would say, from my reading and understanding, yes the Lord went before them in battle. They were victorious again and again. Does God's protection of His plan make it safe to apply to us as individuals?
Who doesn't want God to put a hedge of protection around themselves, their children, & their families? Is this really a promise from God? I've heard it said that if you are obedient to God, He promises a hedge of protection.
I ask: What about Stephen? He took a stand for God and was stoned.Where was his hedge? What about Peter? Church tradition holds that he was crucified upside down. Paul? Beheaded. What about the 1,000's of Christians in Rome who were killed for their faith? Where was their hedge?
Here's what I've found in regards to God's promises about my personal protection:
- "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matthew 10:22)
- "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted," (2 Timothy 3:12)
History has shown that God's people suffer for being obedient. Where is this elusive hedge? How would one preach this message in India, China, North Korea and other places where people face beatings, imprisonment, and death for obedience to Christ?
I believe this "sacred hedge" is wishful thinking at best. It is misguiding; and for those who suffer, it is repulsive.
The Apostle Paul, in his final letter to Timothy, says "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,...That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (2 Timothy 1:8, 12)
Paul accepted suffering (a lack of this hedge) gladly because Jesus promised it. Jesus also showed us that our citizenship is not on this earth and the things that it has to offer, but we are royalty through Christ's redemption awaiting our eternal home; our true citizenship in is heaven with our Father.
So this hedge...can He do it? Sure. Does He promise it? No.
We walk a dangerous line when we interject our personal opinions and desires into God's Word without regard for what His Word really says. We must be students of the Word so that we are not deceived. Check up on me. Don't take my word for it. Be wise and discerning.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double‑edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
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