Job wants out. “I give,” he cries. Life, or what’s left of it, is just too hard. Everything he worked for, his herds and flocks, were gone. Everything he sacrificed for, his children, gone too. Everything he drew on to deal with the day, his health, up in smoke. Too much, he says. I wish I had never been born, he says. Not sure, I can keep on keepin’ on, or even want to, he says. The seasons of gains not worth the losses. No hope in sight. His spirit broken. All he could see was the hedge.
“Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not, and dig for it more than for hidden treasures, who rejoice exceedingly and are glad when they find the grave? Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?” ~ Job
(Job 3:20-23 ESV)
One of those mornings when something I think I’ve never noticed before jumps off the page. I’ve read the book of Job many times over the past 38 years. In fact, it was the topic of my first ever young adults Sunday School bible study shortly after I was saved. So, if you were to ask to me what the book of Job says about a hedge I’d immediately go to Satan’s rebuttal of God’s boast of Job as a man who was blameless, upright, feared God, and shunned evil:
“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have You not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face.” ~ Satan
(Job 1:9b-11 ESV)
It’s the hedge, Satan counters, it’s the fence You’ve built around him. You’ve surrounded him with Your protective wall. You’ve enveloped him within Your ever abiding care. And within the hedge he has known great blessings. Within the hedge he has experienced seasons of prosperity. But let me in the hedge, hisses Satan, and let’s see what happens.
And it occurs to me that’s what happened–adversity had entered through the hedge.
It’s not that God had removed the hedge. Not like it had been taken down. Job knew it was still there. He couldn’t see beyond it in his suffering, but he knew it was there. The hedge loomed so large Job thought no one could see him, that his way was hidden. That he was alone. That he had been abandoned. But, in fact, God’s hedge of protection was still about him. Satan having been let in, but with limited latitude.
It struck me as kind of ironic. In chapter one the hedge is the reason for blessing. In Job three it is the imposing question mark of suffering. But it’s still the hedge, God’s unfailing wall of protection.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
(1Corinthians 10:13 ESV)
No temptation except what God has permitted. No trial beyond what God has allowed. Nothing within the hedge that God has not let pass through His fingers. Nothing beyond our ability to weather in the power of His strength. Nothing we can’t endure through His all sufficient grace.
God is faithful. The hedge stands fast. By His grace. For His glory.
Praise God for the hedge!