Oh God, set in place a hedge of protection! Hah! The permissive will of God most definitely allows storms of life, and we have grown to expect the hedge. Newsflash: God is more interested in your relationship with him than your success or blessing in this world…
9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “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. 11 But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
One of the Christianese prayers we pray is for God to set in place a hedge of protection around someone or something to protect it from harm or sin. We see in Job 1 where this idea comes from. Satan’s perspective was that God had put a hedge of protection around Job, which is why Job was such a faithful servant of the Lord’s.
God’s response was to permit the removal of the hedge.
How would you deal with the removal of your hedge of protection? Seems crazy doesn’t it? Why would God remove his protection from us? It’s actually difficult to know in our lives when we are under God’s specific protection and when we are more exposed. The permissive will of God most definitely allows storms of life to affect us.
We see this clearly in the example of the storm Jesus’ followers are rowing through in Mark 6. His followers left one side of the lake before Jesus, and they were caught in a terrible storm in which they feared for their lives. Jesus came walking along on the top of the water, and we read in Mark 6:48 that Jesus was about to pass by them when they cried out to him.
He was about to pass by them. The Mark 6 and Job 1 stories are, to me, essential theology for 21st century western nations. We have grown to expect the hedge.
In fact, one of the truest evils of the false gospel of prosperity is that we deserve protection and success – that we are entitled to it by claiming God’s promises. Get your heads out of your bums, people. These ideas of entitlement, prosperity and superiority are simply perversions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
God is more interested in your relationship with him than he is with your success or blessing in this world.
We see the proof of this in Job’s life, in Peter’s life as he is tested and falls and then is restored, in Israel in their exile to Babylon, and in the storm of Mark 6. God is all-too-willing to remove the hedge either to prove our faith or test our faith.
Our response to this idea (check your heart) is likely in the wrong place. Our focus is on what we will lose or what is at risk or how difficult the test might be. Am I right? Few of us contemplate these ideas and respond with the idea that as long as I do not lose my relationship with God and as long as he is glorified, may it be what it will be.
We continue to put earthly things ahead of the Lord. We will see that Job gets it right as we continue to read his story. Will we get it right and find our contentment only in God? Not in our families or spouses and certainly not our careers or possessions… we have some work to do in our faith.