“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “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. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” [Job 1:9-11 (NIV)]
You’ve probably heard people pray for a hedge of protection around friends or family members. Is it an impenetrable bubble that keeps tragedy and trouble at bay or a substance that acts like kryptonite against Satan and protects us from his temptations and deceit?
In Biblical days, hedges of loosely packed stones or thorny bushes were built around livestock and crops to protect them from wild animals and thieves. A hedge in Scripture often represented God’s protective care and we find mention of such a hedge in the book of Job. A wealthy and godly man, Job’s righteousness was challenged by Satan. Questioning the motivation for Job’s blameless behavior, Satan complained that God put a hedge of protection around the man and all his possessions. Wanting to prove that Job only worshiped God because of the blessings he’d received, Satan suggested that once God removed the hedge and Job’s blessings disappeared, rather than worshiping God, the man would curse God to His face! When Job loses his ten children and their families, his workers, his livestock and wealth, and then his health, it becomes clear that no hedge protected him from tragedy.
Satan, however, was wrong about Job cursing God! His righteousness and integrity weren’t because of God’s gifts. Job worshiped God out of love and not as payment for the blessings of health, wealth, and family. Although the afflicted man questioned God’s reasons while trying to sort out his dilemma, he never cursed Him. A hedge didn’t make Job invincible to Satan’s ploy; it was his faith!
Today, COVID-19 is putting us all to the test and, like Job, we find life incomprehensible. Job didn’t know the why of his troubles and we’ll never the why of this pandemic but, like Job, we know who is in charge! Satan thought people believe in God only when they’re prospering under a hedge of protection, not when they suffer loss, pain, or defeat. Are we fair weather believers and only willing to follow God if the road is filled with blessings? Or, like Job, will we stay faithful while experiencing the devastation this disease will leave in its wake? Much will be lost before the crisis passes and it probably won’t be returned two-fold as it was for Job—at least not in this world! Let us rest assured: full restoration will occur in the life to come.
Rather than building a hedge of protection out of rocks or thorny shrubs, let us erect one out of our unshakable faith in a loving God and our confidence that His ultimate purpose will come to pass. While social distancing, sheltering in place, and washing our hands may serve to protect us from this virus, only the armor of God will protect us from Satan!
Anyone can rejoice when things are going reasonably well. But when we’re facing adversity or sickness or hardship or death and then we rejoice, we are obeying God. God is on his throne. He loves you and is watching out for you. So rejoice in the Lord. [Greg Laurie]