“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30 KJV)
One of the critical aspects of intercessory prayer is praying for a hedge of protection. The hedge as a metaphor for spiritual protection is used at least five time in the Bible to describe God’s means of protecting both individuals and nations, Israel in particular. In each context it affords us a view beyond the veil that separates the natural from the spiritual world and gives us a glimpse into the spiritual warfare that is often required for the fulfillment of God’s purposes.
Our first introduction to the hedge of protection is in the book of Job. Here we see Satan asking God for access to afflict Job. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side?” (Job 1:10) This hedge was obviously placed there by God to protect Job and was so effective that even Satan could not get at him. As the story unfolds we see what can happen when God removes a hedge and how even in doing so He uses it to work good in Job’s life by giving him a deeper revelation of Himself.
Next, we discover in the book of Isaiah how God prophesies of His intention to remove His hedge of protection from Israel, here likened to a vineyard, because of her waywardness. “And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down.” (Isaiah 5:5) In this instance we again see God removing the hedge with the intention of ultimately turning Israel back to Him.
We find a nuance to this hedge metaphor in the book of Hosea. The prophet Hosea was married to a woman named Gomer who had a history of unfaithfulness. God purposely used her as an allegory for the nation of Israel and in the process lets Hosea and us in on a spiritual warfare secret. He says “Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’” (Hosea 2:6-7)
To fully understand the import of what God is doing here one must read the entire chapter, but for the sake of brevity I will summarize. The “hedge of thorns” that God places around Gomer effectively is used to separate her from all the evil influences in her life. It ultimately is meant to bring her to the end of herself, to her senses and to a place of repentance before her husband and God.
You will notice that her confession to herself, “I will go and return . . . for it was better for me then and now”, is basically the same confession the prodigal son made when he came to his senses in the familiar parable of Jesus. When the prodigal found himself with the pigs and was finally fed up with his wayward lifestyle he confessed he had been better off in his father’s house and determined “I will set out and go back to my father.” (Luke 15:17-18)
Can you see how praying for God to place a hedge of thorns around those who are wayward is a powerful intercession principle? This type of prayer can be used in interceding for both individuals and groups of people who are wandering from God, including prodigals, rebellious children, wayward spouses and even the nations.
It must be said that this is not just a good idea or even something to be considered as an option. It is a necessity if we are going to be effective in interceding for God’s purposes to be fulfilled in the lives of people we know and love.
God spoke sovereignly through the prophet Ezekiel on two separate occasions pleading for intercessors who will step up and “make up a hedge.” “Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD.” Ezekiel 13:5 KJV) “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30 KJV)
Will you answer the call to step up and be a hedge builder from a place of prayer? Praying a hedge of protection over those whom God considers precious can be the difference maker for their prodigal return.
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