The Hedge of God
S. King, Walton-on-Naze
Jehovah, from the earliest ages of man's history, has called out a separated people along clearly -defined paths, hedged about by His own spoken and written Word. In direct contrast to the confusion and chaos of men's efforts to build their own Systems, He has called out and still does call out a slender rill of faithful men to follow His own appointed way. It is not surprising that a well-worn path of Separation has now been trodden by His sanctified saints down to this present day of Grace.
We can become separated to God, from a Satan-dominated world, only by complete obedience to His revealed Word. In these days of decline and departure from the whole counsel of God, when the majority of men are doing that which is right in their own eyes, we would do well to guard jealously the hedge of divine principles for the assembly, which God has placed around us in the completed instructions of His Word.
Israel—an object lesson. We read that Israel was to be a peculiar treasure unto Jehovah (for His own possession) above all people. They were His vineyard of His own planting (Isa. 5, 1-7; Mark 12. 1-9), around which He set a hedge. The hedge of the Holy Law, the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) with its services, the provision of the Priesthood, and sacrifices. Furthermore, He gathered out the stones from the Land, in dealing with the Canaanites; and He built a tower in the midst of it, speaking of Jerusalem the city where lie would place His Name, from which His priests and prophets could watch against any spiritual foe. Also, the wine-press was built and the wine-vat dug to receive the juice, symbolic of the Temple filled with the fruit of worship and praise.
On this privileged people, to whom pertained the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, no effort was spared, no more could have been done to make them a peculiar people unto Himself. But after patient waiting, they only brought forth wild grapes of rebellion and corruption, making it necessary for the hedge to be eaten up, and the wall to be broken down. They are now trodden down by the Gentile nations, and laid "waste in the barrenness of unbelief, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. What an important warning to the people of God in our day and generation, that in spite of a privileged position, they became a. backslidden people.
The Church of God. In the Song of Solomon, there is brought before us in beautiful type, Christ the Heavenly Bridegroom, and His Bride, the Church; but in chapter 4. 12-16 and 5. 1 another metaphor is used of the Church, viz., "a garden inclosed." Like: unto the garden of Eden, God planted it—the work of His Own Hands, showing His personal interest and pleasure in each individual plant. Every tree which is pleasant to the sight, and good for food—a rich variety of every kind, and every one in its place and with a work to do.
This garden, too, is a garden inclosed or fenced by the hedge of God, even the Word of God with its perfect instructions concerning assembly life and witness. This hedge, inclosing a highly-privileged people, is a clear lino of demarcation to stop worldly encroachments. The inclosed Church is His private property, and should be wholly clean from infiltration by the world. It is exclusively for Him, and His people should hold themselves reserved for Him, to yield Him the fullest possible satisfaction and delight.
In these days of decay and deviation from the Word of Truth, it is sad to see some of the Lord's people gradually withdrawing from their privileged position; the hedge is being eaten up, the wall broken down, and there is compromise with sectarianism, from which the stones of disobedience have not been taken out. Taking the line of least resistance, instead of the costly - though ultimately blessed - path of separation, will prove more costly in the end. These who have come to the knowledge of the truth, and then compromise it, are leading the young and the uninstructed with them.
On the other hand, we should not seek to hedge off an exclusive part of His garden, hut desire to cultivate personal fellowship with those individuals known for their sound doctrine, holy manner of life, stedfast purpose, and unfeigned faith, so that as fruitful boughs, whose branches run over the wall, we may help others into thy enjoyment of their proper privileges.
The inclosed garden is watered by a well of living waters (S. of Sol. 4. 15), supplied by a spring which is a constant source of freshness. The Holy Spirit alone gives that full and spontaneous flow which ensures continuity of fertility am] growth. The rich variety of the chief spices which flow out of the garden, are the products of grace in His work upon the saints.
Let us remember, that the hedge of hewn stones is the result of very costly and sacrificial work; God has laid the foundations thereof, and set up the gates of it in His own beloved Son, who was made a curse for us. We do well to follow those saints who through the Church age, have kept open the path of separation; not forgetting those modern Ezras and Nehemiahs who, in spite of much opposition, were repairers of the breach, the restorers of paths to dwell in.
In the grateful enjoyment of privileges obtained for us at such cost, let us repudiate sectarianism in principle and practice, and, being inclosed in the hedge of God's planting, seek to be a separated people for His own possession and use.