“Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”
It was a common occurrence in Joshua’s day for the owner of a vineyard to build a hedge about his vineyard. The purpose of this hedge was to keep the wild animals from getting into the vineyard and destroying the grapes. This hedge that they grew had thorns in it. In other words, the foxes that tried to chew through the hedge would literally chew on the thorns of the hedge until their mouth was bloody just to get into the vineyard.
It is very clear in the Scriptures that God builds a hedge around His children. Satan asked God in Job 1:10, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” This hedge has two purposes in the child of God’s life. First, it is there to keep out anything that God felt would harm His child.
Second, it is there to keep the child of God from going to the world. In other words, if a believer chooses to leave the ways of the LORD, they are choosing to go through the prickly thorns just to get to the worldly way. This is why the verse above says, “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides…” In other words, these people were playing in the thorns. Had they avoided the hedge that God placed around them and obeyed what He told them to do, they would never be pricked by the thorns that were there to protect them. Let me give you a few thoughts about the importance of the hedge that God has placed about you.
First, you wouldn’t think the hedge is bad if you were not playing in the thorns. One of the reasons many people get upset over all the “rules” they are to live by is because they are playing in the thorns. The rules God ordained for the believer to live by are not grievous if they are not playing in the thorns. My friend, no rule that God has given you would be restrictive if you just stayed inside the rules. The rules of holiness that God has set in place only become hurtful when a person is trying to get to the world. If you stayed within the confines of God’s Word, everything He established to help you enjoy life would not prick you at all.
Second, the same rules that many call restrictive and harmful are the same rules that keep others from sin. The difference of perspective between the hedge that God has set about his children is whether the child of God is playing in the thorns or working in the vineyard. If you are serving the LORD and trying to avoid the world, no rule would ever be harmful or restrictive to any believer. No teenager would hate their parent’s rules if they understood those rules are there to keep them from destroying their life in the world. No believer would ever think God’s rules of holiness are keeping them from having fun if they understood that the God who loves them is trying to protect them from the harm the worldly lifestyle brings. If you don’t play in the thorns, the thorns become your wall of protection from sin.
Let me ask you, are you looking at how God asks you to live in a negative manner? Do you think God’s rules of holiness are keeping you from enjoying life? If you are, you are playing in the thorny hedge that God intended to use to protect you from sin. Let me encourage you to get busy serving in the vineyard, and you will learn to appreciate the thorny hedge that others tend to despise.