The vineyard is Israel, and "its hedge" is whatever protects it, anything from material resources to God's Word. What happens to a nation when it loses its defenses? It becomes subject to invasion, since the wall that protected it from marauders, wild beasts, and evil influences is now gone. The Bible depicts the Gentile nations as beasts that rush in when God's people look weak (Isaiah 30:6-7; Jeremiah 50:17).
Amos paints a stark and terrifying picture of life during the time of Jacob's trouble. On one side, natural disasters play havoc with the land and society becomes unstable. On the other side, foreign armies invade, destroying cities, killing indiscriminately and taking the survivors into captivity. Though the physical necessities of life are scarce, the real famine is of the Word of God—truth cannot be found and repentance is all but impossible.
It appears to be an utterly hopeless situation. God is passing through and His anger is just and terrible. But He promises an end—His anger will be spent, and He will spare a remnant. He "will show mercy on whom [He] will show mercy" (Exodus 33:19, KJV).
John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)
Applying this to the church, we have all witnessed the hedge being taken away, and the protection that God had placed around it is not what it once was. In addition, God withholds rain from it, and growth slows or stops altogether.
Many may not have had the opportunity to live on or near a farm, but a hedge, fence, or wall is very important in the protection of the crop. Once when I was out hunting near a cornfield, I noticed that the surrounding forest was covered with corn shucks. Now the field had a fence around it, but it was full of holes and broken down in some places. Varmints could come and go, freely taking the corn off into the cover of the forest to devour it. Since the hedge was broken, the field had no protection from the dangers that were lurking all around!
Ronny H. Graham
The Dew of Heaven
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Isaiah 5:5: