Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Thorny Issue No More

Thorns are nasty things.  Varying in size from the small, pinprick type to “nails” multiple inches long able to induce lacerations, we wonder what their purpose is, except to be an annoyance.  And that surmising would not be off target.  The first mention of thorns tells us everything we need to know:
And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
    and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
    ‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
    in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
    and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
    you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
    for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
    and to dust you shall return.”  (Ge 3:17-19)
There you have it.  Thorns were placed on earth to be the fruit of our labors.  Because Adam sinned, he suffered the travail and ignominy of his choice.  By taking matters into his own hands and going his own way, the return was ruined.  Weeds (thorns, thistles, etc.) germinate sooner than useful plants and will choke out seedlings if not addressed.

The ramifications of the Fall are not exclusively physical but have a spiritual component.  When the Word of God goes forth, it may be received well enough, but can be choked out by the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches, producing nothing (Mt 13:7, 22).  Further, the elect will be affected if not guarding themselves concerning intimate association with the unrighteous and wicked:
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell.  (Nu 33:55)

Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
    whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.  (Pr 22:5)
As much as thorns need to be removed for good growth, we are incapable of eradicating them.  Sure, measures have been developed to address the problem, but they simply cannot prevent thorns from growing anew.  Cyclically, the battle is engaged as our renewed attempts to weed are met with continued inroads and infiltration.  We simply are unable to prevent the encroachment—and the same goes for our lawns, farms, and gardens.  What we need is an effective panacea to combat all forms of the problem.  There is a remedy, and ironically, thorns were initially part of the solution.

Because thorns were introduced as part of the condemnation for sin, the underlying problem needed to be dealt with: the sin problem had to be rectified.  In order to accomplish this, the Lord Jesus came into this world, took on a human nature, and bore the curse that was rightfully ours (Ga 3:13).  As part of the great work of redemption, He took the very thorns that were part of the curse as a derisive, mocking crown (Mt 27:29; Mr 15:17; Joh 19:2, 5).  He wore on His head the symbol of what He would bear on the cross for you and me.  The One who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Co 5:21).  The clearing work is done.  Our souls are clean by believing that He paid our sin for us.

You might notice that there are still vestiges of the curse about us.  Those thorns still catch us.  Clearing is still needed for good growth.  We go to the Lord daily for the nourishment of His word and promise.  He does that weeding on our behalf, because we continue to live in this world.  We confess our sin before God, expecting absolution from One who is faithful to forgive us.  We feed on our Lord Jesus regularly, being built up in our most holy faith.  We are led by the Holy Spirit according to the preached Word.  We await the final day when the thorns will finally be removed, not just spiritually but physically:
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lᴏʀᴅ,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.  (Is 55:13)
I cannot imagine having a field clear of these pesky plants, but there is the promise.  Indeed, Isaiah records much that God has planned to restore what was ruined through Adam’s sin (Is 54:1-56:8). From the Israelite to the foreigner, God will join us to Himself in everlasting peace.  And what was the cost to do this?  Only the most precious gift that could be given, His Son, who was willing to go and take the blows for us (Is 52:13-53:12).  What is expected of us then?  sing (Is 54:1); cease fear (Is 54:4); rest in comfort (Is 54:11-17); be satisfied (Is 55:1-13); trust (Is 56:1-8).  There is nothing to do but receive the abundant grace of God.

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