Through the Prophet Isaiah, God promised to deliver His beloved, but rebellious people, Israel from their sins and resulting punishment. He let them know that the future He had in mind for them was far above and beyond anything they could comprehend:
You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.” (Isaiah 55:12-13)
Sin and the Fall
The thorns and the nettles described here are physical manifestations of man’s fallen spiritual condition. In Genesis 3:17 God cursed the ground because of the sin of Adam and Eve. From that point until now - and until the earth is finally redeemed - the weeds and thorns have slowed progress and have continually frustrated our labor.
In the Bible, the word “thorns” is used to represent sin and it’s resulting curse as well as worthless and ungodly people. Physical thorns were often gathered from the fields and used to fuel the ovens. A clear foreshadowing of the fate of the unproductive and wicked.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus uses thorns to represent worry, the deceitfulness of wealth, earthly desires and the illicit pursuit of pleasure. (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8) Clearly all these people and things have horrific potential to slow our spiritual progress and frustrate our spiritual growth and endeavors.
Leaning on God
The Apostle Paul instructs us that thorns are not always easily discarded. When that is the case, God expects us to lean on Him. He tells us, God’s “power is perfected in [our] weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) It is important to note that while Paul glorified IN infirmity, he did not make the mistake so many do by glorifying THE infirmity.
Worry & Distraction
Thorns are also a metaphor for distraction. While Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learned, Martha was distracted with much serving. (Luke 10:38-42). While service is often a beautiful thing, it turns sour when it takes precious time away from our relationship with the Master. When this happens, service is no longer useful and instead becomes another thorn in our life. One of the Psalmists models the better way when he says, “I will fix my eyes on your ways.” (Psalm 119:15)
Worry and Distraction take us away from the joy and peace God has designed for us. Jesus instructed us to avoid anxiety about life, food and clothing. Rather, He encouraged us to consider the lilies and the birds which are gloriously clothed and abundantly cared for yet never worry for anything. (Matthew 6)
Changing our Minds
Paul provides good advice for replacing our worrisome mindset with more noble thoughts, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
This “renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2) transforms our thinking and sets us in the heavenlies with God. From His vantage point everything earthly seems appropriately small.
In one of the most stunning turn-arounds in history, satan used his cursed thorny weapons in a most horrid and unimaginable way. He had thorns crafted into a crown and plunged into the skull of our Savior. As usual, however, what satan intended for harm, God had a plan for good. This atrocious and abusive act released the precious blood of Jesus onto the thorns proclaiming forever that He has overcome the curse and reigns supreme over every thorn that attempts to influence our lives.
Liberty & Fruitfulness
So, the next time you face sin, evil people, worthless people, worry, distraction, temptation or any thorny attack, just remind the enemy of your soul that Jesus paid the price through His precious blood. You are no longer subject to the thorns. Enjoy your liberty to be fruitful and multiply!
Please let me know how we can pray for you.