In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Man and woman were created to have dominion over the world. (Gen. 1:27-31; 2:15) To take care of it. To manage it and to take pleasure in having the dirt under their fingers. The very dirt from which they were formed. (Gen. 2:7) And just as the breath of God brought the dirt His hands had formed to life (Gen. 2:7; Ps. 139:13-16), so the Garden planted by God would provide and sustain for mankind. In a mutually self-perpetuating and life-increasing positive feedback loop.
That is, until they betrayed God. Til they departed from His ways of life. (Gen. 3:1-7) Till they believed the lie that He was holding out on them and that there was something more they could have that would increase their life, their meaning, their pleasure (Gen. 3:4-5)—even though all they had was already very good, free from sin, entropy or decay. (Gen 1:31)
And the result was consequences. An eternal lesson. For one of the results was that the earth no longer yielded its strength to mankind. (Gen. 3:17-19; 4:12) But rather thorns and thistles would emerge. They would grow at will. Without their effort. And only by great toil could they rip those thorns out of the ground and carve out fields, gardens, vineyards and orchards that would provide the necessities of life and joy in the midst of sorrow.
Thorns. An eternal reminder of our rebellion against God. Of our work by which we think we might steal from God greater blessings than He in His grace is already pleased to give. But like most get-rich quick schemes, it backfired. It produced the opposite. Not wisdom, knowledge, or ease. Not greater kinship with God. Instead it cut them off from He who is the very source of life. (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:19) It created the chaos, oppression, and tyranny we see everywhere. It made life-giving work into meaningless drudgery. Now thorns are a perpetual reminder of our trust in ourselves rather than in Him who spoke all things into existence by His Word and whose Word is life. (John 6:63; Isa. 55:10-11) For man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3)
Which means that not only does His word physically sustain the universe which it made (Heb. 1:3), but His Word sustains you. His Word enters into you striking your sinful self-possession dead, and raising up a new you in His image—focussed outwardly, not inwardly, on others, not on yourself, in love toward your neighbour as you are called by God to take up the crosses (Luke 9:23-26) of spouse, parent, worker, citizen, and any other good work God places in your path.
So whenever you are out in the field, or the garden, and you have to tear out a thorn—and you don’t have proper leather work gloves (Gen. 3:21) and its pricks through causing you to bleed—that is a reminder and consequence of our first father’s sin. (Gen. 3:17-19) A lesson we must learn over and over through out all our days. That man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. (Deut. 8:3)
Whenever you are doing your work in your house, or family, or place of business, and some thorny problem encroaches and gets in way—causing you grief, sweat, concern, lost time, lost wages, lost productivity, angst and frustration—that is a reminder and consequence of our first father’s sin. A lesson that you must learn by banging your head against that wall again and again. Because we are so slow to learn that the word of Lord is salvation. (Ps. 119:41-42, 81, 105, 114, 160-162, etc.) Not the work of your own hands. Not the schemes of your own heart.
But the thorns of life that rise up in your path not only serve as a judgement on sin, and a call to repentance, they also serve as a distraction. For apart from the Word of the Lord telling you why thorns exist and what their purpose is, you would never think of it when you encounter the thorny difficulties of life. Nor the unbearable tragedies of existence in this vale of tears. Without Him teaching us their meaning (Luke 8:9-10), we would simply struggle on through getting side tracked and distracted by them. Cursing the thorns for our lost time and wages, for suffering and sorrow they cause.
And they can take up so much of your time that you become totally focussed on them. For the basic needs of life—food and shelter—are always impacted by the thorns God cursed our sinful world with. And focussed on the thorns of life, you stop paying attention to things that need attention. For instance, focussed on your problems at work you neglect your family, your physical health, your faith, etc. And there is more than one kind of thorn out there: the anxieties and riches and pleasures of daily life, which means bodily needs. (Luke 8:14) Your father knows you need your bodily needs, oh you of little faith. (Luke 12:29-31) But fleshly pleasures distract and ensnare you so badly that they can leave you broken down by the side of road. A hit and run of your lusts and passions which you didn’t hold in check. And they can lay waste to vast swathes of your life, whether it be addiction to things like food or gluttony; or the pursuit of sexual pleasure, which inevitably leaves you broken in heart, body and relationships; or venting your rage at the injustice of this world on any who come near you; or the pursuit of material things to the eternal diminishment of your faith and soul. There is more than one kind of thorn. But all them equally deadly to you spiritually and ultimately to you doing any good for anyone else in this world. And when you lift your head up from your focus on your own belly button from time to time to ask why there is so much suffering in world, if you ever venture to gaze in the mirror of God’s law (Rom. 3:20), you will be told one message: you are the source of the suffering you see around you. You with your focus on yourself. On the thorns that are choking out the word of God sown in you. Repent.
For thorns of life have a purpose. God cursed Adam and Eve—and all humanity with them—to constantly remind them of the sin that is crouching at their door which desires to gobble them whole. (Gen. 4:7) It is a constant reminder and call to repentance. To orient yourselves rightly. Which means to have faith in God. To live from His Word. (John 17:17; Ps. 119:105) To trust in His salvation. To let that articulate into every aspect of your life, so that streams of living water truly flow in your heart and from your heart to others hearts. (John 7:37-38; 4:10-15)
The thorns that God puts your “patch of earth” have a purpose: to humble you. (2 Cor. 12:7-9) For God has been gracious and merciful to you. He has given you His Son Jesus Christ, who—at great cost to Himself—has paid the full penalty of your sins. (John 19:30) Who by the thorns that crowned His head and caused His precious blood to flow, has paid for Adam’s sin and the curse of the sweat of the brow with the blood of His brow. (John 19:2; Her 9:22) Whose blood flowed freely down His face, from His wounds, out his side, for you. To purchase you. To cause you to die to yourself. To be reborn. In Him. In His image. With His mind. (1 Cor. 2:14-16) A mind not obsessed with thorns, but crowned by them. Aware of the suffering they cause to all. A mind which knows His call to take up your cross in faith. (Luke 9:23-26) To sacrifice yourself in service to others. To lessen the burdens of others and help them confront the thorns in their life which diminish their faith and choke out the word of God planted in them. (Luke 8:7, 14)
For we are all soil. For from dust we came and to dust we shall return. (Gen. 3:19) Without the breath of God in Adam he was but dust. (Gen. 2:7) But with the breath of God—with that Word of God which is the seed of life (Luke 8:11), with the Holy Breath of His Spirit (Gen. 2:7; Eph. 6:17) which is the quickening force of faith—planted in you that Word breathes forth from your mouth in creed and confession, in prayer and praise.
So that you aligned with God you are good soil (Luke 8:8, 15) which produces miraculously one hundredfold. Far above all you could ask or imagine. (Eph. 3:20) Beyond what is realistic or pragmatic into what can only comes from God. Life itself. To the full. (John 10:10) Abundant seed which then is dropped by those same seed heads growing in you onto the dirt that is near you. Onto the dirt that has been weeded by gardeners called into His vineyard, His Eden, His Church, by the same word which was planted in you.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.