Friday, February 25, 2011


The Rose, as a metaphor for life, can be seen in the saying, "With the Rose, comes the thorns." It is much like the saying, "You have to take the bitter with the sweet." The Bible refers to a similar contrast in the Song of Solomon, "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters" (2:2). The word "thorns" appears forty-seven times in Scripture, and if you are like me, you haven't paid much attention to it. I have just assumed that thorns are bad things, something undesirable, and something to be avoided.

The existence of thorns in our world is the direct result of man's sin. God punished Adam's transgression by removing him from a perfect Utopia, placing him in a world requiring hard work, and filled with challenges (Gen. 3:17-19). One of those negative consequences was the creation of thorns (Gen. 3:18).

Another negative use of thorns in the Bible refers to those who oppose the people of God in the Land of Promise. God told Israel to drive all non-Jews from their land, warning them that if they failed to do so, they would continually be a "thorn in their sides" (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Jud. 2:3). Thorns are also viewed in a negative light when in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus uses thorns as a metaphor for the "care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches" (Matt. 13:7, 22).

The Apostle Paul experienced a "thorn in the flesh," given him by God to keep him from being proud (2 Cor. 12:1-10). No one knows for certain what the "thorn" was, but some have speculated it had to do with his eyesight (Acts 13:11; Gal. 4:13-15; 6:11, 17). Then there is the ultimate negative use of thorns having to do with our Lord's crucifixion. Matthew, Mark, and John all record the torture of Jesus with a crown of thorns being driven into His scalp (Matt. 27:29; Mk. 15:17; Jn. 19:2). I cannot explain why Luke, the physician (Col. 4:14), would omit such a traumatic physical event, but he did.

The Bible also speaks of thorns as serving man in a positive way. In Hosea 2:6, God told Hosea that He would use a hedge of thorns to prevent his wife, Gomer, from leaving to commit adultery. And while the hedge God placed around Job may not have been made of thorns, it certainly served to protect him from Satan's desire to afflict him (Job 1:10). Hedges, presumably made of thorn bushes were used as a form of fortification against the enemies of Israel (1 Chron. 4:23; Ezek. 13:5; 22:30; Matt. 21:33; etc.). Ironically, both Job and Jeremiah complain because they viewed the hedge around them as a negative thing (Job. 3:23; Lam. 3:7).

The view one has of thorns has much to do with the purpose they are serving. If they protect the Rose from wildlife, they are a good thing. If they are a fortification against our enemy, they are good. If they are serving as a punishment, or as an impediment, then they are still good, because God has them there for a reason (Rom. 8:28). It is easy to thank God for the Rose, but the mature Christian can also thank Him for the thorns.

No comments:

Post a Comment