Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thorns are for Thrones

By Jack Davis

Genesis 3:17-18, “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…”

Thorns seem to have different applications in Scripture. We realize that God had some reasons for allowing them. They are here spoken of as the future product of the fallen creation. The fruit of sin is always the cause of suffering and pain. All that the old creation can produce contains ugliness and uselessness.

Hebrews 6:7,9 – “For the earth that drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God…But beloved we are persuaded better things of you, and the things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” The better things come to and out of a new creation. Then by contrast in verse 8 we read of that which pertains to the old creation, “That which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing: whose end is to be burned.” He is here speaking of rejectors that finally become the rejected, in symbolic terms.

THE OLD CREATION DETHRONED: Matthew 7:16,19, “…Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?…Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” This was done provisionally at Calvary, and yet the root of our fallen nature remains. We are left with something to overcome, which must be judged, reckoned or counted dead. It eventually becomes evident whether we have been living after the dictates of the old or the new life. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

God had promised to drive the nations in the land of Canaan out before Israel. “BEFORE YOU!” When you march forward in God’s will you will win! “Forward still! ‘Tis Jehovah’s will!” He promises to bruise Satan beneath the saints feet. He uses our feet as we walk by faith and not by sight. Many years later remnants of those nations still were there in the land. Israel had not gone forward completely in all the will of God. Yet God used those Canaanites to prove and correct Israel, teaching them their need to be completely dependent upon God. So He told them that those “Ites” that remained would be THORNS in their sides. We may see these old creation characteristics that were not taken out root and branch when we were initially saved. Now as the old creation traits rise up in us, if we allow them to go completely unjudged, they will cause us much discomfort, sorrow and pain.

JESUS and THORNS: “And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, BEHOLD THE MAN!” John 19:2-5. Oh! How we praise Jesus Who took willingly the blame, the pain, the sorrow and the suffering caused by the fallen old creation. He felt the nails pierce His hands and feet and afterward a spear pierced His side. Yet the worst suffering came from the anguish that broke His heart.

Their crowning in mockery was so humiliating and hurt deeply. Yet we read, He went forth “wearing the crown of thorns.” We wonder how little man could be so proud and never be thankful, when we consider the pain that our sin has caused our dear Lord. Read Isaiah 53:2-6, and pour contempt on all our pride.

Pilate said, “I FIND NO FAULT IN HIM!” The faultless, Holy Son of God was there dying for a faulty, guilt ridden world that was so unworthy of Him. We had no right to the least of His favor, His presence, or even His thought. But, praise God, our dear Lord wore those thorns on the way to the throne.

Song of Solomon 2:1-3, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons…”. There are fruit trees and trees of wood; there are lilies and thorns but Jesus was unique. What a vast difference between Him and those for whom He was dying. Oh what a difference He is making in His beloved as she is being transformed into His likeness. The darkest, most trying experience not only serves to prove us, but improve us, pointing out the difference. Often the true beauty of a thing is enhanced by its surroundings. Jesus spoke of us being in the world but not of it. In Hebrews 11:38 the Apostle Paul wrote of those “of whom the world was not worthy.” Stick with the world and you will get stuck. But God can use our surroundings to make us something special, outstanding even in that heavenly eternal state. HE DID IT WITH PAUL!

Let us consider some other applications to the ministry and message of thorns. II Cor. 12:7-10, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Paul spoke of His own personal thorn as a gift, a messenger, and a buffer. Thorns for us can be bothersome buffers used by God to dethrone the flesh and enthrone Jesus Christ in our lives. They may teach us of failures, shortcomings, insufficiencies, inadequacies used by God to cause us to be more dependent upon Him, and encourage us to look to Him for His full supply. These things should draw us to the throne of grace, and prepare us for a throne of glory.

A thorn may puncture our pride in preparation for promotions as a part of our training for reigning. God allows us humiliations for our exaltation, and vexations for our elevation. That we may find a fivefold layer of all-sufficient grace, we find in verse 10 five varieties of thorns. In these we see limitations, humiliations, privations, vexations, and irritations.

In every trying situation, in all my need, God is seeking me because He wants to be my full supply. God wants us aware of our need so we will take hold of His supply. In it all He is saying, “Seek Me! Seek Me!” He says, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

Realization of this truth should make a great difference in our attitude. Our attitude makes a difference in the benefit we get from these difficulties. God would have us realize that these are a part of His process for our progress, His provision for our perfection. Such realization should bring appreciation. Only with Paul’s perspective can we enjoy such thorns. Or take delight from them. Paul said, “most gladly will I glory,” “I take pleasure in.” Peter said, concerning the fiery trial, “rejoice and be glad.” James said, concerning the  different trying situations, “count it all joy.” The Apostle Paul also said, “In every thing give thanks.”

Paul’s approach to the throne of grace was answered. He needed the thorn that God had faithfully supplied, As well as the grace that proved sufficient to endure it. He proved in daily experience the all-sufficiency of God’s grace, and could say, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Thank God for our limitations!

A word of warning–occupy yourself with Him in it all. Even though we have lamentable limits, undue occupation with them could bring us into constant lamentations instead of appreciation of our Lord’s abundant supply. Our heavenly Father often seems to await man’s extremity to take His opportunity.

Infirmities are weaknesses and speak of the inability to produce results. These should call us to the throne of grace to draw on His supernatural power. Reproaches are insults that can be used to prepare us for blessed crown of honor. Necessities speak of the hardships or needy circumstances, not being able to have what others are able to do or have. Herein we come to realize our Lord’s abundant supply. Persecutions tell us of being persuade, or caused to flee. In these we are brought to a place of refuge, a place of rest, a place to faithfully stand. Distressed could also be translated straights, narrowness, a tight place, pressed in on every side. Real limitations can be used by God to urge us to use our spiritual wings, enjoying our great expanse of immeasurable freedom and unsearchable riches to rise and reign.