Word of the Day: “Who is the man who will begin to fight against the Ammonites?” Judges 10:18
Who will fight for us against our enemies?
2 Corinthians 5:4-5 says, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened – not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” I want my mortality to be swallowed up like Jonah in the whale that brings us onto the shores of LIFE! In the garden of Eden Adam and Eve hid from the presence of God because of their nakedness. Jonah heard God calling to him in the night and ran from Him in fear that God would do what He always does, forgive. We run and hide from God, why? Because of His forgiveness, His love for us is so intense that we struggle to fathom it; we wrestle with His goodness and His impossible plans for us because we can’t do them! We can’t’ understand them. We can’t help but be scared of them. But there is nowhere where we can run that He can not follow. There is nowhere where we can hide that He can not find us. There is nothing that we can do that He can’t forgive and fix! He is so immaculate that we cover our eyes at the very sound of His coming! And yet He comes for us and finds us all the same.
On the day of the cross, when Jesus took all our sins upon Himself and took our punishment for us, He wore a crown of thorns upon His precious head. Those thorns were no ordinary thorns, well physically they were, but spiritually they were so much more than the mockery they were intended to be. Look at Genesis chapter 3 for a moment and you will find the curse that God pronounced upon all mankind.
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring (or seed, depending on which translation you read) and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” 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.” (verses 14-19)
Did you see them? There were several things in that curse that called back to what we’ve been reading this week. Let’s start at the beginning. The offspring of the woman will bruise her enemy’s head. Judges chapter 4, the woman drove a tent spike through her enemy’s skull!!! Judges chapter 9 verse 53 another woman threw an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull. These girls have got moxy!
The next one, well, I don’t know how much it applies to you, but I certainly know how it applies to me! In the parable of the Sower we learned that seed is a symbol of words. In this curse it mentions the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The ESV uses the word offspring, but the original Hebrew word literally means the sowing of seed, as in offspring. I find it interesting that the sowing of seed is mentioned in the serpent’s curse, and then the bearing of children is mentioned in the woman’s curse. Perhaps, just perhaps, they are connected somehow. As a writer, I am constantly sowing seeds and praying that they fall on the fertile soil in your heart. But I can tell you from personal experience that the birthing of those seeds is painful in ways that you would never expect. I certainly never expected it when I agreed that I would do this! But God has promised that when we sow in tears we will reap in laughter, and I’m counting on that!!! The truths that I pour out to you through these pages have caused me great pain in the finding of them. Now, like any mother, I’m not complaining of the pain of this child birthing… but I will certainly not discount it either! Simply because my pain is for your benefit, and mine! My toiling to learn these truths is for His glory and pleasure as it builds a bridge that spans the gap between Him and us! And any pain is worth that. (I may regret having just said that…)
And now we come to the man’s part of the curse, it begins with an outward nod to the words that were cloaked in symbolic meaning through the first two curses, it is revealed fully here. “Because you have listened to the voice (or the words that voice spoke) of your wife.” While some may not agree with me, I believe this phrase to be much less about who spoke the words and more about the fact that it was not the voice of God that the man listened to, but someone else’s. The entire Bible is a testimony, a plea from God Almighty for us to believe His word to us. To trust in what He says instead of trusting the things our eyes see around us, the other voices hissing in our ears trying to get us to do anything BUT what God has said to do, or not do as the case may be. So while many would love to put the emphasis of this verse on the woman’s part of the whole ordeal, in my womanly opinion, it’s about where Adam’s belief ended up. He chose to follow someone other than God. And because of that the ground itself was cursed. The very dust that Adam came from was no longer going to bear much fruit, but rather it would bear thorns and thistles. By the sweat of his face he would eat bread until he returned from where he came… dust.
Oh my friends, we can’t look at this as a curse for us today! Why? Because today for us, it is a BLESSING! If we were still in the book of Adam we would look at this and mourn, but we are no longer a page in the book of Adam. In the moment we chose to follow Christ we were ripped from that book and placed within the covers of the Book of Life. Jesus did many prophetic things on the day He died; one of those things was to wear a crown of thorns. Those thorns represented that first curse pronounced onto mankind… and its reversal! Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us. So that we who knew much sin, could become like Him. He was cursed for our transgressions, crushed for our sin; the punishment that was for us was upon HIM and by His wounds we are HEALED! He took THAT punishment for us! That first curse and every one of them after that He poured them out upon Himself for us! Hallelujah! And because of Jesus we can look at words like “He will crown our efforts with success” and realize that they are the truth!
That day on the cross Jesus took upon Himself the curse of thorns and it died with Him. Look at some verses that speak of this:
Isaiah 55:13 “Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree and instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle tree; and it shall be to the Lord for a name for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Isaiah 10:17 “the Light of Israel will be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame; it will burn and devour His thorns and His briars in one day.”
OK, I have to admit, I am especially fond of that last verse, the image of the curse of thorns burning up in the bright flame of Jesus’ love for us on the cross is so breathtakingly beautiful isn’t it?!?