Monday, September 17, 2012

Thorn of Humanity II: Sunday School Presentation

La Corona

We used the first of John Donne's series of religious sonnets as a guide for a word study in scripture. The word we studied was "thorn."

However, before getting into the word study, we noted line 4 of the poem which reads as follows:
All changing unchanged Ancient of days.
That could be read one of two ways. 1) An unchangeable God is involved with & exerts influence in this world. 2) The unchangeable essence of the eternal God changed everything when He came into this world as a man. Either way you look at it, it is a profound thought.

What do Thorns describe?

Thorns, from a general overview of the scriptures which feature/mention thorns set forth the following   three overarching themes:

1. A curse

Upon the fall of man in Genesis, the immediate curse placed on man was the fact that he would have to contend with thorns & thistles as he works in the field to produce food. In addition, during Israel's conquest of Canaan, the curse for allowing their enemies to remain tended to sound something like they will become thorns in your side/eyes.

2. A Barrier

The thorny hedge was a deterrent to anyone who came upon it. The hedge said: Come this far & go no farther. Spiritually, the thorn says, You can come this close to God, but no closer. While a curse constitutes positive punishment, removing access to God is a negative punishment.

3. An Indicator

Clearly, physical thorns are not the most important players in this discussion. What is most important is the spiritual condition that they indicate. From a general survey of the scriptures containing both singular & plural versions of the term thorn, my class & I gathered the following description of the spiritual condition indicated by thorns:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Sin
  • Infirmity
  • Futility
  • Worthlessness
  • Fodder for Fire
  • Enemy
  • Punishment
  • Ruin
  • Ugliness
  • Worry/Cares of the World
  • Immaturity
  • Destruction

The Greatest Indicator

Those indicators are very grim. They pain a hopeless picture of the human condition. However, there was one indicator, one description, one element of thorns that turns this discussion on it's head. Thorns are temporary. They do not last forever! Throughout scripture, thorns--while a nuisance & painful to touch--are easily dealt with: they are gathered & burned.

Our Lord dealt with our thorns. He dealt with them handily. Christ, when crowned with thorns, reversed the symbol of the original curse with another symbol of his own. He, the second Adam, successfully redeemed mankind & removed the barrier between us & God.

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Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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