Brambles and Gorse

Thu, 06/03/2008 - 13:36 -- James Oakley

Last week I was doing a bit of work in the garden, cutting back the ever-encroaching bramble and gorse bushes.

I found myself wondering why there are so many of the things in the garden. It’s a bit of a pain.

Not that it required much thought. Genesis 3:18 solves that one for me – they serve as a reminder of the fact that life in rebellion of God’s law is never a fulfilled / happy / pain-free one. God judges those who rebel against him.

But then my mind moved forward to Mark 15:17, Jesus’ coronation. Jesus is crowned “king of the Jews”, and indeed king of this world. But his moment of coronation is to wear a crown made out of thorns. It is as he wears on his own head that sign of God’s judgement as his crown that he becomes king. The thorns that can go through gardening gloves are also the thorns that Jesus wore on his head at his coronation.

The thorns in the garden serve, not just as a reminder of God’s judgement on rebels, but also of a reminder of his gracious and wonderful plan of redemption.

Thanks to David Field for pointing out from Acts 7 that the burning bush in Exodus 3 was a thorn-bush. The curse to Adam was a curse to his work – food-production would now be a painful process. The Israelites in Egypt felt this acutely. They were being subjected to harsh and unreasonable slave-labour. God comes down to deliver them. In an anticipation of the cross, God inhabits (in the fire) a thorn-bush to announce that he has seen their strife and will come down as their deliverer.

Suggestions in the comments section, please, as to whether any of this sheds light on Judges 9:14-15.


Pete's picture
Submitted by Pete on

Does it suggest an Abimelech-Pharaoh connection (from one fiery, prickly bush to another?)? Is taking Abimelech as King (in the way they have done, i.e. not in good faith - vs 16ff.) a sort of return to Egypt? Not sure there's that much else in the text that elaborates on Abimelech as a Pharaoh-type, or his reign as being like Pharaoh's, but it's a possibility.

There's got to be something in the fact that the other trees don't take up the offer (olive, fig trees, vines are positive images, often associated with Israel as a whole, in other contexts, and surely they're 'better' than bramble-bushes?) but I'm not sure what.

Add new comment

Additional Terms