Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BRIER: Bible Plant Series

Many have heard the tale of Gideon and his army of 300. Gideon believed God was so specific in choosing the 300, the ones that cut down the armies of Midian from 135,000 to 15,000, that he believed they were to complete the task of wiping this enemy off the face of the earth. You see, at some point, when it was obvious the Midianites were going to lose, their two kings fled home with 15,000 men. Gideon desiring Israel to be free from her enemies decided to pursue them and finish the job.

What does this have to do with briers you ask? 

Well, after the wildly creative first battle, the men lay down their hammers and torches and picked up swords. They started the chase. There was only one problem, they were exhausted and hungry. 

The scripture explodes with this small phrase:
And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.

Faint, yet pursuing

I loved what Matthew Henry said here:
They were faint, and yet pursuing, much fatigued with what they had done, and yet eager to do more against the enemies of their country. Our spiritual warfare must thus be prosecuted with what strength we have, though we have but little; it is many a time the true Christian’s case, fainting and yet pursuing. 

Continuing our story, the 300 were faint. Gideon stopped in the city of Succoth, one of the cities they were trying to save from the Midianites, and humbly asked for bread for he and his men.  Men of the city ridiculed Gideon and basically called him a liar and a weenie. 

Judges 8:6-7

And the leaders of Succoth said, “Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna (the kings of Midian) now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?”
So Gideon said, “For this cause, when the Lord has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers!”

Gideon looked at them and paraphrasing here: "I don't have time to deal with you right now, but when I come back with proof, as in two kings, I'm gonna whip you!"

God shows us the heart of the Father here. He gives the men a warning and then time to repent. If they had changed their attitude, and sent bread to the army, Gideon would have forgiven them, but alas... 

Maybe the men of Succoth thought Gideon said "Breyers" the ice cream not "briers" the thorny whipping bush. 

Gideon kept his promise. After defeating the two kings and the 15,000-man army, he turned back toward the city of Succoth. Along the way he and his men caught & interrogated a young man of the city that gave the names of every leader and where they lived. Whoa! Gideon, does not mess around!

Gideon gathers the leaders and presents the two kings to them. The ones they said he couldn't defeat. He kept that half of the promise and he kept the second half as well. The Bible says that he "taught" them. 

Judges 8:16
And he took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.

Many sources believe, the men of the city were not whipped with the briers.... they were rolled in them. Ouch!

It seems that the difference between thorns and briers is the thorns are more spaced out and individual spines. Briers are dense spiky clusters. Think of the purplish thistles we see here in North American fields.

Israeli briers are no joke. Its scientific name is Echinops viscosus. Even its common name sounds grumpy: Viscous globe-thistle. I think it sounds like an medieval put down: "you, villainous viscous globe-thistle!!!"

They look like plants that may have inspired some of the illustrations of Dr. Seuss. 

The are characterized by the spiky blue globe flower head set atop of a tall spiny stalk, but on top of all that they are sticky. So these sharp things are sticky. Briers that do not just brush off, you have to be intentional in getting rid of them. Exhausting! 

I think most times we find ourselves in the camp of the 300: fainting, yet pursuing. But there are those unfortunate times where our snotty responses escape. If we would take the time, we could spare ourselves a vicious beating if we would forgive and make amends immediately. Make your words sweet or you may have to roll in them.

No comments:

Post a Comment