The Word of the Lord
Genesis 3.17-20: To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
God cursed the ground because of Adam’s rebellion. Thorns were a result of God’s curse. Throughout the Bible, thorns don’t have a good reputation. Frequently, they are symbols of desolation and devastation.
The Hebrew word for thorn is shayith which often translates as trash. Trash is debris (often from plants) worth little or nothing, and often thrown away or burnt. Trash is an excellent symbol for men and women who reject Christ’s atoning work for the trash of their present lives.
The Palestinian buckthorn was a bush that grew in the ancient Middle East. The buckthorn grows as an evergreen shrub with a many-branched, tangled form, and velvety, thin thorns. Young stems and thorns are green. As bark matures it becomes gray.
Most gardeners don’t plant buckthorn. It’s an unattractive shrub that normally doesn’t grow in cultivated gardens or fields. Buckthorn grows well in poor soil that is gritty and highly eroded.
Along with the thistle, the buckthorn is the last species to disappear when livestock over-graze an area. The Mediterranean buckthorn has no value for mankind or livestock. An ancient strategy to remove buckthorn was to burn the land.
At times in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, we have referred to individuals as “trash” or “trashy.” From God’s perspective none of his creation—including buckthorn, you, me—are trash. Each person is worthy. God put each person on the earth for a purpose. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2.10).
Reflection: Name some aspects of God’s laws you treat as trash. You know the ones I mean—the ones that you think are outdated or don’t apply to you.