What do thorns and thistles tell us about God’s power?

If you have ever done any farming or gardening, or if you have ever tended flower/shrubbery beds, then you know that weeds are a constant problem. Even if your intended crop doesn’t grow, weeds still grow. Do you ever wonder why? More importantly, do you know what this tells us about God? Genesis 2 and 3 tell us these answers.

Genesis 2 tells us that God commanded the man not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Unfortunately, the serpent deceived Eve and she and her husband ate from the forbidden tree. Genesis 3 tells us that Yahweh visited them and handed out some consequences. Read about the man’s consequences in the following verses and think about three questions.
1. What was cursed?
2. Why are thorns and thistles mentioned?
3. Why is sweat mentioned?

Gen. 3:17-19 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

Agriculture before sin: no curse, no thorns, no thistles, and no weeds. Agriculture after sin: curse, thorns, thistles, and weeds.Because the man ate from the forbidden tree, the ground was cursed. In our culture we associate cursing with foul language, but in Bible times a curse was more like putting a spell on someone or something so that something bad would happen. In this case the ground was cursed and so thorns and thistles grow in addition to whatever crop is planted. Furthermore, the phrase “by the sweat of your face” told the man that it would take unpleasant labor to produce food to eat.

All of this is true even to this day. Thorns, thistles, and weeds grow in the ground without being planted and everyone who farms or gardens has sweated while doing so. This illustrates God’s power over the earth. God spoke His words at the beginning of human history, and after 6,000 years of human history, agriculture still includes weeds and sweat, just as God said it would.


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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”