Beware the Brambles

Jesus Christ said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) In this Jesus was appealing to His followers to be the best citizens possible. There is an Old Testament parable of how leadership is forfeited and when it is what the results are.

Gideon died.  A shuffle for leadership resulted.  Abimelech campaigned to be the leader in Shechem who followed Gideon. As an evil leader he formed a small band of guards and went to the town of Ophrah and killed all seventy of Gideon’s sons on one rock.  He slaughtered all but the youngest son of Gideon named Jotham. When Jotham heard it, he went up on the summit of the high mountain of Gerizim and shouted out the parable recorded in Judges 9: 7 – 15.  In it the trees needed a leader.  They appealed to the olive tree, the fig, and then the grapevine to be their leader.  All refused.  Then the trees said to the bramble, “Be our leader.” The bramble said, “Then come and take shelter in my shade.” (Joshua 9:15)

That parable is the story of how leadership is forfeited.  The same principle is true in national and local government as well as in church life.  Brambles are aggressive.  They were the kudzu of the Old Testament era. When there are trees, good leaders, who will not or cannot lead, there is always a bramble to say, “Come and take shelter in my shade.” Once such persons are in leadership they are at liberty to do their dastardly and devious deeds.

In America when this country was about to be swept into the atheistic gutter by Deists, Universalists, and Transcendentalists Andrew Jackson sought and finally won the presidency.  A young law student emerging.  His genius was obvious.  As he studied his law books, he was fascinated by the Scripture often referred to therein.  In 1824, the year Andrew Jackson ran for President that young law student, Charles Finney, was saved and immediately called to preach.  The Finney-led revivals of that era turned America back to their evangelical roots.  God raised up a tree at a time when the brambles were saying, “Come and take shelter in my shade.”

Are you personally or are we collectively as a nation seeking to take shelter in the shade of a bramble?  In deciding whether to allow one of these brambles to rule your life, remember Jotham spoke of fire coming out of the brambles to devour the strongest of trees; then known, the Cedars of Lebanon (9:15).  If you or a nation choose a bramble, you can expect the fire.

America was founded and developed by Sequoias, towering leaders who at the risk of their lives led. They willingly pledged to each other their “lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” All fifty-six signers put their lives on the line to preserve and protect the freedoms they felt were the God-given unalienable rights of all people. 

God grew a grove of trees to make America possible.  Sequoia tree-like men prevailed in leading America to independence.  They crowded out the brambles and with faith in “Divine Providence” forged a new nation under God. In this day may we so labor and pray for God to forgive our sins as to avoid being one nation under God’s judgment. May there be a spiritual awakening. May new trees emerge.

In the meantime, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight…” (Proverbs 3:5-8)