“And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in truth you anoint me to be king over you, enter and take refuge in my shadow. But if there is not, let fire go out from the bramble, and let it consume the cedars of Lebanon!’” (Judges 9:15)
If you ever drive through the mountains of Virginia, in places you will see a remarkable sight. There are portions of the mountainside that are covered with green-leafy vines as far as the eye can see. In fact, this phenomenon can be seen in many parts of the American southeast. What you are seeing is area that is covered by the kudzu vine. Originally, these plants were imported to the United States from Japan for the purpose of soil conservation, but it was soon discovered that these vines not only grew well here, but grew at an alarming rate. While this was good for soil conservation efforts, this proved disastrous for forests. The plants would grow and choke the trees, preventing them from absorbing sunlight. In perfect conditions, a kudzu plant can grow up to sixty feet in a year.
This is what happens when you allow vines or brambles to rule. Their offer of kingship having been rejected by the fruit-bearing plants, the trees went to the bramble, likely thinking that they could control his actions as well. Look at the response of the bramble once again. He tells the trees to enter and take refuge in his shadow. This should catch our attention. How is a stately tree to take refuge under the shadow of a bramble. The only way for that to happen is if the bramble grows to overcome the trees—just as the kudzu plant did in the southeast—yet, when this happens, the trees will be choked out. What begins as an offer of refuge ends up being a sure promise of destruction.
How often, in our lives, does the sinful path seem to be a path of refuge and safe from danger? Yet, it always brings destruction. The people were afraid that if they did not have a king like the Canaanites did, they would be overrun—even though God proclaimed himself to be their king and even though God had repeatedly delivered them from their enemies. They felt that the path of faith entailed danger and the path of sin would offer safety. How we are deceived by the wiles of sin.
Friends, God calls you to be holy. That means trusting God to set the timing for your life and to walk in that timing with integrity and godliness. That means walking in faith. The temptations of sin may seem to provide a clear and safe route through the mountains and valleys of life, but that path will lead you straight into the briar patch.