Bramble Bush Leadership hinders growth

There’s a cool story in the Book of Judges (chapter 9) where Jotham tells of three trees wanting to be ruled over: These small trees first go to the Olive Tree and ask the Olive Tree to rule over them, but the Olive Tree refuses. And so the trees then go and ask the Fig Tree to rule over them, but the Fig Tree also refuses. And so the small trees decide to go and ask the Bramble Bush to rule over them, where the Bramble Bush says “Certainly, but you must live under my shade!!” The interpretation is clear: the Bramble Bush represents leadership that desires to control and not allow its people to grow… one must always live under its totalitarian shadow.

Now to ensure that there is no misunderstandings, western literature tends to define a “bush” as a “trimmed tree or shrub”, contrasted to biblical literature that defines a “bush” as a “thorny bramble”. Therefore, what is so wonderfully empowering about Jotham’s illustration is that we now gain precision into all the other “bush” analogies throughout scripture…

For example, do you remember Jesus’ parable of the four soil types? Well in this story, some “seed” fell among the “thorns” which choked it. These "thorns" obviously came from a Bramble Bush, where Jesus gives the interpretation stating that the “seed” that lands in this environment will be “choked under the cares and riches and pleasures of living, which brings forth no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8: 7-14). Yes, being “choked” is a typical strategy used by Bramble Bush Leadership, where the consumer is too concerned with the struggles and desires overcoming ones “living” conditions. In other words, this “seed” (being an individual person) is under an environment that will never truly promote its growth. It will never fulfill what God intends for it. The “seed"  (developing into a small tree) will always be suppressed under the “Bramble Bush” leadership.

Another example that reinforces the Jotham illustration is when Paul speaks of a “thorn” in his side. This is not about a personal ailment where Paul requires medical attention regularly, but rather he is alluding to having difficulty with “Bramble Bush” leadership (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul is obviously having a lot of difficulty, as he compares this particular Church leadership to being a “messenger of Satan”. In other words, according to Paul, the elders of his faith are opposed to the will of God.

And of course, we cannot forget the burning bush scenario that established Moses’ calling. What kind of bush do you think it was? Yes indeed, Bramble. This special encounter was not about keeping Moses warm from the cool night air, but rather the Angel was revealing to Moses what was predetermined to happen to Egypt’s leadership (Acts 7:30-35). That is, Egypt has been judged… and it’s going up in smoke (i.e. it's leadership will end)!!!

Hebrews 6 also talks about those who are unrighteous, having opposed and rejected God… and that they therefore deserve the full wrath and punishment from God: “that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:8). Contrasted to: “a good tree brings forth not corrupt fruit; neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns, men do not gather figs, nor of a Bramble Bush, do they gather grapes (Luke 6:43-44).

And one more:  did you know that the crown that was placed upon Jesus, by the Roman Empire soldiers at the crucifixion, was made of "thorns"? Now, we all realize that a crown represents a King (Messiah), but why was it made of “thorns”? And whether the soldiers naively placed this adornment upon his head so as to mock Jesus for thinking he was a King… or whether they deliberately wanted to portray Jesus as being a “bad leader” (which obviously isn’t true). Nevertheless, there is irony here… seeing as this illustration came from a Bramble Bush government who ordered the death sentence upon an innocent man.

In summary, I understand that we all need leaders in this world, and that we are all accountable to someone (whether in the family, the business world, the church world or even the political world (e.g. President Bush... lol) because someone has to be the boss. But the point being, that each environment that we are placed into should not stifle our growth as an individual, nor stifle anyone around us. So whether you are a leader (or not), we each need to be the example: by providing good fruit before God, and by encouraging others to also grow in good soil… this way, we all can become the “tree” that each of us are destined to be… a tree that praises the Creator!!!



Stephen ShephardComment