THORNS AND THISTLES
Genesis 3:18 mentions two other negative words—thorns and thistles. The Lord Jesus asked, "Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?" (Matt. 7:16). Thorns and thistles came from the fall. They did not exist before the fall. In God’s creation there were no thorns and thistles. For the ground to grow thorns and thistles after the fall indicates that in the eyes of God all the children of Adam have become thorns and thistles. Whether you are the manager of a bank or the robber of a bank, a gambler in a casino or a preacher in a cathedral, your nature in the eyes of God consists of thorns and thistles. Just as the Lord Jesus did not call the Pharisees serpents in a light way, He also did not use the words thorns and thistles in a meaningless way. When Jesus used the term serpent, He certainly had the serpent of Genesis 3 in mind. Likewise, when he used the words thorns and thistles, He was also referring to Genesis 3.
The Bible tells us that the grape tree, the vine tree, is the Lord Jesus (John 15). When we were regenerated, we became the branches of this vine tree. In Adam we were thorns and thistles; in Christ we are branches of the real vine.
God created man in His image and gave him His authority so that man could express Him and represent Him. Instead, however, Satan entered into man, usurped him, and possessed man’s life. Satan even saturated man’s body with his poisonous element, making it the flesh. Although the Lord drew a line to preserve man’s spirit, Satan has corrupted man’s mind and possessed man’s body. The result is that man has become a serpentine being and also thorns and thistles.
THE KINGDOM OF SATAN
A kingdom is the totality of a certain life. If there is no life, there is no kingdom. For example, without the vegetable life it is impossible to have the vegetable kingdom. We do not speak of the chair kingdom, the stone kingdom, or the brick kingdom, because these things have no life. If a certain life exists, that life with its activities constitutes a kingdom. The human life constitutes the human kingdom, the vegetable life constitutes the vegetable kingdom, and the animal life, the animal kingdom. If there is life, there is a kingdom. Satan has the satanic life. When this satanic life comes into man, it becomes the satanic kingdom.
The kingdom is an outgrowth of the family. There must be plant and animal families before there can be plant and animal kingdoms. There cannot be a kingdom without families. First, there are individuals; then the individuals are formed into families. When the families are put together collectively, they become a kingdom.
After Satan came into man, man became Satan’s family with Satan as the father. In John 8:44 the Lord Jesus told the religious leaders that Satan was their father. First John 3:10 says that some people are the children of the Devil. Satan is the father, and these people are his children. The family begins with the father. When the family is enlarged, it becomes a kingdom. The satanic kingdom comes from the satanic family, and the satanic family comes from the satanic life. Have you ever considered that the fallen human race has become Satan’s family? Satan is a father, and all of the fallen human beings are his children. Satan generated a family, and this family has been formed into a kingdom.
This is altogether a matter of life. To be a part of the kingdom of Satan requires the life of Satan. If you did not have the Devil’s life, you could never be a child of the Devil. Don’t think it is easy to be a child of the Devil. Most Christians today simply neglect the matter of life. If you rob a bank, you need a bank robber’s life. If you do not have the robbing life, you can never rob. Can you teach or force a bird to bark? Regardless of how much a bird may try to bark, it cannot because it does not have the barking life. The same is true about lying. To lie you need the lying life. It is impossible to lie without the lying life. Chairs cannot lie because they have no life. However, it is easy for human beings to lie because they have the lying life. Parents do not teach their children to lie. On the contrary, they charge them not to tell lies. Nevertheless, they still lie. They do not have to be taught to lie because they have the lying life. Where did this lying life come from? It came from Satan, the father of lies. All men speak lies because they have Satan’s life.
We were initially Satan’s family and eventually we became his kingdom. I have used this illustration to convince you further that the kingdom is not merely a dispensation or a sphere. It is the totality of a certain life. The kingdom of God is simply the totality of God’s life.
(The Kingdom, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)