THE EARTH BEARS HERBS AND THORNS
Hebrews 6:7-8 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
The preceding verses tell us of those that obey God's call to obedience, become Christians, grow in His grace, and remain faithful through out their lifetime. They also tell us of those that obey God's call to obedience, become Christians, and, at some time in their spiritual growth, fall away from God's will through apostasy, to the degree that they refuse to repent and return to God through His forgiving grace.
In the lesson text, faithful Christians are compared to good herbs and degenerate Christians to useless, destructive thorns and briers. All that obey the commandments of God and become Christians, are given the hope of eternal salvation. Some realize the magnitude of this gift, treasure it dearly, and, to the best of their talents and abilities, conduct their lives in a manner that salvation will be secured forever. Through the providence of God, the earth, being empowered by sunrays, and watered by refreshing rains, is the source of life for all living creatures on earth, including mankind. When sunrays penetrate the earth's surface and heat the soil, and when rains sufficiently saturate the thirsty ground, a miracle of God occurs for them by whom it is dressed. God provides the soil, sunshine, and rain. Man provides the planting, cultivating, and harvesting labor. The reward is herbs of the field that represent all plants suitable for life-sustaining food for mankind. In this analogy, faithful Christians are the good herbs.
From the beginning of time, this was God's plan. Man is blessed, his life on earth is sustained, and God is pleased. The psalmist, David, by inspiration gives us this beautiful description of God's providential care of mankind. Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy paths drop fatness. They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness: and the little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing (Psalm 65:9-13). From this passage we are assured of God's loving care in providing for the physical life of all mankind.
The good herbs, the fruits of the earth, sustain physical life of all people of the world. But a greater gift from God is that which sustains the souls of all faithful Christians for eternity. This, too, is God's plan from the beginning of time (See 1 John 1:1-3). To those gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pentecost feast, Peter, and the other apostles of Christ, preached of God's promise of eternal salvation, and how it can be attained. Their short sermon contained these words: Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:38-39). The good seed was planted. Three thousand souls, on that day, had open and receptive hearts, gladly received and believed this message, repented from their erring ways, were baptized ...in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and were added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47). These obeyed God's call, became His children through Christ, were blessed by receiving His promise of the hope of eternal salvation, and God was pleased.
The hope of salvation is promised to all that obediently become Christians, as did the three thousand on the Day of Pentecost. However, becoming a Christian does not assure salvation. Nourished with God's holy word, newborn Christians grow into mature, adult Christians - the good herbs. Without the parabolic sunshine and rain, which represents growth in faith and knowledge, made available through God's inspired word, newborn Christians often lose their first love (that of Christ), fall away, become degenerate, and sacrifice the hope of eternal salvation they first knew. Instead they become as thorns and briars, which are a hendranceto the reaper, they become cursed and rejected, whose end is to be burned.
The writer of Hebrews is also the best commentary available for the lesson text. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins (Heb. 10:26). The earth bears both herbs and thorns. Faithful Christians (herbs) are blessed with eternal life; unfaithful Christians (thorns) are cursed with eternal death!