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When we began our study in the book of Proverbs several weeks ago, I said that knowledge was the accumulation or the gathering together of information. Wisdom then is taking that information, taking what you have learned and applying that to your life. And Solomon is speaking primarily of the truths of God that are applied to our life. In Proverbs 3:7-8 he said "Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones."
You see, if you want to be spiritually healthy and physically strong, walk in the truths of God that are found in His Word. But you must seek after it, desire it, and if you do, God will give you those things you need to help you in your walk, to help you in your relationship with Him. In Proverbs chapter 2 Solomon says that if we seek after wisdom "Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path. When wisdom enters your heart, And knowledge is pleasant to your soul, Discretion will preserve you; Understanding will keep you, To deliver you from the way of evil..." Proverbs 2:5-12a.
This morning we are going to look at nature and see what lessons we can glean from four different creatures that will help us in our daily walk. Throughout the Bible we see various spiritual lessons that God illustrates to us using things we can see. Sort of an object lesson, for a picture in our mind tends to stay with us longer than words in our ears by themselves.
And so if you would, please turn in your Bibles to Proverbs chapter 30, and lets look at verses 24-28, and see what lessons we can learn from God's Word, as Agur, the son of Jakeh, speaks to us. And as we look at these creatures, I think you will see a progression emerge that we can truly apply to our life.
Agur is looking at four small, seemingly insignificant creatures, and yet they show more wisdom in their actions then many people do. Those four creatures are: THE ANT, THE ROCK BADGER, THE LOCUST, and THE LIZARD. Now some of your Bibles may have spider listed for the lizard, but a better translation would be the lizard.
1. THE ANT - PREPARE FOR ETERNITY!PROVERBS 30:25
"The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their food in the summer."
I think most of us have watched ants at work. They just keep on going and going, seeming never to tire or give up. If something is to big to carry they have others help them. If something is in their way, they climb over it. And they are preparing for the days when they can not work.
In Proverbs 6:6-11 Solomon says "Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep; So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, And your need like an armed man."
Solomon is speaking to the lazy person and telling him to learn the lesson from the ant, to be wise. The lesson is this, there is a certain time of the year that ants can work and so they work hard, preparing for winter when they will cluster together and sleep inside their nests. They are planning for the future while the lazy person does not prepare and he will go hungry for he has not invested the time needed to bring in the harvest.
Think how small an ant is. Imagine how tiny his brain must be. And yet look at the wisdom he shows by his actions. Man, with a brain much larger than an ants, many times shows a lack of wisdom by the things he does.
Now how can we point that to our own life? See if this helps to point you in the right direction. Hadrian was a wicked emperor of Rome, and as he was dying, he said something likethis: "No more crown for this head, no more beauty for these eyes, no more music for these ears, and no more food for this stomach of mine. But my soul, oh my soul, what will become of you?"
Understand this, the death rate is still one per person, and that won't change. We all will come face-to-face with that reality. Hebrews 9:27 says "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." I think the lesson that the ant is showing us is that we need to be prepared to meet our maker. We are all going to die, and the question is, "Are we ready?"
You see, people prepare for all kinds of things. For college, for jobs, for dates, and-so-on. And yet, when it comes to their eternal destiny many put it off till it is too late, or ignore it completely.
Remember the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. We read beginning in verse 16 "...'The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. "And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' "So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry."' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Luke 12:16-21.
That truly sums up the mentality of our day. We are so caught up in this life with eating, drinking and-so-on, that we are completely negating or half-heartedly thinking about our relationship with God. And Jesus said you are a fool if you plan to build up your kingdom hereon earth without establishing a relationship with God. You have sold your soul for what will amount to nothing in the life to come!
Paul said in II Corinthians 6:2 "...Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Don't put off till tomorrow your decision for Christ, tomorrow may never come!
You see, salvation is not born out of good works, or going to church, or being good, but through our faith in Jesus Christ who has reconciled man to God. It is through His sacrifice that the penalty for our sins has been paid in full.
It is as Jesus said to the Luke warm church of Laodicea in Revelation chapter 3. This church was big, it was a happening place. They were rich, in need of nothing, self-sufficient, no need for God. You see, through the eyes of man this church was right on, and yet through the eyes of God he saw them as "wretched, miserable, pour, blind, and naked." And everyone outside of Christ is in this condition whether they like it or not.
But Christ won't leave you in that condition. He said "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20.
The ant was very wise for he prepared himself for the time that lay ahead. We too need to take advantage of the opportunity we have, not to let it pass by, for today is the day of salvation if you don't know Christ. And if you know Christ and are living in a backslidden condition, you need to repent and get right with God. Don't let the day pass by without making a commitment to Him. PREPARE FOR ETERNITY!
2. THE ROCK BADGER, HYRAX OR CONIES - SAFETY IN THE ROCK!
"The rock badgers are a feeble folk, Yet they make their homes in the crags."
When we were in Israel this year we saw these creatures sunning themselves on the rocks. They are like little fur balls, like a beaver without a tail. And one of the problems that the rock badger has is that he is weak, defenseless against the enemy, and he knows it. Thus, his solution to this problem is he will hide in the rocks so that the enemy can't get at him. A very wise solution to a difficult problem. In fact Psalm 104:18 illustrates this for us as the Psalmist says "...The cliffs are a refuge for the rock badgers."
First of all, as the ant illustrated for us, we must make wise time of the days we are living in and prepare for eternity. After we come to Christ the enemy won't give up, and his attack may be even stronger. The schemes of the devil are many. He tries to sow doubt, confusion, worldliness, persecution and-so-on. Since he can't cause us to be un-saved, for salvation is a work of God, he can cause us to stumble and be ineffective in our wittiness of him, and that is exactly what he is trying to do.
Like the rock badger, we must recognize our weakness against Satan today. We see Christians today who want to punch, kick, shoot, kill, mock Satan, and they are giving him all the attention that he desires. Understand this, Satan is the accuser of the brethren and he does thatbefore God. We have a defense attorney, in a sense, who is Jesus, who is telling the father, he or she is one of mine, clean and forgiven. And understand this, he is not wasting his time with us, he uses his demons, or fallen angels to do the work.
Also, if you want to go against the spirit world, understand what you are up against. During the reign of king Hezekiah in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, one angel of God came out and killed at 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. (II Kings 19).
Now Satan was God's anointed Cherub before he fell, before iniquity was found in him, before pride filled his heart. How can we, or why should we stand and mock and taunt Satan, when we stand no chance in fighting against him with the foolishness of the flesh.
Those who are into this, mocking and threatening Satan, are nothing more than fools. Listen to what Jude has to say in Jude 8-10. We read "Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves."
You see, even Michael the Archangel, who will one day cast Satan out of heaven, (Revelation 12:7-9), did not speak foolishly against Satan, but gave it to God to handle. He respected authority instead of acting out of the flesh.
I truly believe that we as Christians must do like the rock badger and hide in the rocks. No, not literally, but hide ourselves, take refuge in the Rock, Jesus Christ! I love what David said in Psalm 61:1-4. We read, "HEAR my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end ofthe earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.Selah."
There is no one else or nothing else that will protect you, bring stability in your life, comfort your heart, like Jesus will. Everyone else and everything else that I can run to is basically on the same level as me, and thus, there is no true, lasting help for me in them. Only the Rock, Jesus Christ can give me shelter from my enemy, shelter from the storms of life.
It is as David said in II Samuel 22:2-4, "...'The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.'"
The key, of course, is recognizing our weakness, like the rock badger did. The next step is taking shelter, refuge from the enemy in a place that will be able to protect you at all times. For the rock badger it was in the clefts of the rock. For us, as Christians, it is in the Rock - Jesus Christ! As the hymn goes, "Rock of ages, cleft for me." The second point then, is this, we can find SAFETY IN THE ROCK!
3. THE LOCUSTS - UNITY STRENGTHENS!PROVERBS 30:27
"The locusts have no king, Yet they all advance in ranks."
What makes the locust so wise is they have no leader, no one in charge, and yet, through a co-operative effort they move together to accomplish their goal of eating all the vegetation they can.
Locusts can gather together in numbers anywhere from 1 million to 1 billion, and as they fly through the sky they can cause it to become black as night. Now these creatures can have ferocious appetites, eating their own body weight each day in vegetation. Now that may not seem like much but multiply that out times 1 million or 1 billion and you can see how they can destroy a land, not only eating the plants, but also the roots. And as they travel across the sky in a compact military type unit, they make a wind-like noise that is almost deafening and they can occupy a space of 10 to 20 miles in length and 4 to 5 miles in width with a depth that won't allow the sun to penetrate through, causing the land to be in darkness.
Think about that for a minute. If there was only 1 or 2, or even 100 locusts, it would not impact the area at all. As Christians who are standing upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, we are more effective working together for the cause of Christ, then when we are divided.
When Jesus healed the demon-possessed, blind and mute man, the religious leaders of his day said that "...'This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.'" Matthew 12:24. And Jesus spoke up and made a very interesting point. He said "...'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?'" Matthew 12:25-26.
You see, if Satan is destroying his own kingdom it will not stand, and yet, many today are fighting over non-essential doctrine, dividing up the body of Christ, and in that division we see the work not getting done.
Paul said in Romans 12:4-5, "For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, andindividually members of one another." His point is this. We, as part of the body of Christ have been given certain gifts and when the body is functioning properly, all those gifts are being exercised. The body is healthy. But when each person is doing his own thing, looking out for his own personal interests instead of having a broader picture of the kingdom of God in view, the body then moves spastically and is not effective as it should be.
Listen to a man who had every right to be angry, upset by what others were accusing him of and coming against the ministry he was in. In Philippians 1:15-18 Paul said "Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."
It is hard for me to imagine someone coming against Paul's work when they were believers too. But Paul was not concerned of what they said about him, as long as they were preaching the truth about Christ. He only wanted the Lord lifted up so others could see Him and come to Him to be saved. Even if some were doing this out of the wrong motives, they were still preaching Christ and in that he rejoiced.
Now don't come to the wrong conclusion about this. They were not preaching false doctrine, lies, and-so-on. If they were Paul would not have rejoiced in their actions, but would have rebuked them openly. We must be careful that we don't unite with people that are speaking damaging lies, such as "You are gods" or "If you had the same information as Jesus did, you could have gone to the cross" and-so-on. You can't unite with people that are teaching and promoting heresy. Paul said in Galatians 1:8, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."
But we can unite with people that are like-minded, that have the mind of Christ, not to devastate a community like the locusts do, but to transform a community by the power of God. Yes, there is strength in numbers when those people are united in Christ. You see, UNITY STRENGTHENS!
4. THE LIZARD - HOLD ON TO WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU!PROVERBS 30:28
"The lizard skillfully grasps with its hands, And it is in kings' palaces."
The gecko lizard is an amazing creature. God created him with suction cups on his hands and feet so this creature can walk up walls, crawl across ceilings, even enter the kings palace, a place he did not deserve to be in, a place he did not belong.
Now how in the world does that relate to us as Christians? I see a two fold response here. First of all God has given each of us certain gifts to be used in the body of Christ. Now you can choose to use them, or not to use them. If you don't use them you will become stagnant. If you use them like the gecko lizard does, who lets nothing get in his way, climbing over obstacles, walking on walls and ceilings, you too will forge ahead for the kingdom of God, going and doing things you never dreamed of.
But I think the primary thought here is holding onto the precious promises that God has given each of us. He has forgiven us our sins, cleansed us from all unrighteousness, has adopted us into His family, blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, He will never leave us or forsake us, has made us into His masterpiece, prepared the work for us and us for the work, in physical death we will enter into His presence, we will spend eternity with the Lord, we will rule and reign with Him in the kingdom age, we will enter into the new Jerusalem where the curse will be completely removed and we will spend eternity with our God. Now of course this is just a brief summation of some of the promises that God has give to us. You can find out the rest as you read His Word, from Genesis through the book of Revelation. The lesson the lizard is showing you is that you need to HOLD ON TO WHAT GOD HAS GIVE YOU!
As we bring this to a close this morning, lets quickly go over these lessons once again. Lessons that God has given to us from nature. The ant showed us that we need to prepare for eternity. Once that decision is made, the rock badger showed us that our only security, our only defense against the enemy is when we stand upon the rock, when we hide ourselves in Jesus. The locusts then shows us the far reaching effects that unity can bring upon a community, far more effective than working by ourselves. And lastly, the gecko lizard showed us that we need to cultivate those gifts that God has given us and hold onto His precious promises, for as we do, we will find ourselves in the kings palace - THE KING OF KINGS AN LORD OF LORD'S!
As Peter admonishes us in I Peter 1:3-5, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Never forget that!