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Truths From the Tiniest of Teachers

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
October 5, 2023 12:00 am

Truths From the Tiniest of Teachers

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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October 5, 2023 12:00 am

Watch, listen, or read the full-length version of this message here: https://www.wisdomonline.org/teachings/truths-from-the-tiniest-of-teachers // All of nature is a classroom where the Gospel can be illustrated, the Christian edified, the unbeliever warned, and the glory of Creator God revealed. This is no truer than in examining some of the smallest creatures, like the honeybee and the ant. Whether it’s through our own visual observance or the meticulous scientific study of their complexities, we can discover undeniable truths in learning about these creative marvels. This message from Pastor Davey on these tiny teachers will deepen our awe of the marvelous Creator.

 

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Are you ever tempted to just try and get by and do the least that's expected of you and choose the easy way? Have you ever thought about the fact that the sluggard here in Proverbs 6 can include somebody who simply decides to get by? Instead of pursuing priority, he has selected for his life mediocrity.

His motto is, easy is better. I'll do the least expected of me. God's Word tells us that he wants us to be industrious and hard-working and faithful to the tasks we've been given.

Sometimes we're tempted to do the opposite, though, and to try to get by doing as little as possible. In trying to help us understand this, God led us to one of the tiniest of his creatures, the ant. Observing ants can teach us important spiritual truths. Today on Wisdom for the Heart, you're going to see what God wants you to learn from the ants.

Stephen Davey has a message today called, Truths from the Tiniest of Teachers. A revival which would sweep through the early American colonies in the mid-1800s, later known as the Great Awakening, was led by one pastor theologian by the name of Jonathan Edwards. He shaped the movement with his prolific writing and powerful preaching.

In fact, you've probably heard of his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon, Edwards used the imagery of a spider hanging from its web by a single strand to illustrate an unbelieving soul hanging by a slender thread over the mouth of hell. He urged the unbeliever to trust, not that flimsy thread, but run to trust the mercy and the grace of God for salvation. That invitation is extended even to this day. If you're here and you are trusting some slender thread, maybe the thought that you're going to live long enough is not going to matter.

Maybe one day, don't swing over the mouth of hell with such misguided confidence. The analogy of sinners, unbelievers, trusting in spider webs was not a throwaway analogy. Edwards had spent hours studying spiders as a hobby.

In fact, when we began this series, a man in our congregation loaned me a book of collected writings by Jonathan Edwards entitled Basic Writings. And in it, Edwards spent pages summarizing his study of the spider, including hand-drawn notations of different kinds of webbing. He would later write, I wanted to find out the mysteries of these astonishing works, which, by the way, is a clue of his own character, right? I don't know how many of us have looked at a spider web and run inside and said, honey, you've got to come out and see this amazing, astonishing marvel.

That's because we see things but we really don't look at them, certainly long enough to marvel at them. Jonathan Edwards would write extensively on subjects ranging from the spider to flying insects. He has an entire chapter on the colors of the rainbow. All of nature was a classroom where the gospel could be illustrated to his observant eyes, where the unbeliever could be warned as he watched that spider on that slender thread. The believer could be encouraged by the attributes of God's grace and mercy. The glory of creator God revealed that we've been singing about thus far this morning.

I wanted to share this paragraph with you today from his own personal testimony. After he was saved, he walked around a nearby pasture to contemplate the gospel. And he would later write, as I was walking there and looking upon the sky and clouds, there came into my mind a sweet sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God.

After this, that is my conversion, the appearance of everything was altered. There seemed to be divine glory in almost everything. God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love seemed to appear in everything, in the sun, moon and stars, in the grass, flowers, trees, in the water, all of nature. To see the lightning play and hear the majestic voice of God's thunder leads me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God.

And oftentimes I would sing in a low voice my thoughts to my creator and redeemer. He wasn't just looking, he was seeing, listening, savoring, reasoning, applying, living, singing, ultimately worshiping his creator and his redeemer. See one of the problems we have as Christians is not that we make too much of nature, it's that we make too little of it.

And we're not the better for it. In our last session we observed how the suffering of Job and the silence of God ended with a personal tour by God as he showed Job living illustrations of the largest animals he created. The leviathan in the sea and the dinosaur on the land. And the sight of those massive creatures with God's personal description of them and his control over them brought Job back from hopelessness to hope. I like the way one author summarized this phenomenon that can occur for any despairing or lonely or discouraged believer. He wrote, when we observe the creator's handiwork, we often begin to feel once again the touch of the creator's hand. Now in that last session together we took a look at the largest creatures God put on the planet.

Today I want to change direction and make some observations from the tiniest, among the tiniest creatures, certainly not the tiniest, but tiny they are, God created, these are not extinct, in fact scientists are still discovering pretty amazing marvelous things about them. I want to briefly comment first on the honey bee. Now according to Genesis chapter one, and we don't have time to even really turn, but let me just notate it, God created plants and flowering trees and vegetation on the third day of creation week.

Then two days later he created the animals which primarily swarm in flight, insects, locusts, birds, bees, created on the fifth day. The ingenuity of that timing is that God ingeniously created the flowers first, and as we've already studied, he created a mature earth ready to capacitate growth and life, creating first flowers already designed by the way with their colors which would attract bees 48 hours later. So they would be pollinated by the bees and reproduce, and the bees would gain the nectar they needed immediately to begin making fruit honey which they would eat from these fruit blossoms and flowers. In fact scientists are now able to understand how bees see color that our grandparents didn't know. You can go online and look at pictures where they've converted a flower to what we see and then what a bee might see or would see. They've realized that flower petals which might look solid yellow to our eyes, to the bee look white with a red bullseye in the middle as if to guide the bee there. In fact science has now discovered flowering plants and trees all seem to have petals designed that way to draw the bee to that particular place with bullseye colors to that nectar.

None of this is the result of random mutations over millions of years but an immediate syncretistic relationship designed by creator God. In fact think about it if bees and flowers, trees for that matter had evolved at a distance of several seasons or even a few years apart they would both have been doomed to die. God in his amazing wisdom created on day three food sources and 48 hours later the honey bee ready to harvest and pollinate those crops and trees and everything was able to thrive which also would mean that within a few weeks Adam and Eve would have known how honey was made and within a month or two they would have known how good it tasted.

This is the original organic sweetener. I came across the writing of one former atheistic scientist who was converted to Christ following his study of the honey bee. He wrote that the knowledge of this bee forever changed his life. In his lifelong research he learned along with others how young bees make the wax for the honeycomb.

Tiny wax flakes appear on their abdomens produced by small pocket-like glands. The youngsters scrape off the wax with their forelegs and then chew it into soft pliable substances and lay it on a foundation sheet that's already been designed by other bees. Then crews of bees half upside down the other on top communicating together form hexagonal cells which by the way is the strongest engineering design for using the minimum product while obtaining the maximum strength.

What an amazing coincidence that is. When did they figure out that they would need that strong structure in their honeycomb? How many times did they try a circle and then it collapsed under the weight and hundreds die and later somebody said let's try a square and that didn't work. Let's try trying. That didn't work either until some bees said let's try a hexagon. What's a hexagon? Well I don't know. Let me try to figure that out.

Let's do a hexagon. Are you kidding? How many times can you get that wrong and survive? You can't get it wrong and survive.

You have to get it right the first time. How did they know to fly some 500 miles each carrying nectar back to the hive where other bees knew how to process it and then place the nectar into those cells? How did they know how to gather at night half the colony gathering at the hive entrance and beginning to beat their wings each of them about 25,000 times one half of the colony on the other side fanning air into the hive the other half fanning the air out creating this breeze which would increase the rate of evaporation evaporating the water from the nectar converting nectar to honey. How did the specialist bees know when it was the right time and the right temperature which they regulate by the fanning of their wings to cap off that hexagonal cell now filled with nourishing food for their winter months?

How did they just happen to know that? This former evolutionary scientist wrote and I quote him, it was all too much for me. I was confronted with complex genetic information necessary at day one. Information requiring intelligence chance processes over millions of years could not possibly account for the origin of the first honeybee. The honeybee became to me sweet revelation. Solomon connected the dots in a remarkable analogy when he wrote if you put two verses together the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom a little later on near the end of his collection. My son eat honey for it is good.

Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. This is wisdom for your soul if you'll not just look but see. Let me point out another tiniest of teachers. It's a little animal my wife and I battled most of this past September. I'm not sure what changed. We've lived in our home now going on 21 years and have never had really that much trouble at all but this year they decided to try to move in and clean us out. We finally were able to negotiate with them a settlement and they're now outside. None of us want ants inside our home but this little creature has some lessons to teach our hearts. I want you to take your collection of Solomon's Proverbs and go to chapter six.

Go there. There are only two animals where we're specifically told in scripture to take note of the birds. We did that already in the series from the Lord's sermon in Matthew 6 and the ants here in Proverbs. We're given some insightful information about them that we'll go through fairly quickly but notice the text where Solomon writes go to the ant. Oh slugger my parents favorite verse for me when I was young.

Observe her ways and guess what be wise. Now the reason even the slugger can learn from the ant is that the average person without hardly trying without a microscope or a science degree can easily discern that the ant is persistent diligent fearless hardworking. In fact that the slugger doesn't even have to get off the couch in order to watch the ants carrying away his leftover food. And here's what we can observe or seven which having no chief officer or ruler prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest evidently Solomon spent a little time studying the pattern of the ant. He couldn't have ordered you know one of those plastic ant colonies you know where you can watch a colony from any direction which we did with our kids which is absolutely fascinating.

And this is what amazed Solomon. Notice he makes specific observation that the ant colony runs without three operatives. Notice which having no chief they don't have a chief.

The word the Hebrew word chief can be translated judge. They have no judge. There are no judges in the ant colony. Ants have never had to appoint a Supreme Court justice with all the trouble involved.

They've never had that assignment because ants don't need them. They don't need judges period. And that's because nothing ever needs to be adjudicated which means there are no disputes. Nobody's suing anybody in the ant colony.

They're not having disagreements that need to be settled. There are no courtrooms. There are no juries. There are no lawyers. Imagine Delaware, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming getting rid of their entire judicial system because they no longer need it.

Go to the ant and be wise. Secondly he writes they have no need of officers. The word officer is used in this day in the same nuance as the officers who wear a badge. The Hebrew word actually literally understood is as someone who writes something down and it's in a punitive nuance. The officer who pulls you over and writes down a ticket in a punitive manner.

I've actually seen one of those tickets in my lifetime but this is not about me. Can you imagine a society of people getting along fulfilling their tasks with millions of other residents without needing right of ways and speed limits and laws, judges, attorneys, juries, police officers. I did a little research and found that Delaware, Alaska, Vermont and Wyoming have about 7,000 police officers and nearly 1,000 state highway patrolmen. Add to that 200 state and local politicians, members of congress along with a convoy of civic officials to keep us all in line.

Why? Because we don't spend enough time going to the ant and becoming wise. We're surrounded by rules and rules to keep other rules. Somebody once said we have millions of laws on the books to try to keep us in line with 10 commandments. We're surrounded by officials. My neighborhood even has a homeowner's association with a rule book to keep neighbors from parking their boat or their broken down car in the front yard or painting their house purple or orange or some other color they think they want to paint it and I'm kind of glad for some of those rules.

My little neighborhood can't get along without it. No ant needs any official to remind you of that rule. Don't do that. Solomon mentions thirdly ants don't need a ruler. This could be translated supervisor.

One Old Testament scholar wrote a supervisor. This word is in the sense of someone challenging you to work or interestingly enough praising you when you do work. Imagine ants don't need a boss to do their job. What happens, you know, and all the cubicles around you and the supervisor shows up. Everybody's head ducks down and everybody gets back to work.

Not here. There are no supervisors in the ant colony. Imagine ants do what they do without a boss either negatively challenging them or positively praising them. They don't need to be watched to do their role. And Solomon specifically mentions they do their role and accomplish their jobs on time. That's why he mentioned summer.

They meet their summer deadline and they meet their autumn deadline. They do what they do, not because they're watched, not because they're told to, not because they were praised because they did it and they meet their summer deadline. Imagine getting your work done well and on time.

What kind of world is this? What could we learn from the ant? Well, let me give you several. Number one, ants work without external pressures, ordinances, or incentives. In other words, they work without needing some other ant to make them work, some bigger ant, you know, maybe some ant with a badge, but they also work without needing other ants to say, way to go, great job, keep it up, you can do it.

Imagine that kind of work ethic where no incentive is necessary, no threat, no rule book, no supervisor, no judge, no reward. There's another principle to observe, immediate reward that is. Number two, ants are highly focused on communication and cooperation. Working together now to bring this harvest in, they work as communities not as individuals. As I studied the resources I had on this amazing little teacher, I learned more than I could ever begin to share with you on their communication systems, but I'll give you a couple of illustrations. For instance, when foraging, an ant will follow the path of another ant.

You've seen those. Well, if that foraging ant decides to veer off and go blaze a new trail, at that intersection where he veered off, he'll lay down a chemical. And that chemical will say, you can follow me if you'd like, I'm going to try a new path. If he doesn't find any food on that path, he comes all the way back to that intersection and lays down a new chemical mixture, complex chemical mixture, that says this path was a dead end.

Don't go down that one. Scientists are discovering that ants have up to 80 different complex chemical communication systems that communicate what's happening. If he wants to again veer off on another path, blaze another trail, and this time he finds a caterpillar.

It's too big to handle. He will fire off chemicals into the air that alert other ants to join it. But here's the amazing thing they discovered. When the other ants arrive, they already know by the mixture of those chemicals in the air, the tools they needed to bring along for the job, and how many ants were needed to help that one ant carry that caterpillar back to the colony.

Let me give you another truth from this little tiny teacher. Ants serve according to their divinely created design. A lot of different roles in the colony. Ants, when they're born, are created with that God-created complex DNA system within them that makes them either a worker ant, or a soldier ant, or a foraging ant, or a queen ant, and they evidently do their job without ever trying to climb up the ladder. In other words, there's no scout ant out there wishing they were the queen ant, saying to himself, you know, as he's foraging, that's gracious, you know, that queen ant, all she gets to do is lay around and eat all day. Well, lay 3,000 eggs a day, but how hard could that be?

I want to be a queen one day. That thought never crosses their mind. God designed each of them to play a role like he designed you and me within this colony we call the church. We call them spiritual gifts, that endowment of the Spirit of God. As Peter writes in 1 Peter chapter 4 verses 10 and 11, as each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God, whoever speaks that is the public gifts, whoever serves that is behind the scenes gifts, by the strength which God supplies.

You notice in this text there's nothing in it that talks about, you know, this is a gift and you get to polish it like a trophy and put it on your mantle and admire it whenever you walk by it. This is what you use for the sake of others. That's the point which flies in the face of our nature.

Look at me, look at what I have, look at what I do, rather than the community. Let me offer one more principle. Ants refuse to give in, give up, or just get by.

You've all heard of the law of entropy, that law where things go from order to disorder, a tendency to deteriorate. One author I was reading this week made a spiritual analogy to this law that we as Christians have a natural tendency to become apathetic or complacent. In fact, every one of you could give a testimony this morning about some area in your life that you're battling, maybe more than one, battling this tendency of deterioration, this tendency to coast, this tendency to marginalize sin, this tendency to pursue something that isn't excellent but it's good enough to get by.

Instead of pushing forward, we hit autopilot. Have you ever thought about the fact that the sluggard here in Proverbs 6 can include somebody who simply decides to get by? Instead of pursuing priority, he has selected for his life mediocrity. His motto is, easy is better. All did at least expect it of me.

I'm not going to sweat the details. Solomon would say, go to the ant and learn to be wise. He would write later, whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, which means you never give in, you never give up, you never settle for just getting by.

Why? Because our creator, redeemer to whom we've sung and to whom we've offered our worship this day deserves our very best. God deserves your very best. And that's an important reminder. I'm glad you joined us here on Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen is working his way through a series entitled In Living Color, the Curriculum of Creation.

He's calling today's lesson, Truths from the Tiniest of Teachers. If you joined us late, or if you want to hear this message again, we've posted it to our website, wisdomonline.org. At the bottom of every page on our website, there's a button that says open mic. Click there and send us a message. Then join us next time on Wisdom for the Heart. Thank you. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-05 05:44:50 / 2023-10-05 05:53:50 / 9

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