God’s Sermon Illustrations
Especially during the Texas summers, I have sometimes wondered why God created creatures like wasps, snakes, and cockroaches. The Bible tells us that, among other reasons for their creation, there are often spiritual lessons to be learned from animal species! Nature is often used as God’s way of illustrating spiritual principles. Proverbs 30:24-28 contains a list of wise lessons from animals. The writer says that, “there are four things that are little on the earth, yet are exceedingly wise” (v.24). What could we possibly learn from creatures so small?
Value of forethought and organization — “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer” (Prov. 30:25). Sometimes it’s easy to “fly by the seat of our pants” in life. God’s word emphasizes the preciousness and importance of time, however (Psalm 90:10-12; Eph. 5:15-17). A disordered, goalless life is a reflection of a life that lacks wisdom and understanding. The ants know that winter is coming and therefore work hard through the summer months to prepare. Many a person knows that death is coming (Heb. 9:27-28), and yet like the “rich fool” they rarely give thought to eternal things (Luke 12:13-21). We could learn a great deal from the ants!
Value of finding refuge — “Marmots [coneys] are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags” (Prov. 30:26). Did you ever see a skittish creature like a marmot? They are instinctively cautious because they know that life is unpredictable. Moreover, these creatures realize that they have little defense when life gets dangerous and so they seek refuge. Legion are the people in this world that would be devastated physically, emotionally, and spiritually if life threw them a “curve ball.” God’s word calls Jesus a “rock” and our hope in Him an “anchor” (1 Cor. 10:4; Heb. 6:19). Will your anchor really hold in the unpredictable storms of life? Little creatures can tell us a great deal about the value of security and refuge.
Value of cooperation and order — “Locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks” (Prov. 30:27). Throughout history, devastating swarms of locusts have been greatly feared in the Middle East. An individual locust will rarely leave its swarm because it instinctively knows that its power and effectiveness is diminished. Some brethren in the Lord’s church seem to believe that they can be the “Lone Ranger” where Christianity is concerned. This, “I can do it myself” mentality does not square with Scripture (Heb. 3:12-13). Other Christians seem to believe that they can be withdrawn and aloof from their brethren with no serious spiritual consequences. Our faithful attendance, our willingness to be hospitable, and our sincere desire to know other Christians better are all important elements of the unity that Christ intended His church to possess (Jn. 17:21-22; Eph. 4:1-3). The church is stronger when cooperation prevails among brethren. Locusts find great strength in cooperation!
Value of boldness — “A lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces” (Prov. 30:28). Seems like many people are afraid of causing offense these days. While we should never deliberately set out to offend someone (Eph. 4:15), there is tremendous wisdom in being bold concerning God’s word (2 Tim. 1:7). People are lost in sin, and we cannot afford to be timid in warning them! The apostles prayed for boldness (Acts 4:29) and then, “spoke the word with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Like a lizard in a king’s palace, so Christians must sometimes dare to enter places that do not appear welcoming. Souls (perhaps even our own) are at stake (Eze. 3:17-21)! —JB