Christ employed the things of nature to illustrate divine truth. He bade them speak, that man might heed the voice of God. He used as object-lessons the flowers He had created, and the things of the animal world. Under His teaching, nature utters her voice to declare the wonderful works of God, and to reprove man’s unbelief and his forgetfulness of his constant dependence upon the Creator.
“Take no thought for your life,” Christ said, “what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” Consider the ravens. They neither sow nor reap; but they act the part God designed them to act, and He takes care of them. And will not that God who has given man all that he has, keep him in health and strength if he complies with the conditions by obedience to the laws of his being?
“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature,” Christ asked. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Let the lily, beautifully tinted and gracefully formed by the great Master-Artist, surpassing in its loveliness the artificial adorning of Solomon, teach us the lesson of simplicity and faith.
The lesson book of nature is open to all. When men and women cease trying to counter-work the purposes of Divinity; when they place themselves under the discipline of grace, they will see that they have a work to do in becoming conversant with plant and animal life. If less time were devoted to the preparation of elaborate meals for the gratification of appetite, and more time spent in the contemplation of God’s works in nature, men and women would be better fitted to serve their Creator.
God has entrusted human beings with talents. He has given men and women intellect, that they may study His dealings with them. All have the privilege of knowing the only true God, whom to know aright is life eternal. Shall we, then, follow our own inclinations, and indulge our inherited and cultivated tendencies to wrong, without reference to God’s word? The birds of the air, guided by instinct, are obedient to the laws that govern their life. But the beings formed in God’s image fail to honour Him by obeying His laws. By disregarding the laws which govern the human organism, they disqualify themselves for serving God. God sends them warnings to beware of how they dishonour Him by breaking the laws which govern their bodies; but habit is strong, and they will not heed.
The swallows and the cranes observe the changes of the season. To find a suitable clime, they migrate from one country to another, as God designed they should. But men and women sacrifice life and health in seeking to gratify appetite. In their desire to accumulate earthly treasure, they forget the Giver of all their blessings. They abuse their health, and use their powers to carry out their unsanctified, ambitious projects. Their days are filled with pain of body and disquietude of mind because they are determined to follow wrong habits and practices. They will not reason from cause to effect, but sacrifice health, peace, and happiness to their ignorance.
The wise man addresses the indolent in these words: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise; which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her fruit in the harvest.”
The habitations which the ants build for themselves show wonderful skill and perseverance. Only one little grain at a time can they handle, but by diligence and perseverance they accomplish wonders. Solomon points to their industry as a reproach to those who waste their hours in sinful idleness, or in practices which corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons. This lesson is, by many gifted with reasoning powers, entirely disregarded. They fail entirely to prepare for that future life which God has secured for those of the fallen race who are obedient to Him.
Stones have frequently been used as memorials of God’s dealing with His people. Joshua, knowing that the time of his service as the visible leader of the children of Israel was about to end, gathered the people together, and caused them to renew their covenant with their Maker. Then he “wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. Behold, he said, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord, which He spake unto us. It shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.”
None have an excuse for misusing their powers. Such misuse robs God of the service He demands. By creation and by redemption man is the Lord’s. The qualities with which he has been endowed shows how high an estimate the Lord places on human beings. He has given every man his work. Every youth, every child, has a work to do in accordance with the Lord’s revealed will. No one can waste his opportunities and privileges without robbing God. How can we ignore the responsibilities which rest upon us? The sun, the moon, the stars, the rocks, the flowing stream, the broad restless ocean, all teach lessons that we would do well to heed. Shall we not learn from God’s great book of nature that He bestows His love, mercy, and grace on us every moment of our lives, that in turn we may serve Him and our fellow-men? Bible Echo, August 7, 1899.