John T. Willis

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Ant, the Flea, and the Fly

It is interesting that the Bible uses different insects to declare God's message. Three of these insects are the ant, the flea, and the fly. Here are some of the biblical ideas.

I. The Ant is an Example of Industriousness.
    a. Proverbs 6:6-11 is a paragraph emphasizing the sin of laziness.
          Go to the ant, you lazybones;
              consider its ways, and be wise.
          Without having any chief or officer or ruler,
               it prepares its food in summer,
               and gathers its sustenance in harvest.
          How long will you lie there, O lazybones?
               When will you rise from your sleep?
           A little sleep, a little slumber,
                a little folding of the hands to rest,
           and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
               and want, like an armed warrior.
    b. Paul was deeply troubled about Christians who would not work. He says in 2 Thessalonians
        Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
        to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that
                                     they received from us.
        For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, we were not idle when we were with you,
        and we did not eat anyone's bread without paying for it;
        but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you.
        This was not because we did not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate.
        For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work
                                     should not eat.
        For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work.
        Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly
        and to each their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.
    c. True Christians work hard under God's guidance and motivation.

II. The Ant is an Example to show that Small Things are VERY IMPORTANT.
     a. Proverbs 30:24-28 uses FOUR examples of creatures who are small but wise.
         Four things on earth are small,
              yet they are exceedingly wise:        
         the ants are a people without strength,
               yet they provide their food in the summer;
         the badgers are a people without power,
               yet they make their homes in the rocks;
         the locusts have no king,
               yet all of them march in rank;
         the lizard can be grasped in the hand,
               yet it is found in kings' palaces.
     b. There are numerous examples of SMALL PEOPLE in the eyes of other human beings, but in the eyes of God they are exceedingly important. Size and wealth and power mean nothing to God. God's concern is the heart.

III. The Flea is an Example of Humility.
      a. Only two texts in the Bible refer to a flea. Both of them have to do with the attitude of David. When Saul was trying to kill David, David repeatedly refused to kill Saul when he was able, and declares that Saul was the Lord's anointed, and that David felt like he was only a single flea.
       b. When David and his men hid in the cave at En-gedi, Saul came into the cave to relieve himself. After he left, David called out to him from a distance, and said in 1 Samuel 24:14:
            Against whom has the king of Israel come out?
            Whom do you pursue?
            A dead dog? A single flea?
      c. The same thought also appears in 1 Samuel 26:20. After David could have killed Saul when Saul was asleep with his soldiers, David went up on a hill and called out to Saul, saying:
           Now therefore, do not let my blood fall to the ground, away from the presence of the Lord;
           for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea,
           like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.
      d. Ungodly people will often attempt to persecute and destroy people they do not like. When this happens, David is an outstanding example. He pictures himself as very insignificant, like a single flea.

IV. The Fly can be a Plague on Ungodly People.
      a . Several passages in the Bible relate the Fourth Plague that God sent on Pharaoh and the Egyptians when they refused to let the Israelites go out of captivity. Exodus 8:24 gives this description:
           Great swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh and into the officials' houses;
            in all of Egypt the land was ruined because of the flies.
      b. Here in West Texas, we are covered with flies, especially in the summer. So we can relate to this situation.
      c. Psalms 78:45; 105:31 allude to this event to emphasize Yahweh's power to punish wicked people.

Share YOUR experiences and thoughts and dreams and setbacks and successes with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, July 26, 2015

One can trust in God, because he is our Refuge--Psalm 31

One can quickly resonate with the feelings of the author of Psalm 31. He is burdened with many challenging problems. (1) He is very sick--verses 9-10. (2) He feels that God is punishing him because he has committed some terrible sins--verses 10, 22. (3) He has strong enemies who are plotting schemes against him and are trying to figure out how to put him to death--verses 4, 11, 13, 15, 17-18, 20, 21, 23. (4) His neighbors and close relatives avoid him because they are convinced his hardships are the result of God's punishment for his sins--verse 11. Psalm 31 falls into three parts.

I. The psalmist trusts in God to deliver him from his afflictions as God had done in the past--Psalm 31:1-8.
    a. 31:1-3 is almost verbatim with Psalm 71:1-3. It also contains thoughts similar to Psalm 18:1-2. The psalmist implores Yahweh to rescue him from his distresses. He seeks refuge in God. He asks God to deliver him. He beseeches Yahweh to incline his ear to him, rescue him quickly, be a rock of refuge and a strong fortress for him, lead him, and guide him. 31:1-3.
   b. The psalmist praises Yahweh for his righteousness, and because Yahweh is the psalmist's rock and fortress. 31:1, 3. Many biblical texts call Yahweh "ROCK"--cf. Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31, 37; 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 18:2, 31, 46; and often.
   c. The speaker asks God to take him out of the net. He praises God for being his refuge, and because he had redeemed him in the past. Thus he proclaims: "Into your hand I commit my spirit." Jesus quoted this line on the crucifixion (Luke 23:46). 31:4-5.
   d. The psalmist gives God THREE REASONS why he should answer his pleas.
       1. The psalmist's enemies are worshippers of idols--v. 6.
       2. God had delivered him in the past--vv. 5, 7-8,
       3. The psalmist commits God's care into his hands and totally trusts in him--vv. 1-7. 31:6-8.

II. The psalmist portrays a detailed description of his troubles--Psalm 31:9-18.
     a. First, the psalmist explains that he has been very ill for a long time. His whole body wastes away with grief. His life is spent with sorrow and sighing. His strength fails and his bones waste away. His whole life--physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually--is tormented with sickness. 31:9-10.
     b. Second, his close relatives and neighbors avoid him and scoff at him because of his terrible condition. Almost completely separated from all his acquaintances, he feels like he is dead, he is like a broken vessel. 31:11-12.
     c. Third, wicked enemies are devising conniving plans to destroy the psalmist.
         1. The poet is surrounded by his enemies, they terrify him, they whisper evil things about him, but do not speak to him face to face; they get together and scheme against him, they plot to take his life. 31:13.
         2. The psalmist's enemies are liars, they speak insolently against the righteous, they are filled with pride, arrogance, and contempt. 31:18.
         3. In the face of these enemies and their wicked plans, the psalmist still trusts in God. He knows that Yahweh  holds his times in his hand. Thus, he beseeches Yahweh to deliver him from his enemies and persecutors. He rests his life on Yahweh's steadfast love to save him from his enemies. He implores Yahweh to put the wicked to shame and bring them down into Sheol, the grave. 31:14-17.

III.  The poet exhorts his fellow worshippers to trust in Yahweh. Psalm 31:19-24.
       a. Yahweh has answered the psalmist's prayers. Now the poet praise Yahweh for all he has done for him. First, he praises Yahweh for "laying up" or "storing" his goodness to bring forth in behalf of the faithful. The psalmist has taken refuge in Yahweh, and now Yahweh showers him with his goodness. 31:19.
       b. Second, the psalmist declares that Yahweh has "sheltered" him from his enemies who had devised evil plots and spoken against him with contentious tongues. 31:20.
       c. Third, the poet felt that he had been like a city under siege against enemies, and that his enemies had driven him far from God's sight. And yet, Yahweh manifested his steadfast love when he cried out to him for help. 31:21-22.
       d. Finally, the psalmist turns directly to "all his faithful saints" in his community, encouraging them to be strong and take courage in the power of Yahweh, especially when their enemies act haughtily and seek to demean and destroy them. 31:23-24.

Share YOUR experiences and surprises and reversals and intentions and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis