A Visit to the Ant Hill – Proverbs 6:6-8

ants.3A little preaching before FR takes a vacation:

A Visit to the Ant Hill – v. 6-8

6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;

consider its ways and be wise!

7 It has no commander,

no overseer or ruler,

8 yet it stores its provisions in summer

and gathers its food at harvest.

             There are thousands of species of ants in the world.  There are very small ants that can build a colony between sheets of office paper.  There are ants that heard insects called aphids, the way people heard cows for their milk.  There are ants that cut leaves, and grow fungus on them as a form of food.  Some ants live in small groups, others in huge colonies.

            The ants that are referred to in Proverbs 6:6 are called Harvester Ants.  They live along the Mediterranean Sea in the land of Israel, and they go out and gather grain.  They remove the grain from it’s husk and store it in their colonies storage area.  They can be seen working all though the harvest seasons, so that they have food to eat in the winter.

            Maybe because I was about to speak on this subject, we had an invasion of ants in our house.  It is not a bad invasion, but there are some little black ants that appear about this time of year every year.  They look around for anything sweet – spilled sugar, a cookie left out,  a drop of honey.  When they find it they somehow call on their brothers and sisters who come to have a feast.  I don’ tknow how they communicate – they do not have tiny little cell phones.  Scientists say that Ants communicate by giving off chemical smells.

            Well, we are not that happy with this lesson in proverbs in our house, and will be making sure we remove all the tasty things and wash all the counters.  It sometimes helps to wash the counters and window sills with vinegar.  They don’t like vinegar.

             Go to the Ant, O Sluggard.  There are two specific lessons that Ants teach.  

            The ant has no commander, overseer or ruler.  Now it is true that the Ant Colony has often a queen ant.  And there are different classes of ants with different jobs within the colony.  However, the point here is that the ants do not need someone watching over their shoulder.  They do not need a boss or a foreman to keep them busy.  They are busy by nature.

            This is compared to the Sluggard. What does the sluggard do? He sits in his easy chair and says, “Oh, I will just take a little longer nap. I will just stay in bed a little longer.”  It takes the alarm clock to wake up the sluggard.

               I once had a job as a security guard.  The job started at 11pm and continued to 7am.  I would go to work at night, then go to classes in the day, and then sleep in the afternoon.  Two times I did not hear my alarm clock.  My co-worker got mad at me for being late.  So I learned an important lesson.  I got two alarm clocks and I put both of them so far from my bed that I could not just turn them off and fall back asleep.

             Do you need a commander?  It ought to be that as a follower of the Lord, you do not need to have someone check up on you.  You should not need toe pastor or an elder or your Sunday school teacher come knock on your door and see what you are doing?

            We can all learn something important from the Ant in our spiritual life.  Do not lay about expecting other people to provide your needs.  You need to do the gathering and storing.

             Every day you should gather some of the Word of God from the Bible in your daily reading.  You should not just look at it, but you should take it home and store it away.

            Some Christians rely on others to keep them fed.  They only go to church, or they only listen to the radio or TV messages. 

            But you need to gather the word of God for yourself as well.

             I started something new this year during the season of Lent.  I read in my Spanish bible from one book and then I write out my thoughts in Spanish.  This is interesting for me, in that it helps me read the bible closely.  I have often noticed things in the Spanish that I did not notice in the English.

            This is one of the things that I do.  What do you do?

             He Prepares for the Future.   The ants know to gather food while it is available, so it will be there when it is needed.  So harvester ants gather in the summer and fall, and eat from their stores in the winter.

            The natural temptation is to eat the food when it is available.  So if you have a garden you can be eating the early tomatoes and the lettuce and spinach.  Summer squash is starting to come it.

            These will not be here this winter.  This is why the food is harvested and stored.  In years past, our ancestors would gather the food and dry it, or salt it, or smoke it.  They found a way to store it.         We depend on the grocery store and the refrigerator.  It would be easy to think that there will always available food.

            We will be wise to store for the future.  You should have money saved during the good times to help when times are leaner.  We have the old English proverb:  “Save for a rainy day.”

             The Scriptures tell us that we need to be aware of the seasons.  We will have times in our lives when we have easy access to teaching, fellowship and worship with God’s people.  That is wonderful when it happens.  But there will also be dry times.  So you need to be storing up spiritual strength when you can, so that we will not starve in the dry periods

            This takes many forms. 

            We need to learn how to pray – so that when we need to we can.

            We need to develop good Christian friends – so that one of us is in need, the other is there to help.

            We need to know that the scripture predicts times of hardship and persecution.  Are we headed toward a season of hardship for Christians?  I can not say, but I can say, that now we ought to be gathering the harvest.

Summer Schedule

Well, Fresh Read has been busy with finishing the church and school year, and gearing up for September.  Hence the infrequent posting recently. After this week, we will be on a three week vacation, so the schedule will continue to be slow.

In the Fall we will be preaching a year long series entitled “We Believe” that follows our Statement of Faith.  Each month will bring a new topic.  So Fresh Read will jump about a bit for the next year.

The summary we have constructed of our Statement of Faith forms the titles to these monthly series:  God Created…and spoke…to Humanity…about Jesus…our Savior.  The Spirit…unites us..in love…in hope and in Mission.

We will follow texts of different genre that explore the themes of Creation, Revelation, The Human Condition, the Identity and Work of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Church, Love of God and Love of Neighbor, the future and the urgency of the message.

It should be fun.

Proverbs and the charge of sexism

Often we hear that the book of Proverbs is very male oriented.  We hear that it is, because of that and it’s age, quite sexist.  What are we to make of that?

the main teaching of the first 9 chapters is a discussion between a father and son on the lessons of wisdom.  So from at that point the charge has some merit.  Yet, there are several points that mitigate.

It is clear that in several ways, women play a key role in these chapters.  Both Mother and Father are involved in instruction: In 1:8  Mother and Father are in parallel, and also in the father’s recollection of his education in  4:3. 

Women are presented in these chapters as either the personification of Wisdom (1:20-33;3:13-18; 4:4-9; 8:-36; 9:1-6) or as the personification of seduction or folly (2:16-22; 5:3-14; 6:24-35; 7:6-27; 9:13-18).

Yet men can be represented by the various characters we find in the book – the wise, the prudent the diligent worker as opposed to the fool, the simpleton, the scoffer and the thick headed.

In the genre of Wisdom Writings, it is frequent that the format is the father teaching a son, but that does not make the wisdom irrelevant to women.  The dual character of both men and women to be either wise or foolish is depicted in a rather even handed manner.

Proverbs can not be considered a text-book for totaly egalitarianism, yet it does not by that earn the charge of sexism.