Squirrels and Ostriches
We were casually on our way to the meeting house one Sunday morning. As far as I could see, we were the only vehicle on the road, at least for a few turns. Suddenly a squirrel came running out from the left side right toward us (which is not unusual), and … well he didn’t make it. Not this time. I thought, what in the world is wrong with these things? I am the only car on this stretch, and he had to wait until right then to dash out and get hit? What was he thinking? (Mind you, I’m asking what a squirrel was thinking…) Were he and his buddies making some kind of bet? “Hey, here comes a lone car. Let’s see if Frankie here will rush out there to see how close he can get before …” Bad decision. Poor Frankie.
It just so happened that I was also teaching that morning from Job (coincidence?), and was commenting on this passage (Job 39:13-18):
“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them.
She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider.”
This is one of those interesting passages that makes one wonder what the point is. Why would God trot out the ostrich, among all the other great beasts, in His speech to Job? I had long wondered myself, but there are important lessons to be learned here, and we should not miss them.
Some animals are known for their craftiness (like serpents) and others are known for strength or agility (like the big cats). Some show an amazing sense of innate knowledge and wisdom (like returning to the place of birth or always heading in the right direction to get they need to go). There is a reason we generally like to watch shows or read about animals and their marvelous instincts.
Then there are the others… Why are there some animals that just seem to have little or no sense at all (at least in some areas)? They are almost comical in the way that they act. There is little wisdom or understanding. A squirrel can be just as foolish as imaginable… like see a car and run out in front of it for no apparent reason. An ostrich is pretty comical, though not something to mess around with.
Why are these animals like this? The answer given by God in Job is that He made them this way. Why would God make an animal to be silly or foolish? Consider this:
Just as God gives us examples through animals and insects of wisdom and strength (e.g., the ant in Prov 6:6-8), so God gives us examples through animals of that which is devoid of wisdom. These are animals that are living proverbs of folly and senselessness. They make us wonder at how something could be so ridiculous and foolish. Does any of this teach us lessons?
Yes, and here we are, human beings who are often rushing out into traffic and challenging wisdom with our own brands of folly and senselessness. Yet we were the ones who were created in God’s image and made to think and reason. We were not made to be foolish, but to reflect deeply on who were are and why we are supposed to be glorifying God through holy choices.
Animals can teach us. If we can look at ants and learn something of wisdom (Prov 6:6), we can look at squirrels and ostriches and learn something of folly.
The warnings are plentiful. Proverbs devotes many passages to the warnings about being foolish. For example: Wisdom asks, “How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” (Prov 1:22)
“For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them” (Prov 1:32). “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly.” (Prov 13:16) “Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?” (Prov 17:16)
We should get the idea (i.e., read Proverbs). We have been warned, and nature is one more way God seeks to show us wisdom and folly. Pay attention to the creatures around you. They are teaching us lessons of both wisdom and folly, and we ought to be learning.
Consider the squirrel…