Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Go to the Ant (Proverbs 6:6-11)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, this morning I were going to take a brief break from the book of Romans and read a section from proverbs, proverbs chapter six. I've been thinking a lot about how we it is that we learn from nature, and have even enjoyed some discussions with some of you on this, so I thought it might be nice to consider this together. Proverbs six, versus six through eleven, God's word about work and a few other things. Let's hear God's Word from proverbs chapter six, verses six through eleven. Go to the ant, Oh sluggard, consider her ways and be wise. Without having any chief officer or ruler, she prepares her bread and summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, Oh sluggard? When will you arise 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 man. The God bless his word to us. Please be seated. Well, as many of you know, the book of proverbs is a book of Wisdom. It says as much and is obviously so. It contains all kinds of conclusions about life, things that we ought to do and we ought to see. Sometimes they come in just one sentence, so one little statement about the way life is, the way that we should live it. Other Times there are these extended sections. This is one of them, proverbs six, six through eleven. It's a one of the smaller ones, but nevertheless it gives us a little bit of a picture, more than just a single image. It gives us this conclusion and includes with it warnings and various admonitions. There's two obvious commandments here, or well, at least one of them is obvious. Will start with that one. The obvious commandment here is that we are to work. It's pretty simple, isn't it? It doesn't require a complicated exegesis, it doesn't require a lot of proofs. It's right there on the surface. We're not to be lazy, we're not to be sluggards. It's not a word we use a whole lot anymore, but we all, I think, know the meaning. If you don't that the picture of a sluggard is given here. It's given throughout proverbs and different ways. Here the picture is in versus. Nine through eleven. It pictures a person who is lying there, who's just inactive, not sleeping, not resting, not doing something in along those lines, but just lying there. Well, I guess sleeping, yes. So when will you arise from your sleep, it says, but it pictures this person as something of an escapist. They're using sleep, using rest and being lazy as a way to avoid problems, as a way to ignore certain things, certain realities. Verse Ten comes somewhat in the voice of the sluggard. A little sleep,...

...a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and sort of the sluggard saying they're it's is not a big deal, I'm just taking a break, I'm just easing myself a little bit. But then after this sort of relaxed no big deal, don't worry about it, everything's fine. Kind of verse eleven comes in the Voice of the sage and hits strong. So verse ten is kind of relaxed. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hat rat hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber. Want will come upon you like an armed man. I have, fortunately, never had the experience of getting mugged. Maybe I hope none of you have, but that's what's being described here. A robber coming upon you, slamming you up a well, against a wall, taking your things. This kind of surprise attack is what will happen to the sluggard. Poverty will come upon you like a robber, like an armed man. So there's the picture we have. This sluggard, then, is commanded to go and work as people made in the image of God, if we are to be wise, we are to be workers. The Bible Commands US and tells us that being lazy is not an alternative and that bad things happen. Bad things happen. Proverbs gives various kinds of things that happen when we're lazy and not hard workers. Proverbs ten, twenty six. Twenty six says that it irritates those who we do business with. Have you ever had a coworker who was lazy, somebody who is on your team and we were expected to get a job done, and yet they were always saying verse ten, don't worry, it'll get done, just relax, they don't show up for work. Coworkers, employers, it's irritating, it's frustrating. Proverbs ten five says that the sluggard shames his parents. In Proverbs Nineteen and twenty four. Chapters nineteen and twenty four says that the sluggard destroys a family inheritance. All that has been worked for and gained, perhaps even for generations, can be lost when a person says I don't really feel like working, I don't really feel like being a wise person going out into the world engaging. But it's not merely these sort of interpersonal conflicts and money problems that come, like poverty and want, mentioned in six through eleven, but it's a moral problem too. It's not something that you can simply say, well, I would just prefer to have that kind of lifestyle. I'd prefer to be poor and in want and I don't care about my family's inheritance and I don't care about my employer or shaming my parents. It's not really a decision and an alternative that you can make because it's a moral problem. In proverbs there are many verses. I won't all list some of the chapters and verses here. Sixteen six through eleven, ten, four, eighteen, nine, two, thousand and thirteen, twenty one, twenty five through twenty six. The list goes on. It connects being a sluggard with the loss of life. It's contrasted in fifteen nineteen with being upright. It's contrasted in twenty one, twenty five through twenty six. If being righteous, being a sluggard is the opposite of being upright. It's the opposite of being righteous, and this makes sense when...

...we consider how it is God made man. You remember that God made the world in six days and he placed man in it to do what, to work. Now, God gave him a day of rest as well, and even exhibited that pattern in his own working. Six Days, you shall labor and do all your work, and on the seventh you shall rest, the fourth commandment says. But there is a command to work, there isn't there? We were made for this. Sometimes we think of work as being a cursed thing, and that's true, it is, but it's not work itself that is the problem. God Gave Adam and Eve this task of cultivating and creating, of living in a way that expanded the garden that we're in, that multiplied their children and taught those children the ways of the Lord. There is this thing that we were built for, and I think you know that you experience it. A job well done feels good in your bones. You look at a a clean room or a sale that you've made, or a house that you've built or or a case that you've won, and you said, how is good, it was fun, it's hard, I enjoyed it. We like, I'm getting outside even and doing manual labor. Even if we're not able to do it, we kind of find ourselves missing it in some ways. There's this way in which we really are made to enjoy our work, and so when we are lazy, when we are sluggards, were cutting against all of that and bringing about these consequences that God warns about. And so here he commands us to work, to work like the aunt. Don't wait around for people to tell you what to do, don't wait to be instructed and reprimanded and commanded. Just do your job, do the things that you were made to do. So this is the first and obvious command that we have in proverbs six through eleven. It's not only here but throughout scriptures and in our very hearts and nature built in. But there's a second command here that's also important to consider, and it's the very first word. Go, go now, not just go anywhere, of course, but go to the aunt now. It's a specific command, but it's meant to be understood in a more broad way. God is commanding us not only to go to the aunt to learn this lesson, but to go out into the world and learn wisdom. We are to be observers, reflectors. We are to learn how to make analogies and see things in the world and learn moral lessons from them. In some of the texts that we've read this morning we've heard about how in creation itself, God proclaims things, he tells us of himself and his commands. So it makes sense that we would be studiers of that, that we would go and learn the natural laws that God has made, that we would be deeply reflective about them. And that's exactly what it the God commands here in six through eleven to the sluggard. He doesn't only tell him the conclusion. He doesn't merely say go sluggard and work. He knows that he has to feel it inside, he has to kind of realize it for himself. He needs to see the lesson played out. It's not only...

...a matter of doing the thing that is to be learned, but he's also to learn the lesson. Go to the aunt, consider her ways and be wise. This is such an important lesson when we think about what it means to be moral people to follow God's law. Sometimes we want to reduce God's commandments to just a list of things, maybe ten things. And indeed scripture gives a summaries of God's laws, a commandments which are to be understood and followed. Proverbs itself gives us lots of lists of things to do and to see. But God didn't merely give us ten or twenty or a thousand principles or rules to follow. God created a moral order that can be in many ways compared to the world that he has made. Consider God's world. It is complex, beautiful, interrelated. You don't just have water, air and fire or something like that. You don't just have these basic elements or things a periodic table sort of floating around somehow. Know, you have rivers, hurricanes and candles. You have things that overlap and work together, things that influence one another. There's a there's a complex system and order in a way of life. There's divisions. Right when God made the world, he separated things, male, female, sky, land, Sun, Moon. But these divisions aren't aren't these held in these little boxes they are. There are ways in which they interact with each other. They relate to one another, male and female. He made them, and yet they become one when they join together in marriage. That's complex. It creates relationships that are complex. It creates a world that is complex, complex and beautiful and studiable. Well, this world that God is made is not only a thing of matter, but there's also this moral order that God has made, an order that we learn and grow from. We don't just have a periodic table of commands, we have an orderly world, a system that works in particular ways, and that's what a lot of proverbs is about. Deuteronomy, when God gives the laws to Israel, is much more boom boom, boom boom, a very strict list of commands with all kinds of sanctions and things like that, blessings and sanctions. Proverbs goes out in that world and says, let's look at the way things work. What happens when you decide not to be a worker and a hard worker? What happens when you decide to be a sluggard? Well, they are consequences. Poverty comes upon you, want comes upon you, shame comes upon you. This is the way the world works. There are laws and consequences and blessings. There's this created moral order God has made, and we are called not merely to glean from it particular principles, but we are to observe it. We are to go to the ant and to the stars and to the forests. We are to go to the relationships that...

...we have with one another and and learn from these things. We can't treat our ethical lives as though it was simply following a set of ten little rules. We are to be studiers, pursuers of wisdom, and that takes time to observe, reflect, make analogies. This kind of thing is illustrated in proverbs twenty four. I'll read a few verses to you there, and it's related to our passage in proverb six. Proverbs for twenty are, sorry, twenty four versus thirty through thirty four. Here we have an example of the kind of thing we are to do. In proverb six, the the wise man commands the sluggard to go out and observe. Here the wise man is doing the observing. He shows us how this works, exemplifies it. I passed by the field of a sluggard by the vineyard of a man lacking sense. So he is going out into the world, right, he sees something, okay, he takes the time to observe it. What are as observations? And behold, it was all overgrown with thorns and the ground was covered heard with nettles and it's stone wall was broken down. So you see, he doesn't merely pass by the field and notice it and move on. He takes the time, he notices particular details, but he doesn't stop there. Verse Thirty Two. Then I saw and considered it, I looked and received instruction. And then this will sound a familiar 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 man. So you see, you have two people doing similar things here in Chapter Twenty Four. You have the wise man doing this. He's learning his lesson right. He goes out and he sees this field. Here's a field that is owned by a sluggard. He has a vineyard, he has something that can produce him wealth and joy. What does he do? He doesn't work and instead of having this vineyard, this man who has less lacks sense, has a field that's overgrown with Thorns, oh stone wall that's broken down, animals and people coming in and out. Poverty is upon him. Want is like an arm man. He's learned this lesson in for chapter six it's turned just a little bit. Instead, the command is to the sluggerd hey, why don't you go out? Why don't you go out into the world and learn a lesson? Why don't you go consider something and become wise? Pay Attention, wake up, get to work, stop lying there thinking that everything's going to come to you or that you can escape the harsh realities of poverty and want. Go consider the ant, be wise without having any ruler officer. She prepares her bread in the summer and gathers her food in the harvest. What about you? So this is the way that we are called to go into the world. Sometimes proverbs gives up straight up conclusions, but other times it teaches us how to reach those conclusions on our own. This is where wisdom comes from and it's how it's obtained. Now, when we think about this and how we do or don't do this in our own lives, I find that I...

...come up short in many ways, and I think you probably do too. We want wisdom, at least in some ways. We want to know how to how does the world work? How can I make a lot of money or how can I have a good marriage? But it's not merely about obtaining these things, although that's good, but it's an inside matter too. How do we live before the Lord? How do we fear him in a way that respects the world that he has made, this moral order that he has put into place? How do we, as his image bearers, go out into the world and act accordingly? But what we often do is what we ought not to do. Sometimes we're lazy. Say I don't have time and I don't want to bother with thinking and reflecting and considering. I don't want to bother with working and obeying and doing the things that God has commanded. We act as though we are masters of our own orders, as oh the world that God has made is simply not the world that we want to belong to, that we'd rather do something else, we'd rather live in another way, do things according to our plans, in our ways. That's, in some ways, what the sluggard's doing and what all the fools in the book of proverbs. Do they look at the world as it's made and say, AH, I'd rather not. And they're fools. Right, we know that they're fools, because bad things happen to them when they do these kinds of things. But we're fools too whenever we go against the world that God has made, against the order that he has created, and this is no little thing. Ultimately, it's an act of idolatry, it's an act of rebellion to tell us ay to the God who has made all of these things, who has brought forth into the world not only this good created a creation, but a balanced, wise moral world filled with goodness and blessing, and to rebel against that, to say no to God, to say no, I don't want to work, no, I don't want to study. No, I don't want to reflect, I want to live how I want to live, on my time, on my schedule. It's not just being foolish, it's being rebellious. The Bible gives us these strong commands and uses these strong words like struggles or sluggard or fool or death or shame to wake us up, to wake us up from our moral slumbers, to say hey, things are not good here. If God didn't love us, if God didn't care about us, he wouldn't tell us these things. We'd simply slip into our deaths, and just fully, rightfully so. But God is gracious and uses this, these things, to wake us up. But he does more than that as well. God even saves us from these things. If you struggle with laziness, if you struggle with taking the time to learn and to think about the world God has made, if you find that your sell you live in a way that is rebellious and foolish, then God has given us a salvation from these things. It's a salvation that comes not just from waking up and moving forward. Indeed, some of US find I can't wake up, I'm dead. I'm so entrapped by these feelings, by my own desires,...

...by my own lefts, that I don't know what to do. That's why God works for us. He does a work that we are unable to do and that he saves us from our sluggardly. I don't sluggardliness, our laziness. He saves us from ourselves. You remember what Roman says, that Jesus Christ saved us while we were still sluggards, sinners. Ungodly. God comes into the world in all of our not working, in all of our doing ungodly things and all of our refusing to obey and live as he has called us to do, and he has sent us a son to work on our behalf. Jesus is called our wisdom in the Bible because he lived not just according to rules one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten, but he lived rightly in accord with the whole moral order that God has made. Have you ever been in a situation where you say, I want to do the right thing, but I don't know how, I don't know whether I should do this or this, I don't know what the consequences are going to be. I don't know how to be wise? Jesus was always wise. Jesus was always able to perceive motives and intentions and consequences and to act rightly in the world. It wasn't just obeying a particular list, though he does that too, but every aspect of his life he lived in perfect wisdom, a King Wiser Than Solomon, and he does that not only is an example for us, but to save us from our own laziness, from our own deaths and poverty and want spiritual and otherwise. So when the Bible says to go to the aunt and work, we do that not in our own strength, but in the fear of the Lord, the fear of Jehovah, our Covenant God, who has made us in a particular way and saved us in a particular way, who's given us Jesus to work on our behalf and bring us into the kind of life that is the opposite of poverty, that's filled with blessing and joy. In the Kingdom of God, we don't live in a place that broken down walls and overgrown fields, because our lord is a worker. He's given US vineyards and and he's given us a house that is rich and full of blessing, much like when God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land and gave them these kinds of things. When God brings us into his kingdom through Jesus Christ, he gives us all these blessings, and that's the light in which we work, believing not that if we simply get up and live, that we will how we we will avoid all of our sins, but we get up and work knowing that Jesus is already worked on our behalf, that he's given us a vineyard that we can move about Freelian and tend to, and all for his glory. Frustration with our sin is often overwhelming. Sometimes our laziness, be it in the sort of sense of just working or our or the greater...

...sense of our moral laziness, our moral slackerdom, it can be frustrating. It's a parent and appalling. But that's why Jesus saved us. That's why Jesus brought us in and changed our hearts so that the burden of the law would be gone and that we could receive a yoke that was easy and light. Matthew Henry says that the yoke that we are given in Jesus is easy because it's lined with love. God's Love, God's love spread in our hearts, God's love given to us on the Cross, God's love and saving us from our sins allows us to work, enjoy and anticipation and thankfulness for the things that he has done. Let us be thankful to God for these things and get to work. Let's pray.

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