Going to the zoo can be a fun experience. The bigger the zoo the more animals there are to look at. You can go to the zoo to study animal habits and see animals you have never seen in person before. Visiting the zoo is one of the simple pleasures in life. When you go to the zoo you tend to look for the pandas, bears, lions, giraffes, etc. They seem like more interesting or exotic animals to watch and learn about. Throughout history man has used animal characteristics they have learned about to describe characteristics in man. This can be a very good visual effect. You find it in artwork, stories, mythology and even the Bible. Jesus many times tried to explain things to his disciples and the people with things from their everyday lives. In Matthew 10:16 -20 Jesus uses 4 different animals (some of which you wouldn’t necessarily go to the zoo to learn from) to make some very important points to the disciples:
16 “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as harmless as doves. 17 Because people will hand you over to sanhedrins and flog you in their synagogues, beware of them. 18 You will even be brought before governors and kings because of Me, to bear witness to them and to the nations. 19 But when they hand you over, don’t worry about how or what you should speak. For you will be given what to say at that hour, 20 because you are not speaking, but the Spirit of your Father is speaking through you.
Jesus uses these animals to give us some very important instructions. In this passage he tells us to “be shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves”. You can find many places throughout history where serpents have been used to symbolize wisdom or evil. Serpents are known for being sneaky. You sometimes don’t even know they are there. They are known for their slow and deliberate preparation for attack. They are known for the speed of their attack. They are known for the deadliness of their attack. You can’t see their fangs until they attack. We need to understand that those who are of the world and not a part of the Christian family will not go out of their way to make life easy for us. They will most likely seek ways to attack. We need to understand that they can be dangerous and can quickly and successfully attack us. We need to know they will find ways to sneak up on us and strike when they are ready. We need to use our knowledge about how serpents work to protect ourselves and our testimony. Be aware that you might have a serpent sneaking up on you and waiting to attack. Don’t let yourself walk in to traps. Be wise. Don’t let your testimony slip for one moment or it might be used against you. We are also instructed to be gentle or righteous as a dove. When you think of the two animals, you tend to think that most people would kill a serpent first and would leave the dove unharmed. After all they are just a gentle bird and a serpent can kill you. So if we are righteous in our actions or gentle in our actions people will be more likely to listen to us or leave us unharmed. They will have less ammunition to attack us with. The soft cooing of a dove will get us further than the hiss of the snake when it comes to our words.
Take time to study the four animals Jesus used in this passage to see what Jesus was trying to teach you about your walk with Him through this world. Take His instructions serious.
How many of us have experienced our mother’s comfort? We fell off our bike and she picked us up. We were rejected by a boy we liked and she comforted us. We didn’t make it in to the college of our choice and she comforted us. Our mothers hug us, kiss us, find us our favorite toy, take us to a movie, and give us words of encouragement. God understands comforting His children like a mother does. In Isaiah 66 He speaks to the nation of Israel about the evil people that surround them. He comforts them with words about how He will take care of their enemies. He reminds them that judgment day will come and that will take care of them and bless them. They will see and rejoice at what God does. God knows everyone understands their mother’s comfort. He speaks through Isaiah and tells the people the following in Isaiah 66:13-
“As a mother comforts her son, so I will comfort you, and you will be comforted in Jerusalem.
In this simple statement there is comfort, just to know God loves us like our mom’s love us. There is also comfort in the fact that this is an absolute. There is no doubt that God will comfort and take care of His children. He proclaims “you will” be comforted. What a blessing to know that the trials will end and God will comfort. What a comfort to know that God will take care of the enemy and we will rejoice when it is done. There will be an end to pain, suffering and sorrow. What an encouragement that we will be comforted by God like our mothers comforted us as children.
It’s really easy for us to make judgments about situations and the people involved in them. We may be smart and we may be wise. Yet in reality we need to think about who might really be the better judge. David had to remind Saul about that while they were dealing with their accidental meeting in the cave. Read I Samuel 24: 11-15.
11 See, my father! Look at the corner of your robe in my hand, for I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. Look and recognize that there is no evil or rebellion in me. I haven’t sinned against you even though you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 “May the LORD judge between you and me, and may the LORD take vengeance on you for me, but my hand will never be against you. 13 As the old proverb says, ‘Wickedness comes from wicked people. ‘ My hand will never be against you. 14 Who has the king of Israel come after? What are you chasing after? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the LORD be judge and decide between you and me. May He take notice and plead my case and deliver me from you.”
King Saul had been so busy being jealous of David and chasing him through the countryside that he lost focus of who David was in character. He began judging David incorrectly. He assumed he was after his throne. He assumed David was out to kill him. Saul was a good man in the beginning of his life, but he walked away from the Lord and didn’t let the Lord guide his thinking or actions any more. He no longer stopped and thought. He no longer was sensitive in his thinking to what the Lord’s Will was. He no longer was a good judge of people or situations. His thinking was all messed up without God in his life. David used that moment to try and remind Saul that he was not a good judge of him and that only God would judge what David had done or not done rightly. Only God can judge whether Saul or David was honest and good.
So next time you start to judge someone or a situation, stop and think, be sensitive to the Lord and use common sense and remember that you are not the best judge. You are just human. You cannot see inside another person’s heart. Only God can see the motive of the person. Only God will know what is truly going on in that person’s life. Don’t assume like King Saul and take matters in your own hands.