One of the reasons animals were placed on the earth was so that man might learn wisdom from them. The ant is an insect that we can learn from.
The life of an ant
Ants are born into one of three distinct classes: they are either:
- the female or in other words queen,
- the sterile female or, in other words, worker
- they are the male.
The male ant sole purpose in life is to mate with the queen ant. Once this has been achieved the male ant dies.
The winged queen ant once it has been mated flies from the nest and then little while later drops to the ground and prepares to set up a colony. She bites of her wings and finds an indentation in the ground where she proceeds to excavate a larger hole where she can lay her first eggs.
She will produce a few female ants, which will be infertile, and will therefore be foragers for food. These infertile female ants will also be nest-builders and nurses for further hatchings. The queen ant will also produce other worker ants that will either be food foragers or soldiers that will protect the colony.
The colony is a smoothly run organisation, with each group of ants whether they be workers, foragers or soldiers knowing their jobs and what’s more they go about this job with precision and care.
The ant – a example to us
This is the type of animal that we need to emulate. The ant can put us to shame, for we need our days off and holiday time to recuperate our strength, yet we don’t work nearly as hard or regularly in our jobs as the ant does in its environment.
All day, three hundred and sixty five days a year, the ant is continually going about its work taking the utmost care and precision over it. Do we do the same? And even in the time that we do work do we always take care over the job?
What the Bible says about ants
Agur, the son of Jakeh was responsible for the words in Proverbs chapter 30. This is what he says in Proverbs Chapter 30 and verses twenty four through to twenty eight.
Four things on earth are small, but they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer; the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard you can take in your hands, yet it is in kings' palaces.
The main observations that Agur could see in these creatures was that they were small, they lacked strength and they had wisdom. When people think about ants they see a small insect of no real significance. As matter of fact, they see ants as a pest and try to get rid of it. But Agur refers to them as a “people”, because they have showed wisdom by preparing for the seasons to come.
Solomon wrote more about the ant in Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 6 to 8.
Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.
One can imagine Solomon just before he wrote this proverb kneeling in a garden and intently watching the ants running around busy at work. He would have stood up and started thinking about the people around him who were wasting their days by being lazy. He would have been thinking of what he could say to encourage them.
The ants he would have been talking about here are Harvester ants which collect and store seeds in autumn so that there is enough food to sustain the colony through winter until spring.
The harvester ant shames the sluggard in two ways.
It firstly needs no ruler or chief over it whereas the sluggard, must be prodded along by someone. You may say that the ant does have a leader in the form of the Queen ant. Yet despite the Queen’s presence there seems to be total lack of subordination in ant life in that there is no ant that has the job of forcing other ants to work. Ants naturally know they must work all day and they do not require some leader to force them to do this. Each ant works largely independently of the rest, though he is guided by a common instinct to benefit the community. So the ant needs no chief to prod him along whereas the sluggard does need someone to make him do work.
The second way that the ant shames the sluggard is by knowing the time.
To the sluggard, all time is alike : summer and harvest suggest long, lazy days rather than a time of opportunity in which the year’s work will be rewarded by its fruits. Before the sluggard knows it, the winter has arrived, the harvest is past and he is not saved. Yet the ant knows he has to prepare for the winter and so he will be saved.
The sluggard in Proverbs 6:6-8 is a man who is lazy. He is a man who has made too many excuses, too many refusals and too many postponements. He has avoided hard work too many times so he could live his life of laziness. His procrastination has led to the years go by in his life until the treasure offered in the future is gone. His life was become overgrown with thistles.
I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: Proverbs 24:30-32
The vineyard owner stayed inside his house, sometimes lying in his bed and other times sitting in his chair. He was lazy and didn’t want to work. However, slowly the weeds grew, the vines became choked with nettles and the walls crumbled because they had not been maintained. The lesson is that we are always in service to God throughout our life. We can’t take a holiday for a few months or even years and forget about Him. Reading the Bible and praying to God encourages us to continue our life in God. We need to avoid the terrible situation recorded in Jeremiah chapter 8 and verse 20 in relation to those who had not worked and prepared:
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
The sluggard will not begin things, will not finish things, and will not face things as he believes his own excuses for not working. In contrast to the sluggard, we can see the ant’s ceaseless activity which it does of its own free will. There is no one forcing it to do this work. As Proverbs 6:6-8 says…”Without having any chief, officer, or ruler”. The ant is an example to us.
The ant is an insignificant creature in the animal kingdom yet it works hard to provide for the future. How much more should we with superior intelligence provide for our future. The ant had no ruling ant to control its behaviour and likewise we should need no external prodding to provide for our future.
Therefore, we can learn wisdom from the ant in that we are taught to provide for the future now, otherwise we will die in the winter of tribulation that is to come. God has offered a future of eternal life in His kingdom. To be found acceptable for that kingdom we must prepare now. We need to understand God’s plan for this earth, then get baptised and then live a life of obedience to God. Like the ant worked continually, we also need to work continually as servants of God – teaching others about God’s message for mankind.
Solomon said to look at the ant and then emulate it’s hard working ways.
When he wrote this Proverb he was no doubt also thinking about his words in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 and verse 10.
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.
Let us, while we have the opportunity, work diligently for one day that opportunity will be gone. And when we find it difficult to get motivated to work hard go outside to your front garden and consider the ways of the ant.