By Rev Tan Eng Boo
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
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.
Hyraxes (rock badgers) are feeble animals, but can make their homes in crags, showing their skills and ability to survive in difficult terrain. This is a sign of great wisdom, as the Psalmist praised God for His providential care for this animal.
“The high mountains are for the wild goats (Ibex); the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.” (Psalm 104:18)
The hyraxes are little creatures. They are small and cannot be spotted easily. When I am in Israel, I will be on the look-out for them in En Gedi (Southern Israel) or in Caesarea Philippi (Golan Heights).
“The Bible shows a vital interest in every aspect of nature. However, it tends to look upon nature more in terms of how mankind experiences it than in terms of scientific interest. Furthermore, the Bible frequently draws spiritual lessons from its observations. God created all things; He is also concerned for His creation. Not even a common sparrow falls to the ground without His notice (Matt. 10:29).” (Youngblood, Ronald F. Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary: New and Enhanced Edition (p. 50). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.)
The first time the hyrax appears in scripture is in a note about the uncleanness of the animal for eating, found in Deuteronomy 14:7-8 and Leviticus 11:4-8. But the lessons we can draw from this animal are seen in the words of Agur and the Psalmist. The hyrax is a wise animal because it builds its house in the rock cliffs. This is done for their protection and safety.
Remember the words of Jesus,
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Who is this rock that we should build our house on? The foundation on which the house is built on is so important. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:4
“…. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
Jesus is the Rock on which we must build our Christian foundation.
How can we build our house on such a foundation? Jesus said that the way in which we build our house on the rock is to be a doer of God’s word. In the Old Testament, Moses always reminded the children of Israel,
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do….” (Deuteronomy 8:1).
The word of God is to be lived out. That is what we ought to do always in any form of Bible reading or Bible study. Even when we listen to the preaching of God’s word, we need to be good hearers as Paul says
“... faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17),
and then we need to determine how we should practise God’s precious commands. This is the way to have a strong foundation in the Christian life.
“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:17).
Obedience leads to blessing. The most often overlooked component of Bible study is practising the truth that you have learned.
How to practise God’s word and have a strong Christian foundation? We should ask, “How does my life relate to this passage? What change should I embrace? How am I going to execute this decision?
The lesson from Agur and the Psalmist on the hyrax is also God’s way of teaching us that when we have a solid foundation, our security lies with Jesus, The Rock. The Psalmist says,
“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2).
This is a wonderful assurance for all of us who have a solid foundation on Jesus and His word.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24, 25).
It is always exciting to be in Israel to meet up with these biblical animals and to be reminded of Bible lessons from God’s word.