Merriam-Webster defines “object lesson” as “an example from real life that teaches a lesson or explains something.”
Bible characters used many object lessons to convey practical truths or spiritual ideas. Three passages come to mind:
- “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).
- “Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord” (Psalm 36:6).
- “He said therefore, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches” (Luke 13:18-19).
So here we have mentions of the ant, the mountains, the great deep, and the mustard seed. Solomon, David, and Jesus used these things to convey divinely-inspired truths.
Now, here’s a thought: what if God specifically created these things—the ant, the mountains, the great deep, the mustard seed—to convey meaningful truths?
Imagine Jesus, for example, teaching about the kingdom of God. Do you think he looked around, scratching his head, looking for something really small, before noticing a mustard seed and using that in his teachings? “Aha!” he may have thought. “A mustard seed! I’ll use that for a metaphor.”
Maybe it wasn’t quite like that.
What if, instead, God, in his infinite wisdom, specifically designed these things with the foreknowledge that they would later serve as object lessons for us? What if, when he created the world and everything in it, he created the industrious ant, the towering mountains, the expansive oceans, the tiny mustard seed, and many other things, knowing he would later use them in his word as memorable object lessons?
Granted, I may be speculating too much here.
And yet, next time you notice ants hustling to and from their anthills, consider God’s teachings on productivity and hard work. Next time you see a mountain range, think about the unmoving, rock-solid righteousness of God. Next time you visit an ocean, ponder the vast wisdom behind God’s judgments. And next time you see a little seed, remember that our Creator does great things when we just have a tiny bit of faith.
I’m encouraged by object lessons in the Bible. What a brilliant creator we serve.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” –Isaiah 40:28