Weekly Pastoral Message prepared by Rev. Murray Adamthwaite
for Sunday 19th July 1998
From the Pastor: Animal Lessons VI
"As a partridge that broods but does not hatch, so is he who gets riches, but not by right." Jeremiah 17:11|
Please allow some latitude to include now some reference to Biblical birds,
since there are some important lessons to be learned from our feathered
friends. The text above presents a problem, in that it would appear to
be based on popular belief rather than scientific investigation, viz. that
the partridge appropriates the eggs of some other bird, hatches them, only
to find that the fledglings return to their mother. However, the text is
better translated as in the King James version (or New King James), that
the bird sits on eggs but does not hatch them.
Because the rock and desert partridges lay their eggs on the ground there
is a constant hazard of nest-robbing. One author remarks no how a leader
of an expedition was brought 800 eggs robbed from nests in the course of
one spring. Thus it is not the partridge that "gets wealth, but not by
right", but the nest-robber! The poor bird loses its brood through no
fault of its own. Moreover, the bird itself has always been the target of
trappers: the birds caught in (or escaped from) "the fowler's snare"
(Psalms 91:3; 124:7) are very likely partridges.
It is no great issue to denounce the burglar or thief who raids a home
for his own profit. The apparent increase of this is quite alarming. Yet
how many more are getting wealth, but not by right, at the gaming table,
or through the lottery or poker machine? Gambling is not merely
covetousness - that is serious enough - but any reward from gambling is
gain unauthorised by God, whose property we have on trust. The gambler
seeks to get something for nothing, when God has decreed that we work
"by the sweat of our brow" (Genesis 3:19). Jeremiah warns that such gain
will leave him eventually, and "at his end he will be a fool". How true
that is in so many cases.
This issue touches many more than the odd thief or mugger: it touches our
whole society. How many of our world are merely nest-robbers and fools?
The important thing is that we be "rich toward God" (Luke 12:21).