1. A UNIVERSAL VOICE
a. Where in the world would the voice of God in nature be unheard? Psalm 19:1–3.
“Nature speaks to [our] senses, declaring that there is a living God, the Creator, the Supreme Ruler of all. . . . The beauty that clothes the earth is a token of God’s love. We may behold it in the everlasting hills, in the lofty trees, in the opening buds and the delicate flowers. All speak to us of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 48.
b. What message does nature provide to people around the world? Romans 1:20.
“Those who have a true knowledge of God will not become so infatuated with the laws of matter or the operations of nature as to overlook, or refuse to acknowledge, the continual working of God in nature. Nature is not God, nor was it ever God. The voice of nature testifies of God, but nature is not God. As His created work, it simply bears a testimony to God’s power.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 293.
2. LESSONS FROM THE BIRDS
a. What does God teach us through the behavior of the eagle? Isaiah 40:31.
“The eagle of the Alps is sometimes beaten down by the tempest into the narrow defiles of the mountains. Storm clouds shut in this mighty bird of the forest, their dark masses separating her from the sunny heights where she has made her home. Her efforts to escape seem fruitless. She dashes to and fro, beating the air with her strong wings and waking the mountain echoes with her cries. At length, with a note of triumph, she darts upward, and, piercing the clouds, is once more in the clear sunlight, with the darkness and tempest far beneath. So we may be surrounded with difficulties, discouragement, and darkness. Falsehood, calamity, injustice, shut us in. There are clouds that we cannot dispel. We battle with circumstances in vain. There is one, and but one, way of escape. The mists and fogs cling to the earth; beyond the clouds God’s light is shining. Into the sunlight of His presence we may rise on the wings of faith.”—Education, pp. 118, 119.
b. What is another lesson that we can learn by watching the birds? Matthew 6:25, 26.
“The natural world has, in itself, no power but that which God supplies.”— Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 293.
“The birds are teachers of the sweet lesson of trust. Our heavenly Father provides for them; but they must gather the food, they must build their nests and rear their young. Every moment they are exposed to enemies that seek to destroy them. Yet how cheerily they go about their work! how full of joy are their little songs!”—Education, pp. 117, 118.
“Let us not mourn and grieve because in this life we are not free from disappointments and afflictions. If in the providence of God we are called upon to endure trials, let us accept the cross and drink the bitter cup, remembering that it is a Father’s hand that holds it to our lips. Let us trust Him in the darkness as well as in the day.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 316.
3. FAITH THAT WORKS
a. What other lessons of trust does God want to teach us from nature? Matthew 6:27–30. Should we devote more interest, time, and effort to serving God or to meeting our daily temporal needs? Verses 30–33.
“He who has given you life knows your need of food to sustain it. He who created the body is not unmindful of your need of raiment. Will not He who has bestowed the greater gift bestow also what is needed to make it complete?”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 95.
“God’s law is the law of love. He has surrounded you with beauty to teach you that you are not placed on earth merely to delve for self, to dig and build, to toil and spin, but to make life bright and joyous and beautiful with the love of Christ—like the flowers, to gladden other lives by the ministry of love.”—Ibid., p.97.
b. What lessons can we learn from some of God’s other creatures? Proverbs 6:6–11; 30:25–28 (compare 2 Thessalonians 3:10).
“The ants teach lessons of patient industry, of perseverance in surmounting obstacles, of providence for the future.”—Education, p. 117.
“The habitations which the ants build for themselves show skill and perseverance. Only one little grain at a time can they handle, but by diligence and perseverance they accomplish wonders. Solomon presents to the world the industry of the ant as a reproach to those who waste their hours in sinful idleness, in practices which corrupt soul and body. The ant prepares for future seasons. This is a lesson which many gifted with reasoning powers disregard. They fail entirely to prepare for the future immortal life which God has in His providence secured for the fallen race.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, pp. 1157, 1158.
“Jesus does not release us from the necessity of effort, but He teaches that we are to make Him first and last and best in everything. We are to engage in no business, follow no pursuit, seek no pleasure, that would hinder the outworking of His righteousness in our character and life. Whatever we do is to be done heartily, as unto the Lord.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 99.
4. BE LIKE A TREE
a. Why is our study of nature so important? What can we learn about God? Psalm 111:4, 6–8; Isaiah 40:26.
“How much time is spent by intelligent human beings in horse racing, cricket matches, and ball playing! But will indulgence in these sports give men a desire to know truth and righteousness? Will it keep God in their thoughts? Will it lead them to inquire, How is it with my soul? . . .
“God calls upon His creatures to turn their attention from the confusion and perplexity around them and admire His handiwork. As we study His works, angels from heaven will be by our side to enlighten our minds and guard them from Satan’s deceptions. As you look at the wonderful things that God’s hand has made, let your proud, foolish heart feel its dependence and inferiority.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 456, 457.
b. To what is the Christian compared? Psalms 1:1–3; 92:12, 13.
“The palm tree well represents the life of a Christian. It stands upright amid the burning desert sand, and dies not; for it draws its sustenance from the springs of life beneath the surface.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 3, p. 1151.
c. What are some other practical lessons we can learn from nature?
“Many are the lessons that may thus be learned [from nature]. Self-reliance, from the tree that, growing alone on plain or mountainside, strikes down its roots deep into the earth, and in its rugged strength defies the tempest. The power of early influence, from the gnarled, shapeless trunk, bent as a sapling, to which no earthly power can afterward restore its lost symmetry. The secret of a holy life, from the water lily, that, on the bosom of some slimy pool, surrounded by weeds and rubbish, strikes down its channeled stem to the pure sands beneath, and, drawing thence its life, lifts up its fragrant blossoms to the light in spotless purity.”—Education, p. 119.
5. HOW TO UNDERSTAND NATURE’S MESSAGES
a. Whose guidance is essential in order for us to understand nature? John 16:13; 14:26.
“Teach [the children] to notice the evidences everywhere manifest in nature of God’s thought for us, the wonderful adaptation of all things to our need and happiness.
“He alone who recognizes in nature his Father’s handiwork, who in the richness and beauty of the earth reads the Father’s handwriting—he alone learns from the things of nature their deepest lessons and receives their highest ministry. Only he can fully appreciate the significance of hill and vale, river and sea, who looks upon them as an expression of the thought of God, a revelation of the Creator.”—Education, pp. 119, 120.
b. What event teaches us the messages of nature most clearly? John 1:4.
“Only in the light that shines from Calvary can nature’s teaching be read aright. Through the story of Bethlehem and the cross let it be shown how good is to conquer evil, and how every blessing that comes to us is a gift of redemption.
“In brier and thorn, in thistle and tare, is represented the evil that blights and mars. In singing bird and opening blossom, in rain and sunshine, in summer breeze and gentle dew, in ten thousand objects in nature, from the oak of the forest to the violet that blossoms at its root, is seen the love that restores. And nature still speaks to us of God’s goodness.”—Ibid., p.101.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What is God trying to tell you through nature today?
2. How can the birds teach us lessons of trust in God?
3. What can we learn from the ant, one of the smallest of creatures?
4. What are some object lessons that trees give us?
5. How does God explain nature’s messages to us today?