I heard an impressive sermon this morning as I was running. The preacher was not in my MP3 but instead on top of the ledge at the bank around the corner from my house.
As I was providentially detoured by the wet sidewalks from the sprinklers, I cut through the bank parking lot, only to be encountered by a raging raven with much to say to me.
No doubt I startled the bird as he comfortably sat upon his ledge at o’dark thirty.
What followed was a terrific and timely reminder of the pervasive effects of the fall of man.
This bird squawked and flapped his wings with enough passionate urgency to make any ask, “man! what is that bird’s problem!?” But for the biblically literate his message is painfully relevant.
This bird freaked out because he knows something of the sinfulness of sin. He has an accurate and biblical harmartiology (the study of sin) and anthropology (the study of man).
It is as if this bird said, “Whoa, son of Adam! That is far enough! Don’t you come running up here on me with that evil, perverted, and contrary heart of yours! Do you not know that that which gives you life is the cause of death in all of the earth!! Your heart is more deceitful than anything else!!”
Why didn’t the bird just tip his beak and raise a feather to me in a similar manner to the elderly man who was walking his dog? It is because all of creation is groaning in eager anticipation of the redemption of this earth, having been subjected to a sub standard earth due to the pollution and plague of Adamic rebellion that has long since beset our world.
I love to explain sin to my children in this manner. It is so illustrative to instruct my 4 year old daughter to go over and pick up the bunny rabbit in the yard or the little robin on the driveway. So of course she, being the cutest 4 year old ever, runs over, pig-tails flying, calling the animal by some sweet name only to see the birds and rabbits flee like she was wielding a hatchet.
When my daughter asks why they run I can tell her that it is because she is a sinner. That God created the world good, with animals and humanity ‘playing together’ with man ruling (Gen. 1.28) them. But instead of ruling animals, we all wanted to rule God, we were not happy with the crown he gave us, we were only content with taking his crown.
There is a day coming when the animals will again trust man. This of course comes when the Second Adam reigns on the throne of David, in his glorious kingdom. It is on that day when Jesus Christ shall reign where the little boy may play with cobras and vipers without fear, for the righteous judge will reign! (cf. Is. 11)
It does not matter how cute or good we look on the outside the heart of man is more deceitful than all else (Jer. 17.9). Therefore, I wonder why I hear a better sermon on the sin and rebellion of man from a bird on a bank than I would if I walked into an average evangelical church today. Sin is downplayed, conciseness are comforted, and Christ’s powerful crosswork is, regrettably, devalued.
There is a day coming when sin will be dealt with finally and swiftly. And birds will be there feasting and watching as those who would never submit to the gospel of the Savior are destroyed and fed to the hungry birds (Rev. 19.17-18).
If you are a believer, remember that you would be bird feed if it were not for the grace of God, arresting your unwilling heart to make you a child of God to the praise and glory of divine grace in accordance with the kind intention of his will. If you are not a believer find comfort and grace in the pierced Savior who demonstrated God’s unwillingness to compromise over sin and instead punished Jesus in the place of sinners, so that he could justly forgive sinners like me and you.