|Volume 19 Number 12 December 2017
God Created One Honey of a Bird
Among the amazing animals God created is one that has an understanding about how to use humans and other animals to get to its favorite meal. The animal we are going to talk about is a bird, the honeyguide of Africa. These birds have the amazing ability to get food by leading humans and other animals to bee hives. Then, when the hive is opened, the bird has supper. Let’s look at some of the amazing details of the honeyguide.
The honeyguide belongs to the family of birds called the indicatoridae, which was named for the bird’s ability to indicate where a bee hive can be found. Native tribesman know that if they listen to and follow these birds for miles into the bush, they will find a supply of rich honey.
The honeyguide can memorize where each beehive can be found over a huge area of the bush. When these birds need food, they will find a human to lead to the food. By giving loud, attention-demanding chattering and flitting nervously around people, the bird will signal the need for the human to follow. The bird will then fly a little ahead and call loudly; when the human catches up, the bird flies on. This process will continue maybe for many miles until the bird reaches where the hive is. Then, the bird will change its call and sit in one place near the hive. Once the tribesman has opened the hive and gotten his honey, the bird will move in and eat the grubs as well as the bees’ wax of the honeycomb. They have also been known to eat candle wax. The honeyguide will also try the same type of behavior with a mammal called the honey badger. There has been some speculation about whether the honey badger follows because it knows food will be found by following the bird, or whether the bird follows the badger when it finds a beehive.
The honeyguide has a very thick skin that may protect it from the stings of the angry bees after the hive has been raided. These birds also have a very unique breeding behavior that depends upon other birds, but preferring a bird called the bee-eater, to feed and raise the honeyguide’s young.
This behavior is called “brood parasites.” The mother honeyguide will find a nest of one of several species of other birds. She will then enter the nest and lay a single egg. The honeyguide may also “pip” the host nest egg(s). This is pecking a small hole in the shell that slows down or stops development of the host egg. If any of the host nest eggs develops and hatches, the baby honeyguide will peck its nest mates with an especially sharp, curved beak. This repeating pecking will eventually cause the death of the host mother’s chicks. The host mother will then raise the baby honeyguide, which will even produce calls that mimic the call of several bee-eater baby chicks. This appears to be a strong stimulus for the host mother to bring extra food for the baby, which then grows at a very rapid rate.
Indeed, God has created some amazing animals to share this planet we call earth, and the honeyguide is one of the best examples. It is very hard to imagine how this bird could learn that attracting humans or honey badgers would get it food if God did not create this behavior in the first bird. Yet, it appears that many people choose not to believe what has been created around them.
Ronald D. Reeves
As the apostle Paul penned his second epistle to the evangelist Timothy, he faced an uncertain future. Even as the epistle began, the issues of life and death occupied the mind of this preeminent servant (2 Timothy 1:1) who probably gave his life for the cause of Christ soon after writing to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6). In what was no doubt Paul’s last inspired communiqué to his beloved Timothy (2 Timothy 1:2), Paul emphasized truths not only dear unto himself but as well placed an emphasis upon those things that needed to be done after his departure in order to secure the church in succeeding generations. Paul, as a spiritual father to Timothy, looked longingly to the immediate and distant future with a protective eye. He would not leave Timothy without direction—without the wisdom and guidance of the great apostle—as Timothy faced the challenges of the day. In this most intriguing context, the beloved apostle admonished the young evangelist concerning several things, including his teaching responsibility. Paul did not leave this world before he laid foundational stones that support the church very well to this day.
In a review of 2 Timothy, we note the consistency flowing from the pen of Paul as he continually entreated Timothy to focus on his primary objective, the teaching of the Word of God. A quick reading of the text evidences this observation. Paul admonished Timothy to (a) stir up the gift of God in him, 1:6; (b) not to be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, 1:8; (c) to hold fast the form of sound words, 1:13; (d) to put them in remembrance, 2:14; (e) to rightly divide the Word, 2:15; (f) to be apt to teach, 2:24; (g) to instruct those who oppose themselves, 2:25; (h) to preach the Word, 4:2a and (i) to do the work of an evangelist, 4:5.
Additionally, Paul presented himself as both a preacher and a teacher (1:11) in whom the Word would not be bound (2:9). In the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul left himself as an example after which Timothy could pattern himself following Paul’s departure.
Perhaps one of the most compelling admonitions of the entire epistle was gracefully presented in 2 Timothy 2:2. With a protective eye on the future of the church and a genuine interest in the souls of men, the apostle Paul looked beyond the immediate and personal labors of Timothy and focused on the potentially broad impact that he may have in his own generation and in generations yet to come. The apostle vividly saw the value of preparing others to spread the Word alongside of men such as Timothy as well as into the future. Here the apostle Paul said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2:2 KJV).
Our congregations face the same challenges today that were faced so courageously by first century Christians. Our present need of teachers is as important for our congregations as it was for the area where Timothy labored so long ago. If the membership of a congregation fails to meet the challenge of teaching those under its care and guidance, it will surely answer to the Lord. May we as members conscientiously review and tap into our genuine potential. May we seriously consider making a firm commitment to be one of the teachers of our local congregations. If you want to teach but feel less than fully qualified, ask the men to provide adequate training and assistance. If you desire to teach but fear possible rejection, show a willingness to work with the men in addressing all concerns that may arise. If you do not want to fulfill your genuine potential to teach, then repent and pray that the thought of your heart may be forgiven you (Acts 8:22).
Maintaining a number of teachers over the long-term is a challenging endeavor. I know firsthand the nature of the challenge. My prayers and support are extended to Christian men as they wrestle with this continuing and most important aspect of the local work. May faithful Christian men have the wisdom and courage to work with fellow Christians in a manner that will make it possible for the Word to be committed to more faithful men who will be able to teach others. May we nurture one another in our mutual development rather than limiting growth and potential by a failure to address growth obstacles (Ephesians 4:16). The Lord surely cares about these matters.
[Editor’s Note: Spiritual growth and graduating from being a babe in Christ to being a teacher of God’s Word has always been a challenge in the Lord’s church from the first century onward (Hebrews 5:12-14; 1 Peter 2:2). Every child of God (2 Timothy 2:24), not just those who would be elders (1 Timothy 3:2), needs to prepare himself to teach God’s Word (1 Peter 3:15). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]