While the red fox is fairly common in Ontario, it’s also a shy animal and not often encountered in the wild. Foxes are secretive and most active during dusk and at night, hunting for small mammals or birds, and enjoying ripe fruit as part of their diet. They only weigh about 10-15 lbs. and are the size of a miniature collie, but their reputation in legends and folklore tales is much more sizeable. Besides their very bushy tails, they are usually noted for their cunning and sly ways and their destructive habits.
Even in the Bible foxes are known as destructive to vineyards (S.o.S. 2:15), and false prophets are compared to foxes (Ez.13:4), who are deceptive and crafty.
In the New Testament Jesus even calls Herod Antipas a fox.
This is what Luke writes in Lk.13:31-35 NASB:
“Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Herod Antipas was the ruler of Jesus’ home province of Galilee throughout Jesus’ lifetime. Like his father, Herod the Great, he was an ambitious builder, commissioning the construction of Sepphoris and Tiberias (6 kms and 30 kms NE of Nazareth). Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, might well have worked at these sites and experienced Antipas, not just as tetrarch of Galilee, but also as employer.
The Herodian family came from Edomite stock (Antipater the Idumean, i.e. Edomite, was the father of Herod the Great). The Edomites were descendants of Esau, whose birth is described in Gen.25:25 (NIV):
“The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.”
The Hebrew word for Esau means “hairy”, but he is also known as Edom which in Hebrew means “red”. So both of these descriptions lend themselves to the comparison with a red fox.
The relationship between Israelites and Edomites was always strained, if not outright hostile, and so the Herodian rule was never respected by the majority of the Jewish people. Jesus, too, would not allow this “fox” Herod to intimidate Him, and was following His plan, regardless of the suffering and death it would bring to Himself.
Those who follow Jesus in His ministry know that there are foxes around that cause devastation in the vineyard and are out to rob the hen of her chicks. Any church leader knows about these cunning, deceptive and crafty people that pose as prophets and teachers and mislead many.
But Jesus will reach His goal! The foxes will not have the last word, but will be judged. And Jesus’ kingdom mission will succeed. Regardless of the suffering and death that following Jesus entails, continuing in His footsteps is all worth it.
Here is the end of the story as Jesus Himself tells it in Mt.24:11-14:
“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Different bird species have distinctive style of nests, where they lay their eggs and raise their offspring. Woodpeckers have some of the sturdiest homes. It takes them between 2 and 4 weeks to chisel out a brood chamber and line it with woodchips. But then they have a very protected shelter against the elements and many predators that could go after them.
This is the kind of settled security that many of us look for. But Jesus makes it clear that neither He Himself nor His followers could count on the comfortable and idyllic one family dwelling with the white picket fence to raise their children. When a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matt.8:20).
He also asked people to count the cost of discipleship before following Him (in Lk.14):
“25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”
In Matt.24:9 He goes even further than that by stating that “then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”
The early church did not promise a bed of roses either. In Acts 14:22 we read that they were “strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.” And the Thessalonians experienced these “many afflictions”, as well (1.Thes.3:3f). Paul states it completely unambiguously in 2.Tim.3:12: “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”.
Physical safety and a sheltered life is an illusion in this fallen world.
We don’t hear much of that in today’s prosperity gospel infected preaching. That’s why we are unprepared for the struggles that we will inevitably face.
Jesus faced extremely uncomfortable conditions: foxes and birds had it better than He. And as followers of Christ we will experience the same adversities. Jesus asked His followers to remember “that a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (Jn.15:20).
Life is tough.
The world under the influence of Satan is an inhospitable place.
We will get attacked and hurt.
But Jesus gives us hope by contrasting our present sorrowful experience with a time in the future in Jn.16:22:
“Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
The old serpent may kill the body, but life with Jesus is eternal.
As Martin Luther expressed so powerfully in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress"
1 A mighty fortress is our God,
“Trout lilies are extremely photogenic plants that dapple the early spring woods with their beautiful yellow” is how one nature guide describes these gorgeous flowers. Lilies have always been viewed as particularly attractive.
Jesus even mentions them in the Sermon on the Mount, where He says:
“Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies.”
While Jesus certainly appreciates nature, His intent here is not to give a speech on floral esthetics. When we look at the larger context we discover that His concern is far more central to life: He doesn’t want us to be distracted by peripheral issues, but have a clear focus for our existence.
Let these words of Jesus (from Matt.6:24-34, The Message) sink into your soul:
“No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second, or vice versa. People try to serve both God and money—but you can’t. You must choose one or the other. Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don’t worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens. They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you. Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying? Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies. And think about grassy fields—the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. And yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust? So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you, too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.”
Money, food and clothing are priorities for people in our materialistic society. That’s what they are going for at full tilt! That’s what they are constantly frantic about! That’s what they worry about all the time! That’s what consumes their lives. In a sense: the consumers are consumed by their consumption. It’s a pathetic way to live.
Jesus gives us a totally different focus and perspective, and confronts us with a decision: We cannot serve two masters. We must make a choice. And He wants us to seek first the kingdom of God, to focus on God’s rule and priorities, to align ourselves with the one and only God reality, to do what God wants us to do, to live faithfully – full of faith in God. And then God will take care of us.
Meeting our material needs is His responsibility – our responsibility is to seek Him first.
The lilies of the field do not worry, suffer from stomach ulcers or have nervous breakdowns. They simply align themselves with the God-created reality, the nutrients in the soil, the hydrological and climatic conditions, etc. and the by-product is a stunningly beautiful existence.
Where we align ourselves with God, focus on Him, live the kind of life He intends for us to live, we won’t need to worry about the material aspects of life. God takes care of us and He makes all things beautiful. No need to worry – instead seek His kingdom first, align yourself with God’s rule,
“humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1.Pet.5:6+7 NLT).
It’s a beautiful life!
It is all about Jesus. All that we are, have and do is about Him. That's the bottom line. Here you will get to read some of the ways Jesus has revealed Himself to us through His word, through the beautiful piece of creation He has entrusted to us, and through our life experiences.
We met in Germany at Bodenseehof, a Capernwray Bible School (http://www.torchbearers.org/centres/Bodenseehof_Germany) and ended up on staff there for several years. Since then we have worked in small and large churches, in lead and associate positions, but also as lay people in everyday jobs in Canada. We have studied, travelled and served in North and South America, Europe, Israel and Africa. We have ministered in international, multi-cultural, and non-denominational contexts. All that to say that God has given us a broad perspective while holding firmly to the foundational truths of the Bible.
We have experienced challenges and richness in marriage and parenting (a girl and 3 boys). You may get to know our family through some of these posts. We laugh and we pray a lot together. Our oldest child is serving as a missionary in Malawi; the others are perched on the edge of the nest about to do back-flips into adulthood. They have all caught the travel bug. We are blessed to see the adventure of experiencing God unfolding in our children's lives.
I hope your visits here are a place where you cross paths with the King. Sit with Him a while and listen for His word to you for this day.
We are a pastoral couple named Stefan & Heidi König. We have many years of experience in various ministries, and are thankful that God has given us this property to use as a way to bless others who need a place to relax and reconnect with Him.
Kingfisher Spiritual Direction
Direct your heart to Jesus and restore your soul. If you need to hear from God, to grow deeper with Him, consider spiritual direction. An ancient discipline of soul care, Heidi is trained to prayerfully lead you in this practice.