Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jewel # 60 (May 29, 2010)

To my dear grandchildren,

The Peculiar Aardvark

"Thou hast made . . . the earth, and all things that are therein . . . and Thou preservest them all."
(Nehemiah 9:6)

The four - to six-foot long one hundred fifty-pound African aardvark is unlike any other creature in the world.  Its nearest relative might be a pig; in fact, the name aardvark means "earth pig."  It was given this name by Dutch settlers in Africa in the 1600s.  But the aardvark's similarity to a pig is mostly in its long snout, nostrils, brown body and bristly hair.  Its long, upright ears look more like donkey ears, its tail is something like a kangaroo's, and its arched body is not too different from a hyena's.

There are two things the aardvark does very well.  One is finding termite nests, which look like concrete mounds.  Approaching one, the aardvark listens carefully to determine if termites are inside.  Hearing their movement, it tears the mound open with its powerful claws.  Then it laps up the termites with its twelve - to eighteen-inch-long-sticky tongue.

But termites fight back, just like ants fight when their nests are entered!  Both insects have "soldiers" with sharp mandibles, but in attacking the aardvark, they find that its skin is so tough that they cannot bite through it.  In addition, the Creator has provided nostrils and ears that seal tightly when invading insects' nests, so these are protected too.

Aardvarks are also experts at digging.  Their dens are in tunnels about ten feet long with six or more entrances, and this requires lots of digging.  No problem!  Their strong front legs and sharp claws go through even hard dirt faster than men can with shovels.  They stay in these dens during the day and come out at night to raid anthills and termite nests, adding other insects, fruit and gourds to their menu when available.

Babies are born in the den.  They have skin so loose and full of wrinkles that it looks like it is several sizes to big, but they soon fill it out.  To keep her little ones hidden, the mother moves into a new burrow about once a week.  Before long they are taken out to learn how to hunt, and within a year they are on their own.

For all the strange appearance of these animals, they indicate God's pleasure in placing such a great variety of life on the earth at the time of its creation.  For each creature He has provided what is exactly right for its way of life, and He watches over each one all its days.

The Bible tells of something else that brings pleasures to Him:  "I know also, my God, that Thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness" (1 Chronicles 29:17).  Is your life pleasing Him?  It can please him only if you have confessed that you are a sinner and have asked the Lord Jesus to forgive and cleanse you, accepting Him as your Saviour.  If you have not done this yet, why not do it right now!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Jewel # 59 (May 10, 2010)

To my dear grandchildren

Who Put the Rings Around Saturn?

The expanses of outer space are filled with wonderful displays of God's creation, but man has been privileged to examine only very few of them.  With the use of space probes and new technology, some parts of our solar system have now been more closely observed, and we are able to learn more of what the Bible means when it says, "One star [is different]" from another star in [its] glory" (1 Corinthians 15:41).

One of these displays is the second-largest planet, Saturn.  This planet is approximately one hundred times the size of the earth and about a billion miles away.  Circling around it is a magnificent halo of rings.  These rings have always been there, but they were not known to astronomers until Galileo discovered them in 1610 with his small telescope.  In recent years, space probes passing Saturn have sent back remarkable close-up photographs of these rings, leaving astronomers puzzled as to how the rings got there and what keeps them in place.

The rings surround the planet at its equator, but they do not touch it.  Their position seems to change as Saturn orbits the sun in an elliptical (oval-shaped) orbit, but they are always parallel to the planet's equator.  There are three major rings consisting of hundreds or even thousands of narrow "ringlets."  It is estimated that there could be as many as ten thousand ringlets, which are probably continuously changing over time.   The three major rings are very wide.  Astronomers say the outermost ring may measure as much as 180,000 miles across.

Astronomers believe the rings are actually made up of trillions of chunks of ice, from particles as small as a grain of sand to boulders larger than a house.

Those who know the Lord God as the Creator of all things don't need to wonder who put the rings around Saturn.  God placed them there, and ever since the days of creation we may be sure He has enjoyed their beauty.  He is the One who keeps them in their amazing pattern.  King David expressed it well when he said, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).

How important it is to recognize that it is God who has brought all things into being.  The Bible plainly says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).  It is important to not only know Him as your Creator, but to know Him as your Saviour as well.  "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world" (1 John 4:14). 

Won't you accept His invitation to come to Him right now and accept Him as your Saviour?