Mr. Minderhoud is a teacher in Covenant Christian High School and a member of Hope Protestant Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan. *The Psalter. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1927, #14, stanza 6—Versification of Psalm 8.
By the grace of God, King Solomon “gave his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven” (Eccl. 1:13a). Of all the things Solomon searched out and contemplated he wisely took time to examine the things of the creation around him. He was not ignorant of the vast and intricate creation in which God placed him but, rather, grew in his knowledge of that creation in all its forms. He spoke of things from trees and birds to creeping things and fish (I Kings 4:33). The result of all this was that he grew in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. As a wise king, Solomon taught the knowledge and understanding of the creation to the people (I Kings 4:32-34; Eccl. 12:9).
We do well to learn from King Solomon’s example—to inquire into the intricacies of the creation and to teach our children how the glory of God is revealed therein. As kings, we are called to rule well the creation and to glorify God and promote His kingdom with it. God gave us this beautiful and intricate creation for a purpose. That purpose is that He might display to us, His covenant children, glimpses of His majesty, power, and beauty. What a glorious opportunity we have each day to look about us, also at ourselves, and contemplate God’s handiwork. What a fantastic privilege our covenant children have to go to good Christian schools, learning together under like-minded teachers who assist us in showing our children each day some of the marvelous things that God has made and continues to govern by His providence.
Such opportunities ought not to be squandered. We must desire to become knowledgeable of the details and marvels that God has placed in the creation for us to see, with the goal that we might give Him the praise and honor that He, the almighty God, deserves. The creation truly is a fantastic display of God’s glory, or as John Calvin called it, the theater of God’s glory.¹ As a new school year begins, may we, with our children, be encouraged and renewed in our zeal to inquire into the details of the creation in order to learn more about our covenant God, and thereby to give Him the praise that is due His name.
Let us, like Solomon, examine some of the details of the “beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes” (I Kings 4:33). In this article and others, Lord willing, we will consider some of these kinds of creatures and stand in awesome wonder of Him who created them.
“And All within the Sea”
We begin with the sea creatures because of our familiarity with them. Many of us find opportunity to fish for food or leisure or have fish as pets. Great aquariums, stocked with a variety of fish, are found at numerous museums. Yet fish are more complicated than we might realize at first. The term “fish” is defined by scientists in a rather narrow way, excluding from the world of fishes what many of us might be tempted to include as fishes. According to scientists a “true fish” must be a cold-blooded vertebrate designed for existence in water, breathe by way of gills, and have limbs that are fins and not toes or fingers. This definition excludes animals that many might call “fish,” such as whales, dolphins, or seals; for although they spend their lives in the water and have other characteristics similar to fish, they are not cold-blooded and do not breathe using gills. There is an even narrower definition that excludes animals such as sharks (cartilaginous rather than having bones) and lampreys (no jaw, no limbs, and no bones). As helpful as these distinctions may be to help show us the great variety of creatures in the sea, many of these categorizations have arisen, unfortunately, out of a desire to promote the lie of evolution.
When we examine the multitudes of different fish in the creation we come to one simple observation. God made an amazingly wide range of diversity among the creatures of the sea. Fish were created with many different characteristics in order to live and “work” in the environment in which God placed them. We confess this in Belgic Confession Article 12—”that He doth give unto every creature its being, shape, form, and several offices.” This leads to fish of great variety, differing in size, shape, color, and habitat.
To view a small sampling of the great variety of fish God made, go to http://australianmuseum.net.au/Fishes. Whereas we see in this great diversity a picture of the manifold wisdom and beauty of God who made all these different fish, the evolutionist claims it is proof that fish have evolved different characteristics as necessary for their environment. So blind is man by nature.
In contrast to the scientific classifications, the Scriptures, when making reference to fish, suggest a broader definition by using the phrase, “whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea” (Ps. 8:8). This includes the great fish—the whales—that live in the sea. Although there are multitudes of fascinating individual forms of fish, whose study would be beneficial and would illustrate wondrous things about God, let us take a moment to consider the largest creatures that we find in the seas (and in the entire creation, by the way)—the blue whale. I suspect that if you had an opportunity to see a blue whale you would immediately be impressed by the grandeur and power of God displayed in such a creature and, by comparison, our own smallness. In reality, though, few of us will ever see a blue whale with our own eyes. However, we can still marvel at this creature and see it in our mind’s eye by considering some of the details of this fascinating creature.²
The blue whale is the largest animal ever known to live on the Earth. We would anticipate that the largest animals on Earth live in water. This is because the water buoys up an object with a force equal to the mass of the water that the object displaces. We all know from life experiences that trying to heft someone more than half our size onto our shoulders would be quite a feat, but to do so under water is much more feasible. This can be explained by the “buoyancy of water”—that water “lifts” some of the object’s weight, or buoys it. Land animals cannot be as large as a blue whale because their skeletons would crush under the sheer weight of the body. By this design of creation, God restricts or limits the size of animals that live on the land. Thus, we find many of the largest animals in the creation in the depths of the seas.
The blue whale can grow to an amazing length of up to 110 feet. Imagine that a blue whale spans a distance equal to the length of two full-length semi-trailers. This massive creature can weigh up to two hundred tons—a weight equivalent to the weight of twenty full-grown African elephants or two hundred automobiles. Its huge tongue weighs three tons, and its mouth is so enormous that it can hold tons of water and food. Yet, its throat is so narrow that objects must be smaller than a beach ball to be swallowed. Baby blue whales weigh as much as a grown hippopotamus, and during the first seven months they drink up to one hundred gallons of milk per day—gaining two hundred pounds each day.
To maintain that weight and size, an adult blue whale must have an incredible source of nourishment. It is calculated that an average blue whale has a daily diet of three million calories (the recommended daily allowance for us is 2000 to 2500 calories). These calories come primarily from its main food source—a tiny shrimp-like creature called krill. The blue whale eats approximately four tons of krill per day or forty million krill. What an incredible amount of tiny krill there must be in the ocean in order to feed all the blue whales with a daily diet of forty million krill; and note that the blue whale is not the only creature that eats krill for its sustenance! Clearly we see in this example evidence that God cares for all His creatures and supplies them with their daily needs. “These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good” (Ps. 104:27, 28).
Interestingly, despite the blue whale’s size, which so readily captures our attention, this enormous creature of God moves through the water with remarkable ease and freedom of motion. The law of God for this creature is that it lives in the water. Equipped by God with many special characteristics, it is certainly at home in the vast sea. The blue whale is technically not a fish, but a mammal. Consequently, it is warm-blooded and breathes air through its lungs.
Warm-blooded creatures maintain a constant interior temperature regardless of the surrounding environmental temperature. In order to maintain this constant body temperature, a blue whale must consume much food, which in turn will be converted to heat energy. This explains in part why a blue whale eats forty million krill every day. Also, the blue whale needs a great source of insulation in order to survive the frigid water temperatures in which it often lives. God therefore equips the blue whale with a hefty layer of blubber. The blue whale has so much fatty insulation that it was once heavily hunted for that blubber. The blubber from one ninety-foot long blue whale could be converted into one hundred and twenty barrels of oil.
As a mammal, the blue whale breathes oxygen by using lungs, like humans and other mammals do. To allow the blue whale to stay under water for long periods of time, God gave it efficient lungs. Whereas humans can hold their breath under water for a minute or so, blue whales can remain under water for twenty minutes or longer before surfacing to exhale through the blowhole and inhale fresh oxygen. This is due to the highly efficient lungs with which God equips the blue whale. While human lungs exchange around fifteen percent of the oxygen in each breath, the blue whale’s lungs exchange up to ninety percent.
In addition, the blue whale must be able to withstand tremendous water pressure. When the blue whale swims to the great depths of the sea, there is tremendous pressure exerted on the whale. We all recognize that water pressure increases with depth. Swim a few feet under water and your ears will not “pop,” but swim to the bottom of a 12-foot swimming pool and they will. Similarly, as the blue whale swims deeper it experiences greater water pressure. In order to prevent the blue whale’s ribs from being crushed by the tremendous water pressure to which it is subjected in the depths of the oceans, God in His wise designs created the blue whale with cartilage-like ribs that can flex and adjust to the great variety of pressures that are experienced in its habitat.
For Our Consideration
Why choose, for our consideration in this article, the blue whale, out of “all within the sea”? For the same ultimate reason we look into anything in this creation—to honor God and to grow in knowledge of His wisdom and greatness. As God cares for this immense creature, so He will daily provide us with what we need for our physical existence—a comforting reminder in these lean economic times. Our God is greatly to be praised for He provides all we need in body and in soul.
In addition, God makes explicitly clear that the creation is one organic whole—a living creation made up of many different creatures working together according to their God-given callings. All creatures are intimately woven together with other creatures—tiny krill (that consume even tinier photosynthetic plankton) supply the dietary needs of the mammoth blue whale. So, ultimately, the mighty blue whale is dependent on tiny solar energy-converting plants in the vast oceans. And similarly, God gives to us our daily needs through the means of His other creatures. Consider for a moment how dependent we are upon the physical creation for our physical existence. We need air to breathe, we need food from the earth, and we depend on bacteria to purify our water. When mindful of this we ought to be more conscious of the fact that we are stewards of God’s glorious creation—avoiding waste and abuse. And hereby we learn also to confess that our dependence is ultimately on God, who governs all things—the molecules of the air, the bacteria in the ground, and all within the sea.
In addition, this interdependence within the creation reminds us that not only do we belong to the organic whole of creation, but we belong to the organic Body of Christ. The creation constantly testifies to us that we need each other and that we are needed. We each serve a place in the body of Christ and seek to live in loving service for each other in the Body. Praise God for giving us such a marvelous creation and a place within the Body of Christ despite our own unworthiness.
Finally, we must not ignore the very simple and obvious truth God shows to us by the majesty of the blue whale—that our God is the All-powerful and majestic One. Much of what we learned about the blue whale focused on its great size. The massiveness of the creature, its appetite, its habitat—all speak to us of our God. When we stand before this creature, we stand in awe. But not in awe of the creature in and of itself, but in awe of God the Creator. God created the blue whale and all things, with such beauty, power, and magnificent detail, to show us who He is. God is powerful. God is majestic. How clearly are these attributes on display as we examine the blue whale! Praise Him for the glimpses of that within the creation.
Let us seek and search out the things of creation, whether magnificently large or delicately tiny—and see the glory of our God. As we enter another school year let us remember that throughout the day we are privileged to inquire into some of the glory of our God. So it is in all of our life. Whether young or old, look and listen to the beautiful things in the creation and honor Him who made it so. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11).
¹ Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Editor: John T. McNeill, Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1967. 1:6:2 (p. 72).
² The following sources, from which we derived many of the facts and figures used in this article, would make worthwhile additional reading:
Calambokidis, John and Gretchen Steiger. Blue Whales. Voyageur Press, 1997.