John T. Willis

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sea Shells

Over many years of traveling around the world, my wife and I have been greatly blessed by walking along wonderful beaches of many countries in Canada, Hawaii, Greece, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Africa, etc. One of the great wonders which intrigue me is collecting sea shells washed onto the sand lapping at the shore. In our home, we have a huge collection of all shapes and sizes and colors. Come see our collection some time. Each is unique and marvelous. This is one of God's mysterious, beautiful creation.

A sea shell is a hard, protective outer lay created by a sea creature, a marine organism. The shell is part of the body of a marine animal. In most cases, a shell is an exoskeleton, usually that of an animal without a backbone, an invertebrate. Many sea shells are mollusk shells, including snail shells (gastropods), clam shells (bivalves), tusk shells (scaphopods), chitons (polyplacophorans); then there are crustacean shells, horseshoe crabs, echinoderm tests, and brachiopod shells. Small octopuses sometimes use an empty shell as a sort of cave for hiding and protection.

The scientific study of collecting and classifying shells is called conchology. Specialists and amateurs frequent efforts to learn and appreciate sea shells. Several clubs and societies unite by shared interest in shells, such as Florida and California, where the marine fauna is rich in species. Some countries use various types of shells as musical instruments, for example, in Korea. Many countries around the world use marvelous shapes and colors of shells for decoration.

There are a few references to various types of sea shells in the Bible.

1. Psalm 58:8 includes a metaphor in a curse or malediction:
"Let them [the wicked] be like the SNAIL that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun."

2. Job extols wisdom using this comparison in Job 28:18: "the price of wisdom is above PEARLS." Of course, a pearl is a gem produced as a secretion by oysters [an oyster is a bivalve mollusk] that harden.

3. Jesus warns God's people in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:6: "Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your PEARLS before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you." [As you know, there is a daily or weekly cartoon entitled: "Pearls before Swine"].

4. Jesus tells a parable in Matthew 13:45-46: "The kingdom of heaven is like amerchant in search of fine PEARLS; and one finding ONE PEARL OF GREAT VALUE, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."

5. In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul instructs that women "should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their air braided, or with gold, PEARLS, or expensive clothes."

6. Revelation 17:4; 18:12, 16 describe the extravagance of evil Babylon [Rome] as adorned with many expensive luxuries, including PEARLS.

7. In the description of "the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God" in Revelation 21, in verse 21, the text says: "And the twelve gates are twelve PEARLS, each of the gates is a single PEARL, and the street of the city is pure gold, transparent as glass."

For centuries, human beings worldwide have treasured pearls [a hardened secretion by oysters] as valuable materials.

All of these marvelous creations are the work of God. They dazzle our lives. How can one see all of these blessings and fail to see bright windows in the world of the work of God? I hope you enjoy sea shells. They bless the heart and the life.

What are your ideas? What are your experiences? Share these wonders with your family, your friends, your church, your community, your country. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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