Saturday, March 9, 2019

God’s Signature: The Crucifix Fish

Photo by Laurie Collett 3/8/2019

When signing his paintings, Pablo Picasso typically underlined his name and placed the signature at a slight angle to the frame. Albrecht Dürer always identified his art, whether a sketch or detailed masterpiece, with his famed “AD” trademark that was part of the artistic composition.

Some artists use a signature to indicate that the work is complete, as a reminder to themselves not to return to it and “gild the lily.” Others sign their work on the back or on the side of the canvas that is stretched over the frame, so as not to distract from the subject of the painting.

Although art lovers can easily recognize the distinctive greatness of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, this Renaissance master never signed his works, because they were commissioned by others. Rembrandt signed his paintings but very seldom his drawings, so most of these are attributed to him solely on the basis of style.

Regardless of whether or not they included their signature, the amazing creativity of all these artists and the beauty of their works can be explained by the fact that they, like all mankind, were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27). He is not only the Creator but the Master Designer (Psalm 19:1). Anyone who draws, paints, sculpts, designs clothing, or even decorates and beautifies their home is reflecting God’s creative genius. The same is true for writers, composers, performing artists, and inventors.

As the supreme Artist, God takes pleasure in signing His work by leaving a subtle or gloriously replete reminder of Who He is and what He did. The sheer number of plant and animal species and variations within species attests to His greatness (Genesis 1:11-12; 20-26), and even those numbers are dwarfed by the number of grains of sand in the earth's deserts and beaches (Genesis 32:12).

Yet scientists estimate that there are 10 times more stars in the night sky than there are grains of sand on our planet. Astronomers currently believe that the number of galaxies in the observable universe exceeds 170 billion, occupying a sphere with a radius of 13.8 billion light-years. Multiplying the number of stars in our galaxy by the number of galaxies in the universe results in an estimate of 1024 stars, or 1 followed by 24 zeros, and our God knows each one of them by name! (Psalm 147:4)

But God is great not only in His vastness, but in His attention to the most minute details that add meaning to His creation in ways that could not possibly be explained by any postulated evolutionary advantage. What advantage could there be to a sunflower or seashell having the Fibonacci sequence, or golden ratio, incorporated into its structure? Rather, it testifies to the mathematical precision and perfection of the One Who created them (Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 18:30).

Evolutionists might argue that the bright colors and patterns in various flowers attract birds and insects that aid in pollination. But only God would design flowers to look like dancing ladies or intricate animal faces, to bring pleasure to us as well as to Himself! Only God would design healthful fruits and vegetables to look like the human organ they benefit, as a prescription from the Great Physician. For example, eating pomegranates enhances breast health; walnuts boost brain function; and kidney beans not only resemble kidneys but promote renal health, just to name a few.

The number three, reflecting the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:16-17), is prevalent throughout nature. Matter exists in three states; space consists of three dimensions; and time is either past, present or future. Everything we see is either in the sky, on land, or in the sea, and can be describes as animal, vegetable, or mineral.

God’s story is told even in the lowly sand dollar, adorned with engravings of the Easter lily, the pointsettia, and the Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:2-10). It is pierced by five holes reminding us of the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet and side as He suffered on the cross (Luke 24:39-40; John 19:34), and it contains dove-shaped fragments as a symbol of peace and the Spirit (Mark 1:10; John 1:32).

I have thought about these various ways in which God “signs” His creation for quite some time. But as my husband and I were beachcombing last week, an unusual find really brought this concept home for me. Sticking up and partially buried in a mound of sand was a sharp, bleached object I did not recognize. As I gently unearthed it and rinsed it in the sea, I was amazed to see an intricately detailed sculpture of what appeared to be Jesus on the cross on one side, and Christ ascending into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), seen from behind, on the reverse side!

Further research revealed that this was the skull of a sail catfish, also known as a “crucifix fish.” Urban (or should I say maritime) legend is that God’s blessings will come to one who finds a sail catfish skull, particularly to fishermen. When shaken, the skull makes a rattling sound because of calcified otoliths, or ear stones within it, which has been likened to the sound made by the dice thrown as the Roman soldiers gambled for Christ’s robe (John 19:23-24). On the reverse is said to be the imprint of a Roman shield, and the hilt of the sword is visible where it plunged into His side.  

Like other members of the catfish family, the sail catfish would be considered unclean in Mosaic law because it has no scales (Leviticus 11:10-12), and this designation is fitting as it is a bottom feeder that predominantly scavenges rather than capturing its prey.

How astounding that God would tell His story by sculpting it into the skull of an unclean animal, as if to emphasize that He came not for the righteous, but to save sinners (Matthew 9:11-13). Although we are born unclean because of the curse of sin Adam’s disobedience brought upon the world, Jesus Christ was the perfect, holy Sacrifice Who died on the cross to pay for all our sins (Romans 5:12-21), and to rise again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) so that all who trust in Him have eternal life (John 3:16).

Romans 1: 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

God speaks to His children primarily through His Word, but may we be attuned to and blessed by the amazing messages He has carved into His creation!  

© 2019 Laurie Collett

Photo by Laurie Collett 3/8/2019


Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
That is one fascinating blog here on how a skull of a certain fish can resemble the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
I think the technical term for this kind of phenomenon is Pareidolia, and this reminds me of when I was a boy growing up.
We had a specific glass pane fitted at a front door which was of frosted glass, obviously for privacy yet letting in the light. As all these homes were built in the early 1960's Government New Town scheme to repopulate Londoners out of the city, back then every rented home in our town had exactly the same front door fitted with the same frosted window pane as ours.
After dark, the street light passing through the pane took on the form of the crucified Jesus, surrounded by a circular or oval glow. The resemblance was so startling that it actually made it into a national newspaper.
But unfortunately, it was during the days I was averse against all things religious, and by the time I was converted towards the end of 1972, most of these front doors were replaced after these houses were sold on to their former tenants.
Reading your blog has brought back these memories.
God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your encouragement, edification regarding the term "pareidolia," and sharing of your experience with the door pane. Who knows how many hearts back in the day may have been softened by this startling image!
Today a lady in the Bible study I teach shared with a picture of clouds she had taken during a time of discouragement. To her it resembled God holding her heart, and she found great comfort in this image.
Thanks again for sharing your insights and God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
How amazing is that object you found on the beach, it would have to go to a prominent display place in my lounge. We can not begin to fathom God's creation abilities with our carnal mind. God alone knows what 'no beginning and no end' means, our carnal mind cannot even imagine it. When I try to think of this there is always a limit to what I can see in my mind, an end and a beginning is there.
That is what I love about God, He is beyond our imagination, and this is what we need to recognize in order for our faith to grow through the mind of Christ. All things are possible with God.
Regarding the number 3 I think instantly of Body, Soul and Spirit.
On the television last night was a picture of a spider that has been discovered recently, you would not believe the colours on this creature. Your finding of the catfish
remains is absolute proof of God's amazing abilities and Romans 1 v.20 is absolute evidence of this. It is definitely a fool who says 'There is no God.'
God bless you for sharing this lovely information Laurie.

Donald Fishgrab said...

The very fact that we can develop science is evidence that something makes the universe follow certain rules rather than being random, as evolution assumes. Everywhere one looks there is evidence of god's power. To deny there is something in control is as illogical as Pelosi saying there is no crisis at the border, and requires deliberately ignoring the evidence.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Brenda,
Yes, my husband and I are discussing how best to display this and where to put it so that we and others will be reminded of it often. Praise the Lord that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, and that all things are possible with Him!
God made each of us in His image, with body, soul and spirit, reflecting Him as triune God.
That spider sounds truly amazing!
A friend of mine used to say that April Fool's Day should be renamed Atheist's Day, because only the fool says there is no God!
Thank you for your lovely comment and God bless you too!

Laurie Collett said...

Great analogy, Donald! The evolutionists have faith too, but their faith is foolish and misplaced, trusting in time and chance to bring about order, complexity, and intelligent design. This flies in the face of what we observe all around us and contradicts the laws of thermodynamics.
Thanks for sharing your insights and God bless,

Susan said...

God is so merciful, and creative! I’m working on a needlepoint, my own design, thinking on the fact that we are creative because He is creative is an amazing thought to ponder!

Keith said...

Isn't it amazing in how many places we can see the signature of God, if we only open our eyes. In the Book of Romans, we are told that no one has an excuse for not recognizing God's hand in all of creation. In the 14th century, Conrad of Megenberg penned a book, "The Book of Nature", in which he shows that concept. That's why I always say that God can be revealed in the Book of God and the Book of Nature.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Susan! I'm sure the needlepoint will be beautiful and glorify God, for you are His child and made in His image!

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Keith,
Praise the Lord for His amazing creation -- may we always be in awe of Who He is and what He has done and will do! Truly those who do not see God as the Designer of all have no excuse.
Thanks for your comment and God bless,

Fitch said...

ya'll need to read it see,s it does protect and bless those who have these