As my husband and I walked along the beach, we spotted a man standing by the waves, staring down into his cupped hands.
Our approach evidently interrupted his deep meditation, as he looked up and asked, “Are you folks from around here?”
“Well, we spend a lot of time here,” my husband answered. “How can we help you?”
He again peered into his hands, directing our attention to a tiny creature swimming in his palm. It was about 1 inch long, and narrow like a worm, silvery and translucent. It had two eyes, each placed laterally on either side of its head, and seven black dots on each side of the body in a straight line behind the eye.
“Any idea what this is?” he asked. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Sadly, we hadn’t either, so we weren’t able to shed much light on the matter.
“One of God’s creatures,” my husband said. The man smiled. We continued our brisk morning walk and turned around a short while later to head back to the condo, but the man had disappeared, and we did not see him again during our stay.
After returning to our home a few days later, I picked up a magazine at random from an untouched pile of mail. It fell open to a picture of exactly what we had seen – a lamprey, apparently newly hatched given its small size. I believe that with God, there are no coincidences, so I resolved to investigate the matter further.
The article in which the photo appeared was from a creation science magazine, citing the lamprey as an example of a jawless fish (Agnatha). The seven gill slits, corresponding to the seven dots visible behind the eye, are separated from each other internally by cartilaginous arches, which are uniquely hinged and engineered skeletal features allowing the gills to pull in oxygenated water so that the lamprey can “breathe.”
There are no transitional forms linking the lamprey to jawed fishes or to armored jawless fish, and all three types of fishes are equally complex, supporting intelligent design of all three types at the same time and arguing against evolution. As is the case so often in nature, whether in a vast galaxy or a diminutive sea creature, God’s creation declares His glory, wisdom and creativity (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20).
So what might God be saying to me through this little lamprey, revealed to us by divine appointment? I learned that the etymology of “lamprey” is obscure, but it may derive from the old French words meaning “lick rock,” referring to the raspy tongue of this parasite that allows it to attach to and feed off other fishes. So this worm-like parasite seems ignoble at best, much like man (Job 17:14; 25:6) in his unregenerated, sin-cursed state (Romans 3:10-23) before he is saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).
When Christ died to pay our sin debt, the Holy, sinless Lamb of God took on the whole weight of all of mankind’s sin, past, present and future (Hebrews 9:28; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He was so disfigured by this putrid burden that all were revolted by His appearance (Isaiah 53:2-12), and even His Holy Father could not bear to look at Him (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46). The King of Kings, Lord of Heaven became as a lowly worm (Job 25:6; Psalm 22:6), just to save us from the penalty of sin while we were yet His enemies (Romans 3:25; 5:6-11).
Before I researched the etymology of “lamprey,” which turns out to be unclear anyway, the word brought to mind a combination of two words: the English word “lamp,” and “rey,” the Spanish word for “king.” God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105), and the Lord Himself is our lamp, lighting the darkness (2 Samuel 22:29). God’s commandment is a lamp, showing us the way we should go (Proverbs 6:23). His salvation is likened to a burning lamp (Isaiah 62:1). The prophet Daniel’s vision of Jesus Christ revealed His eyes to be like lamps of fire (Daniel 10:6).
So “lamprey” reminded me of the Lamp (Word, commandment, law) of the King, Who is our Lord Jesus Christ! (1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16). He will reign over His coming kingdom with perfect righteousness, justice and peace (2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 1:11, Revelation 1:5, 11:15, 12:10).
And yet, born-again believers (John 3:3-8) could also be considered to be lamps of the King, for Jesus said that we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). He is the true Light (John 1:9), and once we are saved, His light shines through us and is reflected from us.
The same morning that I spotted the magazine article, one of our daily devotional readings was about the need to keep our lamps filled with oil and burning brightly as we await the return of Our Lord and King. Like the wise virgins whose lamps were prepared (Matthew 25:1-13), believers should be filled with the Holy Spirit, ready for Christ’s imminent return for His Bride, or the Church, at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
That same afternoon I listened to a prophecy TV broadcast, which “just happened” to compare the Rapture to the Galilean wedding tradition. Like the betrothed Hebrew bride, we do not know the day nor the hour when Our Lord will return for us (Matthew 24:36), flying us up to His Father’s house for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 19:9).
The number seven in Scripture is God’s perfect number of completion, preceding the number eight, which marks new beginnings (much like the seven notes of the musical scale, with the eighth marking the beginning of a new octave). The seven gill slits of the lamprey, appearing as seven dots behind the eye, is a reminder of God’s perfection, with the eight “dot” surrounded by the silvery orb of the eye suggesting the new beginning we have in Christ.
The seven dots also suggest Christ’s warnings and encouragement to the seven churches, depicted in Revelation as seven lamps, or candlesticks He holds in His right hand (Revelation 1:20; 4:5). Those exhortations include not forgetting our first love, Who is Christ; rejecting false doctrine; seeking spiritual rather than material blessings; and being on fire for Christ with zeal rather than indifference (Revelation 2-3).
God prescribed that His tabernacle should be lit with seven gold lamps (Exodus 25:37; 37:23), to be filled continually with olive oil (Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2-4), which is a foreshadowing of how Jesus would be crushed for our sins like an olive put through the press to extract the life-giving oil. At the Garden of Gethsemane, which means “olive press,” He agonized so fervently in prayer over His imminent work on the cross that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44).
It is amazing how God speaks to His children through His creation, and through divine appointments. May we always be attuned to His still, small voice! (1 Kings 19:12). May we follow His Word and law and keep our lamps burning brightly, radiating His Holy Spirit as we await the return of our Bridegroom and King!
© 2021 Laurie Collett