All nature speaks of the abundance of God’s Grace. The blessings He sends to humble hearts are as numberless as the sand of the seashore.
It is very evident that the writers of Holy Scripture knew the kind of illustrations to use when they wished to convey the impression of immense numbers. The most frequent use of the term “sand” is in connection with large numbers. For example, in Genesis 22:17, God says to Abraham, “I will multiply thy seed as the sand which is upon the seashore.” Again in chapter 32:12, to Jacob says “I will make thy seed as the sand of the sea.” In the books of Deuteronomy, Judges, Joshua, Samuel, and right on through Scripture sand is used again and again as the picture of uncountable immensity.
Sand itself is the consequence of the break-up of rocks. Most of us when at the seashore have played with the sand, letting it slip through our fingers, and sometimes we have joined with the children in their sand games; yet never have we attempted to count the number of those grains—we know that such a task is impossible save with God Himself. And the uncountable sand is the picture God uses in His Word to convey the extent and quantity of His blessings to His children.
Sand does not only signify a multitude, it also signifies permanence and durability. The commonest type of sand consists in what remains of the hardest minerals which compose the rocks. Frost, rains, streams, sea, wind, and heat all have an effect in pulverization, reducing hard rocks to mud, clay, and earth, and sand is the residue that endures afterward! The commonest mineral composing sand is quartz, which is so hard that it will scratch a steel knife. There are few things harder than quartz. Thus sand reminds us of the permanence of God’s promises and blessings.
Sand grains themselves are worthy of study, for when examined closely they vary tremendously. The sands derived from a glacier are very sharp and angular. The sands from a river bed are somewhat less angular, while sea sand is fairly well-rounded. Desert sands (that is, those which have come under the power of wind) largely are well rounded. In fact, the grains of desert sands both small and large are very spherical in form.
Sands are usually colored red or russet brown, though there are a variety of colours known. The colour, however, is usually secondary and due to a stain of iron salt. If red or brown sand is washed in a 50% solution of hydrochloric acid the pigmentation is removed and the quartz grains appear crystal white. What an illustration of the power of the Precious Blood of the Lord Jesus to cleanse the multitudes white and clean from their sins if only they will come under redeeming poured-out Life!
The Bible also reminds us that sand is heavy. Job 6:3 says, “My vexation and calamity would be heavier than the sand of the seas.” Yes, sand packs so closely that a load can become an intolerable burden. In geological science, there are also known what are called “heavy sands,” sands which weigh even more than the average sands. These contain a large proportion of heavy minerals such as magnetite, rutile, and zircon. From the viewpoint of the mineralogist, these and allied substances are of particular interest and so he seeks to separate them from the rest of the sand grains. How can this be done?
To the layman, it would appear to be an impossible task—to pick out the grains which weigh heavily! But by a delicate and complicated apparatus, the mineralogist can accomplish it. Sometimes he uses bromoform and magnetic means with various plates and dishes. In fact, there are very learned treatises written about such things, and the writer himself, years ago, did a little at it; the interest to us in the fact that it is possible to remove the heavy sand, which the Bible uses as an illustration of vexation and calamity. Surely this is what God does for every believer who seeks His Grace. He gives joy for sorrow and beauty for ashes.
Finally, it must be remembered that quartz grains were once crystals in some granite or similar rock, but by weathering the quartz become detached, and wind and water and other agencies have smoothed off the perfect crystalline form, and the grains became pitted and rounded. In some cases, however, where the sand grains have been compacted together (and maybe subjected to pressure and heat) the rounded grain of quartz is surrounded by a new mineral material forming once again a true crystal shape.
The textbooks frequently give microscope photographs of this phenomenon! But what a picture of the New Birth! Adam, the first man, was perfect, but by sin he and his whole posterity were spoilt, and that work of attrition and defeat has gone on ever since. We gaze upon the world today and we see iniquity growing worse and worse—the damage continues. Yet, when that fallen spoilt child of Adam comes into saving contact with the Lord Jesus and the power of His precious Blood, the Holy Spirit makes him into a new creature in Christ Jesus. God is able to restore His image in man!
And so, my friend, as you enjoy a holiday at the seaside and idly play with the sand in your fingers, think on these things, and may the Lord Himself draw near and meet you!
By J.H.J. Barker – End Times’ Messenger July 1960