Due to the recent campaigns for blood donors, people have become interested in what type of blood they have—group A or B, Rh-(positive) or Rh-(negative). What does it mean to be of group A or B and why cannot one type of blood be mixed with another?

In order to understand the significance of blood classification, it is necessary to first understand a few simple facts about how blood reacts to various substances with which it comes into contact. If a foreign substance is introduced into the blood stream the blood cells produce a substance which will counteract this foreign substance. For the sake of convenience the foreign substance, whatever it may be, is called an antigen, that substance which is produced by the blood and which serves to eliminate the foreign substance is called an antibody, and the reaction of the one upon the other is called an antigen antibody reaction. Every type of foreign matter which finds its way into the blood stream stimulates a certain antibody to be produced. For example, if the antigen or foreign substance is a poison or toxin the antibody produced is called antitoxin and the reaction in which the antibody removes the antigen is a toxin-antitoxin reaction. If the antigen consists of the cells of a plant or animal, the antibody can be of two types—lysin or agglutinin depending on the type of cell. Lysin splits the foreign cells and makes it easier for the white corpuscles in our blood to eliminate the cells. Agglutinin causes the foreign cells to clump together and thus makes it easier for the white corpuscles to attack them. All these antibodies which are produced in the blood when a foreign substance is introduced and make the person immune or free him from the effects of the foreign matter are called immune antibodies. In addition to these immune antibodies there are antibodies which naturally occur in the blood and there are called normal antibodies.

In 1900 Dr. Karl Landstiener in Vienna experimented with human blood. He noticed by means of the microscope that when he mixed a drop of blood from one person with a drop of blood from another person that agglutination, a clumping together of the cells of blood, sometimes occurred. This clumping did not always occur but only when the blood cells of certain people were mixed with those of other people. He concluded that there are normal antigens and antibodies in the human blood which caused this phenomena. Further investigation of his discoveries verified his findings and further discovered that there are two such normally occurring antigens in the human blood. For sake of convenience these antigens were called A and B.

It was found that a person could have either antigen A or B, both A and B, or neither A nor B. Thus a person who was of blood type A would have antigen A, type B antigen B, type AB antigen A and B, type O neither antigen A nor B. One can see now that if a person were of group A and had antigen A he could not have the corresponding antibody A in his blood stream because his blood would clump together and he would not be able to live. However, a person who has antigen A would have the antibodies of the other blood groups in his blood. Thus the person of group A would have antibody B in his blood and if his blood were given to a person of group B the blood cells would clump together causing the circulation of the person of group B to be hindered and finally cause death.

Many other types of normal antigens have been discovered in the human blood. In 1927 the M and N antigens were discovered. More recent than that, the Rh and Hr antigens were found, and people are further classified into Rh (positive) and Rh (negative).

From the foregoing discussion one can plainly see that it is very important that a person’s blood be classified before he receives a transfusion. This classification must be very accurate because one mistake could cause the death of the person receiving the transfusion.


If you were in Grand Rapids dur­ing the past two weeks you would not have had to look far for an inspiration for a Beacon Lights article in the Na­ture Study section. Grand Rapids has just experienced a record breaking snow fall and from the weather reports our friends in the West are also having their share of snow. Probably when this article is being written people are just beginning to see the cement of their sidewalks again and are just recovering from “broken backs”. Possibly after this article is published in February most of the snow will have left and the aching backs and tired muscles will have been relieved so that we can look at the snow from the aspect of its “treasures” and not the work it brings.

Job asks us in chapter 38 verse 22, “hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” “The treasures of the snow” can be viewed from the aspect of the usefulness and the beauty of the snow. Only we as Christians who see nature through the Word of God can under­stand the real beauty and usefulness of the snow, for we know that it is sent in God’s Providence and to His Glory.

The snow that caps the mountains which many of us have actually seen and of which others have seen pictures reaches a great depth especially during the winter months. The first layers are packed under the great strain of the layers above them and a sheet of ice called a glacier is formed. These gla­ciers serve as large, reservoirs of water. When the warm sun beats on these fields of snow they melt and the water is carried away by mountain streams. This snow becomes an important factor in the irrigation systems of our western farmers. The snow in a natural system of irrigation also serves our eastern farmers—it melts, evaporates, and fin­ally falls in the form of rain.

The snow of the lowlands is also very beneficial. This snow serves as an insulator in much the same way as the insulation of our houses. The snow keeps the earth warm and protects the plants and animals from the cold of the winter. All of the green grass we enjoy in the summer, the fresh fruits and veg­etables, and the flowers which herald Spring depend on the snow. From these uses and others we can plainly see that the snowy from which we probably did not receive much pleasure while we were shoveling, plays an important part in God’s Providence.

The snow is frequently referred to in Scripture as the standard of whiteness and as the emblem of purity. The snow is beautiful as it covers the fields and lies on the branches of the trees; but there is another aspect of the beauty of the snow and that is the crystals or flakes of snow. The snow crystals are transparent and have many facets which reflects the light and hence cause the snow to have an appearance of white­ness. The crystals vary in size from 1/100 to 1/2 inch in diameter depending on the weather conditions. If the clouds and air are cold and dry, small and solid crystals will be formed. If the clouds are moist and the weather a bit warmer, large and branchy crystals tend to form. Although the clouds play an important part in snow formation, the snow crystals are not formed from the tiny drops of water in the clouds. The crystals are formed from the invisible molecules of water which travel be­tween the droplets of water in the clouds. This fact is proved by the snow falls on clear days.

The beauty of the snow crystals has attracted the attention of students of the snow for many years. Many scien­tists have attempted to draw them and recently a certain type of photography has been invented to catch the beauty of the crystals before they melt. By the use of these photographs scientists have classified snow crystals into two kinds: the tabular, or branching forms; and the columnar, or needle like forms. The tabular crystals are the most beau­tiful. Their wide variety of design, beautiful outlines, and rich interiors make them the most popular for study. The variety of the forms of snowflakes is unimaginable. No two snowflakes have been found alike. One man has taken 4,800 photographs of snow crystals and has found no two alike. The out­line of the snow or crystals is dependent on the wind movements and weather con­ditions. The richness of the interior of these crystals is largely due to tiny air tubes which are very orderly dis­tributed in the snow flake. These dark lines through the flake cause some areas to be shaded which adds to the beauty of the crystal.

After we think about the beauties of this creation the thought comes to us of how much more beautiful will be that new creation, which will not be affected by sin and which will not have to be ob­served by sinful men.

I trust the reader is familiar with the history recorded in Genesis 27, 28, 29, and 30 of Jacob’s flight to Padan-Aram, the home of his uncle Laban, in order to escape the burning wrath of his brother Esau. You will also recall the dealings Jacob had with his uncle Laban and how God prospered Jacob as he had promised. There is one particular transaction between Jacob and Laban to which I would like to call your attention to that which is found in Genesis 30: 37-43. Jacob had made a bargain with Laban to accept all the ring streaked, speckled, and grizzled offspring as his wages. Laban then, accepting Jacob’s offer, separated the spotted animals and left Jacob with the solid colored animals. Jacob then employed his secret scheme to produce spotted animals from solid colored parents. He, as you will remem­ber, put sticks, from which he had peeled part of the bark, in the watering trough so that the animals would be impressed by the white spots and produce spotted offspring. From the result of Jacob’s scheme one would conclude that it work­ed admirably; but upon further con­sideration of the Incident one must con­clude that the scheme was a fraud.

The study of inheritance, called genetics, has long ago disproved the theory that external factors such as the spotted rods can affect the type of off­spring to be produced. Geneticists tell us that every plant, animal, and man has two factors called genes for every characteristic in their organism. For example, in the case of Jacob’s goats, each goat had two genes or factors for the color of coat which he bore. Now one of these genes was for solid color and the other for spotted coat. Since the animals with which Jacob dealt were solid colored we can conclude that the gene or factor for solid color was stronger or dominant over the gene for spotted color. There­fore, although the animals looked to Jacob as if they were solid colored they were actually spotted “underneath.” Since they were spotted “underneath” they naturally would produce a good number of offspring which were speck­led, spotted, or grizzled.

Now I can hear some of you say: “But why bring all this about genes and Genetics into the story? Couldn’t God have used the spotted rods to make the animals reproduce as they did?” The answer is: “Yes, He could have but he didn’t.” Genesis 31:10-13 shows us that God, through a dream, told Jacob that his scheme was useless and taught him some of the genetics explained above.

“And it came to pass at the time that the flock conceived, that I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a dream, and, behold the he-goats which did leap upon the flock were ring streaked, speckled, and grizzled.” (Gene­sis 31:10).

The dream shows that the animals that Jacob thought were solid colored were actually spotted. Besides teaching Jacob in this dream that his scheme was false, God also clearly taught Jacob a lesson in faith. He clearly showed him that it was not his cunning schemes that had caused him, first of all, to receive the birth-right blessing instead of his brother or that had caused his material increase later in life. “It was only be­cause of the sovereign favor of his cove­nant God that he received the birth­right* and the material wealth.

* J. P. Van Haitsma, The Supplanter Undeceived; p. 92.

Water is one of the most common sub­stances around us, but yet it is one of the most important compounds necessary for life. Beside these uses for water which we see around us every day such as hydro-electric power, transportation, and crop growth; there are many bio­logical uses which are unconsciously tak­ing place constantly. Next to man’s de­sire for air, ranks his desire for water. One cannot realize his great dependence upon water until he is deprived of it. Water plays a very important part in our lives but still it is a substance that scientists know little about

We do not need water merely because we are thirsty at times; but all of our body functions rely on it. Our food must be dissolved in water in order that they can be carried by the blood stream to the various parts of the body. Even the air we breathe must be dissolved in water before it can pass from the tissues of our lungs into the blood stream. The large amount of water in cur bodies— about sixty-five percent of the body’s weight—helps us to maintain a constant body temperature. It takes much heat to raise the temperature of this amount of water a few degrees. Therefore our bodies can absorb much heat before the body temperature is raised. Because of this fact our bodies are also cooled by water when it appears in the form of sweat and evaporates from our skin. Because of the great need that a living body has for water man and animals will go through great lengths to obtain water. Upon realizing a little bit the great need a body has for water, we can better understand the pant of the hart ‘‘after the water brooks” and further­more in connection with Ps. 42, under­stand the great thirst our souls must have after the living God,

Water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. Oxygen is a gas which is abundantly found in the atmosphere of the earth. Oxygen is very necessary to life because it re­leases the energy in the food which is taken into our bodies and as you know it is one of the three necessities for burning. Hydrogen is also a gas but it is not found naturally in the earth’s at­mosphere because of its light weight. Hydrogen is the gas that was used some years ago in dirigibles and as some can remember it caused many explosions because it is highly inflammable. It is interesting to notice that when oxygen, the very substance that is necessary for burning, is united with hydrogen, the substance that is so very inflammable, that water, the substance with which we fight fire, is produced.

Because scientists know the components of water, they can predict how water will behave as a combination of oxygen and hydrogen; but, water does not behave as they would predict it to behave. Scientists have been puzzled for ages about the strange activities of the water molecule. As all of you know, by experiencing the trouble of cracked radiators and water pipes, water ex­pands upon freezing. This fact is not a nuisance but very divinely planned in the creation of water. If it were not for the fact that water expanded when freez­ing, ice would not float and all the mar­ine life in a body of water would have been extinct years ago. Scientists have been searching for centuries for an ex­planation of why a compound made up of hydrogen and oxygen should expand upon freezing but have sought in vain because they do not see God’s creation through the light of His Word and do not understand that an all-wise God created the water molecule in such a way that the animal and plant life in the sea are preserved through the winter.

“Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?” —Job 38:16.

Unlike the other members of the mollusk family—the clam, the oyster, and the snail—the squid is a very active, vicious and fast-moving creature. Characteristic of the mollusk family is the hard outer shell which protects the spineless soft-bodied animal. The “clerk of the seas” has no such exterior armor; it depends on speed and power. How­ever, embedded in the flesh of its soft body lies a horny skeleton which re­sembles an old fashioned ink pen, a feathered quill.

In addition, the squid possesses an unusual organ, called an ink sac, which emits a black fluid. Thus the term “clerk of the sea” is applicable to this amazing creature furnished with quill and ink. A close relative inhabiting the Indian Ocean is the source of sepia or India ink, and it also has a peculiar skeleton embedded in its muscle which is called the “cuttle bone” and is com­monly found in canary cages.

Not only in appearance does the squid resemble a modem rocket, but also in its manner of locomotion—jet propulsion. We can compare it to a cigar with two tail fins at the tapered end and a bundel of ten slender fingers at the other end. Eight of the ten fingers (called tenacles) are of the same size and are used for holding and tearing the food; while the two longer tenacles func­tion when seizing prey. All tenacles are armed with four rows of suction cups which enable them to get a vice-like grip. In the center of these tenacles is located the mouth which is equipped with power­ful jaws and horny teeth supported by a flexible file-like tongue which operates like a ditch-digger chipping off pieces of prey, while the victim is firmly held by the tenacles. One variety found off the western coast of South America is much feared by man because of its ferocity; piano wire is no match for its teeth.

“This is the squidiest year I ever twined in”, said a Maine fisherman recently, for his mackerel seines caught 16,000 bushels in one night off the New England coast.

Generally, squids vary from a few inches to a few feet in length and are found universally in sea water. A species found off the coast of Peru ranges from four to seven feet in length and weighs up to 100 pounds. However, these figures are dwarfed by those of the Giant Squid found in the cold North Atlantic which attains a length of fifty feet and weighs several tons. This hideous vicious giant was pursued by the whale and sometimes driven close to shore. This may account for some of the old European sagas re­garding the serpentine monsters.

Behind the tenacles are two large eyes which provide the creature with excellent vision. The “gravity organ” which measures and controls its water depth is a very simple device consisting of a sac with a floating weight. It is located in the brain tissue.

Not only the chameleon has the power to change its color, but also the squid, for it has color sacs in the outer skin. These color cells have long finger-like extensions. When the pigment is allow­ed to flow out of these branches, the animal may appear maroon; but when the fluid is retracted into the cell again the color almost disappears. Besides the red pigment cells they have blue and yellow ones, so that unlike man they can change their “race”.

The animal is very difficult to main­tain in captivity even though constantly supplied with fresh seawater. After several unsuccessful attempts to hatch squid eggs in an aquarium it was dis­covered that the sun’s rays coagulated or hardened the egg, whereas in nature it is protected by a slimy film which keeps out the ultra-violet part of the sun’s rays. After this unusual discovery, naturalists were able to hatch the eggs in aquariums.

Unique indeed is this creature’s method of locomotion—jet propulsion! Water is taken into the body cavity, called the mantel, and is forced out under con­siderable pressure by the muscular walls through a small opening called the siphon. Generally, the animal moves tail first allowing the finger-like tenacles to follow. Also if emits a cloud of inky liquid which forms an effective smoke screen to hide it from its foe. However, the direction of the siphon may be changed, so that the squid may move head first. In order to better compre­hend the efficiency, speed and power of this organism, it is well to note that it has one heart to provide for the body and one for each gill, thus giving it sev­eral fuel pumps.

Both the oriental and the Mediterranean people use the squid as a source of food. Cod fishermen prize them for bait. Many are used for fertilizer. The most im­portant use, however, is in basic research on the nervous system for the squid pos­sesses the largest nerve cells known. In fact, a Harvard zoologist remarked, “The very size of the nerve processes has pre­vented their discovery, since it is well nigh impossible to believe that such a large structure can be a nerve fibre.” Today physiologists are using squid nerves in their studies on the nature of nerve impulses.

Is it not strange that this sea-clerk which has created fear and suspicion in the past is the fore-runner of jet-propul­sion and is now the prize object of pre­sent day nerve research? Yes, an un­usual creature in action, appearance, and usefulness!

Is there nothing new under the sun? Once again we are compelled to say “Thy wisdom is too wonderful for me

When the word “hypnotism” is men­tioned, most people picture in their minds a dark-colored person with a Turkish towel wrapped around his head, pointing his electrified fingers at a horrified sub­ject. Hypnotism is usually regarded as a form of weird entertainment or as a method of producing fear where it is wanted. The American people are guilty of this idea of hypnotism. In Europe and by many psychologists today hypno­tism is considered to be a science; that is, classified and verified knowledge. Hypno­tism is classified because it can be de­fined and explained. It is verified by its many uses in the fields of medicine and psychology.

As you probably know the human mind operates on two levels—the conscious and the subconscious. Usually both of these parts function together somewhat like a driver and his work horse. The driver, or conscious part, wills where and when to go, while the actual heavy work is done by the horse, the subconscious mind. Now, if a person could distract the driver’s attention, he could take the reins and will where and when to go. This is what happens during hypnotism—the conscious mind is rendered in­active and the subconscious is given full control.

The methods by which the conscious part of the mind is subjugated, or the methods by which hypnotism is induced, are as numerous as the hypnotist’s them­selves. Every hypnotist has his own way of producing the hypnotic state. How­ever, they all follow a general pattern which is called by psychologists “The Conditions of Hypnotism”. First the subject must be placed in a comfortable position and must have complete tran­quility of mind. Next the attention must be fixed on one object, and then the con­scious mind is made tired by monotony in one way or another. When conscious activity is limited in this way, the sub­ject will feel sleepy and his mind will become completely blank. The hypnotist then gives the subject commands which must always be accompanied by the com­mand to execute immediately the thing he is told to do at a certain signal. Hypnotism should not be practiced in the home. It must be left in the hands of trained psychologists. The amateur may not be able to cope with the after­effects of hypnotism. For example, the subject may become dependent on hypnotism in the same way as a drug addict is dependent on his drugs. If hypnotism is not used properly, it may change the whole emotional pattern of the subject.

Due to the reputation that hypnotism has in America, it is not used very ex­tensively in the field of medicine. It is not entirely the fault of the people them­selves. Certainly no one would want to be subjected to hypnotism after having read some of the literature of our day which portrays hypnotism as an evil power. Such titles as “Man Terrorizes Country by Hypnotizing Women and burying them Alive” would scare anyone. If people knew the truth about hypno­tism they would disregard such nonsense, and hypnotism could advance as an aid in the field of medicine in America. In Russia hypnotism is used extensively and successfully in childbirth. In many Euro­pean countries it is used in the cure of that large number of patients who suffer from bodily disorders as a result of dis­turbance of the mind. Such things as asthma, high blood pressure, skin trouble, warts, ulcers, migraine headaches, and even obesity (which means that people can reduce their weight by hypnotism) have been cured. Even diabetes has been reported to be cured by hypnotism.

In psychology hypnotism has been called “the laboratory of abnormal psy­chology”. It is used more in psychology than in medicine. A person can be made to remember his childhood days by means of hypnotism and in this way the psy­chologists can determine the basis of many mental disorders. Hypnotism has been used in the cure of the disease of America—the nervous breakdown.

The situation of hypnotism today is somewhat like that of a large factory called the “factory of science”, in which all the workers are doing quite satisfac­torily except two. Pathology, the study of diseases, and abnormal psychology, the study of mental illnesses, are lag­ging behind and have many unsolved problems. Hypnotism has his foot in the doorway ready to help the puzzled workers, but lie is being held back by the boss of the factory, the American people, who thinks hypnotism is a terror­ist and considers him to be unqualified as an aid.

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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