The Monarch Butterfly—An Illustration of Transformation—Emerge
Part one of this series examined God's creative process in the creation account and the heart of man as imaged in the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly. Creation and transformation, in all of these accounts, is substantiated by the number four.
Part one also introduced the very beginning of four stages of development in the life of the Monarch butterfly that parallels the four phases of development in the Christian life which are explored throughout the remainder of the series.
Part two continued with the journey in showing how the caterpillar phase of the Monarch's development illustrates both salvation (first stage) and the processes of living out the justified state of being New Creations in Christ (second stage) while living in the flesh as represented by the worm.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me
— Galatians 2:20
Part Three examined the third stage of the Monarch's development into a new creature as it enters into its chrysalis that represents the process of sanctification through death.
This fourth and final phase of development of the Monarch butterflies life cycle illustrates the phase of our Christian life called glorification and images the resurrected life.
Keep in mind that each of the phases of this journey can be viewed personally in terms of our individual journeys as well as corporately in terms of the church as a whole.
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting system through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in"
— George Washington Carver
"I Can See Clearly Now..."
Part three left off with a silent, motionless, and seemingly dead caterpillar confined to the tomb of its chrysalis. It is now time for the newly formed creature to awaken.
it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed
— Romans 13:11
At about day fourteen, just prior to the completion and big reveal of this transformation process, the chrysalis becomes very clear and transparent exposing the new vibrant colors and substance. Its time of suffering and death has now ended and a new life is about to begin
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us
— Romans 8:18
Watch the Door and Four
What a privilege and an honor to behold the birthing of this new and glorious creature. This part of the process is difficult to capture because it occurs so quickly.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
— I Corinthians 15:51-52
It is easy to miss the event if you don't wait and watch for it and lends to us a lesson of watching and waiting for the revealing and appearance of the Lord Jesus.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
— Mark 13:32-37
The door in the above verse is harmonious with the image we see in the butterflies exodus from the chrysalis. When I observed this process firsthand, there appeared to be a door like a flap that opened, allowing the butterfly to drop down out of its previous confinement. Jesus, our door, was what immediately came to my mind.
It was revealed in Part One of this series how the number four stamps the processes of transformation and how the fourth letter of the Hebrew Aleph -Bet is a picture of a door. Here in the fourth and final phase of the Monarchs life cycle, we get a visual straight from the creator and transformer of all things.
Preparation For Flight
The next amazement I experienced in observing the butterflies exodus was in watching it unfold. The volume of material packed into that little container is astonishing, to say the least!
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
— I Corinthians 2:9
The newly released butterfly will spend the next, four hours pumping fluid into its wings, from its very large belly
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water...this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive
— John 7:38,39
The butterfly is being made, finally, fit for flight by this process that will straighten, flatten, and harden its wings in preparation for its heavenly journey
He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee
— II Corinthians 5:5
...that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory
— Romans 9:23
The Holy Spirit's creative excellence is to be esteemed neither less nor lower than the creation of the world or the resurrection of the dead (Heads III-IV, Art. 12) The Holy Spirit's creative excellence is to be esteemed neither less nor lower than the creation of the world or the resurrection of the dead (Heads III-IV, Art. 12)
— The Canons of Dord The Canons of Dord
New Designer Features
It is so hard to believe that the worm that entered the chrysalis, just fourteen days ago, has been so gloriously transformed and bears no resemblance to what it once was. The salvation that occurred, in the beginning, is now being magnificently displayed
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness
— Psalm 17:15
Not only has the glorious butterflies appearance changed from that of a lowly earthbound worm into a divinely celestial creature, by this transformation, but its abilities are phenomenally better than ever could be imagined.
"Beauty is a sign of the transcendent. It's purely gratuitous. We all recognize it. We just need to acknowledge what it points to"
— Ann Gauge, zoologist at the "Biological Institute"1
“Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof.” ...Mark that insect with gorgeous wings, playing in the sunbeams, sipping at the flower bells, full of happiness and life; that is the end thereof"
— Charles Spurgeon
As a caterpillar, the Monarch had six pairs of simple eyes that saw poorly and were only capable of discerning light and darkness.
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face
— I Corinthians 13:12
As a butterfly, it has four color vision system consisting of two compound eyes that are made up of thousands of hexagonal units of photoreceptor cells. These give it the ability to not only see all colors but also can see ultraviolet light as well as can detect light polarization. It can now see 180 degrees, all features which will assist in navigating the butterfly to its heavenly destination.
...though I was blind, now I see
— John 9:25
The caterpillar's sense of smell was limited to its two tiny antennae while the newly formed butterfly has been outfitted with a higher functioning system involving not only its antennae but also has receptors on its legs, palps (mouth appendages), and other body parts.
the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things
— I Corinthians 2:14-15
Food sources have now changed in the Monarch. As a caterpillar, it ate milkweed. As a butterfly, it now feasts on the sweet nectar of flowers a more heavenly and palatable substance.
For lo, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come
— Song of Solomon 2:11-12
The butterfly, also, no longer tastes with its mouth, but instead tastes with its feet. Could we view our feet in this metaphor as symbols of our walk in terms of what we do? as Jesus told His disciples that His food was to do God's will. (John 4:34)
To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life...Blessed arethose who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life
— Revelation 2:7, 22:14
The Monarch caterpillar had a dull sense of hearing.
the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing
— Matthew 13:15
The adult butterfly now hears through its wings.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says...
— Revelation 2:7
Finally, the butterflies sense of touch has become significantly sensitized as it now has sensory hairs throughout its entire body.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us
— I John 1:1-2
Form and Function
A few final observations and lessons gleaned from the Monarchs new appearance and functions; The first having to do with its colors There are three colors that decorate the butterfly. The predominant being orange. Orange is a secondary color made up of red and yellow.
Red in the Bible symbolizes the salvation that was wrought for us through the blood of Christ.
you were not redeemed with corruptible things,like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ
— I Peter 1:18-19
Yellow symbolizes glory and awakening as like a rising sun.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory
— Psalm 84:11
In combination, we have orange representing the glory of God's salvation in grand array.
Secondly, we have the Monarch's white dots. As was discussed in Part Three the white dots symbolize for us the purity that was purchased for us through such a great a salvation as we trusted and leaned on Him entirely for that.
“These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb
— Revelation 7:14
Our final color black provides the backdrop and contrast that will make these white dots shine like stars against a night sky.
...become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life
— Phillipians 2:14-16
Black forms the borders of the wings edges as well as the geometrical patterns on them and, in the Bible, is a symbol of darkness. The butterfly displays for us how, not only has God delivered us from this darkness, but will use it as a backdrop to more gloriously display His glory. God the master recycler has used all things for our good and His glory.
all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose
— Romans 8:28
A Resurrected Life
This part of the process symbolizes the resurrected life that began with an empty tomb.
Now on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb
— John 20:20
Our final observation having to do with its physical function concerns its wings. The caterpillar was earthbound and it's territory limited. The butterfly now has wings and is a celestial creature and the sky is the limit.
those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles
— Isaiah 40:31
Which leads us to the last event of the life of a Monarch
The Home Stretch
Once Monarchs are ready to fly, they launch off to a more than 3000-mile trek from Canada and the northern United States, and head south to hang on the trees of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt Pine-Oak Forests in central Mexico, referred to sometimes, as "the kingdom of Monarchs". It is here that they will spend the next four months in a state of semi-hibernation.
This area in which they settle is at about 10,000 feet in elevation and speaks to us of the Kingdom of Heaven.
“Is not God in the height of heaven?
— Job 22:12
They fly to what is known as a micro-climate, which is a small area that differs greatly in climate than the areas that surround it. It is a 56,000 (4x14000) Hector biosphere. This can demonstrate for us the differing of atmospheres of earth and heaven as described by John's vision of the new heavens and new earth that he saw and as he was carried away by the Spirit to a great and high mountain.
The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life
— Revelation 21:22
Monarchs are well known for their strong soaring flight, yet their flight is not without conflict or hazard.
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
— Acts 14:22
Fascinatingly, the Monarchs follow an annual four generation route to Canada and the northern United States and back. According to the "National Audubon Society Field Guide"...
"No single individual makes the entire round-trip journey"
Could this lesson for us that we the church are interdependent and can take no credit nor glory to our own and like a relay race we pass the baton to the next runner. Paul wrote concerning this;
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase
— I Corinthians 3:6-7
The generational process begins much like we began this series, with the egg laid on the underside of a milkweed plant somewhere in the southern United States. The egg comes from a butterfly returning from the Mexican mountains, during the spring, after its four-month hibernation.
The butterflies produced from these first eggs will only live on average about four weeks as will the succeeding two generations as they move further north and lay another generation of eggs. By fall the fourth generation has arrived in Canada and the northern United States. This will be the generation that will live for up to eight months and make its journey back to Mexico.
Monarchs are governed by the sun. In the morning before heading into their day's journey they fly east to warm themselves in the sun's light this does not occur at sunset.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up
— Psalm 5:3
Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ
— II Thessalonians 3:5
The sun signals them their time of migration. While in Canada the fourth and final generation of butterflies feasts on nectar in preparation for the approximately 3000-mile journey to the mountains of Mexico. Around the end of August when the sun's rays angle at 52 degrees (13 x 4) they begin their flight back to their ancestral origin.
Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, “Come and gather together for the supper of the great God
— Revelation 19:17
It is also thought that the butterflies are also directed back through magnetic information.
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
— John 6:44
King of Kings
The Monarch is widely known as the king of butterflies taking its name from an English word meaning sovereign. No one knows for sure why. Perhaps it was labeled as such under divine inspiration considering how this majestically beautiful creature so profoundly exhibits the creative transforming power and sovereignty of the King of Kings.
He (Jesus) who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen
— I Timothy 6:15-16
And not only does the title of this creature give glory to the one who created it but testifies of what He has done for us in this transformation process in making us co-heirs in His Kingdom.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
— Romans 8:16-17
And as co-heirs with Him so we rule and reign with Him as was His original plan from the beginning.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.”
— Revelation 5:8-10
May I summarize with the number four, full circle from where this series began, with an observation by Charles Spurgeon concerning the four pillars of our faith.
- Christ that died, yea rather, that
- is risen again, who is even
- at the right hand of God,
- who also makes intercession for us"
This concludes the fourth and final part of this series and we end with this wonder; that the Greek word for butterfly is psyche meaning soul or life, referring to that which animates the body life. How miraculously has the butterfly animated for us the processes and transformation of our creation and spiritual life
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory
— Isaiah 6:3
I hope you have enjoyed this series showcasing our All-Wise, All-Powerful, All Present God Creator of all. This seems to be the series that never ends as I keep discovering more things. I will continue to expand, expound, and revise the articles and revelations as they continue to roll out. I published with the fear that if I waited until I had all of it, it would never be published, considering that God sincerely is infinite in knowledge, I have concluded I will never get to the end of it. So feel free to check back from time to time and see if He as revealed more.
"I Sing The Mighty Power Of God"
I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command, and all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, wherever I turn my eye,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
If I survey the ground I tread or gaze upon the sky.
There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God, art present there.
— Isaac Watts
I am captivated!!! I hope you are too!
Credits and Sources
1"Metamorphosis" by Illustra Media
© 2014 Tamarajo