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 (Living Waters 1986 Winter)
Camel, the Unique Animal
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The camel is an extraordinary animal, one of the most valuable possessions in the ancient East and is called the ‘ship’ of the desert.  Long before 1800 BC, the camel was the most important means of transportation in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Palestine (Gen 31:17,18;37:25).  There are two kinds of camels, single and double humped.  The former is widespread throughout the Middle East, India and North Africa.  The latter inhabits the deserts of central Asia.  The single humped camel is swift in its movements. It was used for postal delivery or battle (Judg 7:12).  The double humped camel is well built and can carry heavy loads.  In a normal journey, it can bear 400 pounds.

The greatness of God's wisdom and His creation surprisingly can be found in a camel (Ps 104:24). it is a typical ruminant and has the ability to digest and extract the maximum nourishment from poor fibrous food.  Its broad and flat nostrils, close to the slits of the mouth, help to protect and filter out blown sand.  Its eyes are largely protected by overhanging brows and copious lashes.  Its feet are in fact unique, with wide cushions which are almost equally effective on sand, gravel or rock.  The hump of the camel is used to store food, the fat of which provides physical needs when short of food.  Hence, after several days of hunger, the hump will diminish in size; however, it can still carry the load.  There are so called 'water sacs' in its stomach to store a considerable amount of water, which supplies immediate relief when extremely thirsty.  For this reason, the camel can survive 16 to even 40 days without water.  A thick growth of hair protects the camel from very hot and cold weather, its body is specially adapted to withstand hardship in the desert and wilderness.  Surely it is an amazing creation of God.

During ancient times, the camel was a precious possession of the Arabians and was a symbol of wealth (Job 1:3).  Its value does not lie only with transporting goods in the desert, its skin can also be used as a coat (Mt 3:4), its milk contains rich nutrients and is suitable for human consumption.  In times of great thirst, some people will kill their camels to drink the water stored in their stomachs.

The coat made of rough camel hide is the sign of the prophet in the Bible (Zech 13:4).  Elijah and John the Baptist are examples. (2 Kgs 1:8; Mk 1:6) This reminds us that a man of God should lead a simple and frugal life, learning from the camel its spirit of great endurance to withstand extreme material shortage, and to successfully carry out its tasks. if we have many workers possessing these qualities of the camel, the church will certainly be blessed by the Lord and prosper accordingly.

Our Lord Jesus used the physical stature of the camel and its usefulness to teach us the most important and desirable virtues in the laws - righteousness, compassion and faithfulness (Mt 23:23,24).  He wanted us to attain the essential requirements of the laws.  He further instructed us that 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.' (Mt 19:24) We should rid ourselves of the greediness for the riches and pleasures of the world, remove the burden of sins (Lk 8:14; Heb 12:1), and strive diligently to enter the narrow gate of the kingdom of heaven (Lk 13:23-25).  May we all learn this important lesson from the camel.