Listen to this story:
Persuasiveness Illustrated in the World of Nature
Cold! Dry! Desolate! It was cold and dry and desolate. A packet of yeast cells lay dormant on a dark refrigerator shelf hidden behind an aging jar of mayonnaise. Their cell walls looked shrunken, wrinkled, and fragile. Almost every last bit of moisture had been sucked from them and they had not been fed for more than two months. Yet within each cell rested the capacity to grow, and more important, the persuasive power to multiply.
The refrigerator door opened and closed many times a day. Each time, a light brightened the packet and then the darkness returned. Day after day the pattern repeated with more coldness and dryness. Then it happened. Early one morning a hand reached far back into the refrigerator, lifted the yeast packet out, and set it on the kitchen counter. Finally it was warm! As the temperature rose, chemical reactions stirred within each cell. Like abandoned computers being plugged into an electrical outlet, unused circuits sprang to life.
Carefully the same hand that rescued the yeast from the back of the refrigerator gradually emptied the packet into a half-cup of warm water and slowly stirred until all the dry yeast had completely dissolved. As the yeast cells absorbed water, they began to swell. Wrinkles disappeared! Cell walls thickened! Deep inside each cell, in the nucleus that controls the activity of a cell, the moisture stimulated more reactions. Bubbles formed in the mixture, giving the yeast a tan, frothy appearance. The yeast now seemed to teem with life.
After only a few minutes, perhaps not even a half-hour, each yeast cell was completely restored. It was no longer brittle, no longer shrunken, and no longer wrinkled. Each cell looked plump, strong, and oval-shaped, and the cells actively searched for food. Though the yeast cells could not move, sensors on the surface of their cell membranes looked for nutrients. Suddenly the yeast cells found themselves being poured into a mixture of flour, honey, salt, and oil. A spatula worked the mixture together, roughly swirling and folding the yeast in and amongst the rest of the ingredients.
Almost immediately the cells sprang into action. They now had food—lots of it. Enzymes converted starch into useful sugars and released minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, and calcium. Combining oxygen with carbon, the cells gave off molecules of carbon dioxide, which collected together into bubbles in the surrounding dough. The pressure of the bubbles stretched the dough, causing it to rise like a balloon being inflated with an army of miniature pumps.
As the yeast cells grew in the sticky mass of dough, bumps formed on some of their sides. Looking like they were about to burst, several cells actually split open, but instead of tearing, each cell neatly split along the outline of the bulge and then quickly closed back again, giving birth to a completely whole and mature new daughter cell. Where there was once just one cell, now there were two. Only a tiny scar revealed the spot where the bud had broken off.
In less than an hour the activity slowed. Cells had exhausted the supply of fresh food around them and had used all the available oxygen. Now, instead of producing fresh carbon dioxide, they manufactured stale ethyl alcohol as a waste product. The alcohol choked them and polluted their environment until they almost died in their own contaminants.
Then, without warning a hand plunged into the dough with a thud. It was joined by a second hand. Together the two hands pushed and pulled the dough, rolling it and folding it over and over again. This brought fresh air and fresh nutrients to the yeast cells, reviving them and stimulating more activity inside the cells. Once again, carbon dioxide formed, cells grew, and new bumps formed near where old ones had broken off. Within minutes the dough began to rise again as the yeast cells grew and divided and grew again. Their numbers now counted nearly four times the number they had started with.
By the time the loaf of bread went into the oven for baking, the yeast cells had leavened the whole lump.
From Character Sketches, Volume IV, pages 44–45
From the Pages of Scripture
On a day of the year when Jerusalem was packed with visitors, thousands of people witnessed an amazing phenomenon.
You should have seen Jerusalem that day! It was bursting at the seams with thousands of visitors from all over the world. Many different languages were being spoken on the streets. People wearing exotic clothing were eating provisions that were not normally seen in Judea.
It was the Day of Pentecost. Though shops were closed for the Sabbath, merchants were eager to earn money providing the supplies needed for such a massive influx of the faithful. About nine o’clock that morning, people were moving through the streets preparing for the activities of the day, but a commotion caused them to pause. A group of followers of Jesus of Nazareth had emerged from a nearby house, excitedly praising God. Onlookers turned to see what was happening and realized that something truly remarkable was going on! These people were not only praising God for His wonderful
works, but they were all speaking different languages! Visitors from other countries could clearly hear and understand the words in their own tongues.
A few scorners in the crowd surmised, “These people are acting strangely because they’ve had too much wine!” However, one man stepped out from the others and took his stand in a place where he could be easily heard by the great crowd that was gathering: “These people are not drunken as some of you are suggesting! No, this is the work of God, Who promised to pour out His Spirit on His servants.”
Some in the crowd realized that they had seen the speaker before. He had been in the small group of followers who traveled with Jesus of Nazareth, Whom at the most recent Passover feast the Romans had unjustly crucified at the insistence of a mob incited by the religious rulers of the nation.
During Jesus’ trial, the man who was now speaking had been in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house, trying to be inconspicuous. A servant pointed him out as a follower of Jesus, but he denied even knowing Him and moved away. A few others who were in the courtyard questioned him, but he vehemently denied having anything to do with Jesus. After a third denial, he was seen dashing out of the courtyard distressed and weeping.
Something had obviously changed over the past few weeks, because the man who now spoke to the crowds showed no signs of cowardice or shame. The astounded crowd listened as this preacher boldly proclaimed that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth had been raised from the dead by God. As a result, anyone who believed in Him could be saved from the wrath of God.
His words struck the listeners with great force, and voices began to cry out, “What shall we do?”
The bold and persuasive preacher told them to repent of their sins and be baptized. More than three thousand people that day followed his admonition and were saved!
Just as a little leaven spreads throughout a lump of dough, the Good News about salvation that Peter proclaimed that day spread from Jerusalem to all the world. In fact, the witness of Jesus’ followers was so great that others spoke of His disciples as those who “turned the world upside down”!
From Character Sketches, Volume IV, page 51, based on Acts 2, 17:6 and Luke 22:54–62
Explore more as a family!
The very nature and character of God is seen all throughout His created universe. Job remarked, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7-8).
Each section of Character Sketches, Volume IV begins with a captivating “read-aloud” nature story that introduces the character quality being taught, including the one featured in this article. The printed volume continues with interesting facts on the featured species’ characteristics and physical features. This is followed by a story from Scripture that illustrates the character quality, along with background information on the individual or situation in the story, which is then summed up in a “character sketch.” Generously illustrated with stunning lifelike watercolor and pencil drawings, the oversized book (9 1/2″ by 12 3/4″) is available to order and will be treasured and enjoyed for generations.
The Character Sketches series is designed to be a tool that fathers can use to teach their children basic concepts of Scripture that are illustrated in the world of nature. Among our best-loved publications, hundreds of thousands have enjoyed the gripping stories and beautiful illustrations that the volumes contain.