The Splendor of Jehovah’s Creation
“Let the Rivers Themselves Clap Their Hands”
GLANCE at a map of the earth, and in most places, you will see lines snaking their way across landmasses. These tendrils cross plains, deserts, and grasslands. They wind their way through valleys, canyons, and forests. (Habakkuk 3:9) These are rivers, our planet’s arteries of life. Such watercourses testify to the wisdom and power of earth’s Creator, Jehovah. As we observe them, we share the feelings of the psalmist who sang: “Let the rivers themselves clap their hands; all together let the very mountains cry out joyfully before Jehovah.”—Psalm 98:8, 9.*
Rivers are closely linked with human history. The Bible speaks of four major rivers that were parted from a river issuing out of Eden. (Genesis 2:10-14) One of the earliest civilizations sprang up in the fertile valleys of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers in the Middle East. Great civilizations were made possible by the Hwang River in China, the Ganges and the Indus in southern Asia, and the Nile in Egypt.
No wonder, then, that man has always stood in awe before the might, the bounty, and the beauty of rivers. The Nile of Egypt flows for about 4,150 miles [6,670 km]. The distinction of being the largest river goes to the Amazon of South America. While some rivers are majestic, others are very beautiful, like the much smaller but swift-flowing Tone River in Japan.
What makes a river flow? In a word, gravity. It is gravity that draws water from higher to lower elevations. Sometimes the results are thundering waterfalls. Describing these displays of force and grandeur, the Bible says: “The rivers have raised, O Jehovah, the rivers have raised their sound; the rivers keep raising their pounding.”—Psalm 93:3.
“Who sends torrents of rain?” Jehovah asked the godly man Job. (Job 38:25, Contemporary English Version) Yes, where does all the water come from? The answer involves an intricate system called the water cycle. Earth’s water is in a constant state of circulation powered by the energy of the sun and by gravity. After water evaporates, it rises in the atmosphere. Eventually, it cools and condenses to form clouds. In time, this vapor returns to the earth as snow or rain. Much of the water is stored in oceans, lakes, rivers, glaciers, polar icecaps, and under the ground.
Regarding this remarkable cycle, the Bible says: “All the winter torrents are going forth to the sea, yet the sea itself is not full. To the place where the winter torrents are going forth, there they are returning so as to go forth.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) Only Jehovah, the God of infinite wisdom and loving care, could set such a cycle in motion. And what does such ingenious design tell us about the kind of person God is? He is a God of great wisdom and loving care.—Psalm 104:13-15, 24, 25; Proverbs 3:19, 20.
Despite their size and number, rivers carry very little of the world’s fresh water. Nevertheless, they are vital to life. “Without access to and some degree of control over water, human life at its simplest and its most complex would be impossible,” states the book Water. “The record of man’s response to that fact constitutes much of the history of civilization.”
For thousands of years, rivers have quenched the thirst of man and provided water for his gardens. The fertile soil along many rivers is ideal for growing crops. Note how this thought is expressed in a blessing on Jehovah’s servants: “How good-looking are your tents, O Jacob, your tabernacles, O Israel! Like torrent valleys they have extended a long way, like gardens by the river. Like aloe plants that Jehovah has planted, like cedars by the waters.” (Numbers 24:5, 6) Rivers also help to sustain such animals as the ducks and the jackal you see here. In fact, the more we study the rivers, the more we are compelled to give thanks to Jehovah.
See 2004 Calendar of Jehovah’s Witnesses, May/June.
[Box/Picture on page 8]
Iguaçú Falls, on the border between Argentina and Brazil, ranks among the widest of all waterfalls. It stretches more than two miles [3 km] from side to side. Nested in a pristine tropical forest, it is made up of close to 300 smaller falls. Nearly 13,000 cubic yards [10,000 cu m] of water plunge over them every second during the rainy season.
[Picture on page 9]
Tone River, Japan