Tamarajo is an avid Bible scholar who loves nothing more than seeking out the treasures in God's Word and sharing them with others.
The Monarch butterfly's life cycle illustrates God's creative principles, processes, and power in the creation account and man's heart. The number four and its connection with the concepts of creation and transformation will be used throughout this study.
The first phase of the Monarch's life began with its salvation exhibited in its departure from the egg. This phase represents our salvation from sin.
The second stage of development represents justification. It practically applies to the living out of an internal reality, not yet realized in its visible form, and depicts our justified state while living in a body of sinful flesh. This development is illustrated by the monarch caterpillar's imaginal cells that will later form all the necessary parts of a fully formed butterfly. Feasting on God's Word and prayer are essentials that enable and empower us to put on the new man Christ has made us on the inside and cast off the "old man" of flesh, characterized in the sheds of the caterpillar.
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
In the third stage, the Monarch develops into a new creature as it enters the tomb of a chrysalis. This phase metaphorically represents the process of sanctification through a type of death.
This fourth and final phase of development of the Monarch butterfly's life cycle illustrates the stage of our Christian life called glorification and depicts the resurrected life.
Each of the phases of this journey can be viewed personally and corporately.
"I Can See Clearly Now . . . "
A silent, motionless, and seemingly dead caterpillar is confined to the tomb of its emerald green 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 before the completion and big reveal of this transformation process, the chrysalis becomes 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
It is a privilege and an honor to behold the birthing of this new and glorious creature. This part of the process is challenging to capture because it occurs 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. The waiting becomes 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
Four and the Door
The doorkeeper in the above verse is congruent with the image we see in the butterfly's 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 out of its previous confinement. Jesus, our door, was what immediately came to my mind.
The number four categorizes the processes of transformation. The fourth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is a picture of a door. In the fourth and final phase of the Monarch's life cycle, we get a visual straight from the creator and transformer of all things, also known as "the Door."
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture
— John 10:9
Preparation For Flight
The subsequent amazement I experienced in observing the butterfly's exodus was watching it unfold. The volume of material packed into that little container is astonishing!
“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 huge 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 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
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.
“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
Sight and Smell
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
The butterfly now has a four-color vision system consisting of two compound eyes made up of thousands of hexagonal units of photoreceptor cells. Their new eyes allow them to see all colors of the light spectrum, visible and invisible. They can see 180 degrees which makes them hard to sneak up on. These new features will help navigate 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. The newly formed butterfly has been outfitted with a higher functioning olfactory system with 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 bitter milkweed. The butterfly 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 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 are those 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 butterfly's 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 Monarch's new appearance and functions; The first has to do with its colors. Three colors 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 purchased 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 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.
The Polka Dots
White and black are two other monarch colors significant to this lesson. The white dots symbolize the purity purchased for us through such a great salvation as we trusted and leaned on Jesus 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 to 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
The color Black forms the borders of the Monarch's wings and the geometrical patterns on them. In the Bible, black symbolizes 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 frame 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 its 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
This lesson leads us to the last event of the life of a Monarch.
The Home Stretch
Once Monarchs are ready to fly, they launch off on 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.
The area in which they settle is at about 10,000 feet in elevation. The height of this area speaks to us of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Is not God in the height of heaven?
— Job 22:12
The Monarchs fly to what is known as a micro-climate. A micro-climate is a small area that differs greatly in climate from the surrounding areas. It is a 56,000 (4x14000) Hector biosphere. A micro-climate can demonstrate the differing 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 stable soaring flight, yet their trip is not without conflict or hazard.
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
— Acts 14:22
Monarchs follow an annual four-generation route to Canada and the northern United States and back.
The generational process begins with an egg laid on the underside of a milkweed plant somewhere in the southern United States in the spring of the year. The egg comes from a butterfly returning from its four-month hibernation in the Mexican mountains.
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 population of eggs. The fourth-generation arrives in Canada and the northern United States by fall. This batch will be the generation to live for up to eight months and make its journey to Mexico and back to the US.
This generational journey demonstrates how Christ-followers are interdependent. Just as in a relay race, we pass the baton of the good news of Jesus Christ to the next generation.
According to the "National Audubon Society Field Guide" about the Monarch.
"No single individual makes the entire round-trip journey."
While in Canada, the fourth and final generation of butterflies feasts on nectar in preparation for their 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
The sun governs the Monarch's flight direction and signals the time of their migration. Before heading into their day's journey in the morning, they fly east to warm themselves in the sun's light.
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
It is also considered that the butterflies are directed 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 King of Kings' creative transforming power and sovereignty.
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 it testifies to 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, we rule and reign as His original plan dictated 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
I summarize with the number four, coming 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 has 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,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, wherever I turn my eye,
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
Tamarajo (author) on November 10, 2014:
Yes Ann God is stunningly amazing!!! I learned so much myself and am still learning. I can no longer look at a butterfly without being awed by the God who made it and long for His transforming work to be completed in me.
Thank you so much for reading and glad that His glory has awed you too. God bless!
Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on November 10, 2014:
What a wonderful allegory. I really enjoyed this. And I learned so much about the Monarch butterfly that I never knew before. Our Lord is truly amazing, isn't He?
Tamarajo (author) on November 05, 2014:
Attention to detail usually gets me into lots of trouble. Praise the Lord He uses everything.
Glad you captured the essence of the series of His stamp on all that He has made. I know some wont see but wrote to glorify rather than to prove and i found it so glorious myself could not help but share what i have seen and heard
Thanks for the read votes and encouragement Bill!!
William Kovacic from Pleasant Gap, PA on November 05, 2014:
As always, the attention to detail and research drew me in, but I especially liked your choice of Scripture in this article. Everything overwhelmingly points to the Creator. To say otherwise is to be blind, and of course, that is a possibility. Thanks again for a super effort. Voted across and across and shared.