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Topic: Savior
Scripture: Hebrews 4:15
Source: “1986: Coal mine canaries made redundant” posted on BBC News, “On This Day, Dec 30, 1986″
Author: Bo Thompson/Illustration Exchange

Early coal mines did not feature ventilation systems. Since canaries are especially sensitive to methane and carbon monoxide, the miners would bring along caged canaries into new coal seams. The birds’ rapid breathing rate, small size and high metabolism made them ideal for detecting any dangerous gas build-ups. As long as the birds kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. When the canaries stopped singing–or worse, died–the miners knew it was time for an immediate evacuation. The birds became tiny sentinels of safety.

Animal sentinels are commonly used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warnings of impending danger. By virtue of their heightened sensitivity to a variety of dangers, they can serve to make us aware of myriad perils.

Other animal sentinels include: honey bees, which are susceptible to air pollution; bats, which have been used to monitor pesticide contamination; and pigeons, which have been used to detect atmospheric lead.


We walk around as oblivious to sin as coal miners do of the presence of dangerous gasses. What we need is a sentinel–someone who can detect this danger for us before it’s too late.

Who is more sensitive to the presence and danger of sin than God?

That’s why Jesus–God incarnate–came into this world. He came to warn us all of our exposure to the deadly threat of sin. Not only this, but He willingly exposed Himself–to the point of death–that we might be warned and be saved from sin’s power and peril.

Jesus is our Divine Sentinel.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

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