Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Worship and Astronomy

I love looking at the sky. What an awesome display of God’s power. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a clear blue day, the sunrise over the ocean, or a full moon rising on a clear night, the sky is a work of art. Actually it’s the work of one wonderful artist, and that artist is the great Creator of all things.
The bible says that since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen so that man is without excuse when it comes to seeing that there is a God and that He created the universe (Romans 1:20).
Once my wife and I were vacationing in Chattanooga, Tennessee and decided to go up on Lookout Mountain. As I walked up to one of the railings that overlooked the beautiful valley I could see the river below and a fantastic panoramic scene with mountains off in the background. I happened to walk up next to a older man, maybe in his 80’s, standing by himself. As I came to the rail, he noticed me nearby but just kept staring out into the distance. Then, still looking straight ahead, he said, “How can anyone deny there is a God when you see this.” He was right. We have no excuse.
Some, however, exchange the truth for a lie, and worship the creation rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25). Such is the argument of evolution verses creation. When I see God’s evidence though, I am compelled to worship Him, to express reverence and awe to Him. The skies demonstrate His handiwork. They proclaim the work of His hands and declare His glory (Psalm 19:1). Night after night the skies display God’s knowledge (Psalm 19:2). What a wonder it is to look up at the sky and see the dazzling array of stars that go on forever. Just gazing at the heavens makes you realize how majestic God is, and how amazing our universe is.
Day Four of creation was incredible. That is when God made the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14-19). On the fourth day of creation, God put the heavenly bodies in place. All in one day!
There is so much amazement in the heavens above. First of all, there is the vast expanse of the universe. Have you ever just looked into the starry night, trying to see past the stars with wonder at how big the universe is? Where does it end? How far does it go? I have thought about that many times, but only to come to the frustrating conclusion that my brain is not able to comprehend it. If there is an end to the universe, what is on the other side? That, however, does not make any sense for if there is something on the other side, it is not really the end at all. On the other hand, if there is no end, my mind can’t grasp that either. Therefore, the universe is an unexplained marvel. If you think about it too long, your brain will hurt. That is because as humans, we simply do not have the mental capacity to understand it.
I believe there is a reason for the unexplained night-time sky. It is God’s physical demonstration of a spiritual concept. By displaying the endless stars, God is showing us the concept of eternity. We cannot figure out the universe or eternity, but must trust that God’s promise of eternal life is real. The universe is a marvelous example of endlessness, and another proof that God is the all knowing and powerful creator. We can only try to begin to grasp how vast the knowledge, understanding and creative power of God really is (Psalm 136:5). We can try to understand, but we will never comprehend it (Job 38:18).
Another amazing celestial body is the sun. When I look toward the sun, I’m reminded of God as the wonderful provider of heat and light. The sun is one way He faithfully sustains us. If the earth was just a bit closer or father away from the sun, life would not be sustained, but we are continuously on course. On Day Four the sun miraculously began to burn. That physical miracle is still burning. It is almost like the experience Moses had with the burning bush. It was burning but not consuming itself. The sun burns on.
The sun to me is also another physical reminder of a spiritual concept. We cannot look directly into the sun. The same is true with God. No one has actually seen Him face to face. However, by faith and by the evidence around us, we know He exists.
God is obviously a God of amazing order. The critical and precise orbit of the earth around the sun is another wonder. Life would be snuffed out in no time if the earth’s orbit was off, but it consistently remains on course. Speaking of the earth, what a concept! The only way man is physically confined would be to place him on a sphere, but that is impossible, or is it? I can still not totally grasp the idea that we live on a sphere. No wonder in Columbus’s day they thought the earth was flat. It is only logical (except to the point of trying to figure out where it ends – ouch!). It could only take God to come up with the round earth idea because our human minds couldn’t even imagine it. Why don’t we fall off? Oh, I know about gravity, but that is just another one of God’s incredible inventions. Did it happen by chance? – no way! Not only is the earth a sphere, but it is spinning as well! If it was spinning just slightly slower or faster, we couldn’t function as we do. Yet the glove continues to spin precisely at the right speed.
Not only is the earth round, but it is floating. How can something so heavy float? Again, through inspired writings of the bible, God has given mankind many hints about science. The oldest book in the bible, Job, talks about the earth being suspended over nothing (Job 26:7). So once again, man is without excuse in not only know that there is a God, but in gaining knowledge of how the earth was created.
I like how God puts a little artistic variety in His creation. For example, the moon rotates, but ever so slowly. It only turns once approximately every 30 days, but that happens to be the exact time that it takes to go around the earth one time. So to us, we never see it move. The moon is always showing its same side to us. You would think it would be off slightly over the years, but no! Our God is precise.
Another artistic creation of God, and maybe even a little humor, is the rotation of the planet Uranus. All the planets rotate like the earth, spinning on the horizontal axis, except Uranus. It spins on its vertical axis, like its rolling around the sun! I like to think God saying to us, “OK, you think you have it figured out, now take a look at this one!”
God gives us clues through His creation and through His word, the bible. If only Columbus would have read the bible, he would have known that the earth was round. The prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before Christ was born, writes about the ‘circle of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:22).
Day four was spectacular also in the fact that the moon was created. “La bella luna!” (beautiful moon in Italian). I love the moon. I especially love moonrises over the ocean. I know that I am blessed to be able to live near the Atlantic Ocean. Years ago, I had a Jeep and owned a permit that allowed me to drive on the beach at night. One autumn night, I was on the beach alone except for my dog. It was a quiet night and very dark. I had gone down on Cape Henlopen beach to do some night surf fishing. As I parked, I noticed I was very secluded. There was nobody around as far as I could see in either direction! I had the beach to myself. Since it is a State Park, in that part of the beach there were no street lights or house lights around me either.
After I had been fishing a while, I noticed something strange very far out on the calm horizon. It looked like a distant ship was on fire! All I could see was an orange glow. In a few minutes, it was getting worse. Then as it grew bigger and brighter, I realized it was the moon rising up over the water! Totally unexpected, I witnesses this beautiful event until it was far up in the sky, with its reflection skimming over the water toward me. Ever since I have been hooked. Now I track the moonrise. More than once I have dragged my family off to the beach on a clear night to watch a moonrise. It is somewhat unique since conditions need to be right. The moonrise has to be at a reasonable hour when it is dark, the moon need to be full, and the sky clear. But when it happens, “la bella luna!”, it’s spectacular, and it always happens exactly on time. When we get to the beach knowing the time of the moonrise, we wait anxiously looking at our watches and sure enough, without fail, it shows up every time (except the time I was an hour off due to daylight savings time). You can be sure of one thing, each time I see a moonrise over the ocean, I take a moment to worship the God of the universe.
It always amazes me that when I get to the beach for a moonrise, some people could care less. Many times we will be on the boardwalk, and when it is almost time for the moonrise, I am anxious and excited, but as I look around me, most people are walking along without a clue. As a matter of fact, few people will pay attention to it. Isn’t that the truth when it comes to God in many people’s lives?
I say look up in the sky. Become a sky watcher. Gaze and marvel what God can do. Acknowledge Him and worship Him. Thank Him for His creation and for sustaining us. Each time you look in the sky, let it prompt you to worship God. Let it remind you of Him. See the wonder of God. His handiwork is all around us.

See also Job 26:7-8, Job 38:1-41, Psalm 19:1-6, Psalm 74:16-17, Psalm 89:11-12, Psalm 102:25, Psalm 136:1-9, Isaiah 40:22, Isaiah 55:10

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