"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013


The very first reference to the stars comes just sixteen verses into Scripture, on the fourth day of the world's history.  On several occasions in that first book (15:5, 22:17, 26:4), God uses the stars as an illustration for a prodigious number.  Take Genesis 15:5, for instance:  "Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them...So shall your descendants be." 

Had Abraham counted all the stars in the sky he could see over a number of months, his tally would have culminated in the thousands.1  Advance ahead to our era, and Joe Anybody can point his binoculars into the night sky and count far, far more - perhaps 200,000 if he travelled to both hemispheres (Joe can get to South Africa with far less inconvenience and time than Abraham could). 

Having established that, it is all the more remarkable to note that scientists now place the estimate for population of stars in the Milky Way at 100 - 400 billion.  To put that figure into some semblance of perspective, this means that for every star you can see with your binoculars, there are at least half a million behind it in the Milky Way that remain invisible. 

Right now in the late summer sky, somewhere in between Cassiopeia and the Square of Pegasus, there resides a small and somewhat vague area of white light, visible to the naked eye, if one knows where to look.  This is the Andromeda Galaxy.  Consider this a moment.  Every star you can see, unless you have some serious hardware, is a card-carrying member of the Milky Way clan.  Even these are indescribably distant from our tilted heads, but then, beyond the silver veil of all these constellations and stars, some 2,500,000 light years (or 14,700,000,000,000,000,000 miles, if you prefer) from our own modest galaxy, resides the Andromeda Galaxy.  You are looking at another galaxy.

Now, it was not settled that Andromeda was even a galaxy until about 93 years ago - before this, the general thought was that ours was the solitary galaxy in the universe.  By 2013, the calculated estimate sits at 170 billion galaxies stretched across the 13.8 billion light years of the universe that we can discern.

This is all very interesting, certainly, but what possible spiritual bearing does this have?  Here are a few thoughts:

1.  God's sovereignty is exalted.  David says, "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all." (Ps. 103:19) Suddenly, the word "all" takes on such a weight, such a crushing mass, that we are helpless to conceive of it.  God's sovereignty is, of course, just the sort of sparrow-preserving, hair-numbering control that Christ himself described in Matthew 10:29-30, and the psalmist would have us know that this sovereignty extends to all things - even a molecule of gas floating through the Triangulum Galaxy.  Such is the extent and the specificity of God's incontrovertible will.

Some would ask, "Why would He bother with this degree of sovereignty?  Why should God be concerned about the shape of a dust cloud in some galaxy which science can barely even recognize across the cold marches of space?"  To this, we simply respond, why would He not?  God is not overburdening Himself in the maintainence of billions of galaxies and all they contain, is He?  Was His intellect taxed to the breaking point as He spun His all-encompassing plan?  Does He now wish He had just a few more hands (like parents everywhere do) so He could get more done with greater care?  Of course not!  His sovereign plans were planned and are executed with perfection; they subjugate every atom in the universe, and for God, this is easy.

2.  God's omnipotence is exalted.  These familiar words open God's Word:  "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Consider such understated words in the light of our incomprehensibly vast cosmos!  We further discover in Genesis 1 that God created all things from nothing, that He used mere words, only powerful pronouncement, to create all things, and that He fashioned the heavens in a single day:  perfect power personified. 

Our Lord applies that infinite might in His sovereign rule over all things.  The fact that His power is infinite means that He can distribute that power across every single atom in the universe, and He is still applying infinite power to every atom.  Our powers of explanation simply come unhinged at such lofty notions.

Science, then, continues to grow our understanding of the universe, and, as a result, continues to grow our wonder toward the God of all things, the divine Architect of these wonders, which have been laid up quietly in His keeping through the millennia, until we were able to see them.  Science, which so often seeks to turn God to flinders, is a gift from God to help to describe His own glory - incredible.

I want the Creator and Keeper of all things for my God.  The One whose very words causes the entire cosmos to endure (Heb. 1:3), the One who does as He pleases with that overwhelming sovereignty (Ps. 135:6, Rom. 8:28), the One who declares as Creator that He alone is God, and that we ought to turn to Him alone (Is. 45:22) - this is the God we are privileged to serve, brothers and sisters. 

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,

"I, the Lord, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone,
Causing the omens of boasters to fail,
Making fools out of diviners,
Causing wise men to draw back
And turning their knowledge into foolishness,
Confirming the word of His servant
And performing the purpose of His messengers.
It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’
And of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’
And I will raise up her ruins again."
     - Isaiah 44:24-26

1 The text of this website provides good insight on this and other matters.


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