Hope your May 5th was uneventful and your sixth will be joyful. I am winding down in my devotions in Exodus, but here is my latest:
Last night I looked up into the skies and thought back to 1969 when my father gave me a telescope as a Christmas present. From the first time I set it up and looked at the moon, then Jupiter, I fell in love with astronomy. The stars in the heavens are an amazing testimony of God’s infinite power and majesty. When I was in college, my astronomy class was fortunate enough to have a great planetarium and a substantial telescope. Even through the atmospheric haze, tears would freely fall seeing the wonderful stars, nebulae, novas, and supernovas we visited through that telescope. You can go online and see photos from the Hubble Space Telescope to see more clearly what got me so emotional. From the Carina Nebula’s Mystic Mountain to the Southern Crab Nebula, God’s handiwork is truly amazing.
If you look up in the night sky tonight, you can find Virgo. There are over 2,000 galaxies between her two arms. That is an amazing number. However, in 2016 the estimated galaxies in the observable universe was about 2 trillion! Each galaxy contains billions and billions of stars. In fact, the number of stars in the observable universe is estimated at 70 billion trillion stars. If you were able to start counting now without a break, one mathematician estimated it would take approximately 37,956,870,000,000,000 years to count them all. I think I have better things to do. But each of those stars is known and placed exactly where God wanted them to be. That is amazing.
Certainly, our ancestors looked into the sky and observed the same stars we see and were just as astonished at their majesty and grandeur. But that amazement only grew when they pointed glass at some of those points of light. Galileo Galilei was the first man to see the bands of Jupiter. Can you imagine how felt when he saw them for the first time? It must have been mind-blowing! But what we can see today because of the Hubble Telescope or radio and x-ray technology is even more mind-blowing. But all these stars, galaxies, nebulae, novas, etc. existed well before any human could delight in them. While we were ignorant of their existence, they delighted God who made them for His glory. He looks upon them and smiles. Indeed, before a man was formed from the dust, God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens…and God placed them in the expanse of the heavens…and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:14-19). It is very humbling to know that there are wondrous things in this vast universe that we know nothing about nor do we even have the ability to appreciate their intricate beauty.
We plod our course in this wide world and think we are a pretty big thing. “I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany,” said a famous fictional news reporter. With our inflated egos, we grumble and complain about being inconvenienced, about being hurt, about getting sick, about struggling with finances, about not getting our own way, about getting old, and we fail to see how small and insignificant all these things are in the grand scheme of the universe. I’m not suggesting for a moment these concerns aren’t important; they are. But I think the universe is pretty impressive and just a little intimidating. It seems to put those things into perspective. David seemed to share that sentiment because when he looked up into the Judean night sky some 3,000 years ago, he wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
On one hand, I look up to the sky and I see a trillion billion reasons why I should not take myself so seriously. I see so many points why I shouldn’t become so worried about my life. As Job complained about his condition of boils and the suffering he endured, God answered him saying, among other things, “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, and guide the Bear with her satellites?” (Job 28:31-32). The point is, since God is able to make those wonders and put the stars in their exact places in the vast space of the universe, where nothing gets lost by God, He can be trusted with the big things of our lives, for they are infinitesimally small to Him.
On the other hand, David makes the point that even though God controls the stars in the heavens, and even though He knows and delights in spectacles we can’t even imagine, yet see how much He cares for us in our lowly estate. We are nothing compared to the stars, and yet we are more important than all of them put together! In fact, God so cares for us that He sent His only begotten Son to redeem us and give us a good future. This same Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:30-31). God delights in the giant nebulae millions of light years away and He so cares for you that He even numbers your hair. So, to reverently modify Jesus’ statement just a little, “Do not fear; you are more valuable than many stars.”