Our Amazing World
by Joe Selzler
"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" King David, ruler of Israel cir. 1003 BC -- 970 BC (Psalms 8: 3,4)
How many of us, like King David, have sat out under the billions of stars at night and wondered what life is all about? Maybe we have a fervent belief in God, maybe we don't believe in any god. It is possible that some of us never think this way. We have come to believe that everything that is here has happened by chance, albeit according to certain physical laws. I don't know what a person who believes in the chance development of our world thinks when they look up to the stars. But, when I look up at the night sky I wonder why He has made me to live here on this small, insignificant piece of rock in the middle of such vastness. I can look at the stars and marvel at their light, but I cannot reach out and touch them. I have no hope of actually visiting one or touching one in my lifetime. So all I can do is wonder at the meaning of it all.
There, are of course, some very smart people who have spent their lives studying the stars and planets. These scientists can tell us many fascinating things about our universe how it is made up of stars and galaxies, nebula and comets, black holes, red dwarfs, quasars and many other objects. Mankind has learned a great deal about the universe in the last 100 -- 200 years, and a very great deal since we started sending spacecraft into outer space. However, if you asked any of these learned people if they have ever ceased to wonder at the canopy of space I am sure they will answer that they have not. No one really knows how big it is but our universe will probably go on giving scientists wonders to study for centuries to come.
What is it that made King David cry out as he did? I suggest that it wasn't an interest in Astronomy that caught his imagination. I think he was doing just as you and I probably do. He looked up and thought, "Why, with all this wonder and vastness would you, God, take notice of me?" David was ruler of a fairly average sized kingdom, as kingdoms go in the world of 1000 BC. He had a very successful army with a competent Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had a cabinet with ministers for public works, social affairs, accounting, etc. He also had his own Secret Service, or personal body guard, and his own foreign mercenary force. David started out life as a humble shepherd, but he became the most famous king in the history of Israel. He was not only a great warrior he was also a man of great integrity and kindness.
Many of us think that the ancients were simple people who made up superstitions to explain the things of nature around them, or the events that took place in their lives. However, David and his son Solomon had great insight into the world around them and knew without any doubt that behind it all was a Creator who both knew them and directed the course of their lives. Listen to the words of David in Psalms 139: 13-14 "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body"
Or again, listen to the words of King Solomon as he describes the water cycle in Ecclesiastes 1:7 "All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again."
Not only did the great Kings of Israel have an understanding of the universe around us, but many of her prophets did as well. Thus is Isaiah recorded in Isaiah 40:25 -- 26 "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Our earth is positioned at just the right point from our sun to make life possible and to sustain it. Move it any significant distance either way and life would cease to exist. Our moon is positioned where it is to give us tides which clean our coastlines and give us many other benefits. The tilt of the earth gives us our seasons. Surely the case for it to have been planned by someone is not without evidence.
When the Biblical writers looked at the world around them they did not see gods in all the living things or create strange tales to explain how it came to be, or bow down before the created as if these could somehow affect their lives. No, indeed, they did just as many of us do, they called out to One God, One Creator and asked, "Why?" They thought the thought of King David: "O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth."
They did as many of us do when they looked at their own failures or their own struggles in life and thought, "How can you, God, make this great vastness for me to stare at and ponder when my life is so weighed down with problems and disappointments." But going back to David's description of his embryonic development we can get an idea of the conclusion David came to when he beheld creation. Psalms 139:16b: "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
David was led to the conclusion that if God created the vastness of nature he saw before him, with its intricacies and wonders, then God also must know David so intimately that God knew every day and action David would experience in his life even before they were.
As for the study of the universe around him David wrote in verse 17: "How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you."
I believe that David, as with many down through the centuries, saw the world around them as the thoughts of God. Thus Martin Luther was to write, "For the astronomers are the experts from whom it is most convenient to get what may be discussed about these subjects [sun, moon, stars, etc.]. For me it is enough that in these bodies [sun and moon], which are so elegant and necessary for life, we recognize both the goodness of God and His power." 1 So, also, John Calvin wrote thus about the natural world around him, "For astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God. Therefore, clever men who expend their labor upon it are to be praised and those who have ability and leisure ought not to neglect work of that kind." 2 Again, Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry wrote, "When with bold telescopes I survey the old and newly discovered stars and planets when with excellent microscopes I discern nature's curious workmanship; when with the help of anatomical knives and the light of chymical furnaces I study the book of nature I find myself exclaiming with the psalmist, How manifold are thy works, O God, in wisdom hast thou made them all!" 3 And finally, Michael Faraday, famous for his work in the field of electricity, wrote, "The book of nature, which we have to read, is written by the finger of God." 4
In this column I want to share with you some of the amazing things about our world that have inspired statements from men such as those above. You might be drawn to conclude as they have that there is a Creator behind our world. If you do you might even conclude as King David did that He intimately knows you and knew from the beginning the things that you are facing at this moment. It is hard for us, as busy people, to take time for much reflection. However, I believe the effort we make to do so will be well worth it in the end. So if you have a keen interest in science, or are just curious, join me for my next column when I will be talking about one of the most important substances in our lives: Water.
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