The night sky has a way of pulling me into a trance. It always has.
Growing up, I loved fall nights because the sky seemed to be the darkest this time of year. Before bed in my quiet Illinois home, I would close my bedroom door, shut off my lamp and open up my window so that the fall breeze would tickle my neck and permeate my room with the smell of red, yellow, and orange leaves. The only sound was the occasional rolling gust of wind and rustling trees across our yard.
And in those quiet moments, I would stare, stare into the night sky.
The sea of black speckled with twinkling stars and the glowing, neon moon would take my attention captive.
It’s like the sky’s mystery would wrap me into stillness.
I’m sure you’ve felt this way also, while marveling at the grandeur that seems to be on display just for you.
Last night, I appreciated the night sky, space, for the first time in a long while. I was listening to a new spin-off podcast on my way to work called, “Calvinist Batman Reads Systematic Theology” (I know, awesome name), in which the host of the show (Perhaps, Bruce Wayne) is simply reading through “Reformed Dogmatics” by Geerhardus Vos. Towards the end of my commute, Vos was quoted saying,
“Behind the finite we comprehend, the infinite exists. It is with the infinite God as it is with space. However far we proceed in our imagination, we know that we have not yet arrived at the end, that we could still take one more step.”
So for the rest of the night I thought about God, space, why he created it, and what he wants us to know about himself through it. I jotted down a more extensive list, but here are a few, simple, thoughts about God while staring into space.
1) Space is knowable, but only in part. God is knowable, but only in part.
We know some facts about space, sure. But to have an extensive knowledge of space would require us to travel from one end to the other, from north to south, east to west. Astronomists can study details of the space they have access to, but there’s no telling how large it is.
The same is true of God. We know about God what he, in his condescension, has revealed to us about himself. But we can’t know anything more than what he reveals to us in his Word, in nature, and in his Son, Jesus. As limited, finite beings, to quote Vos, “…we cannot give a definition of God, but only a description,” because if we were able to define God it would be as to say we are the higher knowledge and power than God himself. He is God and we are human. If we could stand on our puny planet and know everything about God, he wouldn’t be worth worshipping.
“Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.” (Job 36:26)
2) Space is vast. How much more vast it’s Creator must be.
We cannot begin to comprehend the immense depths of space. When we look into the night sky we know that beyond our view are bursting stars, massive planets, and swirling galaxies. Even that is just a pinch of what space holds. Its vastness is beyond comprehension.
God is the artist of space. There are depths to space that no human eye can see and yet he’s created it for his glory. He doesn’t need creatures like you and I to gawk at his work and give it approval. No, he takes pleasure in the work of his hand. The depths of space are further than even a computable hypothesis, so then the Creator of this space must be larger than space itself.
“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1)
3) We can’t comprehend space, yet we study it. We can’t comprehend God, but we must study his Word.
We’ve been learning about space since we were in elementary school. Really, all throughout our education we study space in some way, shape or form. Even now, we’re excited to hear of new discoveries from scientists who unearth new information in our universe. Even though we know that space can’t be fully known, we still study it.
We should have the same attitude in our study of God, particularly through his Word, the Bible. I’ve heard many Christians and non-Christians say that we can’t understand God, so there is no point to trying to understand him. We might as well just leave him be. I’m just going to say it bluntly. You’re wrong. It’s true that we cannot fully comprehend God. Having a full understanding of God isn’t the call of Christians, but having a growing understanding of God is. Ultimately, to know God, in part yet in truth, is to know his Son, Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world to bring finite beings like you and me into a real, personal relationship with himself.
“And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
4) Space is a creative masterpiece. God is the Originator and Supplier of creativity.
We’re all just a quick Google search away from planets, galaxies, shooting stars and supernovas (wait, don’t leave the page yet!). Outer space is a creative masterpiece. When we look at beautiful paintings, we don’t hesitate to attribute the creativity to a creative mind.
God is the Creator of creativity. He is the Originator. Our God is a creative God. Who would dream up such a beautiful and terrifying universe as the one we live in where massive planets are spinning and rotating around a giant star? Who could be so thoughtful to color the galaxies when yet there was no color in the world? Our God is the master Creator through whom all creativity flows.
“When I look at 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, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)
5) Space is an avenue that God uses to meet man with his beauty. Jesus Christ is the fullness of our beautiful God in human flesh, and lived among us.
The features of space capture our attention. The night sky is a beautiful sight to behold. In fact, we don’t know what it’s like to be without its magnificence every night. Oftentimes we take for granted the beauty that constantly surrounds us.
God has displayed his eternal beauty in the stars and the sky so that we would know that he is far more beautiful than we could imagine. Yet, our beautiful God humbled himself and stepped into human history to become a servant to all people. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the image of the invisible God, was beaten, torn, spit on, mocked and nailed to a cross for the sins of those who love him. God chose, in his mercy to save sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Treasure of all existence. All of creation, the sun, moon, and galaxies glorify the Jewel around which they swing and sing, that lovely Jewel, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him… that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-16, 18b-20)
6) The stars in the sky are countless. God uses the stars as a picture of the great number of sinners that God has saved from his wrath.
We’ve all made trips away from the city lights just so we could get an idea of how many stars the sky holds. If you’re like me, you’re amazed every time you stand under the clusters of twinkling lights. The number of stars in the sky goes well beyond what we can fathom. They seem countless.
In the Bible, God uses the great number of stars in the sky as a metaphor for the number of sinners he would shower his mercy upon. All people are sinners. All people rebel against God, break his commandments, and want to live their own lives separate from him. The wages of sin is death meaning that the moment you first sinned, you earned death for yourself. Because of this, God, who is holy and perfect will rightfully judge your life based on his justice. And if we are left to ourselves, all of us will spend eternity in torment, being punished for our sins.
But there is good news. God, in his mercy and grace, sent his Son Jesus Christ to live a perfect life for us, and to die a death that he didn’t deserve in our place, for our sin. He took God’s righteous wrath for sin on himself while hanging on the cross. But this isn’t the end. God rose Jesus from the dead three days later as a proclamation that Jesus is victorious over Satan, sin and death and he is now seated at the right hand of God the Father.
Jesus has accomplished the work of salvation for sinners. It is finished. But in order to receive the free gift of grace that is held out to you in Jesus Christ, you must turn from your sins and believe that he died on the cross so that your sins, past, present and future are wiped away from your record. If you haven’t done this, I beg of you to do so now, to plead for God’s mercy, repent and make Jesus the Treasure of your life by believing him and living for him. Ultimately, only the Holy Spirit can give you a heart that trusts that Jesus laid his life down for you. He makes blind sinners see the light of the gospel, and he never fails in doing so for those that God shows mercy to. Every one he has chosen to save has and will be saved.
Reader, I want to encourage you to read the New Testament book of John, which was written so that you would believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray and ask God daily to give you a new heart that loves him, and spend time reading about the person and work of Jesus.
From before the foundations of the beautiful universe that we live in, with all of its complexities and wonders, God mercifully chose to save sinners through the person and work of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest wonder of all, and will be the mystery that we marvel at for all eternity.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3-6)
The night sky, space, the vast depth of beauty that we see each night is God’s creation for his glory. He uses it to tell us about himself and what he has done for us. The next time you glance out at the night sky, think about its Creator. Think about our wonderful God who wants us to know him and then, join with all of creation in singing his praises.
All glory be to God alone.