Anchor Sunday School Class
by Bob Marsh
THE MOST AMAZING FACT ABOUT THE SOLAR ECLIPSE!
Our plan to view the TOTAL ECLIPSE was simple: front yard, blanket, lawn chair, ice tea, and our newly found eclipse glasses, thanks to a dear friend. Although our location did not give us a “total” eclipse, it was awesome, amazing, enjoyable, and loads of fun. It was interesting to read the many responses, evaluations, and commentaries about the phenomena. The NEW YORK TIMES stated that “the most amazing factor about the eclipse is that scientist told us exactly when it would occur, what we should expect, and when it will occur again!” One TV “Talking head” pontificated “this is the most astounding event in most of our lives!” On and on went the exclamations, ranging from the profound to the somewhat fatuous. However, one common denominator with all the commentaries was “it was amazing, astounding, and unbelievable!” Only an insouciant mind would fail to be captivated by the AMAZING!
However, let me state what I believe is the truly MOST AMAZING FACT ABOUT THE ECLIPSE.” Most of us who witnessed the spectacular event would be prone to agree that behind all of the “awe,” there must be some power, some force, and obvious design! How else would you explain that the scientists were able to tell us categorically when it was coming, where we should stand to view it, and when it will come again??? Would it be reasonable to postulate that behind the obvious design there must be a DESIGNER? Surely science would permit us to speak of the POWER behind it all in terms of A PERSONAL BEING, without giving away our brains. So, to my point: the most remarkable FACT ABOUT THE ECLIPSE: There is a Divine Being, An Eternal Power, A Spiritual Force, a CREATOR BEHIND THE CREATION, a God who knows our name, cares for us on a personal level, and desires to have a personal relationship, fellowship, with you and me!
The God who created those dazzling BAILEY’S BEADS, who thrilled us with the astonishing DIAMOND RING, who has not only created this SOLAR SYSTEM, but billions of other galaxies, has called us to know Him, walk with Him, and one day live eternally with Him! FANTASTIC!
Keep in mind that we have no idea of the vastness of the universe, though brilliant minds are constantly giving us newly discovered information. What we can see and sense, bewilders, baffles, and humbles the imagination. No wonder the Psalmist exclaimed “WHAT IS MAN THAT YOU ARE MINDFUL OF HIM? (Actually CARE FOR HIM)???” (Psalm 144:1-3) He continued to gaze into the heavens that PROCLAIM THE GLORY OF GOD AND DELCARE HIS HANDIWORK by rejoicing:
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 (Ps 8:3-4)?
And latch on to this fact: We measure the vastness of God’s creation, the Universe, not in miles and kilometers, but by the SPEED OF LIGHT, which is 186,000 miles PER SECOND (how in the world do they know that?) Ruminate on this: light takes eight minutes to get to us from the sun. If that is true, then the sunshine we see now departed the sun eight minutes ago. We measure the distance between stars in how many years light needs to travel in order to reach its destination. The closest star to our solar system takes 4.3 years to reach us at the speed of light.
And then for the wow factor! The visible universe contains 10,000 billion galaxies. (That is what “they” teach us). Each one of these galaxies contains about 100 billion stars. And if that is not enough to cause a good case of gasping, next time you gaze upon the night sky, remember that it is only a fraction of what is actually out there. And remember, when we peer through our telescopes into space, we are not merely looking farther out; we are also looking into the past. What we see as a star may not even be there now, for it has taken hundreds of years for the light to reach us, light that may not exist.
Who commands the sun not to shine,
And sets a seal upon the stars;
Who alone stretches out the heavens
And tramples down the waves of the sea;
Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades,
And the chambers of the south;
Who does great things, unfathomable,
And wondrous works without number.
Were He to pass by me, I would not see Him;
Were He to move past me, I would not perceive Him.
Were He to snatch away, who could restrain Him?
Who could say to Him, “What are you doing?” (Job 9:7-12).
Later, God confronts Job with His lack of understanding the full power and majesty of His Creator:
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding,
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?
Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth? (Job 38:4, 31-33).
It is clear that God intended for us to observe and study the stars and the heavens. As a part of God’s general revelation, the magnitude of the universe speaks to His greatness. Through God’s special revelation, we see God’s using the vastness of His creation to teach us lessons about who we are and how we relate to Him. His full revelation comes to us in Jesus the Messiah, who reveals the Heart of a loving and forgiving Father. (Luke 15). A Father of grace and truth WHO KNOWS OUR NAME!
My purpose is not to write an Astronomy for Dummies, but to remind us of the vastness of this thing we call THE UNIVERSE. For some, it has led to cynicism, agnosticism, insisting that we are insignificant, swallowed up by the vastness, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” One agnostic in a pitiful elegiac cry moaned “we cry aloud, and the only answer is the plaintive echo of our despairing voice. We are orphans in this vast corpse trench called the universe!”
If you and I struggle with such questions, grab hold of this truth and as the writer of Hebrews admonished, “Cling tightly.” The God who brought this vast universe into existence and holds all things together by the power of His Word, knows your name. “He who created you, He who formed you says, fear not for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you BY NAME FOR YOU BELONG TO ME.” (Isaiah 43:1) And to add joy to joy, go on and read “You are precious and honored in my sight (Isaiah 43:4).”
And if the vastness of existence threatens you, and attempts to suffocate you with feelings of insignificance, fear of death, and despair, listen carefully to Jesus speaking to you: “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me….I know them and I give to them eternal life AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH. No one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:14,27-30).
Insignificance fades into oblivion when we hear Jesus speaking “Not one sparrow falls to the ground without your Father noticing, and you are worth more than a sparrow. Even the very hairs on your heard are all numbered. So don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 10:29). In other words, YOU ARE OF GREAT VALUE TO GOD, and He cares personally for you and about you. (I Peter 5:7).
Look at the stars, thrill to an eclipse, and reflect on the vastness of what might appear to be an impersonal universe, but then dive into Psalm 139, come up with astounding truths such as “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Vs 11). He who made you and placed you in this world, has promised “never to leave you nor forsake you, for I have called you by name.” The God who orchestrated the eclipse, loves us and desires to have a personal relationship with us!! THAT IS THE MOST AMAZING FACT ABOUT THE ECLIPSE.
Oh, and one more mind boggling fact: Revelation 22:3-5. Focus on vs 4: “THEY WILL SEE HIS FACE, AND HIS NAME WILL BE ON THEIR FOREHEAD.” The power, the force, that pulled off that “sky-jewelry phenomena,” the One who in Jesus has made Himself known (John 1:14-18), the CREATOR OF CREATION, THE LAW GIVER OF NATURE’S LAWS, promises that on day we will see HIS FACE. For “now we are the children of God…and when He appears we shall be like Him.” (I John 3:1-3)
What was the most amazing factor about the TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE? He who spoke and creation came from nothing into being (Genesis 1), says to you and me “I am making everything new, for the dwelling of God will be with His people, and HE WILL LIVE WITH THEM.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
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