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Words of Life

Look to the Heavens

By Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler February 26, 2012 Words of Life

On February 1, 2003, President George W. Bush solemnly peered into a TV camera to address the American people: “My fellow Americans, this day has brought terrible news and great sadness to our country. At 9:00 AM this morning, Mission Control in Houston lost contact with our Space Shuttle Columbia. A short time later, debris was seen falling from the skies above Texas. The Columbia is lost; there are no survivors.”

Traveling at 12,500 miles per hour, Columbia disintegrated as it attempted to reenter the earth’s atmosphere. The second great shuttle tragedy left the nation shaken but not deterred. “The cause in which they died will continue,” the president vowed. “Mankind is led into the darkness beyond our world by inspiration of discovery and the longing to understand. Our journey into space will go on.”

Yet any human journey into space will penetrate only a tiny fraction of it. There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and the average distance between the stars is 30 trillion miles. How far is 30 trillion miles? Let’s put it this way: when the space shuttle is in orbit, it travels at about 17,000 miles an hour—almost 5 miles per second. If you could get in the Space Shuttle and speed through space at nearly 5 miles per second, it would take you 201,450 years to travel 30 trillion miles! In other words, if you had gotten into the Space Shuttle at the time of Christ and begun traveling from our sun toward another star an average distance away, you would only be one-hundredth of the way there right now. Incredible.

Now keep in mind that’s just between two of the 100 billion stars in our galaxy. How many stars are there in the entire universe? The number of stars in the universe is about equal to the number of sand grains on all the beaches on all the earth. And at 5 miles per second it will take you over 200,000 years to go from one grain of sand to another! The heavens are awesome.

The Bible tells us to “look to the heavens” if we want to get an idea of what God is like. Expressing the Teleological Argument long before Newton and Paley, David wrote Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” A couple of centuries later the prophet Isaiah posed a question from God: “‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One” (40:25). The answer is in the next verse: “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens” (v.26) Isaiah goes on to say that God knows all of heaven’s stars by name!

Why does God tell us to compare him with the heavens? Because God has no limits, and from our perspective neither do the heavens. God is the unlimited limiter—the uncreated Creator—of all things. He’s the self-existing, infinite Being who created this vast and beautiful universe out of nothing and who holds it all together today. There’s only one entity in our experience that can provide an analogy to the infinity of God. An image intended to depict God won’t do. It’s merely limits his majesty. Only the heavens scream out infinity.

Infinity is what describes each of God’s attributes including his power, knowledge, justice, and love. That is why the Bible uses the heavens to help us grasp the infinite height of God’s love. Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who revere him.” How high are the heavens above the earth? When you consider that there are 30 billion miles between stars as numerous as grains of beach sand, you might as well say, “the heavens are infinitely high.” Indeed, and that’s the height of God’s love.

God’s infinite love is perhaps what led President Bush to quote Isaiah in his tribute to the Columbia’s crew: “In the skies today we saw destruction and tragedy. Yet farther than we can see there is comfort and hope. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, ‘Lift your eyes and look to the heavens. Who created all these? He who brings out the starry hosts one by one and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.’ The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.”

Excerpted from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Athesit by Frank Turek and Norman L. Geisler (Published by Crossway). Frank Turek joins James and Betty Robison this Thursday on LIFE TODAY.

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