Saturday, June 15, 2013

God's Schoolroom: Part I

     Psalm 19:1-6 captures so well the textbook that is God's creation: 

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
   It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is deprived of its warmth."

     What is the "knowledge" that we may gain through observing the heavens?  May I offer a few interpretations?
1.  God is a One Who desires order:  If you look up every night, the same basic constellations appear, season after the season.  We are blessed to see the Milky Way, a gossamer curtain of stars waving across the heavens, as if a cosmic wind is gently carrying it along.  It appears every summer, and never ceases to amaze us.  The heavens shows order and design--not a randomness.  
     The Hawaiians have a legend about the Sun, who loved to dash about the sky, sometimes scorching the Earth by coming too close and sometimes freezing the Earth as he wandered too far away.  The god, Maui, takes the matter into his own hands, and beats the Sun, punishing him for not staying in place.  To have the stars dash about and the Sun not rise consistently would make for a fearful universe.  
     God's creation speaks of order:  planets and stars in their place and the laws of gravity conducting the dance of the heavens every night.
2.  The heavens speak of God's presence:  How often is our breath taken away by the beauty of the heavens on a summer night?  Or looking up on a quiet chilly winter's evening, don't we marvel at the diamond-like twinkle of the winter constellations?  To look up and not see the Hand of Someone would be the same as going to the Sistine Chapel and saying that with enough time and paint, that magnificent ceiling "just happened."  If we just listen, we can hear creation saying, "Look to the One Who is still here..."  
     Unlike the idea of the Divine Watchmaker, who was seen to just have started up everything and then walked away, the Creation speaks of His enduring presence:  
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:15-20).  
     God is so involved in His creation that when man chose to disobey, and sin entered creation and defaced it, God's presence did not depart.  He made a provision to reunite Himself and His creation through His Son--we choose to sin and we can choose to take hold of His Son.
3.  God is there, but you have to look for Him:  The heavens do not use words, but they still tell of His presence.  God's "words" if you will, are an indication of His provision--without the Sun, there would be no warmth, no crops, and survival would be close to impossible.  Mars is a balmy 50 degrees in the summer, but at night, the temperatures will plunge to an uninhabitable -50 degrees.  In the winter, it is below freezing, even in the daytime.  Why?  Because the Sun's warmth does not remain captured by its all-too-thin atmosphere, and it is much further away from the Sun as us.  The Sun for planet Earth is literally God-sent; without it, we would be doomed.  But the Sun itself is not what gives life:  God does. 
      Yet, God gives us the choice to believe in Him:  we can walk outside and feel the warmth of the Sun.  For some, sadly, that's all they want.  But God is there, waiting for us to seek Him.  He does not force His way into our path and says, "Hey!  Look!  You need to love Me!"  But, under the warmth of the Sun, we may feel stirred to seek the One Who made it and like the sun's journey through the heavens, we too may journey and find Him:  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-12).
     God's creation speaks to us:  it invites us to come and know more of the One Who put it altogether.  While God doesn't impose Himself into our lives, His creation is one big invitation.   And yet it is more than that:  it's a love letter written on the parchment of the planet.  He is plain sight!

23 “Am I only a God nearby,”
declares the Lord,
    “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see them?”
declares the Lord.
    “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”
declares the Lord (Jer. 23:23-24).

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