A guest post by Ken
Ancient sailors, aided by sextants and nocturnals, used the stars in the night sky to help them navigate.
Romantics and superstitutious folk wish on falling stars (which are nothing more than meteorites burning up in earth’s atmosphere, but I don’t want to appear to be lacking in romanticism).
Constellations have been inspiring scientists, casual viewers and cult members since the beginning of time.
Today we have GPS cellphones and navigational devices that rely upon geosynchronous orbit. We have mapped and named much of the celestial night sky that is visable to the naked eye. We can tell the atomic composition of individual stars across massive expanses of space merely by examining their light spectrum. Perhaps stars have lost some of their mystery and intrigue.
However, in the Old Testament, when God would want to reveal Himself or His purposes, He would often use the stars or the heavens as a tool to explain His ideas.
King David, who didn’t even have a telescope, looked up into the heavens (where all the stars hang out) and penned these words:
“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.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
When God was entering into a covenant with Abram, God promised, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky” (Genesis 25:17). In the Milk Way galaxy alone (which is where you and I live) astronomers estimate there are between 200 and 400 billion stars (http://www.universetoday.com/21563/milky-way/). And thanks to Edwin Hubble, we know that there are countless galaxies beyond our own. That’s a lot of Bar Mitzvahs. But I think God’s point was, “Abe, you’re going to have a whole lot of kids!”
When the writer in Psalm 8:3-4 wants to describe the power and majesty of God, He asks,
“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?”
The beauty of the heavens and the stars reflect the God’s wonder.
Through His prophet Isaiah, God puts mankind in His place:
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
As was mentioned before, there are between 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy. Some scientists estimate that there could be as many as 500 billion galaxies in the universe (http://www.universetoday.com/25145/interesting-facts-about-stars/). If you multiply those two numbers for fun, you get 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars. This should boggle the mind and cause one to reflect upon what a great and awesome Creator is our God. It seems to me that these stars were brought into existence simply to remind us that our God is worthy of all praise and adoration. That fact that he COULD do that is an act of a mighty God. That fact that he CHOSE to do that is an act Creator who defies description.
On average the Sun (which is the closest star to us) is (on average) 92,960,000 miles away. But the NEXT closest star, Alpha Centauri C (part of a binary star system) is 4.24 light years from our Sun (a little over four years away if you were traveling at the speed of light, 299,792,458 meters / second). I think God’s message is, “I am WAY over your head!”
But perhaps my favorite thing that stars remind us of is just how BIG God is and how MIGHTY he is. Remember that song that you might have sung in children’s church? It was one of my favorites:
My God is so BIG!
So STRONG and so MIGHTY!
There’s NOTHING my God cannot do!
The mountains are His.
The valleys are His.
The STARS are His handiwork to!
Perhaps this isn’t just a child’s song after all.
The largest known star (radius) is VY Canis Majoris and is estimated to be between 1,800 – 2,100 times the size of our sun. Because it’s exact distance from us is also unknown it’s difficult to pinpoint it’s true girth, but trust me it’s BIG! In comparison, my personal favorite star, Betelgeuse (which can be found in the constellation Orion the hunter; it’s his right shoulder) is a mere 1,180 times bigger than our sun. If it were substitued with our sun, Betelgeuse would extend out to the asteroid belt in our solar system and completely engulf Mercury, Venus, Earth and even Mars! That’s a serious sun burn!
So the next clear night you get, take a moment to look up into the night sky. Find the big dipper (which will point to the North Star). But also take a few moments to praise the all-powerful Creator. Thank Him for the beauty and majesty of His creation including the stars.